Tag Archives: essex

Making new memories

We had a lie in – our son woke us at 6:20 this morning. It felt good. Pulling up the blind we saw a beautiful morning glow, pink across the sky. There was a frost. Everything was crisp. It had an edge.

Later we went out for a walk. Ostensibly we were trying to get my son to sleep in the buggy. But it became something else. A memory relived. Setting a new path, with three of us. Setting new shadows.

It became a trip to the oak, a tree I always used to pat as a kid as I went by, walking Tess the dog. A huge beast of a tree. Grand and proud on the roadside.  It was icy and we slipped and we slid, holding onto each other and the buggy, until we were out of the shadows where the black and white ice lay.

Then it became a walk to the church. Some say that the church is far out of the village because everyone moved to start again after the plague. Others say the village moved to be near the main road, to affect passing trade.

It’s a peaceful place that church. Some of the old boys of the village are buried there. I pay my respects when I go. Now I can bring my son. Here’s Sam grave, who was on the parish council with me when I was fresh out of university and he was facing his final battle with cancer. There’s Jeff’s grave. He always had a kind word for me; told me stories about the fields and brought the past alive. Other names I recognise but can no longer connect with faces.

Some of the scrub has been cleared, other parts have grown. On the way home the sun is shining stronger. A small flock of birds flits around the field never close enough for us to make a strong identifications. Linnets I say, only because the word feels good to say out loud. They sound like chaffinches.

Then we’re home again. But this isn’t home anymore. It’s just where my parents live. Time passes and home moves. One day the time will come when I’ll only have memories to connect me to this village.

Janathon stats: 6,138 steps

Up the gant, down the gant

For most of my life I’ve never really known what Braintree could be famous for. It’s my home town. About the only thing that ever happened to Braintree was many years ago, when a girl on holiday married a local Turkish lad that she met out there. Fleetingly, Braintree was in the national news. And then it went again, never to return.

Braintree is an unremarkable town. For a long time there’s been nothing unique about it. But not any more.

On Friday, early for a visit with family and with a sleeping son in his buggy, I went for a wander around the town. I did more than one circuit, crossing over my route and finding the old alleyways that crisscross the town. And herein lies Braintree’s unique selling point – its gants.

Yes, Braintree is the only place in the UK that calls its alleys gants, apparently from the Flemish language. There are about 8 in the town with the best named being ‘Pig’s head in the Pottage Pot Gant’. But my favourite spot, at one end of Bailey’s Gant, was a bench. Inscribed not with a memorial to a former townsfolk, the inscription instead said “Breastfeeding is the perfect takeaway”.

Janathon stats: 7,885 steps