Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Cruising Notes

This little notelet is one of many I enjoy making of the creeks I visit. Sure, they may seem very basic but these little bits of paper can be a very useful tool for learning an area. Photos are good for remembering certain points of note, and I have thousands of them, but I find it a useful tool to make little sketches like this one below of Mell Creek. They are intended for personal reference and are roughly drawn up, and, often like my photographs, grabbed while the boat is bobbing up and down, so no-one else may understand them...

The logic here though is if you have drawn them yourself IE: taken the time to purposely write certain details down, you will in effect be scribing into that small section of grey matter that helps us remember this kind of stuff, therefore memorising for future use.
I get great enjoyment from reading books and there are of course some lucky folk who can mentally scan a text book to then have immediately learned it...
If, like me, when learning new things you learn best from actually doing the thing physically, and not reading from a text book, this is well worth a try.

Below is my grabbed notelet/sketch of Mell Creek.
Artistically it is basic but the main point from a learning perspective is I have re-iterated again to myself the main details of the creek, as I see it, by the exercise of drawing it.
Even points of interest which go unseen from the water, such as the rail carriage which, incidentally has in all likelihood came from the "Crab n Winkle" line nearby and are interesting features to be seen when taking a stroll from the boat, are noted.

Notelet of a creek crawl into Mell Creek and to the delightful little creek's head.

The spit outside Mell Creek is a great place to play in a small boat.
I use it for a variety of roles such as anchoring, swimming, boat scrubbing, beach-combing, longshoring, running aground even?

If you would rather give the area a miss when cruising downriver, along this shoreline, take a bearing from Mill Point across to the Baffle. This heading will take you clear of the outer limit of the spit (where you should find a short withie). This withie is hard to find unless very close, but one is usually marking it. There are also many stumps from the former Tollesbury pier, conveniently, the spit is a marker for these also.

Monday, 19 March 2012

A Sailors Lot

Moot Hall

This Grade 1 listed building was built in the 15th century as a private home to the Darcy's.
The Darcy family were very wealthy indeed. At the time most houses would have been built using wood so this towering brick built structure with turrets an-all would have been very imposing.
Interestingly the Darcy's later sold up and moved to another historic building called St Osyth Priory, a building full of history and character that can be found at the top of St Osyth Creek.

Moot Hall has since been occupied by various owners and in the 16th century became a jail when it was used by local authorities.
By the mid 19th century the Hall had a prison cell with exercise yard and had become the local police station. The floor above had by now become the court house.
The Borough Council went on to use the building up until the mid 1970's, before moving to a purpose built building nearby. On the buildings top floor charters of all the Kings and Queens dating back to 1300s hang from the walls, beneath them oak furniture and desks including ink-wells sit on display as it was left by council officers after the last day of use.

Of particular interest was the jail and exercise yard. Prisoners, many of whom would have been visiting drunken sailors, were literally thrown after being manacled, into the tiny brick-built hole of a cell.

The brick walling of the exercise yard itself holds many stories. The mid 1800s being a very popular time here. Some of the prisoners of the era were well educated, being able to scribe very neatly indeed their names.

Climb the steeply spiralled steps to the very top of the house and a small wooden door opens onto the roof terrace. At this point I wished for blue skies (but then I would be sailing) as the views down the high street, across pan-tiled and patterned roof tops reach far and wide. On a clear day it just may be possible to discern St Osyth Priory from here. Northey and Osea stick out quite clearly as does Mundon, Colliers Reach and Heybridge. Even Byrthnoth can be made out on the Promenade.

Guided tours of Moot Hall operate at weekends, check here for further information.

The graffitied walls of the enclosed exercise yard show this chap had more than a few hours spare. His choice of font typical of the period.
This would have been in the days of tall ships, colliers and brigs coming up river from all corners of the British Empire

A picture of a musket gun etched into the brickwork by a pirate or smuggler?

The basic facilities would have been enough to sober up any drunken sailor.

The sailors lot. His only view from the high enclosure of the brick walling.
A spiral staircase, the lower part brick built by Dutch craftsmen, leads you from the ground floor, all the way up to the top of the turret.

The exercise yard and its gate is right beside the cell

The view from the top is for guests of today - and is not bad at all. Maldon's interesting high street is lined with Geogian facades and history can be found behind most of the streets doorways.

A clear day would show the open sea but barge Nellie can be seen moored in Colliers Reach, and masts point up from The Hythe. The house on Northey stands out clear enough. Osea's western point can also just be made out