Friday, 25 September 2015

5 days away...

We are just back from a very nice 5 days in deepest Essex.  We do this from time to time for a bit of "us" time. Sometimes a boat, this time a trip south to see some family and friends.

I have always been a sucker for the Estuary.  And Essex, my county of birth and childhood, has plenty of them.  We were staying near Tollesbury, in the most charming and tiny one bedroom cottage, which the even more charming owner allowed us the complete run of, because she had a small "lodge" half way down her garden, in which she spent the evenings and in which she slept.  So bed and breakfast became cottage and breakfast.
By going to the end of her lane to the crossroads and turning right, you go towards the lovely West Mersea, or by turning left, Heybridge Basin and Maldon.

Firstly, we turned right and went to West Mersea.  I have been to Mersea island many times and was delighted to find that The Blackwater Pearl cafe was still there, largely unchanged, so we parked up  and had a toasted teacake and a cuppa there, where the cleaner girl told us which of the two main establishments we should trust for fresh seafood.  As her Dad and brother were local oystermen, we figured she'd know.  Not that we wanted oysters, you understand.  If I wanted to swallow snot covered school rubbers and tabasco sauce I could do it much cheaper.  But a bit of dressed crab is always welcome and my good lady loves her cockles.

Later that day we had a look at Heybridge Basin, an old boaty haunt of mine since the days when I lived aboard a Victorian cutter at Burnham-on-Crouch.  It is less relentlessly boaty these days almost inevitably, but the Ship Inn and the Jolly Sailors are still there, so a pint was in order in the Ship.

 I was delighted to see two boats go through the sea lock from the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation, the first time I had ever seen the lock in use.

After our drink I strolled up on the sea wall for a gander and to my surprise a large ship came up the river from the sea.  It turned out to be a large tug, a small tug and a floating platform between them, which had been hired for the day for some operation at Clacton, up the coast.
It made an interesting counterpoint to the sailing barge which plies its trade in the trip game these days.

Old and new

Maldon is to the right of the above shots, but when we went there, we found no available parking place, so wended our way back to the "digs" via a very good Indian restaurant in Tolleshunt D'arcy.
And so the week progressed with visits to old friends, one of whom, my dear old pal Jimi, I hadn't seen in over 20 years as we'd always just missed each other.  Jimi is seriously affected by Cerebral Palsy, but whilst his speech and movement are difficult, his brain is sharp as a needle.  He has top qualifications in electronics design and a passion for the rock band, Hawkwind, which he combines when they tour to programme synths, design light shows and even sing backing!  When he sings, his speech is much clearer.  Anyway he was delighted to see us after all this time and we spent a wonderful couple of hours reliving old adventures.  Jimi was a regular on my boat Vanity when I lived the other end of town and we'd talk deep into the night.

We also went to North Fambridge, because I never have, despite living so close for long.  Well, there's not much there, but a couple of interesting old buildings, the distant one being my kind of hideaway.
I would LOVE to live here!

Or here!

On Thursday, we went to Maldon's Promenade Park to see what all the fuss was about.  Not easy to find, it is a delightful Edwardian park.  We stopped by the model boating pool to eat a cream cake, when I realised what was in this very unremarkable place, behind us in the car park, having a photo shoot done.
Now, come on, what were the odds of that?  A genuine Lamborghini Miura S, the only truly good looking Lambo.  Rare as rocking horse poo and worth, what...a quarter of a million or more?  In Maldon Park on a Thursday afternoon.

More anon.....


  1. A very entertaining account- looks like you had a very good time!

  2. It made a nice break, Iain, but back to work, straightaway, as ever!

  3. There used to be a railway line that ran onto a pier at Tolleshnt d'Arcy, from Witham, There is still some evidence of the line at various places in the lines of trees going straight across the fields. Lots of old lines around the area, like the one from Colchester to Brightlingsea.

  4. The "Crab and Winkle Line", Neil. I tried to spot any evidence, but couldn't see anything. But the roads are so narrow, twisty and bumpy round there that I had my hands full staying on the Island!