Discovering Essex: Marks Hall Country Estate

One of the consequences of living in Essex and working in Suffolk is that people often ask me about places in Essex which (being Kentish for the first twenty-five years of my life) I can’t answer. As such, I have decided to make an effort to explore some of the places in the surrounding area and endeavour to experience what Essex is really like.

Today, my mum was visiting and Emma and I took her to Marks Hall Country Estate, on the road between Braintree and Marks Tey. All I knew was that there was an arboretum there and it sounded quite interesting. What we found was much bigger and better than we had expected. The park was beautiful, even in February and we followed their ‘Snowdrop Walk’ instead of visiting the arboretum.

The lower lake

The lower lake

A view across the lake

A view across the lake

The White Tree of Gondor! (not really)

The White Tree of Gondor! (not really)

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An interesting red bush

A Phoenix Acer (apparently)

A Phoenix Acer (apparently)

Snowdrops!

Snowdrops!

The locals

The locals

A stream through the snowdrop patch

A stream through the snowdrop patch

The view to the upper lake

The view to the upper lake

Bits and bobs

Firstly, you may have noticed that my header image has changed. Like it? I took it myself, dontcha know! It’s a place called Orlestone Woods at the back of Hamstreet near where I (used to) live. It’s a fantastic place to go walking, particularly if you have a dog you need to exercise. It’s probably too late now, but during spring, around April time, there is a carpet of bluebells and on a sunny day it looks magical. I know that sounds very hippy-ish, and I would hate for you to think I’m going soft in my old age, but it manages to delight even a miserable sod like me.

Secondly, as hinted by both the paragraph above, and the recent posts on house buying, I have moved to Essex! This is a temporary step in the whole relocation process: I am now living with Emma and her family while the purchase of our house goes through. Thankfully, I have a job up here; I transferred within the wide-ranging Waitrose network a month ago, and though there are many things about Waitrose that cause me to sigh, curse and/or roll my eyes, there are also quite a number of advantages to working for them, not least the fact that they can¬†accommodate¬†me in giving me a transfer. It gives me one less thing to worry about while going through the process of moving house, something which regularly tops lists of “most stressful things you’ll ever do”. I’m pretty sure I saw one list somewhere that had placed it ABOVE divorce and the death of a close friend or relative (though I guess if it’s topping the list, it has got to be above those things…)

Finally, things seem to be improving at Forest too. A month ago I was giving up hope of us even making the play-offs, so alarming was our slump in form since February (there was a point, just before we faced QPR, when we could have gone something like four points clear at the top had we managed to win our games in hand etc.), and yet four wins on the trot, with fourteen goals scored and five conceded has secured us another crack at the play-offs. Emma and I went to the last two games of the season, at home to Scunthorpe (a 5-1 win) and away to Crystal Palace (a 3-0 win) and both commented that the games were actually rather dull, despite the fact that the Reds scored eight goals, had a player sent off and secured their play-off place, mainly due to the fact that Forest were in total control of both games, from start to finish. Obviously, Swansea present a much greater challenge than two sides from the bottom of the table with nothing to play for, but there are some encouraging signs to be seen.