Saturday, April 20 – Our first morning in Saffron Walden! As usual, I rolled out before Natalie, so I went downstairs in search of food! I had a nice continental breakfast at the hotel, then ventured out into the village with my trusty camera. I wandered into Mollie’s Tea Shop, had a bit more breakfast and chatted with Carrie, my waitress. Pretty lady, very nice lady! Regarding breakfast: I had scrambled eggs on toast, *perfectly* done! I have wonderful memories of my English mother serving me that very breakfast many times, all those years ago.
Leaving Mollie’s, I strolled around for a bit, taking photographs of village life and the colorful cottages, then returned to pick up Natalie so we could start our day together.
Our loose plan was to try to locate the house where I lived while in Saffron Walden – the address was #9 Newport Road, so off we went, map in hand. After only a short walk, we were approaching the turn for Newport Road and just happened to notice that we were passing the Saffron Walden Hospital. Well, son-of-a-gun, that’s exactly where I was born, 2.5 eons ago 🙂 Actually, according to the sign on the building, it was no longer a hospital, but was being used by the city government. Oh well, times change. We left the hospital grounds and walked about 2 blocks and found Newport Road, and right away found #9. These buildings look rather modern, so it’s possible that the original cottage where I lived as an infant had been replaced. Not that important, I guess. I took some photographs, but didn’t knock on the door, didn’t want to disturb anyone.
We went back down the hill towards the center of town and detoured off to see the Saturday Market. We really enjoyed that – lots of activity, people wandering about enjoying the unaccustomed warmth of a sunny weekend in England. As we came out of the market we chose to walk to the large church that dominated the skyline of the village, The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin. It was very reminiscent of the cathedrals we had visited in days previous, only smaller. As you browse the pictures you’ll see that ‘smaller’ only means ‘lesser in size than a towering cathedral’, but still very impressive! While inside, I had a nice chat with one of the local fellows who was quite involved with some of the ongoing activities of the church – nice fellow, very knowledgeable and helpful!
Not far from the church we visited the Bridge End Garden, a very nice area for strolling and meditation. The English people DO know about gardening! At the far end of the garden we saw the Saffron Walden Cricket Club enjoying the sunny day, and near the cricket pitch (playing field) we came across the Anglo-American War Memorial 1939-1945, a nice remembrance in honor of the fallen heroes of that area of the conflict. My father was a part of the 4th Fighter Group mentioned on the plaque in the photo, but of course he did not fall on the field of battle, he was fortunate enough to make it back home to Texas, where I grew up.
As we continued our walk we discovered the Saffron Walden Museum and did some exploring in there – lots of things on display regarding the history of the area. If I ever make it back to this area I’ll try to allow more time for the museum. Just outside the museum we found the RUINS of an old castle – I mean, I’ve NEVER seen a man-made structure in that state of decay. I guess those English winters are hard on old castles.
To finish up the day’s walk we took a tour of the Fry Art Gallery, which housed a very nice collection from various artists. Again, I’d love to spend more time for this, but we only had so many hours to see everything. Save me a place, folks, I’ll try to come back! 🙂
Later, back at the hotel, Natalie and I enjoyed scones with clotted cream and jam, and while there we were able to get a good enough wifi connection to do some FaceTime with my son Bret Hilton, who lives with his family not far from Ottawa, Canada. For those of you not familiar with FaceTime, it’s an Apple program that allows a video conversation with your friends and loved ones who are far away. It was great! Nice to see him and the kids 🙂
We rounded out our great day back at the Saffron Hotel restaurant, with Natalie enjoying some creamy cauliflower-cheese soup and gnocchi, and I had an English pie (nice crusty top), containing sausage, mushrooms and apples. Excellent meal for both of us!
Tomorrow is our last day for Saffron Walden, we return to London for one more day of sight-seeing to hit some of the things still on our ‘wanna see’ list. For now, more pictures! Hope you enjoy them!