Stout shoes were certainly a requirement for this afternoon’s walk following yesterday’s torrential rain. However, because of its height, Church Hill had dried better than some of the lower lying areas. We arrived in the car park with five minutes to spare and found two couples waiting to accompany us on the walk. They explained they had seen the advertisement for the walk in Laindon Library and introduced themselves as Jill and Doug Templin from the Five Links Estate, Laindon and Joan and Dave Burgess who live behind the Tesco store in Langdon Hills. Paul Sargeant arrived to join us as Ken Porter sped off in his car as he had forgotten to bring the milk for our afternoon tea. After studying the map and explaining the route, we headed down Church Hill to join a footpath recently created through an area which had previously become vastly overgrown. Ken re-joined us and was happy to explain the history of the area as we ambled along.
We made our way along Basildon Rise and turned left to admire Laindon Park School. Both couples were most impressed with its picturesque and well-kept appearance. We then followed a footpath that led towards the A127 and discovered some wonderful brambles with an abundance of large juicy blackberries. Of course we couldn’t resist picking a few and popping them into our mouths as we passed by. We noticed at least two ponds in the area, one of which was a little overgrown and all agreed it would benefit from a tidy-up session to make the most of its best features. The sun was out and the afternoon had become warm and very pleasant. We made our way to the back of the church and lingered to admire the award winning church yard with its wonderful panoramic view stretching from Langdon Hills in the south to Crays Hill in the north. Ken kindly opened the church and while explaining its history, led us into the ‘priest’s house’ which had been the original school room. He then put the kettle on while we explored the church with its ancient beams and warm welcoming atmosphere. We sat in the pews around the font while some very welcome tea and biscuits were served. We thoroughly enjoyed the refreshments at our leisure in convivial company and while Ken did the washing up, we all agreed it had been a most enjoyable afternoon. It was five O’clock when the church was finally locked up and we made our way to the car park. I gave both couples the Laindon Archive web address and invited them to come along to one of our future Memory Day meetings at the library. We couldn’t have wished to meet two nicer couples and we all waved cheerfully to each other as we drove away down Church Hill.