Thursday, 13 February 2014

Thursday Shopping!

This depressing view is how we shop today.  Romance tells us that in the past small shops were friendlier, more sociable and more human.  The last is certainly true!  The sociability and friendliness depended on the shop owner but their size at least was easier for as human to comprehend.  Today large shopping centres are geared to the rich man in his automobile, leaving a depressing emptiness outside, even if clean and safe.  The large buildings house all those shiny things we long desperately for, whether they make us happy or just fill our emptiness is another question.  Today in search of something shiny I took myself to the Stanway centre by bus, I left the Bentley in the garage.  
Now some weeks ago it came into my head to fix the broken PC, I need this in working order in case the laptop dies, dead computer means life as we know it comes to a halt, and that will never do! Struggling with this idea I was in Chelmsford, at Maplins shop, investigating a motherboard an other nameless bits on the shelves there.  My brilliant brain decided to leave it and investigate PC World and the vast stocks on their shelves, therefore I was here in their Stanway shop.  Here I discovered, via a friendly and competent young assistant, that since uniting with 'Curry's,' PC World/Currys no longer stock the inside bits for PCs, only shiny new ones.  The young lad suggests I try 'Maplins,' they stock motherboards he offers helpfully.  My slumped shoulders headed for the bus stop where I caught the next one into Colchester itself in the vain hope that their shop would be readily available in the town centre, it wasn't!  Bah!  So I wandered about, avoiding the charity and book shop temptations keeping my eyes upwards looking in case something interesting was to be found.  Several bumps into people and street furniture later I changed my approach.

Behind the Roman wall at what once was the edge of town stands St Mary at the Wall a redundant church that has stood here for around a thousand years and now is merely an 'arts' centre.  I suspect it will be an excellent venue according to the many big names that have appeared there, it must hold a thousand or so in the main hall.  Had it not been for the dual carriageway someone had dumped in front of me I would have had a closer look.  

This is a pub called 'The Bull.'  They have enabled even the daftest to realise this by placing a 'bull' high above the door.  This of course was what was done in days of yore when education was lacking, even the daftest could tell the difference between a bull and a Swan, as many were named.  The flags are out to tempt people to watch the 'Six Nations' rugby which is on at the moment. Sadly the sun shines on the other side of the street hence the dullness.

The Edwardian's liked fancy buildings!  The Baroque Town Hall was built in 1902 with a rich patron, James Paxman, paying for the tower soaring high above crowned by the statue of St Helena the towns patron saint.   Inside and out it represents the wealth the men of the town wished to impress upon the world, and bask in reflected glory themselves.  No doubt some of those men were around when Henry Charles Fehr sculpted the war memorial raised in 1923.  The usual words bedeck the memorial as the townspeople attempted to believe their war was indeed just and glorious.  Memorials raised today do not inspire such admiration I think.

I was unable to find 'Maplins,' probably because it lay on the other side of town from where I landed, so instead had a closer look at the 15th century gatehouse to St Johns Abbey, the only remaining part of said abbey.  Besieged during the English Civil War, which was not very civil as may lost their heads here, the gatehouse survives although behind lies merely a car park, and only for the use of the members of the organisation based here.  

At one time this supported a statue of either a saint or a local worthy, today it just wears away in the rain.  The siege may also have caused damage, the twin was almost worn away.  

Inside the small gate reflects the small size of people in those days, six foot tall people were unusual at the time, and I wondered about the people who peered from the windows at those waiting outside for them.  The Benedictines moved in late in the 11th century and moved out when Henry VIII kicked them out.  The Abbot refused to hand the place over and was gently hanged just outside the gate. Henry had no patience in those days.  The Lucas family took over and moved in, sadly they supported the crown during the civil war in 1648 and this led to their end and the bits of damage to the gatehouse.  The buildings inside disappeared over the years.

I was impressed by this wee house, dated 1823, clearly enlarged since and more so round the back I noticed, but remaining a delightful small cottage.  I am not jealous I state here, not jealous at all.  St John's Green primary school also drew my admiration, although I am not willing to attend there.  Built in 1898 in a kind of Dutch style it reflected the weaving history of the area and the Flemish connections from the past.  

As infants rarely have the ability to read I am struck by how many old schools put directions above the doors to ensure the wee ones went into the right area. Maybe they were a wee bit brainier in those day?

This area abounds in churches that date back a millennium, the disused Church of St Giles goes back to the 12th century but I am not sure what it is used for these days, signs are not obvious. The tower got my attention, that appears very Saxon in its style but it dates from around 1700ish.  As always it has been amended and added to over the years but now lies quietly surrounded by the iron railings that also go back to the 1700's.  

Behind me as I took this picture lay the main police station, the cells I believe lie behind the small square, thick glass windows I leant against, you may no better.  When this station was built in the 80's an archaeological dig discovered 371 Roman burials and this building dating from 320 - 340.  The evidence indicates this could be the earliest church building in the British Isles but further evidence is wanting.  Some reckon it is possibly a Roman soldiers Mythraeum, but they would, wouldn't they?   Ever known archaeologists to agree?  Bah!

Having wandered around the town with my money still in my pocket I splashed out on a £1.50 coffee from this man at the bus station and well worth it it was! I was intrigued as to how somebody ends up running a very successful coffee stall and it transpires this man is an ex-serviceman.  That got me wondering also.  Now he may be happy in his work, he may be making a good profit, this is a busy place to operate, and he may well make sufficient to keep his family happy but it suddenly seemed sad that a man who risked his life in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan should be running a coffee stall.  As stated he might well be happy but it seems to me men who have risked lives for the nation could be getting better treatment than they do, especially when they are capable, knowledgeable and possess that amiability we often find in such men. I am just glad he is as fit as he is, IDS would be naming him in parliament otherwise.

While admiring Coggeshall's old buildings and remembering I was going to visit there I found this cat that I noticed last time.  He slinks on the roof high above the crowd looking for birds that are not gathering in front of him.  Maybe they think he is real!  It reminds those with cameras to always look up, and check it is safe to do so, as above the shop doorways there is often something intriguing awaiting you. 



Lee said...

And I'll bet a lot of bull is uttered in the pub....suitable name! ;)

Your shopping trip turned out to be more pleasant than you expected, even if you did come home empty-handed. It just means you'll have to venture forth another day and keep your eyes and mind focused on your purpose.

We, your readers, were the beneficiaries of your thank you.

The ex-serviceman probably loves his little coffee stall. It being so far removed from what he was previously involved in is probably just what he needs; what gives him peace and what makes him happy. I can understand that. I reckon it could be his form of therapy.

Carol in Cairns said...

Always nice to go on an outing with you A-man. Great photos and commentary.

Kay G. said...

I agree with Lee about the ex-serviceman with his coffee stall. He gets to speak with nice people all day, like you!
And I thank you for this post, I really enjoyed seeing all the buildings and in some cases, the remains of buildings. Shame to me that so many churches in England and Scotland have become cultural centers and such...but I suppose that's better than having them torn down.