Walking in the World


Magic from My Happy Place


I’m taking a perverse pride in the fact that I have burned out the motor on my old food processor. I’ve hated the thing from Day One, but it was too durable to die quickly, even under my the duress of my punishing projects (particularly my raw nut butters). In the end, I trounced it — but the down side is that I’ve had to select and shell out for a new one.

Today was the day. After a week of internet research, we headed to Potters Cookshop in Hockley to pick up my new kitchen toy(s). I know it’s silly, but Potters is one of my reliable Happy Places, and I’m as apt to go there for a good wander as I am for an occasional splurge, enjoying the cool gadgets, colourful cookware, and superb customer service that make this small independent shop the award-winning experience that it is. Ali (pictured above) is always smiling, always super-helpful, and she has a cabinet of awards to prove that I’m not the only one who thinks she’s terrific. (She didn’t even blink an eye when I once asked her to find me a whoopie pie pan…)


As one who believes deeply in the power of kitchen alchemy, I value the tools that help me work my magic because healthy food is vital to my mental and physical well-being, and is my primary creative outlet these days. Thanks, Potters, for giving me good days out and helping me stock my kitchen! I’ll be putting my new food processor to good use – even if it almost bigger than my tiny kitchen….

I’m in love.

30 Jun 2016

A Proper Village Fayre


Thundersley did itself proud this afternoon. Friends and neighbours gathered to celebrate the season and wish each other well as shopkeepers welcomed us with open doors and festive food and drink.


Jenny the Donkey came to see the children.


Father Christmas was there with reindeer and treats for good little boys and girls.


Our local hairdressers created reindeer hair for the ladies.


And our MP (Member of Parliament), Rebecca Harris, stopped by to visit all the shops and mingle with the crowds.


The comment I heard the most: Thundersley feels like a proper English village!

18 Dec 2015

Windy Basildon


After yesterday’s sunny ramble along the coastal footpath, today we braved the crowds of shoppers in Basildon as we finished off the last bit of Christmas shopping. Jeff’s reward? A sausage from the German Sausage Windmill, of course!

10 Dec 2015

Meat & Two Veg


Hadleigh’s greengrocer and butcher shop always has a nice array of seasonal treats. I walked up from Thundersley to meet a friend for coffee this morning and took a bit of time on the way home to see what was on offer. Our weather is extremely mild at the moment, but the skies are grey and dismal so this bright display was a welcome sight.

10 Nov 2015

Knit & Natter


The Noise Arts Festival is taking place all week here in Thundersley, and today Bodkins hosted a free Knit & Natter taster session for anyone wanting to pick up needles and wool and have a go. Seven of us crowded into the front of the shop to knit and get acquainted — and as always, what’s said in Knit Club, stays in Knit Club!


28 Oct 2015

Thundersley in Pink


Breast cancer affects us all. This week, Thundersley is decked out in pink to increase awareness of the disease and hopefully encourage donations to the Lady McAdden Breast Screening Trust. I’m feeling very proud of my community today! (If you are reading this in an email, please click over to my actual webpage to see a gallery of our local shops all doing their part.)


26 Oct 2015

Hatfield House Revisited


We don’t know how many more perfectly autumnal days we’re going to have this year, so we took advantage of the weather and our willing house guest to make the trek to Hatfield House and the adjacent palace and gardens. We especially wanted to photograph the gardens and the maze now that the foliage has reached its peak, before the leaves fall and winter sets in… and oh, what a lovely day it was! The gardens were amazing, and we especially enjoyed Renaissance, the magnificent water fountain in front of the main house. It was still under construction when we were there in April, so we were taken quite by surprise as it the entire structure shifted, flowed, emerged and submerged before our eyes. It is a surprisingly successful positioning of new and modern amongst the old and traditional.


The old Hatfield Palace, as I explained in my April post, was where Queen Elizabeth I spent most of her childhood, and where she was living when she learned of her succession to the throne when Henry VIII died in 1558. The grounds are huge and lovingly maintained, with a large number of historic garden features and plants. As one who is more fascinated by daily life than great events, I was once again intrigued by the personality that pervades the estate – we met up with and exchanged pleasantries with the current owners as our paths crossed out in the garden — Hatfield House is their home, not just a monument to people long gone.


I found that the personal touch extends to the shops and small businesses that make the estate feel like a small village. One shop, for instance, was selling small jars of medlar marmalade, and we spoke with the woman responsible for collecting the medlars each autumn. She told us about needing to wear a hard hat to keep from being conked on the head by falling fruit as she reached up into the trees, and we visited with the beekeeper who explained that the honey we had just purchased would taste of the lime trees we had been admiring in the park. The marmalade and honey will taste all the sweeter for having met the people who love the garden enough to keep its history alive by making use of its bounty!

(If you are reading this post in an email, you will need to click through to the website in order to see the gallery of photos below. Enjoy!)

26 Sep 2015

Colourful London

Seven Dials

August is flying past. My creative spark has been reignited, and my energy has been pulled away from my computer and towards my wool, beads, art supplies, and interesting projects. Today, though, I went into London with a friend and managed to combine a whole lot of my current interests with my love of walking and exploring the world. We started at Seven Dials (near Covent Garden), then wandered towards the colourful shops and cafes of  Neal’s Yard:


before walking over to spend a very long time perusing the bead treats at the Bead Shop. I was fairly restrained in my purchases because I knew that our next stop was going to be at my personal Happy Place, the London Graphics Centre. How can one shop manage to have so many things I need want?


As you can see, by afternoon, the clouds had cleared and yesterday’s rain left things looking shiny and bright, a perfect day for meandering.


27 Aug 2015

Girls’ Day Out


Yes, I realise that today’s photo is rather uninspired and you may well wonder what it has to do with walking, but that’s because I was having too good a time to bother with photos – this is one I took to consider for a future purchase. My friend’s FitBit swears that we walked well over 10,000 steps as we made our way through Ikea, Tesco, and two shopping malls — urban walking at its girlie best!. We shopped, talked, lunched, and laughed as we set the world to rights.

16 Jul 2015

Local Gore


Wandering through a back street in Rayleigh on my way to pick up my new glasses this morning, I spotted an old remnant of days gone by. This trade sign is widely recognized as a barber pole, and dates back to the Middle Ages. According to Wikipedia, its history is a rather gory one:

The origin of the red and white barber pole is associated with the service of bloodletting and was historically a representation of bloody bandages wrapped around a pole. During medieval times, barbers performed surgery on customers, as well as tooth extractions. The original pole had a brass wash basin at the top (representing the vessel in which leeches were kept) and bottom (representing the basin that received the blood). The pole itself represents the staff that the patient gripped during the procedure to encourage blood flow.

More than you wanted to know?

01 May 2015

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