Friday, 30 September 2016

Day 34 Colchester to Harwich

22nd September 2016

Disrupted service to Mersea Island
There was a notice on the bus stop in Colchester this morning warning that bus services to Mersea Island would be disrupted by high tides flooding the causeway from the mainland. Fortunately, these weren't due until the afternoon so I was able to reach West Mersea as planned and spent an enjoyable half an hour or so there drinking coffee in the sunshine along with what appeared to be half the village population of retired folk.

Back in Colchester there was some confusion over where to get the bus to Brightlingsea, not helped by Essex County Council not keeping their timetable displays updated. It wasn't helped either by the bus being ten minutes late and I had almost decided that I'd been waiting in the wrong place when it appeared.  The route to Brightlingsea included a traverse of the campus of Essex University - a hotbed of student radicalism in my own student days of the 1970s (I studied elsewhere) - which came unexpectedly do me as I was following the route on my 20 year out-of-date OS map.

We were still ten minutes late in Brightlingsea, which precluded a walk down to the harbour before catching the bus to Clacton. This was a rarity for this trip - and for this area - running on only two days a week and provided by a "not-for-profit" community interest company that also runs services in Oxfordshire!

This bus arrived a few minutes early in Clacton allowing me to get an earlier-than-planned bus out along the coast to Jaywick Sands, a decaying and depressing resort, although with an interesting collection of seaside bungalows dating from its 1930s hey-day catering for Londoners seeking to get away from"the smoke" (literally).  

A Jaywick pub. "Perchance it is not dead, but sleepeth"
The rest of Jaywick.

Back in Clacton, the next run was northwards to Walton-on-the-Naze, where a fellow passenger realised just too late that he had left his umbrella on the bus. He had no idea as to where he could retrieve it from and, of coiurse, neither did I except to suggest he asked the driver of the bus he would be returning on.  At one time anyone turning up at a lost property office and asking if they had a "black gents' umbrella"  would be invited to take their pick - but that might not apply nowadays.

Harwich (for the continent. . .)

From Walton I made my way via Thorpe-le-Soken where, not liking the look of any of the village's three pubs (too foodie) there was nothing to do for half-an-hour but walk up and down the main street. Fortunately the bus to Harwich was only a few minutes late.  At first glance there isn't much to the old town of Harwich, but I rather like it with its splendid early cinema (the oldest in England), some cracking pubs (one of which sells no draught bitter - only bottled) and views across the estuary to the busy container port at Felixtowe as well as an occasional glimpse of the Hook of Holland ferry. We got there in plenty of time for a walk along the prom and to catch a splendid sunset before a meal and a few pints in the town and a train back to Colchester, which accomplished the journey in a fraction of the time of the outward journey.