So today we are joined by a blue badge guide who is taking us on a tour of Constable Country. She showed me the route we would take on the map and I was very uncertain about the way she was suggesting to go to our first stop. It looked unsuitable to me. And sure enough, when we approached the right turn she wanted me to take, there were big blue signs saying 'unsuitable for wide vehicles'. I sailed straight past with the guide saying, "oh sorry, we should have gone right there. Never mind, carry on. I should have said earlier." Little does she know I never had any intention of going that way!
We arrived at our first stop, East Bergholt and the guide walked them through the village to the church. As I was helping our ladies off the coach I noticed one lady, who is a first time traveller with us, and I think she has got the wrong idea about what type of holiday this is. This is what we call a singles holiday where nobody pays single room supplements which, when you're a sole traveller, can increase the price of a holiday quite considerably. But I think this particular lady has thought it's where single people go on holiday to get together! So she would have had a shock yesterday to see only ladies on the coach. But when she got off the coach today and was headed for the church wearing a white see through dress with no bra and big dark 70 year old nipples on full show, I was the one who had a shock! So she's obviously not given up hope!
During the 16th century, the inhabitants of East Bergholt became well known for Protestant radicalism. A few of its citizens were martyred during the reign of Queen Mary I and the Protestant martyrologist John Foxe recorded their stories in his famous work Acts and Monuments (also known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs).
East Bergholt is the birthplace of painter John Constable. Flatford and Dedham, Essex, both made famous by John Constable, are within walking distance of East Bergholt.
After having coffee in the church we drove the short distance to Flatford Mill, in the heart of Dedham Vale.
It is noted as the location for works by John Constable, whose father owned the mill. Constable made the mill and its immediate surroundings the subject of many of his most famous paintings. It is the title of one of his most iconic paintings, Flatford Mill (Scene on a Navigable River) and is in the title or the subject of several other of his largest paintings including: Flatford Mill from a lock on the Stour; Flatford Mill from the lock (A water mill); The Lock. The Hay Wain which features Willy Lott's Cottage, was painted from the front of the mill.
After a few people struggling back up the hill to the coach we made our way to Dedham, just over the border in Essex, for our lunch stop. The guide took those who wanted to the church for a bit more information while everyone else had a leisurely time trying to recuperate from this mornings walking.
Constable attended the town's Grammar School (now the 'Old Grammar School' and 'Well House'), and he would walk to school each morning alongside the River Stour from his family's home in East Bergholt. Many of Constable's paintings feature Dedham, including Dedham Parish Church, whose massive Caen stone and flint tower is a focal point of the surrounding Dedham Vale.
After lunch we travelled to Lavenham. Lavenham is a village and civil parish in Suffolk. It is noted for its 15th-century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk. In the medieval period it was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England. Today, it is a popular day-trip destination for British people from across the country and Americans from the air bases of Lakenheath and Mildenhall, along with another historic wool town in the area, Long Melford.
Mrs nipples returned to the coach laden with shopping and I was disappointed to hear she had bought herself a new top and not a new bra. I suppose so long as its not a white top, that is good enough! Everybody on the coach was now pretty tired and I think I'm going to have a kip in the bath before dinner. Our lady who we left behind today is much better so everything is rosey. This is me clocking off for now. :-)