Return to Colchester – Day 1

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We’re off to Colchester for a few days. Gosh! We haven’t visited here for quite a few years! πŸ‘πŸ˜

Day 1 – Friday, November 24th (Arrival)

We’re off!

We set off just after 9.45 this morning, heading for the A14/M11.

11.10am: Our first planned stop along the way was Gridserve Charging Station in Great Notley. This was a real glimpse of the motoring future with over 30 chargers, a cafΓ©, a retail shop, a post office, washroom and somewhere for the sprogs to play! Even Teslas are catered for in their own area. The whole place is partly solar-powered too! πŸ‘

12.15pm: Next, was Braintree Shopping Outlet Village to have a look around and pick up a few of the last Christmas presents.

WhattaMistakaTaMaka! 😲We’re not sure whether it was because it was Black Friday, or the place was just generally so popular, but we gave up, having failed to even find a parking space in the adjacent car-park. Not a great start to our few days away! 😲. And how come there were so many CHILDREN there? Aren’t they supposed to be at school?? 😠

12.45pm: OK, maybe we’ll have more luck at our next stop – the retail park in Stanway? We also planned to have a look at the Sainsbury store that Ann used to work at. As we arrived, it looked like THAT store had closed, to be replaced by monster replaecment of a store (150,000sq ft) on the opposite side of the road in a newer space called Stane Retail Park. We’ve seen a few supermarkets in our time, but never one as large as this new(ish) Sainsbury’s.

As supermarkets go, this was very impressive. Pretty much anything and everything, all in one place, plus a few retail concessions too, including Timpsons and Argos! Amazing!

2.00pm: Our next stop was the equally impressive M&S. It was doing a good trade and we decided to take advantage of the on-site cafeteria. What’s this? McDonald’s-style screens to order your nibbles and not a human in sight. The poor customer in front of us was having a heck of a job getting the screen to respond to her increasingly violent taps – and so we stepped in to help! πŸ‘. At last, we ordered our snacks and found a seat. A real human appeared who delivered our drinks and cake in record time, but it surely can’t be long before they are replaced with robots – or we have to make it ourselves! πŸ€”πŸ€”

We picked up a few tree pressies for friends and generally had a successful shop. What happened next, was to ensure we never came back here again! Read on!

2.40pm: All we wanted to do was leave the car-park. We’d previously read online how congested it can sometimes get here, but as things turned out, I think we created a new record. Everything/everywhere was gridlocked – literally! For the first half-an-hour, I think we moved about 2 metres! In the end, we were in ‘exit’ mode for just over the hour! We agreed to rename the Retail Park – “Alcatraz” and probably just as well there wasn’t a hotel on-site as we would have called that “California”!!! 😠😠.

3.43pm: We’re free! Free to join the next queue for the nearby roundabout. We abandoned plans to revisit the site of the former Sainsbury’s at Stanway (maybe another time?)and instead head back to nearby Lexden and a quick look at Ann’s Gran and Aunt’s house in Wordsworth Road – we haven’t been there for very many years and we were interested in seeing how the area had changed just nosey! 😁

3.40pm: Well, it had changed quite a bit! Gone was the immaculate front garden, replaced by what seemed like a car-park! That was a bit of a shock, but I’m not sure what we expected to find?

Time to head to our temporary home for the next few days in the centre of Colchester, where once again, the journey there was as busy as ever, where I think we averaged just 5mph for about an hour. Eeek! πŸ˜•

4.40pm: Called ‘Roman Quarter‘, we booked it, courtesy of Booking.com, and it has everything we need. It’s decorated to a very standard and Martin couldn’t do enough to help us settle in! He even met us at the nearby car-park to help us with our bags.

Just time to unpack before setting up the technology to type this Blog and then put our devices on charge.

On tonight’s menu: Beef Bourguignon, where we’re guaranteed no queues – we ate IN! πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹. The perfect opportunity to reflect on today’s traffic chaos!!!

What a day! I love driving, but today was nothing short of horrendous. Perhaps we’re just out of touch with the traffic in Essex these days, but it seemed everywhere we went, there was congestion! πŸ˜•. Tomorrow we’re heading for the centre of the city and Colchester Castle – and we’re walking!! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

9.05pm: Totally exhausted! See you tomorrow! πŸ’€πŸ’€

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