A roaming we will go, in the town of Colchester.
A raining it was in the town of Colchester.
The puffer jacked was donned in the town of Colchester.
But…a super day was had in the town of Colchester.
I left Steve soundly touring the Land of Nod this morning and snuck out for a run at the hotel gym, where I trotted off 10km on the treadmill, before sneaking back. It seemed the tour had ended and Steve had returned to home base, wide awake. After a very lean breakfast, having run out of supplies yesterday and being unsuccessful in our quest to find replacements in the tiny hamlet of Marks Tey, we caught the bus into Colchester to begin our exploring.
First stop was somewhere for second breakfast, to top up the meagre “scraping the bottom of the pannier” effort we’d had for first breakfast. We found a cafe and each enjoyed a plate of vegan waffles and maple syrup, which was not the hearty breakfast we’re used to, but was a very yummy treat nonetheless. Off we went into the damp and drizzle, to roam this historic town. Colchester is the oldest recorded town in Britain and we headed off to find some history.
We strolled into Castle Park, a really nice green space in the town, with beautiful gardens and lake. This was also home to Colchester Castle, the biggest Norman Keep in Europe. It also sits on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius, which dates back to when Colchester was the Roman capital of Britain. The building of the castle itself began in 1076. Would our modern day architecture stand that test of time? Will generations to come, marvel at the the historic qualities of brick veneer and lime green render? I think not.
A section of Roman wall remained in the park. We knew it was a Roman wall because of the fact I’d learnt during my walking tour in York. The Romans included that distinctive row of red bricks in their walls and there, running the length of this wall, was the Roman signature.
It was during our stroll through the gardens that we had the opportunity once again, to mix with those friendly and entertaining locals…the squirrels.
The squirrels, Barry and Reg were in fierce competition for foraging rights and the race was on!
Reg the Remarkable is my name and nuts are my game! I am the champion! I am the greatest! I can find, I can dig, I can hide! No squirrel is a match for my talented tail!
A snack will see me right. Just watch this go down in record time before I put my talents into action. I seek them here, I seek them there, I seek them almost everywhere. I seek them high, I seek them low, I am the Nut Maestro, watch me go! Eat my tail Barry, I’ve got you beat!
What’s that!? I can hear you Barry “big cheeks”. I know you’re out there! Well, too bad, I don’t care! I could out-nut you with one paw behind my ears and my tail wrapped around the other three! You hear me Barry! I’m the champion!
Ha ha! Score! In record time too! Can you hear me Barry!? I know you’re out there watchin’! Score one nut to me! Hear that!? To ME!!
Right…hiding time! My paws are machines! My speed is legendary! I can dig for England!
Now for the special, one-of-a-kind, Reg Special…the “head drill manoeuvre”! I can get this nut right down in there, with this swift move. A dig of the paws, a power drill down with the head, and no one will find it. Certainly not YOU BARRY wherever you are!
On second thoughts… I know you’re watching Barry! I know you can see me, you cheatin’, no good, son of a hamster. Well, you don’t fool me. You’ve gotta get up pretty early to put one over this Super Squirrel! Reg the Remarkable, that’s me! So watch this! Are you watchin’ Barry!? It’s all mine! I’ll fool you right back Mister! I’m a just gonna eat it anyway! Down it goes Barry! I’m eatin’ it Barry! Are you watchin’!? Suffer in your shorts Barry, this one’s mine!
Meanwhile, Barry climbed a nearby tree and quietly watched Reg’s efforts down below, with mild amusement. He gave a leisurely scratch of his front digging leg, completely indifferent to the activity below and Reg’s goading and glory. Unbeknown to Reg, Barry had already found his stash, stolen it, eaten it and carefully and strategically placed one remaining nut in the open, for Reg to find. Poor Reg, for all his effort and statements of victory, he had in fact just found, dug a hole for and finally eaten, his own nut. The remainder of his stash were still well hidden, just not where he’d left them. They were of course in Barry’s bulging belly! Sorry Reg, no score.
After spending some enjoyable time roaming the gardens, looking at the castle and mixing with the four-legged, furry locals, we continued our stroll around the town.
It was time for elevenses, so we headed for the nice pedestrianised lane way that we had walked up earlier in the morning, to stroll past the lines of cafes. After settling on one that had a wide range on offer, both vegan and non-vegan, we sat ourselves at an outside table, to watch the town go by. It was a late elevenses, early lunch, so we decided to have something more substantial than usual. Steve enjoyed a panini, with a mediterranean style filling and I had a fantastic selection on my hummus board, with the tastiest bowl of hummus ever, veggie sticks, pita bread, olives and piquant peppers. Deelish! The girl behind the counter, who served me when I ordered, had the friendliest face with the most gorgeous, sparkling smile that spread across it. When she came to clear our table she asked, “Woz everyfing awright?”
“It was perfect,” I said, “that was really good hummus!”
She replied, in that wonderful local dialect, “Breeyant!”
We decided to push the boat out again, and with vegan cake on offer, we decided to forego any later lunch and just extend our “elevenunch”, with our final, indulgent treat in England. It seems we have eaten a considerable amount of cake since we’ve been in England! With the vegan discoveries we’ve made, I’ve certainly eaten more cake in our time here, than I can ever remember eating! Oh well, we’ll be leaving soon, so no more cake for us. We’ll enjoy our last treat though. Steve settled on a slice of chocolate mint cake and I had the rose water cake, which looked like a Victoria sponge. It was so good! As we were leaving, I wanted to let them know how nice their food was and what a nice lunch we’d had, so I popped back inside and saw our sparkling girl again behind the counter.
“Thank you,” I said, “that was awesome!”
She beamed. “Aw, tha’s breeyant.”
She then told me about the lady who supplies them with their selection of vegan cakes and how I could find her online if I wanted to.
“Well, it was just sensational,” I said with a thumbs up.
“Aw, thanks, I’m glad yer liked it. Tha’s breeyant. ‘Av a reely nice afternoon.”
And with that, I left the lovely little cafe, intending to just as she suggested!
The task of having a nice afternoon was made all the easier, by the fact that the sun had come out and the day had warmed up considerably. It was now a summer’s day and it was super! We roamed through the Dutch Quarter and looked at the historic buildings, some timber framed and others, with that intriguing slope of wonkiness.
A short stroll out of the town centre, we found the remains of the Roman Circus. In its time, this would have been the huge stadium used for chariot races. The remains are still there, but buried, so a replica has been created on the site, to show where the foundations are. The replica has been built with the same materials as the original and a perspex screen has been used so we could look through it and see where the original arches would have stood on the replicas of the original base.
This is where the chariots would have entered the stadium, through the arches, before racing 155m down a long straight in an effort to be the first at the corner of the course, which would give the lead driver a huge advantage because he could then continue to hug the barrier and take a shorter run. It was interesting to see the spot where these events happened and to picture the original building. We then went into the information centre where a model was on display, to show what the original structure would have looked like. We could also see some of the original foundations, still buried and in place under perspex. It was interesting, I just tried not to think too hard about the poor horses who had to be put through that experience of chariot racing, which would have been anything but enjoyable for them.
After a day of roaming the streets and gardens of Colchester, enjoying some nice food and learning a little history, it was time to make tracks. We stopped off at the supermarket for supplies, then caught our bus back to the hotel. We ate a simple and very small supper, since our “elevenunch” had been so substantial and satisfying and that was our day, done and dusted and thoroughly enjoyed.
Another terrific day. Another day that helps us leave this grand country with the best of experiences and memories. In fact, the words of the girl with the sparking smile, really sums up not only today, but our whole time here in England…I’s breeyant. Jus’ breeyant!