Continuing the theme of the longer walk, my husband and I set out to walk to Stisted, a nearby village. First we walked along the River Blackwater to Dick Nunn's Bridge. This was, until recently, the turning point on our longest walk.
Dick Nunn was a local blacksmith, in the nineteenth century. He was stout-hearted and possessed of a sense of social justice, to the extent that, seeing tumbledown cottage up near the church, he helped it to tumble down completely, thus shaming the landlord into action. Which was fortunate as, otherwise, the tenant would have been homeless. The bridge has an iron frame - made by Dick himself? - and wooden slats.
We walked along the ridge then dropped to the river again. Here we were amazed to find boggy sections even in this unprecedented dry spell. Borage, alive with bees, towers over the presumed path.
Passing a trout farm and Blackwater Alpacas, where eight fine animals were sunning themselves, we came to the gravel extraction pits. All this while the noise of heavy traffic on the A120 was in our ears, but nothing prepares you for the experience of walking on the path alongside the road. Fortunately, this stretch did not last and we were soon through a hedge into quiet fields.
And this is where we were headed: Stisted. This is an ancient village much developed in the nineteenth century. Note the ornamental brickwork on the chimneys.
We stopped for lunch on a bench outside the Montefiore Reading Room and my husband was able to sample the beer from the Onley Arms. Unlike our village, Stisted has no shops, even for basic supplies. It has only a tea-shop and a pub.
Then we headed home over the fields, including crossing an interminable field of oilseed rape where the crop was as tall as I am. It was like walking through the bristles of a broom, although, at ground level, the path was perfectly clear.
Saturday was the meeting of the Mid Essex Guild of Spinners and Weavers. Somehow I find myself in possession of a spinning wheel, without being able to spin. I am poring over Sue Macniven's You-Tube videos, and have learned a lot already.
This is an absolutely standard Ashford wheel, which means that spare bobbins should be easy to come by.
Finally, a swatch of a four-ply Shetland yarn from sheep grazing on a local nature reserve. someone at the Guild processes the fleece and sends it off to be spun in Devon. The result is a lovely cosy sample - lofty is the term, I believe. I am contemplating a jumper for my husband's birthday in August and this looks just the ticket.