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Saturday, 16 January 2021

Tales of the river bank

I heard the river had burst its banks so I thought I would go and have a look.  As I reached the river next to the mill, there seemed to be a lot of activity including  Inland Waterways men scratching their heads and peering into the lock. Then I saw why.

 A boat was stuck fast under the foot bridge on its way out of the lock. The river was the highest I had ever seen it and I have certainly never seen a boat stuck under a bridge on the river. The boat owner had never seen it that high either. The waterways man said there was a warning in place not to travel as it was dangerous. Later when I reached the next lock there were more Waterways men there too. The trouble is the water was high there and already lapping over the garden of the old lock-keeper's cottage. 

The lane from the lock does flood but I've never seen it merging with the fields. I couldn't resist a little paddle but didn't intend going any further. The men were shouting at me not to risk walking down the lane as it was too deep! I'm not that stupid. 

The water is over the tow path and covering the field and footpath behind the mill which I usually walk on the way back.

I don't know if and when the boat was released but we had some snow first thing this morning and then it poured for a while so a lot more water adding to the river. I went in the opposite direction today but huge puddles and lots of mud. 

Monday, 11 January 2021

Jean McAlpine park

It gets its name from a long serving town councillor and was originally called Peldon Park. According to the council web site it is one of Harlow's best kept secrets. Apparently if I am lucky I may see the common spotted orchid or bee orchids. I will have to come again in the spring.

 In my quest for somewhere different to walk within current rules I walked down to this park with my walking poles as I knew some of it would be slippery mud and steep. It's a strange place as it is between the last houses on this side of town and the large industrial area. There are good views from the top in several directions but the houses or factories are always in sight. However when lower down the hill there are only trees and I felt I could be miles from any habitation.

The above pictures are the views from the top and the next ones are the trees lower down.

The last time I was here in the Autumn to pick blackberries but I must have missed this tree full of mirabelle plums. Past their best now but still on the tree. Will have to check it out next Autumn.

It was foggy all day and I only saw a couple of dog walkers in the distance so felt quite strange. There is a brook at the bottom of the hill but the path was steep and very muddy so I didn't attempt it. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

What's on TV?

 I always buy a paper on Saturday with a TV mag. Then I look through it and mark anything interesting. Often I start watching a program then find its not for me. Recently I have been watching John Roger's walks on You Tube. I found out about him from another blogger and I'm hooked now. Lots of his walks are in London and I used to do a lot of walking in London so it's good to see places I recognise. He has also walked a lot of the Lea and the Stort which is my walking patch. 

After reading Simon Reeve's biography I found some of his early travels on You Tube which I enjoyed. 

It was a surprise this week to find there is quite a lot I would like to watch. Last night all I watched was Mighty Cruise Ships on Quest as it was a trip on MS Roald Amundsen to Antarctica. It is an amazing new ship that can go to places which were impossible before. Tonight I watched Ben Fogle's New Lives in the Wild on catch-up as it clashed with the other program. There is a new series at 7 pm on BBC4 - New Winter Walks and I was particularly interested tonight as the walk was from Ravenscar to Robin Hood Bay. Some years ago I was planning to visit the area and stay in the Youth Hostel at Boggle Hole. Lots of things have stopped me going although it is still one of my plans. It was great to see the Hostel as the walker, poet Simon Armitage stopped for a cup of tea there. Then later there was This Farming Life with wonderful scenery again and now I have on a new series of The Thames with Tony Robinson. As you can see I like documentaries. I can't stand sitcoms or soaps. Especially this year when we are stuck at home it is good to see other places even if it is only on TV. Lots of places to look forward to seeing in real life. In the meantime I am trying to really get to know my own neighbourhood. 

Saturday, 26 December 2020

Water, water everywhere

but no people so easy to social distance. Walking is so restricted at the moment not just because we are in tier 4 but also the footpaths are so muddy and many are flooded. I was desperate to go a bit further than the tow path on the river so planned mainly to walk on roads which go nowhere except to farms or the odd house. I planned a circular route along to a village then by lanes and a farm track to the next village and back up to the river and home. 

I hesitated at this footpath thinking it didn't look so muddy but a closer inspection showed it was.

Easy walking on the tarmac.

Another bit of paddling and just about squelched through.

Lots of well marked footpaths around here. One sign pointing to the turkey farm.
I had intended to walk up this lane to the river and then home but as I inched through the water, it rose higher and higher until it was nearly over my wellies and just before the little bridge I was aiming for, the stream was pouring over the footpath. I had to go back to the main road which I had just crossed from the village, then cross back as there is no footpath on this side of the road. I walked up to the roundabout then along the road home. I was pleased in the end though as a beautiful red kite was low overhead really nearby until it suddenly dived behind the trees. Another bird was higher up and further away but I couldn't see if it was another Kite or a buzzard. 
This made me smile. Someone had tied these little scarecrows with masks on to their fence.

 I was surprised to see this little aircraft in somebody's front garden. There is an airfield nearby where they take off and land but have never seen one in a garden. Still lots of birds and berries around too. Always feel better after a good walk. This one according to Google was about 4 miles.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

What's cooking

 Felt like some pudding yesterday so tried out a recipe I have had for a while. It is rocky road cooked in a mug in the microwave. My usual rocky road is very popular but it is really for sharing otherwise I eat too much. I must say I was very disappointed with this version as it was so dry and the marshmallows spilled over the mug and made a terrible mess which was hard to clean. That recipe went in the bin.

Apart from that I have stuck to old faithfuls. Cheese scones, fruit scones and bread pudding the last of which I haven't made for over a year. I make a huge quantity and usually take it to our bible meetings to share with a cuppa afterwards. As all the meetings are on Zoom I decided to take some round to a few people who I know love bread pudding. They are all about my age and the men particularly remember their mums making it when they were little boys. It was done socially distanced with the parcel left by the door and me standing at the end of the path. They all live within walking distance so no illicit traveling.

Through another blog, I came across a guy called John Rogers on Youtube who does walks mainly in London and the outskirts. I found one where he walked from Chelmsford to Maldon along the river. In October before restrictions kicked in I took the bus to Chelmsford and walked along the river but not so far. I am planning the whole walk next year when there are longer hours of daylight. I like to have some outings to look forward to. 

We are in tier 4 now so will be staying close to home. 

Monday, 14 December 2020


 When I was a child I loved jigsaws. DB did too so we did the occasional one when we were married then as time went by two children were added to the family and DB's uncle often came to stay. In the winter we would buy a large puzzle of about 3000 to 4000 pieces and we would all tackle it on the dining room table. More time went by Uncle died, the kids grew up and the jigsaws ceased. 

Then a couple of months ago my friend bought us a jigsaw with a picture from the 50's which was our childhood. I loved the picture but also really enjoyed assembling it. I forgot how relaxing it is. So I ordered one from Amazon as we were in lockdown but it didn't come until today. After lockdown I found a country scene puzzle in a charity shop. Then this morning I did my early morning shopping in Asda and as The Works looked empty I popped in to get some diaries. They had loads of jigsaws and I didn't intend to buy one until I saw "Amsterdam Canal". A few years ago I had a great weekend in Amsterdam with a good friend and all the memories came back so it came home with me. So now I have 3 more jigsaws to keep me busy through the winter. Sadly DB can't cope with jigsaws now so I get to put the last piece in.

I now have to find a larger board for the 1000 piece puzzles.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Frugal and splurging

 It's been a mixed bag this month. I have been doing all my usual frugal things plus filled my rucksack again last weekend with windfall apples from waste ground. I cooked some and they are in the freezer and fridge to be added to my porridge most mornings. Then I made a lovely puddingy Dorset apple cake which DB loves. I also tried a new recipe I found on a a blog for apple and courgette loaf. I added walnuts to this as I had some I wanted to use up. 

I went to Lidls last Monday at 8 am hoping to get one of their veg boxes but they didn't have any. I saw them in the Lidls near my daughter's in September when we were staying near her. I wouldn't have used them while we were away so left them for somebody else. Before I went to Lidls I downloaded their app all ready to use. I did a large amount of shopping to avoid going again for a long while as I have to drive across town for this shop. I was so cross with myself as in the end I forgot to use it. I did make a phone query as to whether it could still be scanned as I had the receipt but they said no. I did suggest their staff enquire if we had the app as other stores ask if we have their loyalty card. They said it wasn't possible. I watched the program about Lidls the other week and part of the reason they can cut prices is because the employees are so fast in everything they do. 

I did get a very large chicken as a special offer, jointed and froze the parts separately. Then the carcass simmered away in the slow cooker overnight and made 8 portions of lentil, sweet potato and butternut squash soup. One of the breasts made a meal for two with lots of roast veg. 

On the other hand I have bought quite a few things on-line. I used to have a four wheel shopping trolley for years before it finally fell apart so I replaced it with a two wheeled one. I find it really makes my back and shoulders ache and as I live close to the town I prefer to walk for shopping unless I am visiting Lidl or Aldi. This week I noticed a black Friday deal for a very nice 4 wheeled trolley nearly half price with free delivery. I took the plunge and ordered it yesterday before the deal expired. 

Most of my walks have just been nearby along the river side as the weather hasn't been brilliant. A couple of weeks ago I thought I would do the golf course walk as it was closed due to lockdown. It was beautiful on the course and not a soul about.

The trouble was when I got into the field to walk down to the river it was so boggy I was sinking up to my ankles and it was very tiring. Thank goodness for wellies. The last time I did this walk the field was covered with daisies and now it resembled a lake in places so I had to skirt right round the edge of the field. 

The next field had loads of strange mounds. Not sure if they were molehills or just a result of being waterlogged. 

It was a relief to get on to the tow path.