Since we were in the area after having spent Sunday afternoon with Andrew’s parents, I called in at my uncle and aunt’s place, who live in Dedham with their two girls. I must say, it is an absolutely beautiful part of the country and a great place to raise a family. I stayed with them for a couple of days while everybody else headed back to Cambridge.
The evening I arrived we had a BBQ dinner (though I couldn’t eat very much after the amazing lunch we had been served at Andrew’s parents place), toasted marshmallows on the remains of the coals, then Mark and I headed down to the local pub for a pint and a catch up. We walked back to his house via the Essex Way, which is a public footpath / trail through both public and private property. One minute you’ll be walking through a farming area, the next around the side of a privately owned home. Although chilly walking through the fields, it was really lovely, and I must have seen a hundred rabbits bounding around. It was at this point I knew I had to bring Amanda back here so we could do this walk, but even better was still to come the next day.
There are several famous paintings by John Constable which are of the Dedham and Flatford area. My grandmother owns a print of one of these called The Haywain, and when I learned that Mark now lives in the area where it was painted, I decided I’d like to go and see the spot which inspired the art – to walk around in a painting, basically.
The area in which Constable painted, called the Dedham Vale, is now officially recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and as such is protected from ‘unsympathetic development’ to preserve the natural landscape.
We were fortunate enough to have brilliant weather – the best I’ve experienced in England so far. We walked through wide green fields along the River Stour, trying not to scare the cows while we watched people navigating their hired boats down the river. We crossed the river and headed for Flatford, but not before stopping for a quick game of Pooh Sticks (came in second-last). Being as it was a bank holiday and fantastic weather, the area was full of families and couples out enjoying the sunshine and scenery.
After visiting Flatford Mill, the area where Constable painted several of his most famous works, we walked back along the Suffolk side of the river. This path led past some very fluffy sheep and up on to a hill overlooking the valley. The hill was full of yellow flowers and dandelions. I’ve got some nice footage of the day which I will put up eventually.
I just hope when we go back to do some more walks we get the same weather! 🙂