A wet walk one afternoon in Waterfields Rec, by the banks of the River Colne, in Watford. More a park with a pitch, nicely developed of late with a big nod (and a wink) to the area’s heritage. Can’t really get too excited about the recently restored Grade II listed Coal Duty Obelisk of 1861, but this rain-affected photo really doesn’t do justice to an impressive statue of an Edwardian bathing colossus. Under his knots-in-four corners handkerchief helmet there is a head of hair more than hinting of older creatures, of mythical beings.
You’ll have to take my word for this, because the photos I took that reveal more of that detail suffer from even more of the rain drops that despite the umbrella kept falling on my camera lens. The statue stands on a slim plinth in the middle of a splendid bit of planting only hinted at in the explanatory text. Good one, Watford Council.
I give you this inadequate photo because I cannot resist placing it near those of two statues of Triton, the Greek god of the sea, that you can find on the esplanade at Lowestoft:
Triton, a merman he should be – messenger of the sea: blowing that conch shell he could calm or raise the waves. Son and herald of Poseidon, the sea’s main man. Or rather, god. Why two statues? Who knows. As it happens at least one of them is Grade II listed too.
Why spend an afternoon in Lowestoft? Because it’s there. And the availability of a cheap coach trip to the eastern-most settlement in the UK (which must count for something) (mustn’t it?) from our deeply land-locked abode. The sea, the sea. Cue obligatory East Anglian seaside photo of beach huts:
Blue skies, fish and chips as commended by some blokey TV chefs at Nemo’s, a beach to stroll, ice creams to be had. This photo on the left is a detail of the structure colourfully holding up the North Pier. The dog-free beach was immaculate, the pebbles where there were pebbles eminently pick-overable. What with all these cleaned-up beaches I do miss a whiff of rotting sea weed mixed in with the ozone, but such is progress I suppose.
All seemed well, but one road back, parallel to the seafront, signs of poverty and desperation – empty premises, non-chain charity shops, a Salvation Army Hostel, another uninspiring drop-in day centre. House prices interesting, except you’d have to live there in winter too. A thriving leisure boat harbour, but the fishing industry has pretty much gone.
You can go on the Mincarlo, the last side-winder trawler built in Lowestoft in the early ’60s and now maintained by a charitable trust; I opted to go linger aimlessly awhile at the end of the South Pier but my traveling companions went on board, could not believe the noise of the engine, tried to imagine what time spent at sea must have been like with that constant – not much to romanticise … save the bravery and community, of course.