Monday, November 01, 2010

No tricks, all treats – 30 October 2010

Autumn colours are almost like a drug; if the sun is shining, we have to get out for another 'fix'. The only place free of showers today was north of London, so we headed for Braintree, and enjoyed a circular drive taking in Sudbury and Nayland.

One hidden gem we discovered on the way to Sudbury, was Wissington. This hamlet has an 11th century church down a no exit, tiny road, is such a tranquil spot, it made us feel like a million miles from London. Inside the church are 13th century wall paintings, the one which really appealed was a very stylish dragon (no sign of St George though).

Sudbury is the home town of Thomas Gainsborough, the famous 18th century painter. We visited the house where he was born and grew up. It has now been turned into an art gallery, displaying, predominately, Gainsborough's paintings.

After passing through several picturesque villages, all painted in pastel colours, we arrived in Stratford St Mary. We had a five mile walk starting at the tudor Le Talbooth restaurant, once featured in a painting by Constable. It is still a fabulous spot, although spoilt by the busy roads nearby. Before the walk, we had a superb lunch at Milsoms, the sister restaurant around the corner.

The circular walk took in parts of the Essex Way, and returned by the Stour Walkway. There was still time in the day to complete our drive through Earls Colne to Halstead. The most interesting part of Halstead is beside the River Colne, where the old silk mills are now used as an antiques centre.

For the eve of Halloween, we were delighted to have been treated to excellent weather, as half way home we ran onto very wet roads, obviously the forecast was right, convincing us to go far enough north to be out of reach of the passing showers

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