I had a really good nights sleep at my hotel. There’s something to be said for windowless internal box rooms – there’s no noise from seagulls or pigeons – or any light pollution! So, for once I wasn’t awake before my alarm. I was out of the hotel door before 07:00, grabbed a breakfast sandwich from the just opened Sainsbury’s, then wandered over to the station. Ipswich was just starting to show signs of life at that time although the number of vacant shops is noticeable if not unique. A lot of towns are suffering from the double whammy of Covid and Brexit – and the full customs regulations and red tape haven’t even started yet! Meanwhile, the questions over the final relaxation of lockdown continue.
Leaving aside such imponderables I made my way to the station in enough time to bag a couple of pictures before catching the 07:33 Liverpool St service back to Colchester in order to explore the line to Clacton. The train was worked by one of GA’s new 12 car Class 745s but I didn’t have long to enjoy the comfort as the trip lasts little more than 10 minutes!
Expect some pictures and a rolling blog of the days activities soon…
I’m currently sat outside the station cafe sipping coffee and enjoying a chance to put my feet up after a lightning wander around the seafront – which is deserted! OK, it’s only early but I expected to see a little more life other than few joggers and dog-walkers. Still, it’s a nice day for it…
Arriving on the same train I was about to take my leave on was a friend who works for the Eversholt, the train leasing company who own the soon to be retired ‘Dusty bins’. He’d come to inspect the a pair of units stabled at the depot which are due to go off for storage on Thursday. We had enough time for a quick chat before I caught the 10:05 to head to Wivenhoe.
I’ve passed through Wivenhoe many times but never stopped before. Today I made up for that mistake and discovered its charms. It’s a pretty little village on the banks of the River Colne, with an eclectic mix of buildings and yachts on the river. Judging by the amount of “black lives matter” posters in windows and adverts for folk clubs and other groups it’s of a mire liberal mind than one might assume from such a place. There’s a welcome absence of ‘big brand’ shops too. Instead there’s a variety of local businesses. Here’s a couple of shots to show what I mean.
After a pleasant couple of hours I’ve moved location yet again. Returning to Colchester to regain the main line I’ve pitched up at Manningtree in order to explore the branch to Harwich Town. I’ve not been along here for several years. In fact the last time was working trackside for Network Rail, taking pictures of the work they’d done to stabilise some of the embankments. That was a stunningly sunny day too – one when you really didn’t want to be decked out in full rail PPE!
The pub on Manningtree station’s reopened, but it’s a shadow of its former (historic) self. The original bar was ripped out years ago and the place was extended into an adjacent room. Now (understandably) the only real ale they’re selling comes in bottles – at a price – but at least they’ve found a way of surviving. Here’s the view of the Harwich bay from their outdoor seating.
A journey down this line’s always a trip down memory lane for me. It was this route i’d use to get the Harwich – Hook of Holland ferry when I way squatting with friends in Amsterdam in 1981, then on regular trips to the city when I’d moved to London. Sadly, the days of the old boat trains are passed and Harwich is a shadow of its former self.
Well, I have to say – it’s been a fabulous day. I’ve actually had chance to explore some places to day and even Harwich dealt me a couple of wild cards because I had time to wander around the place. OK, it wasn’t exactly teeming with life, but the history there is fascinating. It was the same when I returned to Ipswich. I got back in time to stock up on provisions for tomorrow, after which I was tempted to venture further but we’ve had such a lovely evening I thought I’d explore the town more and revisit the old dock area which I’ve not wandered around for donkey’s years. To say it’s changed is an understatement. I didn’t recognise much of it and struggled to get my bearings because there’s so much in the way of new developments. To be honest, I really enjoyed wandering around, my first impressions have altered as it’s clear there’s still a lot of life here, it’s simply that the centre of gravity has shifted somewhat. The new developments in what used to be the docks look really interesting, although I do woner about the build quality of some. There’s one massive multi-storey estate that can’t be more than 10 years old where the lower floors are already swathed in scaffolding – hardly a good sign. Other developments look much better – although I’m sure they’ll have a price tag to match. The old adage that you get what you pay for rings true here.
Needless to say, after such a great day I’ve a huge amount of pictures to edit and I want to make the most of tomorrow, so I’m going to sign off now with a lst couple of shots from the day.
I’ve a favour to ask…
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