Recent outings and activities...
Goring on Thames 30th March - 3rd April
Some images from EFOG's visit to Goring on Thames, from Jenny:
The tree was amazing! The roots looked as if they had erupted, and made a good place for a snap.
The walk had been quite muddy and hard going, and when I saw the polar bear it made me smile, as the caption " Are we nearly there yet?" must have been going through a few minds. It was a good holiday, however, and we all enjoyed it.
Jenny, 6th April 2018
The Mudlark Survivors
(Otherwide known as the Goring Easter Weekend Report)
30th March to 2nd April 2018
It was with considerable trepidation that those of us due to go eyed the weather forecast. It was pretty poor. We hoped however that some of the worst might go elsewhere. Lynne, Val Jenny and Jinan were due to go by car. The remainder – Amina, Jill, Dave, Fred and Ken by train. Both journeys went well - though we did hear later that Phil Turney, travelling separately in his own car, had a difficult time getting out of London. For those of us arriving by train our lodgings were only a ten minute walk from the station. However in lashing rain it seemed a lot further.
Room allocation proceeded smoothly probably because the ladies arriving first by car had it all sorted out by the time the rest of us got there. Everyone seemed to enloy their evening meal at the John Barcleycorn pub just along the road. Most opted appropriately for the fish and chips . Those walking to and from the pub again got rather wet.
As we keep telling ourselves “We are a walking and outdoor group” So after a wholesome and satisfying breakfast we set off in good spirits' The plan was to walk part of the Ridgeway/Thames Path between Goring and Wallingford. It should have been a stroll in the park. Lynne and Val had planned to walk a short way with us but being not yet fit for difficult conditions turned back when the going got very muddy and slippery. Although we had in fact only a little light rain at times the conditions under foot were awful for most of the way. Almost every step had to be taken with care to avoid huge puddles, sodden waterlogged vegetation and slippery mudflats. At one point the path lay under 18 inches of water and we had to find a way round. Evitably we had a few slips and falls. We all got muddy - some got very wet and muddy!
Eventually we reached the streets leading into the centre of Wallingford, an ancient market town. On the way we passed the house where Agatha Christie had spent the last years of her life. Some I think doubted there would be a bus to take us back to Goring on a soggy Easter Saturday afternoon but a little hopper 134 bus turned up on schedule. There was free time for all whilst we waited for the bus - to visit a cafe, to shop or to look around the old market square. Never had the locals seen so many passengers for the15.38 bus - but everyone got on.
For supper on Saturday we split into two groups. Four went again to the John Barleycorn and six to the Masoom Indian restaurant. Both groups enjoyed their meal and had a convivial evening.
Sunday dawned a bit damp but with no rain. We planned to walk the Thames Path in the oppposite direction - to Pangbourne. Initially we followed the path along a lane until we passed under the Goring to Pangbourne railway line. The next low lying stretch was again extremely wet and muddy such that detours were necessary. Soon however the river was running swiftly through the Goring Gap a narrow defile where it has cut a bed through the chalk downs. Garments were shed as we clambered up and down an undulating path which hugged the lower slopes of the escarpment. The air was drier now and we climbed away from the river towards Coombe Park Farm. We were now walking easily on firm, dry ground. All too soon we were approaching the village of Whitchurch on Thames. Still on the Oxfordshire side of the river but about to cross a very old toll bridge (still operating) into the market town of Pangbourne. We saw a sign for a memorial to the fallen of the Falklands War in the chapel at Pangbourne College but were unable to visit. We had hoped to meet up withLynne and Val but the timings did not work out. Brian Unwin had also hoped to meet up with us on the Sunday but was unable to make it.
Despite the generally unfavourable weather and the consequent difficult walking conditions I believe we all enjoyed our weekend away.
Ken., 8th April 2018
Warley Place Nature Reserve
The scheduled visit to Warley Place Nature Reserve on 3rd March was cancelled due to the bad weather and it was while sitting watching the snow again later in March that we decided to make a visit during a break in the terrible weather. Thursday 22nd March started warm and sunny and six of us turned up at the Reserve. Taking the precaution of booking a table at the Thatchers Arms, a pub on the doorstep of the reserve, we set off.
The reserve was the estate of Ellen Willmott, an enormously wealthy woman in the 19th century. She took a keen interest in her gardens and was in contact with Gertrude Jekyll. At one time she employed 100 gardeners to look after the 25 acre estate. Sadly, the estate was left to decline in the 20th century until the Essex Wildlife Trust took over management. Since then, volunteers have worked hard to maintain and restore the site. There is no entrance fee, just a donation box.
We wandered along the well signposted paths, admiring the fields of daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops – Spring is the best time to visit the reserve – and the trees, some huge like the sweet chestnuts, some unusual like the Caucasian wingnut. In its day the estate had a boating lake but that is now just a hollow with the retaining walls surrounding. A cottage at the entrance is being carefully restored, complete with a wooden shingle roof. Very little remains of the original large house but there are pictures on signposts to give you an idea of how it looked.
A pleasant couple of hours was spent walking around the reserve. At times the wheelchair had to take an alternative route but a large part was accessible, although bumpy, but it wouldn’t be so accessible in the wet. We then adjourned to the Thatchers Arms to enjoy a very good lunch – homecooked food, not the usual microwaved variety – and a pint. And off home. A pleasant, cheap day out.
Brian U. 22nd March 2018
A walk with a Difference – Upminster Circular Walk South
Upminster station, the end of the line (well District Line anyway) was the meeting place for today’s walk. Heading through South Park (no I didn’t see Kenny, for those that know the show) to the station, I noticed something unusual, not seen on any Efog walks for some time, a large bright object in the sky, maybe a good omen (weird eh!).
Arriving at Upminster I met up with Amina, Karen, Fred and Ken and we were soon joined by Louise, and then set off. The first mile was along the main road, before we turned off into a rough track and followed this to a church, opposite an old farm complex now converted to gated housing. Leaving these, we continued through fields to Cranham Nature Reserve with a mixture of open field and woodland, hearing (but not seeing) woodpeckers, amongst other wildlife, enjoying the warm sunshine, continuing to a gate over a very muddy, and large, puddle which we crossed with some style.
We then continued on a muddy path between a small stream and cemetery, before crossing over a road and entering Parklands, the remains of the historic Gaynes Park, with its listed bridge and lake, providing a good spot for a drinks break and photo opportunities. Resuming, we continued alongside the lake to its end where we followed the route through holly woods and across open fields to another field with friendly horses which decided to come and meet us. Leaving our equine friends behind, we made our way to the strangely named The Optimist pub, for a well deserved drink.
Leaving the pub we followed the path to a small bridge where we turned off to walk alongside the winding river Ingrebourne, on part of the London loop, spotting little egrets in the river and trees, before walking through Upminster Park to St Mary’s Road and going to look at what is reputedly Upminster windmill. However, whatever is really there, was covered by so much plastic sheeting it could be anything. We returned from the mystery object to the station to conclude the walk. It had been a good walk with some warmth and sunshine with us. At times, it felt almost spring-like, a sign of walks to come perhaps.
Trev (pathfinder) Eley. 26th February 2018
Duxford Aircraft Museum visit Sun 11th Feb.
I’ve always wanted to visit Duxford (conveniently just off the M11) so was very happy when Brian organised a trip there. What a glorious winter Sunday morning, blue skies and bright sun to lift the heart. By the time we got there it was all change, positively “dreich”. What a wonderful Scottish word! Grey skies, rain and sleet. Were we downhearted? Well, only slightly. There was so much to see. I dived into the Battle of Britain hangar realising my grasp of this piece of history left much to be desired. Lots of volunteers around to chat and inform. What would we do without our retiree volunteers? Had a close encounter with a V1 bomb and its ramp. How terrifying every piece of new bomb technology must have been to those waiting down below! The operations room was near this hangar. That was something I really wanted to see and it didn’t disappoint.
There were about seven hangars in all each with a different theme. What a delight to be able to walk around Concord. I had no idea it was so small, only having seen it flying over Kew Gardens and it looked huge then. Next time, I’ll get to that building in time to see Concord’s interior. There will be a next time I’m sure. There’s far more here than one visit can satisfy. We all thoroughly enjoyed our day out and each one of us managed to resist buying a sheepskin lined pilot’s jacket at a mere £500 or so. We’re made of strong stuff. Thanks to Brian for organising it.
Marian T., 13th February 2018
Imperial War Museum, Duxford
After a dreadful Saturday it was a relief to see the sun shining in a blue sky as we drove up the M11 to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. It was still February and cold but at least there was no rain.
Eleven of us turned up and then went our separate ways over the large expanse of the old wartime airfield. Several of us went straight to Hangar One, recently refurbished. It was very well laid out, including a Concorde and a Comet that we could walk through, a Vulcan, Lightning, Spitfire and many other aeroplanes. There were also static displays of other aspects of a wartime airfield. The contents of this hangar alone took more than an hour to view. Children also were well catered for (it was the start of half term) with many interactive displays.
By the time we had viewed the work being done on aeroplanes in Hangar Two we were ready for lunch, some of us bringing our own, some buying meals at one of the restaurants. After lunch we again scattered, some of us working our way up the airfield visiting each hangar and display in turn. We saw work being done by volunteers on many historic aircraft, a display of the operations room in wartime, a prefab bungalow of the type hurriedly erected after WW11, a V1 rocket and launcher and then arrived at the American museum.
The American museum is a marvellous display, including the bombers Flying Fortress, Superfortress and Stratofortress, in order of development and size. The pilot who landed the mighty eight engine Stratofortress on the tiny airstrip must have …… been very tough. It was interesting to note there was some rivalry between the US manufacturers, with the builders of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator extolling its virtues over the equivalent Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Many other planes are displayed here, including the fastest air breathing jet, the Blackbird, which could exceed 2,000 mph, and the U2 which supposedly could fly so high that it was immune from attack, or so it was believed until Gary Powers’ time.
Finally, at the top of the museum’s airfield, there is the Land Army exhibition. This used to be set out in date order but now seems to be mixed together, with less emphasis on the older wars. The photo shows a few of us standing in front of one of the displays, in this case a tank coming out of a destroyed building. There was a very good interactive display of the Normandy landings.
Then it was the long walk back down the airfield, hurrying as the clouds grew thicker and the wind increased. We had been at the museum five hours and still missed some exhibits. It is a very big place. Driving back down the M11 snow and sleet started falling. Perfect timing!
Brian U., 15th February 2018
To Holland and Back Again
At the beginning of 2014, I went back to live and work in Holland. Why? Please read on.
I said goodbye to my English dance school, which I ran for 15 years, I said goodbye to my whole family. I said goodbye to the good friends I have known in England for many years. I said goodbye to my Epping Forest Outdoor Group friends. Why? Because I felt I needed a change of scenery and a change of work.
Returning to Holland, where I had previously lived for 20 years, revisiting my old life and old friends seemed to be the way forward.
“Maz”, I asked, “Could you please continue sending me the weekly EFOG emails with all the activities. I want to keep in contact with The Epping Forest Group and their members and all the club news!"
Once I was settled in Hilversum, (the Dutch centre of radio and television), with my own apartment and garden (for my dog Serena), I wanted to do some exercise (a second nature to me) but what should I do? Should I join another outdoor group in Holland? Instead I chose tennis, which I played four times a week. Also I had extra tuition from my coach, Ingrid, as I wanted to go back to playing competition. By joining the local gym I could build up my fitness level quicker. Twice a week I trained in the gym.
I was quite happy with all of this for a while, but noticed how I missed my outdoor group and its activities. Paul Ferris and Val Shepherd and I are qualified RYA Canal Boat Handlers. We were so excited with the canal boat trip in Wales organised by Peter Gamble that we had to take it a step further. I trained further to become a helmswoman for Canalability in Harlow, taking groups of disabled people on day trips along the river.
Also my dog Serena, who was used to regular group walks with EFOG, did regular weekly dog group walks. The big dogs always leapt out in front whilst the small dogs like Serena - my Shih Tzu - and Marvin the Chihuahua, always followed in my footsteps
The forest walks with Serena in the area were delightful. Serena loved that, but it still wasn’t the same as the walks we did with the Epping Forest Group. Serena missed all the attention she received from the adult members and I missed all their friendly chats along the way.
As time went on, I realised that I was not happy in Holland - all my good Dutch friends now had families and therefore had little time for anything and anyone else. That is what can happen when you are living alone, unfortunately. That made life pretty lonely for me. When I caught a nasty bacteria in the spring of 2017 and felt very unwell I realised the importance of family and friend support, so I decided to return to England for good.
So back to:
Thursday EFOG club evenings – full of quizzes, bring and buy sales, various themed parties, dance events and guest - or club-member - speakers.
Weekend walks; visits to places of interest; foody evenings in our favourite restaurants; bike rides through the forest; boat trips.
I love it.
Wow, I am so pleased to be back with the Epping Forest Group!! And I am building a happy life now which is full of family involvement plus plenty of Epping Forest Outdoor Group activities.
Gill L, 5th February 2018
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