Neighbouring Essex


My post code is confusing. However, it does inform me that I live between the border of East London and Essex which is between Brentwood and Greater London. Havering for example has an Essex postcode; it is still part of London and has been since 1965. The London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham and parts of Redbridge have Essex postcodes because they would be in North East London and the reason why these areas do not have the NE postcode is because it belongs to the northern city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  Essex is one of the Home Counties located north-east of the city of London. The reason why I am saying this is because of the jealousy and sadness I harbour.  Unlike the Greater London area Essex is a largely rural county with small market towns, traditional villages and tiny hamlets linked by quiet country lanes. The Essex countryside is a walking paradise, whether you want to cross the country from south-west to north-east using the well-known Essex Way or other smaller countryside trails or coastal walks. By road, the gateway for me would be the A12 (surely that locality is near enough to call us neighbours). It appears that in just 15 minutes I will be there in the midst of woodland trails, old historic parkland and even the occasional modern working farm. But how far do I really want to go in order to be convinced that this neighbourly county has undulating farmland interspersed with small woodlands, views that are constantly interrupted by mighty oaks and ashes presided over by (according to the encyclopaedia)  “hurrying skies”?  More so, do I need to be reminded any further  that Essex covers a density 1,230 square miles!  If I have got my purse with me then there is the large swathe of the county which is closer to London and is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt urban development; and that is Lakeside Shopping Centre.

You know when you have entered Essex because everyone has a sign. Houses haves plagued signs near to their business with a sign, there road safety signs and quality signs and if the Cat’s Eyes on the road are bright enough there are also “way out” signs. Thankfully, I am able to make my journey back in time to find that my own local town market is still opened for a bargain hunt. My intention is of course to  emulate the Asparagus and “Little Scarlet” strawberries I left behind.

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)

Copyright © Jennifer Valentine 2012

Pictures : Essex Steam Trains (1920 -1971)   Essex Market Day (2011)

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