On December 9th I went out on a walk in the North Essex countryside. I've been showing you the photos over the last three days. If you want to catch up you can do so here:
Day One: http://bystargooseandhanglands.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-walk-from-darkness-to-light.html
Day Two: http://bystargooseandhanglands.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-walk-from-beautiful-to-ugley.html
Day Three: http://bystargooseandhanglands.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-walk-from-motorway-to-byway.html
This fine fellow was strutting his stuff near to a place marked on the map as Mole Hall, though unless you are extremely tall and nosey you might never see the Hall as it's hidden behind a high wall.
Ah, there it is! A magnificent old farmhouse standing within its huge moat. These moats are fairly common around large old farms and manor houses and served a practical purpose as well as scenic value. They would have been stocked with fish which supplemented the diet during the winter months. Also a large supply of water would be needed for the farm animals. And the notion of an Englishman's home being his castle also gave such dwellings enormous prestige.
Just across the lane, behind another high wall, is Swayne's Hall, rather less posh with just a big pond outside.
Although I had a day off work the labours of the fields continued without pause. They were taking advantage of this fine, settled period of weather to spray our food with delicious chemicals. The operator very considerately ceased his work while I passed by.
I often read blogs from North America which frequently feature pictures of old barns very like the one above. In this part of England there are few isolated structures standing in the fields, everything usually being concentrated near to the farmhouse.
A little further along I came to a small cluster of cottages known as Rook End. This neat little sports car was standing nearby and has clearly not been used for a while.
Beyond Rook End I found a wonderful little bit of country. I love it when that happens - on the map it doesn't look very promising but when actually there everything conspires to create something a bit special.
The path ran parallel to a tiny stream cutting a steep-sided little valley through a strip of woodland. I crunched about through the leaves for a bit, seeking out possible photographs. Suddenly it occurred to me that, though my walk was nearly completed, I was still carrying my sandwiches. I soon found a comfy tree-stump to sit on.
There I was munching away and wondering why no one else was here enjoying this magical little place. Suddenly a small, energetic terrier came scurrying towards me. Then I heard a shrill whistle and the little dog was gone. Clearly I was not as alone as I'd thought!
There's just a short distance to go now. See you tomorrow.