Coton, pronounced with the first 0 long as in Seb Coe, is the nearest village to Cambridge on the west side. Beyond the village wide, lazy cornfields open out, glowing in the morning heat at this sultry end of July.
After a mile or so a small wood closes in:
frettings of tarnished brass
tunnel to the arch of gold
Down the hill to Comberton, a cottage looks over the pond, with a wonderfully irregular chimney, a charming bow in the roof, and the traditional local plaster walls and small, scruffy beige clay tiles. It was the victorians who banished irregularity in architecture, which up until then had been part of all human constructions from grand temples to hovels. To fake it is the most terrible dishonesty, it must arise from crafts-people using hand powered tools.
On to Toft, the name is from an old Norse word meaning homestead. And Comberton is place of the Cymru i.e. Welsh men, so no Anglo Saxons in these parts… Toft is prized for its meadows. I spotted this tiny paddock, a raffish demesne of thorn bushes, sapling ash trees and of course ragwort, with great delight. A place of adventures and hiding places if you are under ten, to be cherished and protected. And nearby a tiny green lane, running off towards the centre of the village, what does the name mean?
Wider meadows beyond the village, with clumps of trees and scrub, a little bit like the open expanses of rough common land before the enclosures, stretching to the horizon, in a vernacular tapestry of hillock, grove, pool and pasture, as so memorably evoked by John Clare….
Gate to nowhere
Calls the soul…