Hazle and Stephen arrived with bottles of bubbly for a champagne toast to friends from last year who are no longer with us. So the Signing literally started with a bang - in fact several of them!
As Ron and Sally Ridge were on holiday, Stephen did the honours with the barbecue and received many compliments. Have you noticed that this is one job men never mind doing? Perhaps they are re-kindling that ancient relationship to fire or their primeval roots as hunter-gatherers! Stephen's efforts were supplemented by the wonderful spread prepared by Lesley with new dishes including bowls of flavoured couscous and rice added to all the fresh salads such as we enjoyed last year. This was followed by strawberries and cream plus lemon, chocolate or raspberry cheesecakes.
Despite new faces, due to holidays and last-minute cancellations from illness, there were fewer people than at previous Roding Arts Signings. However for the first time we enjoyed the company of a couple of children, Ben and his little sister Max from Kent. In the end Brian Jessop was unable to make it. But those of us who chose to go walking still had a great outing, although we missed his expert butterfly knowledge. Maybe another time. Apart from the ceramics, as our Roding Arts 2004 page focused on collectors, we decided to feature the walk this year.
As ever a big Thank You to Len and Lesley whose hard work and hospitality is becoming legendary.
Together with other themes, there is an emphasis on food and drink in this Signing - and we know everyone is interested in that!
(Click on any of the ceramic photos to see the fine detail)
The park opposite Elsie Cottage is surprisingly large and varied. There are wide spaces of mown grass and a recreation ground with swings, slide and seesaw.
Led by Lesley, our small group of walkers heads off into the wilder area around the park edge to follow the path of the river.
Willow trees are commonly found on riverbanks and as shown above, we saw some magnificent specimens with unusually thick trunks.
These are particular favourites of Len and Lesley who walk their Airedale terrier Branston here; they are definitely trees for hugging!
The 'canal' that Brian discovered last year is in fact the River Chelmer!
A resting Gatekeeper (or Hedge Brown) butterfly near the river that Chris managed to capture on camera.
A very pleasant leafy lane...
Leaving the countryside on the approach into Dunmow, a kerb side bench is a welcome stopping point.
Lesley our leader (at the back) makes an SOS call from her mobile for Len to pick up the more weary among us.
While we wait Hazle spots a buddleia bush across the road covered in these amazing Peacock butterflies. Chris gets a good shot.
Within minutes Len arrives in his 4x4 for the first of two journeys home.
Our group, depleted in number, continues through the charming small town of Great Dunmow. The building with the bell tower is the former town hall, now a local estate agent.
Walking out of Dunmow we pass the old Lock-up above.
The Doctor's Pond below, with many ducks and swans, shows Hazle doing a solo circuit. Named after a doctor who collected leeches for treatments here, it is also where the very first lifeboat was tested and launched.
We wend our way back through another part of the park where Ben enjoys a ride on the slide. He also got Chris on the other end of the seesaw!
The church above in the hamlet of Church End serves the parish of Great Dunmow although it is over a mile away - they are generally more centrally located.
Like Dunmow, Church End has many pretty period cottages and buildings.
Back at Elsie Cottage, some walkers (and others) recuperate in the walled garden - sustained by tea, fruit squashes and more delicious cheesecake!
Another great end to another great day...
Last modified on
20 January, 2014
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