31 May 2015

Constable Country Walk

Following the John Ray Walk last weekend, we walked the Constable Country Walk, from Manningtree Station to Flatford and Dedham, and looped back to the station. Distance was total 7 miles (9km) including optional loop (bentween Flatford and Dedham; 3miles). The picturesque Stour Valley and Dedham Vale are famous because of the 18th-century English landscape artist; John Constable. He left many paints of idyllic views of the area.

It was an easy walk because paths are flat and maintained. We enjoyed to see nature and animals.

We were confused partly because of broken sign... but we didn't get a wrong path. There is Cattawade Marshes where much of it ia owned by the RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds).

We passed 56 Gates, an Environment Agency Flood Defence Barrier, and the National Trust sign.

Gradually you will discover a very picturesque village; Flatford. I was quite surprised that there were many people around there. Until there, we only saw one man. And little wonder, there are the National Trust shop, tea room and a car park. We really didn't expect that this area was a tourist site like that, but had a nice break there.

This view reminded me of the phrases from the book 'The Villages of England' by Richard Muir, that 'When the pub in the next village to my own was selected for use in a beer commercial it underwent a costly transformation from the unspoilt village pub that it was to an ad man's perception of what such a pub should really look like..... almost every branch of the media is engaged in promoting an ever more idealized and idyllic image of the village. In the process, and contrary to intentions, the vision which the more discerning people received is of an artificial and spineless place which, if it smells at all, has the sweet and cloying lavender odour found in National Trust shops and those village craft outlets which are packed with the cottage products of China and South Korea....'. 'Current vision of the village is not founded upon history but is rooted in the insecurity of a rootless society which has lost its links with the land. Like stray lambs in search of a ewe, people who have lost their sense of identity seek comfort and stability in the haven of the village of their dreams'.

Although this area was almost like what the National Trust is, the scene around there where John Constable painted, remain still easily recognisable today. I sometimes feel the National Trust's shop and tea room add the same sense of their flavour to every unique historical place to uniform... I don't mean to criticise the organisation, as a matter of fact, I am a member of the National Trust. Anyway, it was interesting to compare with his picture and current natural view.

Source; Wikipedia
'The Hay Wain' John Constable, 1821

This building is B&B, located in the centre of Flatford. It must be nice to explore around here based in this B&B.

I found a lovely ornament at the National Trust shop, but I didn't get anything, because I didn't want to carry for walk!

We restarted to walk towards Dedham. We crossed the field where cows were resting on the ground. It was rare experience for me walking the land of a coexistence with cows. It was a nice weather, so many people passed by.

Some people were enjoying a boat.

We walked along the River Stour. It's the border of Essex and Suffolk. So we crossed the county border every time we cross a bridge. Dedham was not so far. We could see the church tower from the field. At Dedham, we had a lunch:) The big mouse had bacon & cherry pie, and I had duck and orange pie. They were nice after walking.

We walked thorough the village, noticed it's a really nice village. There is Wilkin & Sons' tea rooms too!

We popped in Dedham art & craft centre, where is full of lovely items. There are three floors inside, and tea room as well.

We started to walk back to Flatford again. The route was different from before, the other side of the River Stour.

We found a growing number of visitors at the National Trust centre.

Hello again, sheep! And rabbits appeared on our way. And then, we came back to the station. We achieved the whole 7 miles course. We are happy about that!


29 May 2015

Our Garden

Our garden has not been properly completed yet, but has improved step by step, a bit by bit... Eventually we are going to make a natural 'British-ish' garden. This year, roses have many buds more than before. Now, many flowers are blooming.

28 May 2015

A Pair of Binoculars

When we joined the National Trust a couple of years ago, a pair of binoculars was sent to us as a gift. To be honest, we hadn't used yet, but the other day, we popped out into our garden, and we saw the night sky using this. Stars were too far, but the moon was amazingly beautiful! Next time, when we go for walk, we are going to bring this with us. Were we slow to realize it? Ooops...

Today's Sky

25 May 2015

Golden Syrup Muffins

I baked muffins after so long, using Golden Syrup. They weren't substantialicious, but taste was good.

24 May 2015

Retry The John Ray Walk -2/2

We collected ourselves and left White Notley. We crossed over a few stiles, crossed the field towards Cressing Temple.

We missed the lunch at White Notley, but we, at least I, walked with a light step. When I lived in Japan, I had busy days commuting between office and home, wearing a nice dress and high heels. I often used public transport or car, definitely I had an urban life. I wouldn't say I was tired of having such a life, but my lifestyle has changed since I moved to the UK. I quite like my current lifestyle. And also, I didn't have a lot of chance to walk with trainers and enjoy the nature like this. I remember when we had the first try to walk 'the John Ray Walk', I felt tired soon. But this time, I had a strength, probably because I have walked a lot everyday, more than before.

Anyway, we kept walking and walking.

I saw another ford.

It was really quiet. Sometimes we could hear bird's singing from far distance.

Next, we needed to cross the rail track.

Soon after we passed through a kissing gate, we reached another field. The map says 'crossfield path', but path was not to be found anywhere... There were some scarecrows as if they kept watching us to say 'no entry', rather than to birds. Eventually we decided to cross the field while not trying to step on plants as much as we could.

There were tractor's tire tracks widthways, but not lengthways...

And then, we reached Witham Road, the most dangerous area to coss. We always hold hands unconsciously when we cross roads. Is that means always together when we die??? Anyway, the stile on the opposite side was covered with nettles and plants, it was hard to find it.

Over the bushes, it was the Cressing Temple. I confess that I had thought Cressing Temple was the name of village, but it was the historical site with facility. It was nice - there was the Wilkin & Sons' tea room!! Goody! For this reason, the pub in White Notley must be closed. Cream tea was attractive, but I ordered quiche of the day to get an energy for the rest of walk. It was soooo nice!

I wanted to browse the facility, but maybe next time. We started to walk again, because our purpose was to achieve 'the John Ray Walk' this time.

We needed to walk on the road towards Silver End for a while, which was the point we gave up on before. Soon after we entered the public footpath again, the views brought us all rushing back to the previous walk. We enjoyed watching plants and insects (I don't like insects though...).

I realised that I quite like this walking course with a lot of nature.

Can you see it? A pheasant was there.

Again, a complicated arrow sign :)

Last time we walked this path, it was more muddy. It was dry this time, but a few trees had fell down, maybe because of storm?

We crossed the road and I met a black cat with a red choker ring.

And we reached the field. I remember plants here were taller before.

Finally, we walked Cut Throat Lane and back to Witham. We completed 9 miles walking with proper route. It was perfect! We are so happy what we've done.

Part 1. Braintree to White Notley
Part 2. White Notley to Witham (This article)