If anyone were to ask me “when’s the best time to visit Essex?” I would unhesitatingly urge them to jump on a plane today and come straight over without delay because May is definitely the best time to visit Essex.
In May, the wheat fields look green and lush, though don’t walk around them with a farmer because he’ll point out every patch of blackgrass that’s about to break above the wheat crop.
Around the fields, the hedgerows are in full leaf with elderflowers and wild roses just opening as the hawthorn blossom starts to fade a little. Most of the hawthorn blossom around here is white but we have patches of gorgeous pink flowers that look like a confection of raspberries crushed into cream. Sadly, their scent doesn’t match their prettiness, being rather sickly and clinging. According to Culpeper “the distilled water of the flowers stays the lax” and if “applied to any place pierced with thorns or splinters, it will draw them out.” Failing that, you could make a cordial with hawthorn flowers, though it’s too late round here to do that and it would be better to wait a week or two for the elderflowers.
Everywhere you go, you can be sure to find cow parsley. Roadside verges, field edges, churchyards and woodland edges are filled with the froth of the white umbrella like clusters of flowers. Cow parsley is one of my favourite plants to use for jelly printing.
May is the perfect time to take a walk through Essex, when it’s sunny but not too hot and should be firm underfoot. Coloured discs mark the public rights of way – blue for bridleways and yellow for footpaths – that criss-cross the county, along the coast and through the countryside, linking villages and towns.
Or maybe you could find somewhere quiet and secluded to pass a little time. To relax and listen to the birds sing. Perhaps to sip a small fruit gin flavoured with flowers or berries from the surrounding countryside …
Quick! Book your ticket now!
You might also be interested in:
Slamseys Fruit Gin
Hiking the Essex Way for Essex Girls
How to make Jelly Prints