Note to self (and anyone thinking of it) – allow at least two hours to pick up hire car in England!
We eventually got our little black Volkswagen Golf on the road after a veerrry long time waiting around and headed in the direction of Colchester. Our destination was East Bergholt, the home of my grandparent’s friends Mert and Brenda, who had kindly offered us a bed for the night. We stopped in at St. Albans for a quick bite to eat before making our way to East Bergholt. Several wrong turns later we reached Mert and Brenda’s just in time for dinner. A massive baked chicken dinner and absolutely mouth watering blackberry crumble later, we rolled into bed totally knackered and totally stuffed.
The following morning Mert and Brenda took us out and about East Bergholt and the surrounding area. The little villages are just what you would picture an English country town to look like. Stone houses with well maintained gardens, lots of green and a beautiful old church.
We had a stickybeak through the church and walked out to a beautiful view point, where on a clear day you could see for miles. I couldn’t get over how green the place was. The grass doesn’t take sides on the fence here, its green everywhere. We walked back towards the church in time for the bells to ring. This was no ordinary bell ringing however. There were five bells in a sort of cage-like building. At 10am every morning, five men ring the massive bells using all their bodyweight to move them, which create lovely, yet loud ringing chimes that fill the surrounding villages. It was quite a workout for these bell-ringers but a unique way to do it.
After the bells we drove down to Flatford where the famous artist John Constable found inspiration for his paintings over 200 years ago. The walk through Flatford was peaceful and just lovely to look at. The quaint, little thatched roofed houses and ponds filled with reeds and grumpy geese make it easy to see where Constable drew his inspiration from.
We headed back to Mert and Brenda’s for a cup of coffee before saying our goodbyes and heading north towards Derbyshire. It was so nice to stay at somebody’s home instead of another hotel or B&B. Mert and Brenda were so hospitable and generous, which is something you forgot when you’re constantly checking in and out of hotels and hostels.
Next stop is heading out into the English countryside in Derbyshire and the Peak District.