We churn out through Essex, spotting the Shenfield Shark resting like a strange arctic fishy box on its siding beside the main line. Every time a train comes past us in the opposite direction, our coach seems to have been punched, with a loud bang as the airmass hits us – and we are in coach 4 of 12, or something.
Braintree Station is a gem – a charming proud little Victorian terminus with a single track, slightly curved, and a wealth of woodwork and craftsmanship in every quarter – panelling, cornices, strapwork, and all at a nice scale and beautifully looked after.
We are met by our friend Jeremy Nicholas who is late because of the traffic jams – he doesn’t think much of the town, but I like the fountain, and the buildings…. The countryside is benign, rich. The harvest is all done, already. I remember how it used to go on for so much longer, when the grain was poured into sacks in the fields straight from the combines, and the straw lay on the ground in lines….. Now it’s done by huge machines on contract, and all over in a blink. The fields look almost toasted.
We have a lovely evening, talking with Jezza and Jill, and sleep in pure white linen, and now we are off to the airport to go to Trieste. Our gadgets are playing up. Can we get it all fixed before we fly?