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.
Some of the little alleyways that cut between the shops and houses remain from the times when Braintree was a bustling market town.
For some reason, these are called gants. Possibly these are unique to the town.
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.
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.