If travel is “a strategy for accumulating photographs” (Susan Sontag), I figure Mum, Dad and I with our three cameras did well on their latest visit.

It was a two centred trip starting in Essex and ending in Cheshire…  On the last night of the visit, we went to the Greave Dunning and I took my little notebook and we came up with a list of the highs and lows of the previous 10 days.

Here it is along with just a few of the pictures we took:

Best day out (Essex) – Dad’s birthday.  This was the day when we had a little walk around Thaxted village in the morning and visited the English Heritage property of Audley End House in the afternoon.  We also had a lovely meal at the Swan in Thaxted.

Best day out (Cheshire) – Ness Gardens.  We meet Lin and Denis there for lunch and then spent the afternoon attempting to photograph something that was worthy of entry into Ness’ annual photographic competition.

Favourite town – Saffron Waldon

Favourite village – Thaxted

Smallest church – St. Helen’s chapel.  One of the oldest surviving buildings in the east of England.  It has been used as a stable and a shed at times but now it is maintained by the local diocese and there is an annual service.

Largest church – Saffron Waldon.  The proportions were cathedral like.  It was lovely to hear some organ practice when we were there too.

Best church – The one in Lindsell amongst the farm buildings with the remains of an anchorite’s cell.  An anchorite was a person who chose to withdraw from society – they were subject to a religious rite of consecration that closely resembled funeral rites before entering their cell.  After this they would be considered dead to the world, a sort of living saint. Anchorites were supposed to remain in their cell in all eventualities and spent their days praying. An anchorites’ food was passed through a small window into their cell and body waste was removed the same way.  Now that’s a lifestyle choice.

Best walk – The walk along the embankment at Moreton shore towards Meols.  So good we did it twice.

Best tour – The one Bill from the National Trust gave us at Little Moreton Hall.  We learned a lot – particularly about the board in the great hall which everyone ate around, prepared food on, had meetings at and stored things on.  Turns out this is the basis for many words today including board room, board meeting, cupboard, side board, board games… I could go on!

Best market – Saffron Waldon

Best gardens – The Gardens at Audley End House.

Best pub – The Swan, Thaxted.  (And yes that is Dad using the camera on an iPhone…)

Biggest disappointment – The lovely looking thatched pub being shut on a Monday at a little village called Birdbrook.   And it was Monday when we were there.

Best ice cream – From Cafe Creme at Birkenhead Park.

Best scone – The ones we bought from the little Bakery in Thaxted.

Best meal – Thanksgiving dinner.

Best pint – A pint of Wainwrights at the Greave Dunning.

Most interesting form of transport – Punting down the river Cam in Cambridge.

Best purchase – Sketchers x 3 pairs for each of the Alderson’s purchased at the shop in Cheshire Oaks with a great discount.  And also a new watch band for Dad in Saffron Waldon market.

Best dressed – This lady at Little Moreton Hall.

Biggest surprise – The weather.  Again.  I think we said after last year’s visit.

Most scenic drive – The day in Essex where we drove through the countryside to Finchingfield and Cavendish.  (Cavendish is actually in Sussex as it happens.)

Prettiest scene – The little cottages in Thaxted with the Windmill behind.

After the number of airport good-byes I’ve experienced since my first memories of Granny and Grandpa’s visits, I always wonder why they don’t get just a little bit easier.  The memories of the past days and the ease of communication and travel today make things a little more acceptable but the reality is that my “Find my friends” iphone app now tells me Mum and Dad are 3396 miles away.  That’s a long way and I miss them…