Sunday 11 March 2012

Essex - day 1: Maldon

We had no time to explore our Osea Island home – a Thames barge was awaiting us at Maldon quay and we needed to be off the island by 10am before the causeway flooded. Once off, there could be no return until 6pm.

The original causeway was built by the Romans, and its current incarnation is no friend to cars. Over a mile long, it's a strange and bumpy journey through the mud flats. But, like a mobile hide, the car took us much closer to curlews and redshanks than we could ever get on foot.

Unfortunately, we never made our appointment with the Thames barge. We went to A&E instead. After a few hours of sitting and pondering the amount of arm injuries in Chelmsford, and ten minutes with a doctor, we set out for Maldon.

Only to be distracted by a fibreglass cow on a roof and a collection of other animals, rock stars, and Egyptian gods tempting the discerning horticulturist at Jewels Garden Centre.

These characters were in a shed, as though kidnapped from a cartoon.

Eventually we reached Maldon, along with everyone else in Essex who were all out enjoying the sunshine. And we could see why: Maldon's Promenade Park must have something for everyone. There's a sandpit, a lake, a splash pool, a galleon play area, a boating pond, a skate park, a promenade, a tree trail, many burger bars, a seafood hut, two pubs, a church, stacks of historic barges and a menu for dogs. Who couldn't find something to occupy themselves here, man or beast?

Every sunny day needs a gang of bikers.

Thistle was the vessel we were supposed to sail on, moored up for the evening.

A cross-section of the British public return from the end of the promenade, more fulfilled than they were when they set out...

...after seeing the statue of Byrntnoth staring out to sea. He, and his Anglo-Saxon forces, confronted the Vikings at the Battle of Maldon in 991AD where he lost his life at the age of 68.

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