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Published: October 12th 2007
Thursday October 11th
After quickly tripping around the top of the hill in the old city and being kicked out of the museum by the cleaning lady, we changed our Croatian Kunas into Euros, collected our backpacks and walked to the tourist centre where the young chap behind the counter called us a taxi to go to the airport.
Here our main worry was weight as we were only allowed 15 kilogram per bag. Well guess what? Rags bag was 17.8kg and mine was 12.2 kg - exactly 30 kg but was this ok, no it had to be 15kg per bag not combined weight. We took our bags to the side and made some adjustments so Rags was under 16kg and mine under 15kg. They didn't notice Rags hand luggage weighed almost 12kg as he had all the books! Judy had heavy items in pockets and her handbag but that all went through without any problem. Security was a breeze - we didn't have to take our shoes off or take out the laptop- they didn't seem to care as we were leaving the country!
But the leaving took longer than we anticipated as once we were all
With the Memorial Green at the front of the house.
on the plane the pilot told us that due to some earlier congestion in London airspace our landing time had been deferred for an hour and 15 minutes which meant we had to just sit in the plane on the airfield for this time before we took off! Luckily we had some snacks and water as we now weren't going to make Stansted for lunch.
After an otherwise uneventful flight and smooth passage through customs we were in England. Nessie and Peter were soon on the scene to collect us after having left to have lunch when the flight was delayed. It was great to finally meet face to face and we talked thirteen to the dozen for the rest of the afternoon.
Bucks House which we'll call home for the next 6 weeks is a large, beautiful house built between 1510 and 1560. It is listed as Grade 11 for historical importance. The Victorian brick exterior conceals a lathe and plaster framework that includes period items such as pine panelling, exposed beams and inglenook fireplaces. Great Bardfield, where this house stands proudly at the centre, is a quintessential medieval English village. The rooms are all beautifully restored
and maintained as this normally operates as a B & B.
The Postons had invited their friends Richard and Dorff to join us for a traditional English dinner of roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roast vegies, treacle tart and cheeses served in their best dining room. A great evening was had with great food, great wine (Australian!) and good company. By 11pm local time, (midnight for Rags & Judy) we called it a night.
Friday 12th October
New surroundings, new bed = restless night. Rags got up at about 8am to find Peter in the kitchen doing last night's dishes and after giving some assistance and having a cup of tea went out into the cool and did some exploring. The village is just how we envisaged one to look with its quaint houses, narrow streets, slate or thatch roofs, and a few shops and pubs.
Peter and Nessie took us to the nearby town of Great Dunmow, where we were able to get cash from an ATM and then go shopping for supplies at Tesco's, a large supermarket. We were impressed with the prices there, not nearly as bad as what we were
expecting here in Britain. In the 40 minutes or so we had we filled a shopping trolley with all sorts of food, including different types of food such as a tin of mushy peas. There was an interesting range of ales and wines so we also took a selection of these for 'testing'.
There was a jumble sale in town when we returned so off we went. Judy ended up with the expected purple jumper, as well as a travel book on the sights of Britain and some novels for only 25p each -a great find!
It was found that the sink wasn't draining properly so Peter, joined by Rags later, set to work. Several hours later after pushing rods up the pipes, Rags dismantling the pipes under the sink and then taking over an hour to re-assemble them, and the pouring of caustic soda down the pipes, we called it a day. A plumber was called, quoting 100 pounds for 30 mins work! He was due to arrive when Peter noticed that the water had drained and on testing found the blockage was gone. The plumber was cancelled straight away. You can get lucky!
the four of us walked to the local pub, “the Bell”, only to find that the table that Peter had booked earlier in the week hadn't been put aside. After some heated discussion we had a drink or 2 at the bar after which the table became vacant. We enjoyed our meals although Peter thought his sole was flounder so was again annoyed. Rags thoroughly enjoyed his calves liver and bacon and Judy her chicken curry - quite different to the food we've been eating for the last couple of months.
Saturday October 13th
We were both up and about a bit earlier today so it was about 10am when we ventured out for our first trip with Rags driving. Thaxted, a small market town, was the first stop - an historic village. After a walk here we were on our way to Saffron Walden our destination for the day. This pretty market town with old buildings and antique shops gets its name from the rare Crocus sativus, saffron crocus, once used as a medicine and in cooking. In the 18th century the town's main industry was malt for brewing. Many of the historic
buildings were built by Quakers, and survive today, largely untouched. There are the remains of a small castle, and a church dating from 1250.
Today was market day so it was busy but we were lucky to find street parking before going for a wander through the streets. We felt a little short of “normal” clothes so when we saw an Oxfam store we went to take a look. Rags got a pair of cord trousers and Judy some trousers and a top. The tourist bureau was the next stop and we came away loaded with pamphlets etc.
Meeting up with Nessie and Peter and Nessie's daughter Lucy and her husband Patrick we enjoyed pizza and pasta for lunch at a local café. After lunch we continued with the walking tour of Saffron Walden we'd been given at the tourist bureau before calling it a day and heading back to the car for the drive home. We didn't get lost once!
Sunday October 14th
After farewelling our hosts we decided to spend the lovely day going for a walk in the surrounding area. Peter had shown Rags a path last night and told him
of a walk to the next village. Full of confidence, we took off but of course lost it at the first point when we had to choose which way to go. On we went through muddy tracks, guessing at where the path was. At one stage we skirted a field rather than walk on the newly planted wheat, only to see a man and his dog walking across the middle. We caught up to him and he confirmed the public way was across the middle and that the farmer usually sprayed this path so it could be seen. We walked along with him before heading down a village lane to Finchingfield Village. Here we found a delightful English village, with several interesting little shops. We went into one that contained only model horses and paraphernalia and another that had many antiques for sale.
From here we walked back to Great Bardfield, along the roadway, enough for one day. After a late lunch we had a relaxing afternoon, catching up with emails etc.
Monday October 15th
This morning we awoke to an empty house, no-one to talk to except each other! We survived. The early morning
was spent doing some washing and generally organising ourselves. Just after 10.30, Moe, the house help, arrived and after introducing ourselves we set off for the day's excursion.
Colchester Castle was our target today, about 50kms SE of here. The drive there was straightforward and Rags had no problems driving through the narrow roads or the motorway later on.
The castle has been converted into a museum setting out the history of the town from the very early stages of mankind. From this we found that the town had a very violent and sad beginning, with a great number of deaths and much cruelty occurring.
From here we went to the sea-side at West Mersea. Lunch was cut sandwiches by the marina area where we were fascinated by the houseboats there, mostly old boats converted into living units. Many were sitting on the bottom as the tide was not fully in. Looking at them, some looked as if they had been there a long time, with sheds attached and junk all around them. In fact, we doubt if some had moved for some time or were even capable of moving.
A different route was taken to get
home, this being varied as we went by necessity when roads were missed, arriving back as the light was fading.
Tuesday October 15th
Today we awoke to rain and so deferred our plans to visit Cambridge until tomorrow when the weather forecaster suggest fine weather! We enjoyed a lazy day. After a walk in the afternoon we called in to say hi to the only other people we knew in the village, Dof and Richard. We were made very welcome here and the time sped by, especially when Dof's daughter Gemma arrived. Gemma is a teacher so we enjoyed trading stories about education in each country.
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