"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Sioux under General


We arrived at the monastery in the early evening, but as its light until late, it felt more like the early afternoon. Bags dumped in our rooms, the first priority was to take the caretaker’s dog, Fergus, for a walk. He’s a gorgeous Lab that loves chasing and fetching a tennis ball, so while we walked, we threw and Fergus fetched. The countryside in this part of Essex is stunning and we walked quite far. 

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The foundations in the monastery’s chapel were laid in 1258, making them the oldest part of the building. Initially a hospital for Benedictine Monks, the monastery was dissolved in 1538 during King Henry VIII’s Reformation. Rebuilt by 1611, it was used as an almshouse for the poor. Since then it has been used as a farm, a home for retired clergy and more recently a youth and conference centre. The nearby ‘workers cottages’ are all now privately owned.

My room had the most divine 4-poster bed and a fabulous view across the lawns. Being empty and away from any other houses, the silence was punctured only by the wind gently weaving its way through the trees and the gay chirping of the birds. I could have stayed for a week or more, never mind just a weekend! 

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My room – circled in white 

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As it’s out in the countryside and gets very dark at night, I decided this was a good opportunity to try out some star trails and a bit of light painting. I didn’t factor in a full moon! But I made the best of the situation and got some reasonably good images,and stayed out until nigh on the witching hour.

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The field behind me was heavy with mist – another photo opportunity with a rather interesting result. I sat soaking up the quiet of the night, watching a warren of rabbits chasing around on the dewy grass but eventually headed indoors to my warm bed. It may have been nearing the end of the British summer, but it’s still rather cold out at that time of night! 

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During one of our walks, we heard the buzzing of an aircraft and I watched in fascination as a small twin-prop plane came flying in towards the wheat fields. I would have been in a panic but for the fact that my friend had told me there was an airfield over the crest of the hill. Still surreal to see the plane looking like its going to land in a field of wheat though! 

While there, we walked across the fields to the little town of Saffron Walden for lunch; and I explored the nearby manor house – Audley End. But those are new stories for another blog!


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2 responses to “Travel time – new spaces, friendly faces #4 – time out”

  1. Pauline Smith says:

    Grandma’s Big Feather Bed – looks comfortable. Looks a very big monastery though.
    Not so sure about the painting on the side of the building – looks like a ghost dressed for Halloween, splattered against the wall!!

  2. Pauline Smith says:

    Hahaha – watch out for that plane ….

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