Anyway, Thursday in Ledbury, Friday in Southend. Well, of course!
Actually, I had a little work to do just outside Chelmsford on Friday, so we chose to spend the weekend exploring a part of the country with which neither of us is at all familiar. Undecided about our plans until the very last minute, it seemed a good idea to begin with fish and chips on the seafront at Southend.
Or would “estuary-front” be more accurate? Regardless of that, a few hardy souls were there on the beach with their families, making the most of the intermittent sunshine.
Anyway, having completed my responsibilities and enjoyed a short and breezy walk along the prom, the world was our oyster as we made our way along the coast towards our bed for the night in Wivenhoe, just outside Colchester.
We’d had a difficult time finding somewhere to stay around here and hoped for somewhere just a little special, because Saturday was our 34th wedding anniversary. My hero booked a couple of nights at the Wivenhoe House which was fine – though I’d have swapped a few of those cushions for a couple of larger, softer pillows!
On Saturday morning we set out to explore the coast, starting at Brightlingsea. Though the name was familiar, neither of us knew anything about this historical port and it required a quick google on a phone to answer one or two of our questions.
There weren’t many folks around on this breezy Saturday morning though and having jumped out of the car and decided not to invest in a couple of hours parking, we moved right along, towards Clacton.
Here, a collection of brand new pastel painted beach huts stood on the empty seafront and a couple of workmen were putting the finishing touches to a few more, a little further along the prom.
I spent a while wondering what a teddy boy was doing promoting a Wartime Singalong before realising that it was simply because the newer poster didn’t quite cover the one underneath it. Looking at the placement however, I wonder if it was deliberate?
It’s all fun in Clacton, though.
It does have a lovely open, grassy parkland overlooking the sea, totally uncluttered and devoid of all the usual seaside paraphernalia, though, and a rather good bookshop too. We admired the work of Nigel Pepper who captures this coastline beautifully in his photographs which were displayed in the gallery there.
Feeling a bit peckish now, we made our way from the coast and drove towards Dedham. We remembered, we’d been here before but in the late afternoon, on our way back from somewhere else. This time, we intended to take a closer look. First, though, tea and sandwiches (yummy!) in the Essex Rose Tearoom which was buzzing.
Next to catch our eye was Sherman’s Hall, where the graffiti on those brickwork pillars was worth a closer look.
It reminded me of the scratched and carved initials in the chapel pews of Edward’s old Cambridge college, Peterhouse – leaving one’s mark behind is an age old habit.
Anyway, we had one last visit on our agenda – Castle House, the home of Alfred Munnings and now a gallery of his collected works. Arriving just as it opened, we had the place almost to ourselves, save for a few enthusiastic (and rather distracting) volunteer guides. I’d come across Munnings when I read Summer in February last year and though I wasn’t impressed with the man, his attitude and opinions, I was interested to see his work close up. We weren’t disappointed, either and particularly enjoyed seeing his paintings of warm, summer days spent in hammocks, canoes or around the garden table with friends in the sunshine.
By this time, it was late afternoon and we were ready to return to Wivenhoe and settle down with the papers for an hour or two before dinner. We reflected on that day 34 years ago, when my class of 8 year old girls all came to throw confetti and see Miss Boyd marry her fiancé. Of course, they’ll all be in their 40s now, which is so very strange, since even after all these years, we haven’t changed a bit.
Well, not that much!