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Colchester charm

I used to work in Colchester and I do love the little town.  I think it was when I started working in Chelmsford that Alan and I stopped going to Colchester often enough for it to stop feeling familiar.  I don’t know why, really.  It’s got great shops, both independent and popular chains, really good, small independent restaurants (there’s a Caribbean restaurant that does an absolutely divine goat curry that you can get with peas and rice!  They even have an all-you-can-eat buffet for £8 on Saturdays; drinks are separate of course.  Look for the S&S Restaurant on St. John’s Street) and restaurant names, with more to come as Colchester High Street seems to be making quite the revival (with a Bill’s already established, a Byron’s coming soon and Wagamama opening in the near future as well).  Apart from that, it’s got history in shedloads as it’s got a gorgeous 11th century Norman keep, ruins of an Augustinian priory, and the remains of a Roman chariot race track!

Colchester was known as Camulodunum and was mentioned by Pliny the Elder who died in 79AD (and by this virtue it is called the oldest recorded town in Britain).  It was the Roman capital of Britain (yes, before London!) but was attacked and destroyed by Boadicea’s (Boudica) rebellion.  It was soon after the destruction of Colchester that London became Rome’s provincial capital.  Colchester held such a romantic link to the Romans that some historians postulated that it might have been a possible site for the Arthurian city of Camelot.

What I love about Colchester is the history that is all around the town, quite literally.  The town is still surrounded by Roman walls that were built after the rebellion led by Boadicea.  The Romans wanted to fortify the town and fortify it they certainly did.  Parts of the 3,000 yard-long walls still stand.  One of the biggest and oldest parts is the Balkerne Gate that stands right next to where the Mercury Theatre is.  The history geek in me was excited to find that you could actually touch the Balkerne Gate.  There were no protective walls around it.  It was literally history you could touch!

Colchester is a mixture of old and new but still has that lovely small town feel that makes you smile.  It still has lovely old houses nestled in between relatively new Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses.  During a trip to Colchester to see what Invasion Colchester was all about last Saturday, Alan and I stopped off at North Bridge in Middleborough in Colchester to photograph this small, charming collection of Medieval houses that were sitting along the River Colne.  I’ve seen photographs of it and it has always been biscuit-tin pretty.  These lovely pink houses did not disappoint and I got my Instagram-worthy shot (pity about the shadowban, or I’d post it on IG really…maybe I will (if) when the ban gets lifted!).  Even the River Colne cooperated and made like it was glass.  Pity there was so much coverage on the river or else you’d see perfect reflections of the lovely cottages with their exposed timber frames.

With the fastest train journey from London being an hour and 2 minutes, if you love history, Colchester might just be the place to come and visit.

 

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Snaps

Pretty Harwich Town

I am guilty of complaining about the little seaside town that I live in.  I find myself complaining about how quiet it is, how dead it can be during the weekend and how annoying the dog owners are.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love dogs and think they make the most amazing pets BUT there seem to be a lot of irresponsible dog owners.  If you intend to walk your dog and you allow your dog to relieve themselves, PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG!  Right.  That’s me off my soapbox.  This is, after all, a post about the unappreciated good things about Harwich, Essex, England.

2012-06-04 17.00.39Harwich is at the very northern end of the Mayflower Line.  It boasts a lot of historical snippets dating back to Roman Times.  There are a lot of notable names connected to Harwich: Captain Christopher Jones, the captain of the Mayflower, lives in Harwich; Samuel Pepys, the famous English diarist, was a member of Parliament for Harwich, Captain Charles Fryatt, who is a First World War lived and was buried in Harwich; and my personal fun fact favourite, apparently, Clive Owen lives near Harwich (haha!).

Captain Christopher Jones' houseThere are a suprising number of little historical corners in Harwich: Captain Christopher Jones’s house (apart from being captain of the Mayflower, he was a quarter owner of the Mayflower as well); several notable lighthouses dating back to the early 1800s, as Harwich was a notable port and it was where the Royal Navy Dockyard was established; the Harwich Redoubt Fort, which was a circular stronghold built to defend England against the Napoleonic invasion; it also has the old Electric Palace, one of England’s oldest purpose-built cinemas still surviving and functional.

Redoubt FortI’ve always loved my little seaside town, my home away from home.  I like to say it’s where I properly grew up, because I learned to live and depend on myself and not my parents.  I love the little interesting nooks and crannies of this little town and it breaks my heart that some of the people who live here don’t seem to care enough about their town to keep it pretty and clean.  We all have to have pride of place, to be proud of our quaint little town because it is significant and important historically.

Harwich sunsets

Snaps

Depth of field

I’ve always loved taking snapshots.  It’s always a joy when you point and shoot a camera and you capture the nicest scenes.  Lately though, I’ve been trying to take photos properly.  I’ve been learning techniques on a bridge camera, not quite a DSLR but a good enough one to practice the photography techniques on.  Mind you, I’ve got a long way to go because I constantly confuse what the AV mode does (something about the aperture) and TV mode (which controls the shutter speed).

One of the exercises was depth of field.  Now I can’t, for the life of me, explain properly what depth of field is so I’ll use Cambridge In Colour’s definition: “[It] refers to the range of distance that appears acceptably sharp. It varies depending on camera type, aperture and focusing distance, although print size and viewing distance can also influence our perception of depth of field.”

I think I managed to show depth of field successfully on the rose and everything else in the distance is blurry.

The Rose and the Treadwheel Crane

I love photographing birds and I seem to have a gazillion photos of seagulls now, courtesy of Harwich Pier.  I do love this photo of this huge seagull with the Port of Felixstowe in the background.

Seagull

More snapshots to come though.  I’ve got a lot to learn!

Snaps

The ruins of St Botolph’s

It always amazes me how much history is around the corner.

I live in Harwich which is the town where the captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, lived.  There are so many little corners that have little historic references that satisfies the history buff in me.

Quite nearby is the historic town of Colchester which is the oldest recorded town in England.  Colchester boasts a Norman keep and quite a chunk left of the Roman wall, the remains of a Roman chariot track and, my favourite, the ruins of the first Augustinian priory in England, St Botolph’s Priory.

The Ruins of St Botolph's Priory

I love where I live because I am literally living and breathing in history!