A Tourist in My Own Town

This year has been the perfect summer for holidaying at home. We’ve eaten outside nearly every day, enjoyed the sunshine and haven’t had to struggle with airport chaos and heartache caused by pilot strikes, a thunderstorm and airline arrogance. How apt then, that one of the suggestions in this week’s Slamseys Creative Challenge is to be a tourist in your home town.

In line with the suggestion, I’ve tried this week to be a tourist in my own town, but it hasn’t been an uplifting experience. I only visit town if I need to pay in a cheque to the bank or go to the library, butcher or supermarket and I try to get it all done within the 30 minute free parking period. But this week, I decided to play the tourist.

Baileys Gant in Braintree

Some of the little alleyways that cut between the shops and houses remain from the times when Braintree was a bustling market town.

Braintree gant

For some reason, these are called gants. Possibly these are unique to the town.

braintree pavement insert

Around the library, inserts in the paving depict local history.

Other than that, the town is an underwhelming place with little joy to lift the spirits. There’s an interesting little museum and a good library, but mostly the town centre is dominated by nail, hair, eyebrow and tanning salons, tattoo parlours, charity shops and greasy spoon cafes. Supermarkets dominate the town, so we have no food culture; there’s one butcher but no grocer or deli, greengrocer or baker. Not particularly inspiring for my visual journal that I’m trying to keep as part of the Slamseys Creative Summer Challenge.

But if you move out of town, there’s more scope to play the tourist. First on the list was Hedingham Castle, which I haven’t visited for years. When I wasn’t (wooden) sword fighting with two small boys or explaining garderobes to them, it was fascinating to look at the details and ornamentation of the structure, particularly the magnificent arches inside, and to gaze across the beautiful Essex countryside.

Straw bales against a raincloud sky

Closer to home, I’ve been appreciating the views around the farm.

It’s easy to get swept along by everybody else’s holiday photos as they jet around the world and not appreciate what’s on the doorstep.

 

If you’re interested in being creative this summer, but need some prompts or themes, join in with the Slamseys Creative Summer Challenge.

7 thoughts on “A Tourist in My Own Town

    1. I probably only visit our museum once a year, but each time think I should go more often but like you say, there never seems any urgency and it gets pushed to the back of the queue.

  1. Fascinating about the ‘gants’ – they look very inviting, I must say. You made me smile about the less attractive photo opportunities but every place has those – even Rome or Paris – tourists are entitled to ignore them though! Hedingham Castle sounds fun – especially the sword-fighting! E x

    1. The difference is that Rome and Paris also have some wonderful places too. Unlike Braintree. I shall have to go on a sunny day and look harder.

  2. The gants look intersting and I bet the museum is worth a visit. Lucky here in Pickering- church with medieval wall paintings, a castle, a museum and the North York Moors steam railway- three butchers, two greengrocers, two bakers, two delis, restaurants, cafes, florist, wool shop, antique shops, bike shop, more ladies hairdressers than a small town could need, a farmers market once a month and a weekly market which gets bigger and better.

  3. There’s nothing quite as nice as a stay at home vacation. I am a proponent of them. Sometimes you do have to go somewhere, but it’s nice to enjoy where you are for a change. I like the little gants and the castle. The library bas reliefs are nice, too. Surely there’s more…

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