Thursday, July 07, 2011
This week we set off to walk across country to Messing, a village near Tiptree. This is a ten mile circular walk. We are trying to build up our mileage in order to be able to contemplate some of the many alluring long-distance footpaths on offer in England: the Ridgeway, the Cotswold Way, Offa's Dyke, Hadrian's Wall and so on.
First we went out across fields planted up with row upon row of blackcurrant bushes - ours are just ready to harvest.
We were pleased to see the contractors just about to start the harvest, using a giant machine which straddled the bushes. Brushes made of many rubber fingers would knock off the berries into a conveyor of rubber dishes. Then the debris would be blown off and they would be crated up. All of these were destined for Ribena.
Our own bushes have been heavy with fruit this year. I love the sense of storing the vitamins for the depths of winter. We have many jars of last year's jam still to eat, so I am freezing these down for later.
We sat down to eat lunch at the edge of a small copse. Sitting silently on what passes for a hill in Esssex, we were pleased to see a huge hare venture out, lolloping across the rows of sweetcarn. He was quite unaware of us. At the turn of the field path, my husband spotted a young fox on patrol. Let's hope that these two did not meet.
Messing is a very ancient settlement. At first glance, the church looks fairly ordinary, with a nineteenth century tower. Built into the structure, however, are pieces of masonry from a nearby Roman villa. Inside is the real treasure: a stained glass winow dating from the early seventeenth century. There too is an ancient wooden coffer. The glass survived the Civil War because it was dismantled, packed into the coffer and stored in the crypt. And here it sits, all these centuries later.
At the top of the village, just opposite the church, the village hall. A blue plaque records that it has been in turn a workhouse, almshouses and a school before its present use.
Knitting-wise, I am embarked on an un-photogenic project. The yarn is lovely: dark-brown Shetland from sheep on a local nature reserve.
The pattern is one I have used before, with a plain stocking stitch back. This is proving ideal for working while reading the sub-titles on the Danish version of "The Killing". But it doesn't take a very good picture.