diamond geezer

 Monday, October 17, 2011

On Sunday I went somewhere obscure, somewhere you'll probably never go, and today I'm going to tell you all about it. Sorry, I know you find this sort of thing irrelevant and tedious. So I'm going to attempt to write about my visit to Thames Chase Forest Centre in four completely different ways, in the hope that I can make the edge of London (nr Upminster) sound slightly more interesting.

A) Apple Day at Thames Chase Visitor Centre
It's been a great year for fruit. Heavily laden boughs, baskets of bounty, and more apples than your average supermarket knows what to do with. So it's great that independent producers get together every October and hold Apple Days across the country to celebrate nature's harvest. There are several across London (Time Out's managed to find four), and one of these was at Thames Chase Visitor Centre near Upminster. An entire car-park-ful of visitors turned up, making the most of the glorious sunny weather, and piled into the triangular-shaped building for treats and goodies. All the apple-y merchandisers were in the 17th century barn nextdoor, a lofty wood-beamed space, selling juice and pies and (obviously) apples. Trays of the things, in proper historic varieties like Tyderman's Late Orange and Eregmont Russet, with samples available before you buy. Some of the sellers looked a little glum, probably because they'd much rather have been outside, but bags of the stuff were being taken away to make crumbles and fill lunchboxes elsewhere. Further Apple Days are scheduled next weekend in Camden, Bexley and Borough Market, should you want to partake. And not an iPhone-buying queue in sight.

B) Beyond the M25
Very little of London falls outside the M25, but the far end of Havering is an exception. Thames Chase Forest Centre straddles the motorway, with most of its land within but a thin sliver without. The Forestry Commission moved in 20 years ago, charged with turning 140 acres of roadside land into community woodland, and they've almost succeeded in screening out the passing traffic. Not the noise, admittedly, but a million extra trees certainly help with the view. Access to the outer reserve is via a low concrete underpass beneath the traffic, shared by a dribbling brook, where if you're taller than six foot you'll have to crouch. A long path then runs back alongside the motorway, climbing slowly to ascend twenty metres up Clay Tye Hill. The trees are still young, and it shows, but large enough for early autumn colours to create an appealing display. Nobody other than me, not a single one of the Centre's hundreds of visitors, had bothered to made the effort to cross so I had the entire dead-end triangle of land to myself. And so I stood alone on the grassy slopes, looking down over the easternmost curve of the M25 as it swept out from the neighbouring cutting and snaked off across the fen [photo]. A desecrating imposition on the landscape, for sure, yet still somehow artificially attractive. There is a London beyond the M25, and I bet you've never visited it.

C) Thames Chase Community Market
On the third Sunday of every month, people with talent make their way to Pike Lane, Cranham, to share their skills and sell their wares. Sometimes they get the barn, but when that's full of apples they get the compact annexe round the back, and make do. A man who paints Essex scenes is here, even though this isn't Essex, with greetings cards and calendars at damned reasonable prices. Two straw workers encourage visitors to make their own Essex corn dolly, even though this isn't Essex, and do a marvellous job of keeping youngsters busy and entertained. The Essex Beekeepers are here, even though this isn't Essex, on the never-ending hunt for honey-buyers and any pre-retired soul they might entice into hive ownership. Most visitors have taken root outside, however, where there's food and somewhere to sit down. The Giggly Pig are selling saddleback sausages, but I ignore them to buy lunch from exactly the same artisan bread stall I frequented in Letchworth the day before. All this plus Hornchurch's very own morris dancers at their final event of 2011 - experts of all ages smashing sticks together with merry abandon. Next month it's the Christmas Fair, presumably with more craft-friendly gifts and fewer jangly gaiters, and then every third Sunday forthwith.

D) The Chase
I'm not good with dogs. That's especially when I'm out walking and they're off-leash, even though most have no interest in me whatsoever. I'm learning, slowly, that if I walk straight past a dog it'll probably ignore me, but a small proportion seem to want to get to know me better. Most are only intent on being friendly, which I wish they wouldn't, but directing a look of despair into the owner's eyes usually sees any errant hound brought under control. It's only very occasional that a dog takes an avid dislike to me, and my bones turn to jelly, and all my "coping with dogs" strategy falls apart. So I was feeling fairly confident as I strode down a quiet wooded path at Thames Chase that surely the approaching dog would be no problem. But then it stopped and stared at me, before advancing somewhat faster with a barking growl. This might have been a show of strength, but was possibly something nastier... jellybones. I walked bravely on, then past, while the lady owner shouted "Dexter! Dexter!" in vain at her angry beast. But still Dexter followed, and followed, and no amount of Dextering would change its mind. And then the owner ran away, which scared me rigid for a split second until I realised the dog was now intent on chasing after her. No harm done, just a fairly stupid-feeling bloke left behind, and my not-very-goodness with dogs still firmly intact. Until next time.

How to get to Thames Chase Forest Centre
» Drive. Almost everybody drives. Stick RM14 3NS in your satnav.
» Walk. I walked the mile and a half from Upminster Station, via the church at Cranham Chase, across the fields. Most pleasant.
» Get the bus. Either the terribly rare 347 (four buses a day, not Sunday) to Winchester Avenue, or the 370 to Bridge Cottages (then take the footpath up the side of the M25).

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24  Mar24  Apr24  May24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
London's waymarked walks
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Apr24  Mar24  Feb24  Jan24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2023 2022
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards