27 February, 2010

Brentwood, Essex

Brentwood is near to the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, and is actually a bit like BrentFORD. Perhaps it's psychogeography. I went to Brentwood as I was determined to get good value from my Essex visit, where I was lulled to sleep by a one eye grey story.

Notwithstanding the rain Brentwood doesn't give up its secrets easily. The town is a bit far from the Railway Station although a sort of town has grown near it. They do have a martyr called William Hunter who was burned at the stake at the age of 19 for the heinous crime of reading the scriptures, which he would not give up even for ready money. His memorial obelisk was restored in 1910 after the monument was damaged by fire. I wonder if there's more to that than meets the eye? Probably not, although Brentwood has a Roman Catholic cathedral, although you won't see it on here in accordance with usual policy.

The Village green in Brentwood is called Shenfield Common and this drinking fountain was given by two benefactors - husband and wife. I had a Mr Toby pie and pint special in the local pub which filled a gap if nothing else, but would have preferred the drinking fountain to be operational.

The real church of Brentwood is 19th century huge and I'm sure its congregation love it. It's not particularly photogenic though so the only church picture is going to be the ruined pilgrimage chapel of St Thomas a Beckett, now merely a ruin

There is no guided tour of the town for visitors, an ommission that somebody connected with the civic pride should correct.
Civic pride is manifest in this sculpture that greets people coming up from the station. It was however the last I saw of Brentwood besides a rather damp, smelly secondhand bookshop.

21 February, 2010

Getting in touch with my North (London) side - Canonbury and Crouch Hill.

A sunny saturday for once so time to go out again - I had some Islington Society trail leaflets and what better day to go out and use them.

There is a story by Alice Bower called 'Shanaya meets a northsider' where Shanaya a girl from Peckham is always told by her mother to 'Beware the fiendish northsider so sly' so I was taking precautions. I had my A-z and the trail leaflets. Starting off at Highbury corner - note to Islington Society please start your trails at a tube station- I picked up the first trail through canonbury via an ordinary street of houses with a 1970s school being demolished and replaced by one clad with wood. The trail led into Petherton Road with the New River (remember?) running underneath the generous green space in the middle.

The next bit of any note was Newington Green with a Unitarian chapel where Mary Wolstencroft (also known as Mary Shelley) had worshipped.

Also on the other side of the green was what the Islington Society called London's oldest surviving brick terrace - I suppose that at least they're Islington's oldest.

Newington Green was rather nice with 'treasures' planted around which were supposed to give up a secret when pressed. The mechanism seemed not to work anymore.
The next bit followed the New River and led eventually to Canonbury Tower
Formerly part of the Canonbury manor house the tower dated from the 16th century - and it looked like it did. A brief excursion to Canonbury Square (where Eric Blair - Tony's Grandfather also known as George Orwell lived) and the walk was done.

The next trail led from the horrors of Finsbury Park station to the almost delights of Crouch Hill.
This interesting looking church was one of the highlights of a dull urban walk

The Islington Society pointed out some award winning gardens on one of the streets and I thought typical Islington. They've been given an award because their gardening's 'edgy' but really both gardens were simply a mess.
The other point of interest was the Old Dairy public house - not surprisingly in an old dairy. There are stucco panels depicting what are now historic scenes of dairy farming and milk production.
The trail led to crouch hill and then petered out.
I couldn't be bothered to do the next one although I looked at Hornsey Road Baths (now flats)with this evocative sign (restorred)

I then decided to go shopping in the Holloway Road.

07 February, 2010

muddy foggy day in the clent hills

After Northamptonshire yesterday it was the turn of Worcestershire today. The Clent hills is a popular spot for walkers even on a borderline rainy day like today. The National Trust run a car park although it is easy to park elsewhere.

The hills are wooded and have four stones standing on top of them - said to be built by the Earl of Dudley who used to own the Estate.

There is even a special viewpoint

A very nice place indeed.

06 February, 2010

Daventry and Stoke Bruerne

Daventry is a market town in Northants right in the middle of hunting country, there is a memorial to a member of a hunt committee in the high street. Lots of local shops and cafes with very few chains. I have to say that the cafe I went into with my friend was chaotic and they forgot our order.
The church was nice but no real time to look round as so much time wasted waiting for food that never arrived.

Daventry should be pronounced Danetre but nobady does thanks to the BBC who have a transmitter there, who pronounced it as it is written.

After Danetre went to Stoke Bruerne to see the National Inland Waterways museum, with canal boats. It was very nice with lots of canal impedimenta painted with roses and castles and parts of the hard life of a boatman.

We went for a walk up the canal to the Blisworth Tunnel which is just under two miles long.

We went for a walk over the top but stopped short of finding the end at that distance.