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Thursday, 16 December 2021

Swimming

 Apart from the pool at the holiday park DB and I stayed on a few times, I haven't been in a swimming pool for years. I have swum in the sea, rivers and the serpentine but I don't like swimming pools apart from the little outdoor lido in a nearby town. I haven't even been to that for a few years. We always took our two children to the pools from when they were babies and they could swim from an early age. Once they were older they went with their friends although we all used to swim together in the sea. 

However now little GD is 4 and never been to a swimming pool. I said I would pay for her to have swimming lessons but wanted to make sure she was ok in the water first. She does love her  paddling pool in the garden but a big pool is a bit different. Anyhow we went today and although she was frightened at first and said it was scarey, she soon loved it and cried when I said we had to get out because they were getting the pool ready for swimming lessons. She said it's not scarey any more.

I was horrified at the cost though as it was £6 for me and £4.20 for her. How on earth do families of several children afford to go. We didn't have a lot of money when our children were small but we went a couple of times a week as a family. It couldn't have been very expensive or we wouldn't have been able to afford it. When we moved to this town the pool was council run and very cheap for residents and free for those on benefits or a low income. That pool was demolished and replaced with expensive houses. The new leisure centre is privately run. I think if we go regularly there is a card we can buy to make each visit a little bit cheaper. 

On the subject of costs of children's activities, my sister paid for her great gd who is nearly 4 to have dancing lessons. They put on a show at the end of term and little E's mum had to buy 3 costumes and special makeup from a particular shop. It cost her £100! No homemade dresses there. Without help from family it wouldn't have been possible. These prices must exclude lots of children from fun activities. I feel swimming is essential for little children to learn as it might save their life one day. 

Anyway we had fun even if I am absolutely exhausted now with an aching back. 

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Final leg of the Chelmer

 I started to write this post but didn't finish it so thought it was about time I did. I started this walk along the river Chelmer from Chelmsford to Maldon October last year. I did the second leg earlier this year then finally the last bit from Papermill lock to Maldon in September. 

I must say I prefer the river near my home as there is more going on but there are stretches that are interesting on the Chelmer. Papermill lock is very pretty and has a lovely tearoom. I have a short bus ride from Chelmsford to Boreham then a walk across the fields with good views down to the river. A lot of it was overgrown and hard to see the river. What surprises me is the fact I saw no boats traveling but there are plenty at a couple of the locks so they must move to get there unless they just stay put. 






The photos loaded in the wrong order for some reason but the one below is the walk from the bus to the river.





It was worth it when I reached Maldon which is such a beautiful place. I rewarded myself with a calorie laden waffle and pot of tea. 




I probably wont be doing day trips by bus now until next year as it gets dark so early but its good to plan new excursions to look forward to. 

Monday, 25 October 2021

The seven bridges walk

I had my first outing to London for two years apart from changing trains a few months ago. A friend arranged the 7 bridges walk Saturday evening as London is beautiful all lit up. I traveled up with another friend to meet a few others at the London Tower viewing platform. 



We crossed Tower Bridge then walked up to Westminster Bridge crossing each bridge as we came to it so alternatively on each side of the river. I couldn't believe how crowded it was after being a hermit for so long. I used to stay in London Youth Hostels for a couple of nights when it was Open House weekend and was used to walking about in the crowded streets. It was good to be walking about in London again though. I took a few photos but being with a group I didn't get a chance to set my camera right for the dark.




The Globe and the London Eye are recognisable but I just felt the middle photo of a random building was interesting. 

It was good to be out and about with friends again but still a bit stressful although enjoyable. It will take a bit of getting used to after my solitary rambles in the countryside. 

Friday, 8 October 2021

Kite surfers

 I was back at Clacton for a few days visiting DD and although one day was very wet the other days had some dry bright weather although windy and cold. We managed the beach 3 times just to walk, no paddling or swimming but still very enjoyable. The kite surfers were out in force in the strong wind. It amazes me how they control the kites and don't get washed out to sea. 



Another day we had the beach to ourselves under a dramatic sky.




One tired out greyhound. In spite of their reputation they need very little walking and 20 minutes is usually enough. 


I am grateful for being able to visit the sea so often as even when it is rough it feels so peaceful. 

Monday, 20 September 2021

A walk with little granddaughter

 I do a lot of walking and once or twice a week our little granddaughter comes with me. She is nearly 4 and loves being outside. So yesterday this was our walk. I only took one photo as we were chatting away and I forgot to take others.

First we walked along the road to the cycle track next to the park. I had empty boxes and bags in my rucksack in case of foraging. I also took the litter picker as the idea was if there was a lot of litter at the pond we would put it in the bin. As we walked along the cycle track toward the hospital there was a lot of litter. Mainly drink cans and used masks so GD was keen to pick them up and as we weren't near a bin, we used one of my carrier bags to collect the rubbish. She has become adept at using the litter picker now and gets quite excited at every bit she gathers. We talk about the damage the litter does to the birds and animals. 

Past the hospital and along the next cycle path toward the pond. This path is in a dip and although it is parallel to a main road, it is out of sight as there is a high bank with trees and bushes between us and the road. I had wanted to go up the bank to investigate the apple and plum trees but I didn't feel I could manage the steep path with a pushchair, small child and bags stuffed under the chair. We reached the pond and GD had a great time feeding the ducks and moorhens with the special duck food I buy at the pet shop. 

After the food was all devoured we continued along the path to a road, past a few houses then turned to walk along the back of the houses, by the allotments and to the community farm. The gates were open and we were admiring the masses of very tall sunflowers.


Some of the volunteers invited us in to look around. One lady showed us the sweetcorn and asked GD if she liked it. GD replied that she loved it and loves all vegetables which is quite true. Then she was presented with a bag of freshly picked veg. I was asked if I liked celeriac which I do and particularly like to make it into soup so I was given several complete with green leafy shoots. These went into a bag as they were very muddy then into my rucksack with the shoots leaning over my head. 

Further along the path is the judo hall and tucked away behind that is a little playground so of cours we had to visit that. Two big girls were larking around here and GD thought it was hilarious when one of them got stuck in the baby swing. Happily she got out with her friends help. They were lovely girls and when the odd shower became more persistant and GD was tucked under the cover in the push chair, they helped me push it up a steep bank as the quickest way home. 

We also examined conkers, sweet chestnuts and the inside of huge rosehips. Flowers and feathers were collected and then mummy and daddy were presented with the vegetables which went down very well for dinner. I am very grateful to be able to spend time with GD and it takes me back to when her daddy and auntie were little and we went on our walks. Very happy times. 

This morning I was busy turning the celeriac into soup. I found that the leafy tops are also edible and can be used in the soup. It was a lot more time consuming than usual clearing up all the mud and chopping the leaves. I now have 8 portions of the soup in the fridge to freeze for colder weather. So very satisfying. 

Monday, 13 September 2021

Heritage open weekend and

scarecrow festival. The heritage open days used to include some weekdays but around here it was only Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday afternoon I took little GD to Scott's Grotto which is in a small town further up the river. I have been several times before but first time for GD. The description of it is a series of interconnected chambers extending 67ft into the chalk hillside. Apart from the entrance and the final chamber, it is completely dark so torches are needed. GD loves torches so she enjoyed flashing the torch into the dark tunnels and recesses. The walls are covered with shells, flints and coloured glass and took about 30 years to build and purported to cost £10,000. We ended up feeding a swan on the river and waving at a wedding boat which pulled up opposite. 

I had planned to take her to Gibberds Garden on the Sunday afternoon. I've been lots of times but GD only once when she was just 1 year old so she couldn't remember it. Then Sunday morning I heard there was a scarecrow festival in the village a couple of miles up the road. She loves scarecrows so as the garden didn't open until 2pm we drove up to the village but in spite of there being parking at 3 sites all spaces were taken. She did spot some as we drove along especially being pleased to see Elsa from Frozen. So we went on to the garden and had a lovely time identifying all the art works. They also had a few little games for children which she loved. I enjoyed my pot of tea with scone and jam.





 About 4pm we decided to try the scarecrow festival again. This time we did get parked in the school playground and were told we had one hour before the gates were locked so here are the photos minus the ones with GD in as I don't put her photos on a public site except the one above in the distance. 







Apparently there was a lot going on apart from the scarecrows such as live music, a tea tent and various other stalls but they were packing up by the time we got parked. Anyway it was an enjoyable if tiring weekend. 

Monday, 30 August 2021

On the ferry

One of the places I like to visit for a day out using my bus pass is Burnham on Crouch. It's a quiet little town on the river with lots of boating activity. There is an on demand ferry which goes across the river to Wallasea Island and I have been saying for years that I will take that trip. Well for the last few years circumstances have stopped me even getting to Burnham. The ferry runs until the end of September and even in season doesn't run on Wednesdays or very bad weather. Last week I had a lot going on every day except Thursday when I should have cleaned my home but I felt a need to get away to clear my mind and relax. So I finally got on the ferry. A cyclist was already waiting and had phoned the boat man and he was on his way over. The journey takes ten minutes as the quay on the opposite bank is a little way down the river. 





 Wallasea is a funny place. The ferry goes into a big marina and seems quite industrial with cranes and big equipment but it is also very rural. I went into the marina cafe first for a cuppa then walked along the river bank until I saw some plastic chairs placed right next to the path so I sat there and ate my salad and watched the river. A bit further on the path turned inland on the other side of a creek which ran along side a caravan site. The path was high up on a bank so I had good views on both sides.





The caravans had really pretty gardens. I couldn't work out what these structures were of rotten wood and rusty metal but decided they must have been a quay at some time. 

Once I was on the road I turned back toward the marina. There was a sign pointing to the RSPB reserve but I thought I wouldn't have time to walk there. Once I was back on the river I started walking the other way but it was obvious not many people had walked that way as it was quite overgrown and the wind was strong. Also a heavy jug had fallen on my foot two days before and it was very painful so I was walking slowly. I could see the ferry coming back up the river so made my way to the quay and went back to Burnham. Everywhere had run out of scones so I ended up with a toasted teacake with Tiptree jam and a pot of tea. It was definitely more crowded than I had ever seen it before even during school holidays so a sign of more people on staycations. 

I had a wander about taking a few more photos. The cinemas building dates back to 1931 and is surprising for such a small town to have one. The clock tower was erected in 1877 in memory of a local oyster merchant and philanthropist. 



There seems to be a very good bus service with the bus to Chelmsford every half hour although most of the time I was the only passenger. From there I took the bus home. I feel after one of these days out that I have had a holiday.