Friday, 11 April 2008


Bill and I have been down to
Colchester the past couple of days, for Bill's work. I just went along for the ride and because I was a little curious about Essex. I don't know where all the comments originate, but apparently all girls from Essex are called Sharon and wear white shoes. What is wrong with this, you ask? I've no idea (unless they're wearing white shoes and it's not between Easter and Labor Day, which is a rule my Mom lived by).
It took us about 6 hours to drive the 300 miles; Bill swore at several foreign lorry drivers (ie truckers with left-side drive vehicles) and 2 women driving very slowly down the motorway, obviously talking to each other on hand-held mobiles (which is illegal here). I agreed with his concerns, but pointed out he sounded ultra-conservative complaining about woman and foreigners.

Bill's head office was walking distance from the hotel and I walked along with him to help get my bearings but then I just returned and parked myself in front of the TV. He was back before I knew it and suggested a drive down to the coast. Unfortunately, road works and the diversion brought us back full circle, so we didn't go to West Mersea as intended but to Brightlingsea instead.

I think we were too tired to do much wandering and we were both a bit disappointed at all the construction down by the yacht club. Bill said this used to be one of the Cinque Ports (5 ports at the narrowest part of the English Channel) established in the 12th Century and used for trade, until it silted up. There was a huge scrap heap at the end of the car park. The yacht club was situated between that and an amazing old building (the picture above) which was formerly a pub, but its current use was a mystery. Some new apartments were being built near the ferry landing and so it looked as though they had just discovered the luxury of living next to water instead of using the area as a garbage dump.

Anyhow, in preparation for going to Colchester I looked up fabric and charity shops in the area. There was only one fabric shop (The Remnant Shop) which turned out to be wonderful -- I went a bit mad in there, I'm afraid; and lots of charity shops, but I only made it to one. I also collected
information about the relative wealth of the areas in which I found charity shops, but this wasn't very useful as the wealthier areas were pretty much out of reach, being out of the town centre. I could have taken Bill's car, but since it's new to me and a bit weird (you can either drive it as an automatic or as a standard transmission) I preferred not to bother with it.

I scored at the Salvation Army, though, finding a cute top from Jigsaw and some black velvet slacks from Next and paying £6 for the lot. I've no idea what came over me at The Remnant Shop, but I completely lost track of time (and money) and came away with more than I cared to carry for long, so I hopped on a bus and headed back to meet Bill. I mis-read my watch and so was very early. The receptionist at his office referred me to a
lovely restaurant near by where I decided to have a snack and kill some time. As it turned out Bill's meetings were finished very early as well and he joined me in a nice lunch before we set off on the tedious journey home.

Bill chose a winding road that took us through a number of pretty villages and I had to re-form my view of living in the South of England. My observations have mainly been on my train journeys to London, seeing cramped estates built one after another along the railway lines. I thought the population density would be nigh as unbearable as in London, but it turns out that Essex is lovely. Bills says it looks 'foreign'. For one thing, the houses are not uniform in design, colour or placement on the lots like up north and there are lots of Tudor style -- many authentic -- houses. Colchester is England's oldest recorded town, as of 77 A.D., though Romans are said to have started building there some 30 years prior. The variety of houses and the apparent prosperity of many of the villages was very attractive.

Bill's already talking about the next trip and whether we should spend the weekend in the area. We didn't get to see the Dutch Quarter which has to do with Flemish weavers from the 15th Century, nor have we visited Colchester Castle. I can see there is a lot to do around there, but one thing's for sure, I need to keep away from the Remnant Shop!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Shelley,

thanks for coming to visit us!

And thank you for the compliments.

Heres hoping you fall into temptation once more.
If you do, please say hello.

The Remnant Shop (