Exploring Essex – trips to the unknown

A picture of the helmets and out bike taken by the road somewhere in Essex

Today is exactly three months since the lockdown in UK started. Many things have changed in the meantime. We have both lost our jobs to this pandemic. The job search at the moment is slowly making me lose those last bits of sanity I have left. The bike rallies we planned for these three months and in the months coming have all been cancelled.

However, I think there were more positive things that happened due to the lockdown: we became closer, we laughed a lot, read in bed a lot. We caught up on our gaming and TV shows/films. I finished 4 online courses and he took apart and completely rebuilt our big Yamaha. And since the lockdown eased a bit, we explored a lot more of our surroundings then we usually would have.

Starting from places a few miles away to those a bit further out of Chelmsford, we tried visiting one or two different places every week. Sometimes, we would visit the same one more than once as there was more to see.

Essex is usually shunned away as the birthplace of Towies. Because of this many people avoid it, but there are so many interesting and amazing things to do here! I am hoping this series of posts will remove some of the negativity that comes with saying Essex.

Finchingfield

Imagine a quintessential English village, with a lawn, a duck pond, a small brick build bridge in its centre surrounded by cottages and a medieval church. This is Finchingfield, a small village on the outskirts of Braintree. It is often referred to as the most photographed village in England and once you arrive you can see why.

The dullness of the blue sky was broken with fluffy clouds, the grass was springy and green. An interesting fact about the village – there is a Dutch style 18th century cottage called Round House that was once owned by Dodie Smith, the author of 101 Dalmatians.

The ride from Great Dunmow to Finchingfield was the most enjoyable part of the trip, sitting back at 30 miles per hour on our tiny Yamaha with the visor up taking in the smells of nature in bloom. It was full blown spring and it was a nice warm day. The road passed by a field dotted with red poppies, the only poppy field I have seen in this part of Essex.

The petrified oaks

I would say this is a good spot for any lover of Halloween or supernatural. The petrified oaks in question are behind a small church of St Mary’s by the village of Mundon. Even in bright light the dead trees look a bit spooky with the bare branches ominously pointing at the sky and crows cawing as the background noise. And then there are stories about the witches. To be fair, these are quite common in Essex because of the connection with The Witch Hunter General Matthew Hopkins who died in Manningtree.

We found that the spookiness wears off when you realise you can see faces in the trees. Once the husband noticed a “tree face” in one of the photos I took, that was all we were doing, looking for faces and setting up scenes. Check out the photos below and see for yourself.

Grayson Perry House for Essex (Wrabness)

It is both an artwork in itself and the setting for a number of works by Perry exploring the special character and unique qualities of Essex. The building has been designed to evoke the tradition of wayside and pilgrimage chapels.

From Living Architecture

In my opinion, Grayson Perry is the big, peacock weather in the Essex crown. Born in Chelmsford, he is one of the best know British artists, be it for his ceramic vases and tapestries or for his cross-dressing and political statements. One of our trips included going up to Wrabness, a small village by river Stour to see Grayson Perry House for Essex which was designed by Grayson Perry himself and FAT Architecture.

The way there led us through an almost deserted village centre, over a bridge overlooking the railway and over a gravel road that Pearl (our Honda) really did not like! But it was worth it. The house is surrounded by wildflowers, poppies and a field of tiny forget-me-nots. The green and white tiles work well with the surrounding colours and they get better when you go closer and see the the designs of them! I think this house would look brilliant in any lighting and in any weather conditions.

As is our custom, we saw a narrow dirt path leading from the house and we just had to follow it. Through the overgrown meadow, down to river Stour, we went and almost slipped in the mud left by the tide. The sun was high up and it was getting stuffy. Not wanting to end up walking all the way to Harwich, we followed the path just to the next field and then decided to go back to the bike. We used the rest of the day to enjoy the road back home with a stop in Motley for a river side coffee.

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