As I sit here, the rain is coming down in torrents outside and the forecast is not looking very good for today or tomorrow. This tells me one of two things, firstly we live in England, secondly it must be the inevitable Bank Holiday weekend. To be frank, it’s not too much of a hardship, as unfortunately Ginny has to work right through, until next Thursday. So there’s not much chance of us going anywhere or doing anything, until she has a day off. To pass the time while she works, I tend to take this chance, to do some housework, maybe write a post for this blog (or other blogs) or if the weathers fine, I go out walking. I only really go out walking to keep fit, because after over the 30 years of playing sport, my body is not really up to too much physical stress. The wear and tear of sport and my age I’m nearly 50 has taken its toll, but walking and possibly cycling is ok.
I’ve a number of walking books and maps which details where the footpaths are, so it’s not too much problem finding out of the way places to walk. Why out of the way ? Well, it’s a case of in most towns or on most roads there is just so much traffic. The noise and the pollution especially in summer also gets to you. In the countryside its quiet, almost pollution free and there’s virtually no chance of getting run over, by some man/woman texting on the phone, in their 4×4.
When I do have to walk along the roadside (if I get lost or a footpath is impassable) it’s amazing that during work/school or holiday times, just how many cars actually pass you. On the busier roads it’s almost an endless stream and it makes me wonder how many of these journeys, using valuable oil stocks, are actually necessary.
In mid Essex however, there is plenty of countryside, which so many people never ever see, let alone walk around. We can go for hours and hardly see a soul; normally the only people you do see are other walkers, or the odd farmer/workman. Occasionally we can strip off when the suns out but normally you’re never really too far from a road, a farm, a house or a village, so it’s not really possible for too long. Even though it’s not illegal in law to walk naked down the street, the police authorities will always try to find a way to prosecute. If they don’t, the media will try to make such a ruckus, it’s not really worth the bother.
People like Stephen Gough push the rulings to the limit, but while we wouldn’t want to walk naked down the street, it would be nice to walk through the quiet countryside, when no one’s around, au natural. All this, without the fear of prosecution. Recently the government has put through a bill, trying to change the law with regards to anti-social behaviour. Naturists in the know are worried sick by this bill. Injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance, community protection notices, closure notices , closure orders, and even police dispersal powers, could be used to prohibit naturism for periods ranging from 48 hours to indefinitely.
Simple nudity has never been illegal in England and Wales, but some police and councils harass naturists determinedly. There are 3.7 million naturists in the UK, but most know nothing about this bill, because they are not members of any organization.
Half the pleasure of walking around the countryside is the scenery and the peacefulness, but also the chance to spot some part of history, tucked away in deep countryside. Last week, I did a walk around Great Waltham, where once again I spotted at least two World War II pillboxes. Opposite the cricket ground, stands an old stately home called Langley’s.
There has been a house on the Langley’s since some time before the 16th century. Part of the mansion was then demolished and rebuilt in its present form, to designs by William Tufnell, sometime after 1711. Charles Bridgeman then laid out the grounds. Repton produced a red book for the site, but it is not known what work was undertaken by him.
Humphry Repton (21 April 1752 – 24 March 1818) was the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century, often regarded as the successor to Capability Brown, He also sowed the seeds of the more intricate and eclectic styles of the 19th century. After various new starts in Norfolk, Repton with his capital dwindling, moved to a modest cottage at Hare Street near Romford in Essex. In 1788, aged 36 and with four children and no secure income, he hit on the idea of combining his sketching skills with his limited experience of laying out grounds at Sustead to become a ‘landscape gardener’ (a term he himself coined).
Since the death of Capability Brown in 1783, no one figure dominated English garden design; Repton was ambitious to fill this gap and sent circulars round his contacts in the upper classes advertising his services. Repton, with no real experience of practical horticulture, became an overnight success, is a tribute to his undeniable talent, but also to the unique way he presented his work. To help clients visualise his designs, Repton produced ‘Red Books’ (so called for their binding) with explanatory text and watercolours with a system of overlays to show ‘before’ and ‘after’ views. In this he differed from Capability Brown, who worked almost exclusively with plans and rarely illustrated or wrote about his work.
It was during this time Langley’s gardens became famed. Then during the early-19th century, part of the river was ornamented, new plantations were made, a new road cut through the park, and possibly a pleasure gardens and the wilderness planted. By 1875, the park had been extended and an elaborate parterre garden had been created as had an early-18th-century park and woodland covering 63 hectares, which contains a late-19th-century formal garden. There is also by the side of the house, just by the side of the road a pet cemetery that has small gravestones dating from at least 1902 up until 1973.
As it’s now getting towards autumn the famers are busy harvesting the crops so most of the fields are clear, even though the footpaths aren’t, so it’s easy to pass the overgrown parts. As we’re nearly in September it’s important to get out in the good weather before it turns too cold or too wet making fields impassable. It is also important to remember the freedoms that the people of this country have striven to achieve over the centuries and not to ban everything that public opinion decrees. Simple nudity should be included as one of these freedoms.
By the way….it’s still raining outside !