The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Our weekend in Harwich was met with superb weather from a sunshine point of view, but boy was that wind cold. An icy blast from the north that chilled you to the very marrow. Luckily there were many compensations!
The 1912 centre, where we were staying, was brilliant, with cosy rooms, a well-equipped kitchen, a spacious dining room and very enthusiastic heating!
Our Friday night was spent in the Old Ship being tempted by a delicious menu, finishing up with some real ale in the pub round the corner. Jake showed a distinct lack of stamina by dozing off in the pub (perhaps it was our scintillating conversation?).
Saturday saw us start on the real purpose of the weekend – completing the first of the final two legs of the Essex Way. There were eight of us who’d completed the previous six stages and now had the end in sight. Not that it really mattered. One thing that has really stood out about the Essex Way is how pleasantly rural it has been, considering the crowded nature of our county. The last couple of sections were no exception, and if anything were particularly nice.
Andrew took responsibility for the Saturday night meal and really pushed the boat out. We had poppadums, we had naans, we had a fabulously tasty chicken curry and truly industrial quantities of rice! A cure for hunger guaranteed.
Saturday’s leg (leg 7) took us from the delights of Dedham to The Strangers Home in Bradfield, and Sunday’s from Bradfield to the High Lighthouse in Harwich. Part of the route was along the windswept high levees of the Stour, other parts were more sheltered, but all were green and rural with those fabulous big skies. I had thought that the approach to Harwich might be a bit more industrial, but a thoughtful wiggle of the route took you south of the town to come in via the sea wall and spectacular entrance along the promenade.
On the last couple of miles along Harwich promenade the group got a little split up, so the celebrations at the High Lighthouse were delayed whist we gathered up all those who’d strayed from the true path. Posing by the commemorative sign we had eight completers and many more partials. 81 miles and the end of a very splendid walk.
Lord of the Mince
Ten of us enjoyed an evening of camp smut and double entendres with Julian Clary at the Civic Theatre. He even read out articles from the Essex Chronicle and made them seem outrageously rude. “We didn’t pay to listen to him reading the newspaper!” – well actually, we did.
Exotic Tastes of Thailand
Thanks to Trudi for having another birthday as an excuse for a dozen of us to gather at the Lanthai restaurant in Chelmsford. A tasty meal and a great evening.
Thanks to John for another of his educational evenings, this time telling us some fascinating facts about Essex Rivers and the Thames Estuary. If you weren’t there, you won’t know which river has evidence of medieval salt pans, where the remains of Darwin’s ship HMS Beagle were found, which rivers were the scenes of a Viking invasion, a German Zeppelin landing, and the last resting place of the Kaiser’s minesweepers. And have you ever wondered why the canal from Chelmsford bypasses Maldon?
He’s promised us a future evening to look at the rivers of Suffolk.
Jordan – A Jewel in the Desert
For years I’ve seen images of The Treasury in Petra and longed to see it for myself, but quite honestly I had no real idea about the rest of the country. Having seen a week long walking tour advertised, Dave & I decided this was just the chance to get a taste of Jordan for ourselves.
Our pre-trip preparation included watching Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Gorgeous images of wide, sandy valleys and narrow rocky chasms left us eager to experience them for real.
In October last year we flew into Amman for the start of our trip. Jordan is a lovely, friendly country, and very peace-loving – which may seem rather astounding considering it’s squished between Israel and Iraq and has become a semi-permanent home for countless refugees. Not blessed with the riches of oil, Jordan relies on income from phosphates and vegetables grown in the tiny bit of the country which isn’t desert.
The first part of our trip took us to Wadi Rum. Wide, sandy desert interrupted by huge, eroded, rocky outcrops. Fabulous walking and fabulously hot, the best bit was sleeping out under the stars. I’ve never seen a night sky quite so bright, plus you could actually see the stars travel across the sky through the night. Naturally we had to include a camel ride as part of the visit – it had to be done, but 5 months later you can still see the scars!
The next part of the trip was the much awaited visit to Petra. Dave & I ducked out, but the rest of the group experimented with a Turkish bath with mixed results. They were clean, but no rinsing could get all that olive oil soap out!
Petra was everything you expect from the scenes in the movies, but bigger! The real surprise was the colours. The photos don’t do it justice, but the rocks were marbled with reds, browns, yellows and purples. Glorious sandstone, truly pleasurable to walk on and the scenery was just stunning.
We finished off our trip with a visit to the Dead Sea. All those little scrapes and nicks we’d thought nothing about in the desert came back with a stinging insistence as soon as we took our first dip.
Come to our slide show on 28th April and get the full story.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer