Monday 9 May 2022


 Good morning, everyone.  The sun is shining and it promises to be a really lovely day.  Bring it on!

Yesterday was a funny old day really.  Started well, took a dip and came back up again.  Yesterday, I wrote 'the other side (of Braintree - referring to the drive up) is simple . . . '   

I really should have known better.

The bit of the journey I wasn't looking forward to, getting through Braintree) turned out to be relatively simple, with the help of the sat nav.  The rest should have been a doddle but when I got to the roundabout to get onto the A 131, there was the dreaded 'Road Closed' sign.  Oh, poo, especially as I have no knowledge of country roads around there.  There was a diversion signposted so I took that but became more and more concerned as it took me (and lots of other traffic) onto the A120 and off towards Colchester, almost in the opposite direction!  I drove along for a while, the diversion signs petered out, the sat nav was doing its nut (and mine), telling to do U turns and I ended up turning back, stopping, looking closely at the map on the sat nav, remembering there were signposts to the castle from Halstead, resetting the SatNav, setting off down the A 120 again, ignoring a few turnings that looks very 'country' and finally turning off near Coggeshall from whence I was well directed to Halstead and from there to Hedingham.
I was only an hour late!!!!!

Once there though, things looked up.  I'll post some photos below.
Hedingham castle was built around 1140 and is very 'Norman' - austere, forbidding and dominating with few external frills and fancies although there is supposed to have been an inside well and there are also inside loos.  It's basically one room on four floors with a few off rooms (like the loo and a little chapel).

I won't go on about its history - there's info here.

The bluebells were, frankly, not worth seeing.  They were pretty much over, their blue had faded and the nettles were taking over.  However, the actual walk, which was quite short, was really lovely.  Called the 'Valley' or 'Forest' walk, it goes around the keep and is what was a pretty substantial moat.  
As the properly is privately owned, there's a very posh house to the side and the walk takes one through the garden with a very pretty lake at the bottom.  A splendid view from the bedrooms.

One actually accesses the keep via a Tudor bridge which goes over what was the moat.

The drive home was much better.  I just did a series of town hops - to Halstead, then to Coggeshall which got me onto the A 120.  After that, I knew where I was and the drive back through Braintree (I am so glad I did that way) was no problem.

Over the last few months I have hit three road closures on my way somewhere and each time the diversions have been absolutely rubbish, taking me miles out of the way and poorly signalled as well.  Yes, I'm having a grumble!  The A 131, for all it looks like a B road in places, is a main road taking lots of traffic up towards Bury and beyond.  You'd think they could manage to keep it a bit open with traffic lights, wouldn't you?

Enough whinging . . .  here's some photos.

View from the car park area.
Access via the Tudor bridge 
The fireplace in the Banqueting Hall - that chevron pattern is replicated all over the Keep
Internal view from the minstrels gallery.

The floors are all modern.  There was a bad fire in 1918.  The keep had been used as a signalling station for aircraft and the soldiers manning it were careless.  An awful lot of historically important furniture and all the ancient plastering was destroyed which is very sad.
External view from the gallery - that little splash of colour on the right is picnic tables with people enjoying the sunshine.
Walking along the moat valley
Nice bedroom view - lucky owners!
A sample of the bluebells!  Two weeks ago they would have been beautiful.

Apart from the drive there, I really enjoyed myself.  It was warm and sunny, not at all crowded, not commercialised and I will be going back again, perhaps earlier in Spring.

Today's plans involve a small shop (I am out of salad stuff which would never do!) and circuits at Lindsey's.  No tuition - which feels very odd!

I found this on Facebook and I offer it to all Yr sixes, everywhere, who are taking their KS2 SATs this week.  It says what I think.

Have a great day, everyone.  xx


  1. Love that poem. All teachers should read that to their children .I hated the way that everyone got so worried about SATS . especially for the youngest

    1. They are wicked (in the old fashioned sense) and they tell the teachers nothing about their children. SATs were always to test the teachers, not the children.
      Endless worry, endless stress - horrible.

  2. Lovely photos Joy. I was in Hedingham house at school in Basildon. The houses were named after Essex castles (Clavering, Hadleigh & Ongar being the others) I have never been to Hedingham Castle so interesting read your post xx

    1. It is worth a visit, I think, especially with a family - loads of room for chasing and ball games and, of course, a good old picnic. xx

  3. Just a suggestion when you are going out for a longer drive...get on your computer and look at googlemaps for the route. You can click on the layer for traffic and then zoom in on the route you hope to take. It will show road closures (like the one you had yesterday) or if there are heavy traffic/accident issues and give you a chance to scan for alternate routes. Just a thought. Mary (in US)

    1. I did look up the route but not just before setting out - I didn't realise they showed road closures - thanks very much. xx

  4. A shame about the bluebells but it looks like a lovely place to visit anyway.

    I detest the SATS exams - it's Little Miss H's turn this year and the pressure the school is putting on them is unbelievable.

    1. It's a lovely place. Definitely one to go back to. xx

  5. Next time we are down in Essex I think we should go to Hedingham castle. Thank you for the picture visit it has inspired a visit.

    1. I think it's worth a visit. Bags of history and some nice woodlands to stroll around in. The little café does tea, coffee, cold drinks and snacks - cake, crisps, etc, but there are picnic tables and loads of grassy space for a picnic. xx

  6. Glad you had a good time, though sorry the bluebells disappointed. It looks like a wonderful place to visit and the sun was shining!

    1. Yes, that was a shame, but the nice things about bluebells is there's always next year, :-) It was a gorgeously warm and sunny day. xx

  7. Lovely photos of the keep.

    God bless.

    1. Thanks. It is very dramatic, standing there against the sky. I could imagine the power it exuded to the villagers. xx

  8. Long-time reader, very occasional commented. 🙃

    I'm usually pretty good finding my way around. My first jab in March, 2021, was at a municipal stadium (initial options were drive-thru at two very large venues) and I knew it was near the zoo. Had not been there in at least 35 years--before the advent of multiple freeways--but had decent knowledge of the general area.

    Looked at Google Maps. This highway south to that highway east. Take Exit A south to Street Z west, etc. Followed the directions, but after turning onto Street Z my brain kicked in. Pulled into a parking lot and looked at the area. Memory said zoo and stadium were about 4 miles NORTH EAST of there.

    Checked Google Maps again, ignoring the directions. There it was! NORTH EAST! Followed my nose and arrived--eventually! Sometimes technology is a bit...let's say, off! 🙃

    BTW, the drive-thru jab venue was interesting. It was the smaller of the two and closest to me. Single lane entry to Checkpoint 1. Expand to two lanes to Checkpoint 2. Something marked on windshield. Expand to four lanes and Checkpoint 3. Something else written on windshield.

    Expand to 8 lanes, then 16 lanes. One more checkpont before the canopied injection area. Moved smoothly. About 40 minutes from entry to exit. Yes, they removed the markings from the windshield! :-)

    Primarily staffed by volunteers and National Guard. Very high volume! LOL

    ...Taja 🏜️

    1. Oh, goodness, what a to-do! It was worth it though, wasn't it!

      Thanks for commenting, it's so nice to hear from a reader, particularly a long-time reader. xx