Posted by: digibirder | April 18, 2007

Been visitin’

As you can also read on Quacky-birder’s blog, CherryPie and I had a little venture south of Watford to visit with old three-cameras-two-scopes-quacky-birder for a bit of a cultural expedition round the Essex/London area.

I met up with CP after work on Friday and we had a very smooth journey down the motorway, arriving at Pete’s about 9pm, whereupon we consumed a (rather large) glass or two of the old vino blanco, before staggering to bed at about 1am.

Saturday dawned, along with the expected headache (for me anyway), and we decided that today’s trip would be to Audley End, an English Heritage property. After breakfast and Ibuprofen we set off, stopping on the way in Saffron Walden, where we sampled the delights of a local deli/coffee shop and each had a rather huge scone which none of us could finish, so we slipped the leftovers into a napkin to have later. We also bought some goodies from an up-market food shop, and browsed a small bookshop, where I saw a rather interesting coffee-table type book, and later regretted not getting it. So Keith ordered it from Amazon and it arrived today. It’s called Vanishing Act by Art Wolfe, and is full of photos from nature of animals who blend seamlessly into their surroundings. Some of them take some finding!

We arrived at Audley End House and took the guided tour of the house, which was very interesting. There was a corridor full of cases containing stuffed animals and birds, one of which I have been trying to identify – a very small falcon, probably no bigger than a Blackbird (Turdus merula). Very strange. The gardens were also very pleasant, and we were quite amazed by the old Yew hedge.

I tried something different with this photo, as there was an aerial and some other distractions sticking up above the roof, so they were cloned out and the photo was desaturated to black and white – I thought this subject would suit b&w better than colour.

It was a glorious day – quite warm and sunny – so we had a good wander around the gardens, finding some newts in one of the ponds in the walled garden and we also spotted a Swallow flying over – my first of the year. We found a nice shady gazebo, where we sat for quite some time, watching the world go by, before making our way back to the car. On the way back we stopped off in Thaxted and visited the church, where there was a wedding taking place, with Morris Dancers performing in the churchyard. The wedding service was over, so we had access to the inside of the church. It is in need of some restoration in places, but it was very nice, the peace gently broken by a lone violinist playing. Having had a wander through the town we then went back to prepare for dinner, which Pete had booked for us at The Starr in Great Dunmow (and which was quite delicious). Bedtime was a little earlier, as we were all quite knackered.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny again, and after breakfast we set off for Eltham Palace where we enjoyed another very interesting visit. We wandered through the house, marvelling at the contrast between the Art Deco newer part, built by the Courtaulds (of textile fame) in the 1930s, and the medieval origins of the great hall, with its incredible hammer beam ceiling. The house had some rather innovative features for its time, such as electric clocks that received a pulse and kept time with the new Greenwich Time Signal, and a centralised vacuuming system where a hose was inserted into a hole in the wall and the dust sucked down into the basement, so the servants didn’t have to lug heavy vacuum cleaners around.

Here are a couple of photos from the lovely gardens. After a stroll round the gardens, we sat in a nice shady spot watching the birds and soaking up the atmosphere, before heading back to Pete’s for a cup of tea before CP and I headed back up north.

Although it was a packed weekend, it was very relaxing in a way, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

(All photos taken with Canon A95 compact digicam)



  1. lovely photos Diane. Amazing wants those compacts can do.

    great weekend as well

    I won’t ask how many camera you have. At least 4 isn’t it?

  2. Yes, it’s not a bad little camera, although the Canon G3 I sold when I bought the DSLR was a lot better, I thought. I wish I’d kept it, but hadn’t realised I would want a ‘backup’ camera.

    Erm, I also have 3 cameras! The other one is the film camera I bought last year, which hasn’t seen much use, I have to say.

  3. Wow, that hedge is amazing! Love the pics!

  4. I can’t believe it’s almost 3 months since we were in Harlow.

    I am never wearing those trousers again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: