Back from the druglands of Rhyl and Towyn, I stride forth into the familiar territory of the lost village of Chilton (now a suburban industrial estate), to check out the views and my favourite haunt – the churchyard of St. Mary’s!
I’ve been told that none other than the intrepid explorer, Michael Palin, shares my love for these lands (no, he doesn’t love me – not that I am aware of anyway – but then who doesn’t love an orange?).
And its easy to see why. For hidden within the warehouses, cranes and factories, lies an old World War Two airfield, complete with landing strips. And, even more exciting, is the host of wildlife that has homed itself into these abandoned, but not quite forgotten (at least, not by me, or by Palin) plains.
En route, I cross Waldingfield Road, and find it hard not to shed a few tears at the state of the McDonald’s roundabout. Just weeks ago, it was a feast to my senses. The red poppies looked so beautiful and inviting that I felt the need to investigate further and, once there, I found myself blending in beautifully to my surroundings.
Now, thanks to the council’s Hacking Department, the whole lots had the chop! And it looks exactly like the mole on my chin, complete with stubble!
Still, once I arrive at the industrial estate and see all the reds, yellows and greens in the hedgerows of Church Field Road, I begin to recover. And I can just imagine myself in a red dress, all accessorised up with a straw hat holding up an arrangement of yellow and green berries. I’d be right fine and fruity!
Further off the beaten path, somewhere between the Medical Centre and St Mary’s church, I stop to admire the dandelion clocks and teasels. Recalling my late Nanna Cool, I think of how she used to tell me that, if I slept with a dandelion, I would wet the bed. I never did put her theory to the test. Is tonight the time?
As if reading my mind, and seeing the necessity for a distraction, an insect (no, I can’t identify the species!) decides that my flesh makes a smooth landing platform. I think that it would make a very pretty silver pendant, which calls for a photo shoot. It gets all Naomi Campbellish, sticking around for all the attention it can get, and I manage to snap it in a variety of poses, before succumbing to the fear that perhaps it is just enjoying a tasty feed! Time for some brisk movement!
But I really can’t get enough of the dandelions!
And is this shiny-beauty, home to a hoard of eggs?
Really love these pink and white wigs! Must visit the fancy dress section of Amazon soon!
Time for some floorwork! With my arthritic ballerina’s feet, I pas de bourree a terre around a few leaves and saute over an extremely attractive piece of plastic …
Some ceiling work (can’t find this term in my ballet glossary)? Anyone know the French translation for dancing upside down?
Before venturing into the deep-dark forest that surrounds the airfield, I leapfrog over the gateway into St Mary’s churchyard. Being a Salopian by birth, I know that this graveyard isn’t bursting at the seams with my ancestral DNA but, nonetheless, people are people – and, alive or dead, they are all interesting (especially the ones who don’t mind my own particular uniqueness)! I stop dead.
Are my eyes deluding me, or do I see the name Palin before me? No wonder Michael Palin loves Chilton – he must be one of Chilton’s own! Is he related to the Herberts of Chilton Hall? Can’t the living Palin do anything to prevent Babergh Council from swallowing what remains of Chilton up for good? Michael, please stop these plans from ever becoming reality!
I dedicate a quick prayer to the ‘Save Chilton’ campaign and leap on out of the graveyard to plunge into Red Riding Hood territory.
Being all-inclusive (I’d hate to leave out the usual array of eyesores), I bring my dappled pony to a halt, and take some close-ups of a few man-made items. Next time, I must remember to bring a rubbish bag and my litter-picker stick with me (Poundland – get one!). Although, to be perfectly honest, then I actually find the Red Bull can on the tree quite appealing (but would be better if full)!
More adage a terre! Reckon the prickly things would be useful for swinging at the litter louts!
Is anything lurking below? Rabbits? Am I about to be sucked down the rabbit hole into Alice’s Wonderland?
Hubby rudely interrupts my reverie by informing me that rabbits are not natural hole-diggers. Aforesaid Hubby is such an Encyclopaedia that he really ought to host a natural history TV programme (if interested, contact me, his agent, and I’ll give you the joint bank account details).
Apparently, if Hubby’s informative monologue is to be trusted, then rabbits were imported from some far off land, and struggled to adapt to our harsh British environment. Hence the keepers of warrens had to get digging lots of holes for the cuties to keep themselves snug and warm in.
Unfortunately, our British ancestors (contact me for the the presenter’s job on the family tree programme) were not kind-hearted vegetarians. Rabbit meat was extremely profitable! And rabbit skin, even more so! Personally, I took one little polite sip at a bowl of greasy rabbit soup, ladled up to me on a childhood French exchange trip, and immediately became a fully-fledged herbivore (okay, so the stringy horsemeat also had something to do with that decision)!
So busy am I, taking shots of the land beneath my feet, that I almost miss a sign telling me not to go any further. Seems Hubby and I are about to trespass upon private property. Shame, as I quite fancy a closer look at the white house up ahead of us.
Feeling a little hard-done by, I follow Hubby down a public byway that turns off to the left, just prior to the warning sign. Danger is averted. I won’t find the police waiting to take me away after all. Not today, anyway! But, there’s still time …
A trail of pinkness leads me away from the white house, until I find myself walking across a moat and straight into the grand hallway of pink house.
Yes, I am just daydreaming. Being a mere commoner, and a more-North-than-here commoner at that, its unlikely the folk of Chilton Hall would even let me in through the servant’s door. It’s as well the family of Herberts (they still live there, don’t they?) don’t know what they are missing in Jay Cool, otherwise they’d be kicking themselves!
One day, when I’ve published that bestseller – this Hall could all be mine, mine, mine!
In the interim period, I’ll settle for a grand exit down the avenue of trees in my Hubby-drawn carriage. And, if I can’t have Chilton Hall, perhaps the neighbouring Chilton Grove, still a very fine residence, might be affordable!
Another piece of British history bites the dust! Pinned up next to the ball-bearing (cannon balls?) gate posts, are something like four notification-to-build notices. Looks like the gardens (if not the house?) have been commandeered by the usual greedy house-builders for single storey dwellings, with their own handkerchief-sized gardens and access driveways. Why oh why? Somebody do something! Isn’t there a celebrity out there who can afford to buy this place whole and preserve the gardens for their intended purpose – for strolling, climbing trees, playing chase and hide ‘n’ seek and, at the top of my list, for reading books in? Michael Palin, you love Chilton! Where are you? Bring the dosh back (and whilst you’re at it, purchase Belle Vue House to save it from that nasty hotel chain)!
Looks like every little bit of heaven available is in the clutches of developer! Just across the road from Chilton Grove, I see a static caravan perched on a fenced-in plot – presumably as a stop-gap measure, before the owners build their dream house. This isn’t so bad. At least the house will be unique, rather than a lego box on a large estate. But, then I see that it is only one plot amongst many. A tiny bungalow in the neighbouring plot looks ready for demolition (i.e. its collapsing from wilful neglect), and other plots have piles of loose bricks at the ready. It’s all go with the cement mixers and all gone with our heritage and wildlife!
I stop by at the Mill Pond, hoping for something to uplift my spirits. Is there really a pond beneath all of the grass, reeds and algae?
Doesn’t some of this stuff need clearing to allow some of the pond-life to thrive? What about the frogs, toads and fish folk?
A bit down-hearted, I make my way back to my cliff-top-cave home. I see a chain of wild berries dangling over a fence.
Visualising myself with berries adorning my orange locks, I begin to recover – just a little!
Then I remind myself that I have the greatest gift of all. Never mind the grand halls and expansive grounds!
I draw upon the expansive network inside my own head (do I own my own head?), open up my Lenovo ThinkPad, and do what I love doing the most. The words pour out …
Copyright owned by Jay Cool, 17th August 2019
For those of my readers who are not has-been ballerinas, then here is a Ballet Glossary to peruse at your leisure!
Please also read, like and comment on the following posts by Jay Cool: