Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to be selected for the Essex Belongs to Us project. A book has just been released featuring a selection of Essex-based authors writing about their county. Whether you’re local and want to reminisce, or live further afield and know little about one of the UK’s most misunderstood areas, the book will prove to be a good read. Here’s a brief taster of what I had to say about Salcott – but to read the rest, you’ll need to buy the book. Details of how to do so follow at the end of this blog post.
Fish out of water
I swear out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a unicorn.
I’d dozed off in front of the telly and awoken to the sound of agitated voices. A few months ago, I’d have slept right through the commotion, part and parcel of living on a main road in a big town. But my husband valued silence over convenience and home was now Salcott-cum-Virley, a small village on the Essex marshes. Ensconced at the deadest part of a dead end road, tucked away behind five huge oak trees, it was about as quiet as Essex got.
Instead of the scream of motorbikes and the rumble of lorries, I now awoke to birdsong – and an infernal wind that sometimes blew so hard it drowned it out. With the gales of spring, fence panels popped like champagne corks. After retrieving the dog from the neighbours’ garden for the third time in as many weeks, we hired a man to build us some wind proof fencing.
But we were in the habit of leaving the gates open, and things had a habit of wandering in, causing great excitement. At first, we would run to the window each time, interrupting whatever we were doing to marvel at pheasants strolling across the front lawn or ducks making their raucous way across the sky out the back. All this wildlife was a novelty. We’d once had a squirrel visit our small back garden in Rayleigh but the dog had soon seen him off. Whether we liked it or not, we were going to have to share our garden with the local residents: the pair of wood pigeons that roosted in the dead apricot tree in front of the kitchen window and the quarrel of sparrows that nested in the blackberry bush that had long since conquered our garage wall. You didn’t live in the country, you shared it. Boundaries were arbitrary, there for the purposes of officialdom only.
And so it was that when the neighbour’s small white pony escaped, I awoke to find it at the patio door and in my somnolent state, confused it with a unicorn. It was soon joined by another and, then, several men trying to round them up, startling me out of my slumber. It wasn’t long before they were all heading back out of the gate. They seemed almost practised and I had a strong suspicion this had happened before.
The rest you’ll find in the book. You can order a paperback here:
It costs £8.99 plus a pound for postage and packaging. Alternatively, the e-Book is much cheaper. You can download it to your Kindle via Amazon for just £1 here:
And if you do, I’d love to hear what you thought of the book. Was Essex what you expected it to be?