A winter walk

Yesterday (Saturday 19th December) marked one full week since we left Stratford and moved to Essex. However, being employed and busy human beings, we’ve barely had time to unpack/relax in our new home let alone explore our surroundings. Yesterday we decided to celebrate some much needed downtime and make our second ever visit to the country park near our new home – North Weald.

After a stint in Stratford, greenery was a site for sore eyes (even if the trees were sparse.)

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However, we had both clearly been living in London for too long because we were woefully under-prepared for the mud in our flimsy shoes whilst everyone else was clad in wellies. (I have now put these on my shopping list as an essential.)

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Exploring North Weald

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We rambled on through the mud and made our first stop at the little shop by the car park. As soon as we entered I wanted everything- from the cuddly deer to the hot choc laced with Amaretto. Like the spoilt child I am I came away with a little greenfinch pin and some feed for the deer and the ducks.

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My partner Gareth showcasing said feed.

The last time we visited North Weald it was summertime and the deer were full of life. As it’s winter we did wonder if the deer would have been moved elsewhere but we were glad to discover they were still there and we were able to feed them. I love deer – they are such sweet little creatures.

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DSC_0663 - Copy.JPGWe fed the ducks too although they looked rather plump and went about taking the food in a rather apathetic manner (a case of the good life I presume.)

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The great thing about North Weald (besides all of the beautiful creatures you will discover there) is that whether it’s summer or winter it’s still a very beautiful and scenic place to explore. The lake is particularly lovely.

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There’s also a little bird hide there which is pretty neat. Inside there’s a fact sheet about siskins and how they populate North Weald. We didn’t spot any siskins but we did see a fair few plump squirrels all digging frantically amongst the leaves.

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Looking out from the bird hide.
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Inside the bird hide we found this slip. If only it were mine.

 

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BlueBell Tree House. I’m not sure what this is for. Perhaps the squirrels have tea parties inside?

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I found an unusual pinecone

On our way back to the car we stopped to take some clippings of holly to decorate our fireplace with.

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All in all we had a wonderful time at North Weald and it felt fantastic to get some fresh air. I definitely believe that country parks are not just for the summer – there’s a certain charm to taking a chilly winter walk.

Where is your favourite place to explore during the winter months?

 

 

London…it’s not me, it’s you.

My love affair with London ended around ten months ago – just two months in to living in Stratford. Prior to moving to London, I spent most weekends ferrying myself up there for some market or the other. I thought Camden was ‘unique’ and the coffee shop outside Aldgate Station was the bee’s knees. Prior to the move I had images of wild nights out in Shoreditch and black cabs home past midnight. I had grand visions of myself taking every class and seizing every opportunity I could. And I guess, in its own way London was good to me. But much in the same way an acquaintance can be fun to bump in to on a night out, you don’t want to be around it all the time; in short, London is fun for a fling, but you don’t want to settle down with it.

So I did what any reasonable twenty-something would do, and I jumped ship. My partner and I moved to Essex . An ‘Essex girl’ born and bred, this was pretty exciting for me. The prospect of a proper chip shop (not a fried chicken / greasy kebab shop) and just a smidge more greenery was (and still is) the dream.

So why didn’t London and I work out?

Well, now the smog has cleared, I think I’ve narrowed it down.

The people are rude

Okay okay – a sweeping statement I know. And I’m not one to generalise so let’s be fair. Of course not all of the people are rude – that would be ridiculous. There’s good and bad wherever you go and obviously it would be impossible for the entire population of London to be on my personal naughty list. So, being reasonable I’d say…98% of the people in London are rude. Is that fair? I think that’s fair. On almost every occasion I had the displeasure of traveling on the 25 bus I was shoved and elbowed and glared at. I got the impression that the bus drivers wanted to murder us all and, I guess I couldn’t blame them.  People are busy in London. They have places to be, people to see – and they are ruthless. If you have ever crammed on to a tube at rush hour you’ll know what I mean. And living in London was like a never-ending tube ride.

There are no proper chip shops

Poppy’s is the well-known chip shop in East London. But when you live in Stratford, popping to poppy’s for a cod and chips is a just a bit of a mission. Where I lived all of the takeaway shops served fried chicken (albeit delicious fried chicken), kebabs and pizza. I did discover two chippies in relative close proximity…but the chips were limp and lifeless. And when you’re  settling down and creating a home with your loved one, a good chip shop is something to consider. What? It matters. It matters to me.

There’s hardly any greenery

Whilst London does boast some beautifully manicured parks, it is a challenge to find anywhere you feel really relaxed walking. The constant sounds of the city sort of cancel out any of the feel-good vibes you might otherwise get from a brisk morning walk in the woods. Sometimes I felt like it was hard to breathe. When I moved to Stratford I knew I wouldn’t be surrounded by fields and woodland and green space. I just didn’t anticipate how much I would miss it.

You don’t get a lot for your money

I’m sure it won’t suprise anyone when I say that living in London is expensive. My partner and I lived in a crummy one bed masionette that was seriously mouldy. This woefully inadequate housing cost a bomb all things considered. And it’s not just crappy house prices that wound me up either. The cost of living was noticeably higher. You shouldn’t have to remortage your soul just to buy a beer. That’s not living; it’s existing.

The reality doesn’t live up to the expectations

I guess the biggest thing about living in London for me, was that the reality of it was not as I had anticipated. Originally I moved for work – and for the convience of it (it afforded me more time in bed every morning.) But as mentioned above, I did have some preconceptions of what London life would be like. Whilst I did have a few nights out, and I did join a couple of classes, I didn’t really do as much as I thought I would. I found myself spending most of my weekends in Essex or at the seaside because that’s where I preferred to spend my leisure time. Whilst I am sure there are people who adore living in London, I didn’t at all.

So now, as I mentioned earlier – we are living in Essex (which I am sure some will argue is not much better!) But we are happily wedged between some country parks and the nicest chippie I’ve had all year – success! I’m feeling pretty positive about the move, and looking forward to exploring the area and discovering some cool little places.

To add some balance to this (only ever so slightly negative) post, what do you absolutely love about living in London?