The stand-off occurred in the middle of a meadow a few metres from Flatford Mill. I sensed it would come as the Constable Country circular walk was shown to be 3 miles in my guide book and yet the very nice National Trust lady at the car park had commented there was a lovely 5 mile walk to Dedham and back. I tried to shush her at this point but I think, via osmosis and flapping ears, the teen in the back of the car had got wind of this increased mileage.
Flatford Mill itself was a beautiful, tranquil place and you could imagine how John Constable found inspiration for his paintings. His most famous, The Hay Wain, painted in 1821, shows Willy Lott’s house and the River Stour.
|Constable’s “The Hay Wain”|
Here’s my shot taken from the same place:
Burgess’ “Where’s the Hay Wain?”
Notice the blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Unfortunately they didn’t last long. Ten minutes later, in the meadow, about to sally forth towards Dedham, the sky darkened, the wind blew fiercely, stinging our faces, and as we followed the meander of the river, we realised the grass was boggy.
Rory stood his ground and declared he wasn’t going any further. He didn’t mind having a walk but not in this weather and not when he could see no shelter between the sign saying “45 minutes walk to Dedham” and the church in the distance. Dougie, full of adventurous spirit at first, started to waver as his ears were numb and he was the only one without a hat. I felt some urge to continue as it had been my idea to begin with, but I didn’t want to ruin my boots in the muddy puddles.
We turned back.
To be fair, all three of us walked about 20 minutes in the other direction, with the wind behind us, on a proper path, feeling quite chipper but the enthusiasm eventually waned so we shuffled back to the car and the bewildered National Trust lady.
It was a short drive to Dedham and there was a free car park just on the edge of the village. So much more civilised. We had soup and coffee at the Dedham Arts and Crafts Centre, mooched about looking at the shops and then, while photographing Dedham church, I stepped in a fresh pile of dog mess. I tried in vain to get rid of it on the grass verge but the tread in my boots was quite deep so the cack was wedged. Dougie, exasperated, led me to the churchyard and sat me on a tombstone while he lifted my leg up and gouged out the poop with a stick. Rory disowned us.
On the way back to the hotel we took a short diversion south of Ipswich to Shotley Gate, following a suggestion made by fellow blogger, Troy. Perfectly positioned on a peninsula, at the estuaries of the rivers Stour and Orwell, Shotley Gate marina is a great spot to park up and look over the water to Felixstowe, the container port, and Harwich, the ferry port. Troy was right, it was well worth a trip: so different from the picture postcard locations around Flatford and Dedham but fascinating all the same.
I’m sure Constable would have agreed.