Return to Colchester – Day 2

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Day 2 – Saturday, November 25th

7.20am: Morning all!

Here we are in Colchester, feeling somewhat nostalgic, re-treading old ground from our working days in and around the area.

Nice view! (St James the Great)

9.10am: It might be freezing cold outside, but at least it’s dry! And, after yesterday’s ‘going nowhere fast’ adventure, today, we’re doing everything on foot! On the list is a wander up and down Colchester’s famous High Street and a trip to the famous Castle.

Colchester Castle

10.00am: Ann hadn’t been here since a school trip (back in the 70s) – and it was my very first visit. I can’t think why we’d never visited in the intervening years, considering we used to live nearby in Witham! We weren’t sure how it would look INSIDE, but the exterior was pretty stunning!

Once we were inside, our first impressions were ‘Wow!’ -and we hadn’t looked at any of the exhibits yet! They’d made really good use of the interior space across two floors – it was very well lit too!

After paying for our tickets, we were advised to begin upstairs and wander anti-clockwise to ensure we saw Colchester’s growth in chronological order. There was plenty to see!

In truth, it was more of a museum than ‘just’ a Castle with its displays offering a detailed description of the many, MANY finds over the years in the city, Lexden and Stanway. It had been a very worthwhile visit. Next stop was right next door, Hollytrees Museum.

Hollytrees Museum

10.45am: The Museum was originally a private house that dates back to 1718. It reopened in 2001 after major refurbishment, having been a Museum since 1929. The free admission leads to a variety of exhibits based around mediaeval antiquities and later bygones. Certainly, if you like old CLOCKS and WATCHES, you are in for a treat, as these dominate part of the ground floor. What they all had in common was they were all constructed here in the city.

Upstairs, there are examples of everyday life from times gone by…

Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area!

11.20am: After a quick walk around Castle Park, we headed back to the Apartment for elevenses!

The toasted teacake had done its work, and we set off to explore more of the Colchester on our doorstep.

Colchester High Street

12.05pm: Good job we packed gloves and hats – it was absolutely freezing out there! Weather aside, the main drag was busy, but like so many elsewhere these days, there were a fair number of empty premises…

…with M&S (above) being one of those casualties (they moved out to Stane Retail Park, where we were yesterday). The iconic Debenhams was another famous name who’d closed. In fact, the high street scene, with its numerous vacant units, looked quite tatty and unloved. It certainly was nothing like we recall it when we used to regularly shop there. Even the weekly Saturday Market was now only once a month – All-in-all, it felt like a ‘never meet your heroes’ type moment. πŸ˜•

12.15pm: As you might expect, the historical sights in Colchester were still as breathtaking as ever, including the Balkerne Gate, a scheduled monument and Grade 1 listed building. It remains the largest surviving gateway in Roman Britain.

1.10pm: Completing our nostalgic tour, we found the ‘old’ Sainsbury store. Ann had briefly worked there, whilst for me, it was one of the first stores I visited when I was promoted to Area Training Manager in the early 80s. Compared to yesterday’s visit to Stanway Sainsbury’s, this was very much ‘old school’, tiny in size and sporting just two checkouts. We supported the local economy and purchased a few bits before making our way back to Base.

We weren’t sorry to be in from the biting wind – I think it was actually colder at 1pm than it was when we first went out this morning around 10 (in spite of the weather forecast). It’s been somewhat bittersweet to visit Colchester again after all these years. We both felt it had ‘lost some of its magic’ but rose-tinted spectacles were all the rage in the 80s!! πŸ€”πŸ€”.

The rest of the day was spent doing nothing in particular. For me, the high point was the return of Doctor Who at 6.30 (I’ll post about that separately). We’re checking out after breakfast tomorrow, heading for Haverhill to catch up with a friend whom we’ve not seen for many, many years. We’re heading home afterwards!

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