|Like The Queen
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Friday, June 13, 2003
ENGLAND IN MAY
Today D, BD, and I take the train to Harwich, HARRICH as D says. A train to Manningtree then switch to the Harwich line. One hour of travel. I am excited to recognize Colchester as we drive by. The countryside is beautiful and green and we’re in Harwich for lunch at D’s favorite spot, a tiny place, for fish & chips - fish is very tasty and flavorful, but the crust is not as special as at the Writle shop.
This is D’s hometown and he grows emotional, but he’s happy. Much industry for this is an international container port and a ferry port from Holland. Here also sailed the Mayflower, whose captain lived in the town, and about which we do not care a hoot, loyal Virginians that we are, but also here Christopher Newport was born and, in St. Nicholas Church, was baptized.
We are given a delightful tour. This church is the 1820 church built over the ruins of the original Norman one.
We walk past the lighthouse that saved D's house and family - when a bomb was dropped during WWII not 100 yards away. All the plaster was knocked from the walls and D & sister washed glass out of their heads for 2 weeks. D tells us he watched the Battle of Britain - and helped burry the bodies that washed ashore 3 days later. This is an emotional visit.
We stop in a pub for tea and I sketch a couple who are just in off the train.
But it's smokey inside and there's a thrum of rock music coming from sound system
We visit every site on the walking tour. Most vivid is the Treadmill Crane.
This ancient tool, worked by men - serfs? slaves? employees? walking inside a wheel to wind the chain to lift the heavy objects. The whole thing gave me the shivers. How awful a life - and yet - such technology - to build pyramids - monuments - commerce. I wonder what, if any, one was paid to do this. The literature stated this was not like prison treadmills, but a vast improvement, for the wheels are enclosed and the workers are out of the weather.
What with the late start, the 2 different temperaments of the men, we have a slow trip through town. We walk along the seaside, watch the ferry arrive, the ships go out. It’s very windy so there’s always a sail visible.
There is a redoubt built to defend the coast from Napoleon’s army. It’s closed - boo hoo - but we go take a look. The cutest little fellow, perhaps 12, dashes up to us and asks “‘av yee seeeeeen meee bruthah?”. We have and he joins us on a circumnavigation of the fort, telling us all about it, the history of the town, his own history and hopes to become a sailor. Later we see his bruthah and companion, 15? 16? - flirting with the girls. Our guide scampers off to hop along in their wake. Don’t you just remember what that was like?
From Harwich we go along the coast to Dovercourt, aiming for D’s cousin, where we never get, for we dawdle so. Tide is coming in -high and fast.
There is another lighthouse on stilts in the water. We walk the beach and I soon have a pocket full of shells - a cockle, a muscle, a live-alive-o.
We catch the train home at Dovercourt but in a backwards way - for we go from Dct. to Hrwch where the train ends and then from Hrwch to Manningtree to Chelmsford. I sketch views from the train window
and of the view up the hill from Manningtree station of the little village of Cutawade.
I grow tired - not so much physically, but just tired. D. seemed prepared to stay till the last train but instead, we are home by 9:30. A has prepared chicken w/dumplings. I eat and collapse. She’s bought me a copy of a book about life in England at the turn of the century.
posted by Bess | 7:02 AM