Today we went for a lovely walk with the extended family to a village on the Essex/Suffolk border called Bures. My nephew-in-law likes it because it’s one of the hillier places in usually flat Essex. He, like Kevin’s family, is from Yorkshire and the dales are in their blood. We walked up a hill to an early 13th-century church, St. Stephen’s Chapel, which was founded to mark the spot where King Edmund was crowned on Christmas Day, AD 855.
It was very cool to be in such an old church, surrounded by the earthy, mineral smell of stone that’s been there for more than a thousand years. And, standing outside the church, there’s a view of a dragon etched into the hill beyond. It’s an homage to a dragon that purportedly terrorized the village of Bures in the Middle Ages.
Besides this being a wonderful place to walk, my family scoped out a place for me to swim as part of the day. I’m so lucky to have my extended family supporting me in my endeavor. Leading up to this trip, I’d been worried about how I would make this last bit of my year of swimming work, but the Hydes have been incredibly supportive. A place for Jenny to swim has been just part of the holiday planning. I’m so grateful.
Today, again, the spot was on the River Stour, further upriver than my first day in Dedham and much further than the last two days. Here, the Stour was a narrow, peaceful sliver of silvery green rambling through quaint villages. I’ve enjoyed watching the way this river makes its mark in different locations.
As soon as I started to make my way to the water’s edge, a quartet of swans swam over and gave me a stern look. It was unnerving. Luckily, Kevin was there to talk me down from going into a full-blown panic about swan attacks, but I wasn’t feeling too confident as I lowered myself into the water.
It was much deeper than I expected. Because it was narrow, I expected it to be shallow and was prepping myself for a mushy bottom. But I couldn’t even touch the bottom. It was gorgeously deep. I loved it. Temperature-wise, it felt warmer than it did in Manningtree yesterday. It seems the River Stour cools as it moves further downstream towards the North Sea.
My enjoyment of the energy of the river and the beautiful scenery was curtailed a bit by the swans who kept a sharp eye on me as I swam. Every time I tried to venture away from the edge they moved in. One, in particular, kept rushing me, causing me to screech and rush back to the shoreline where Kevin was standing. So, mostly I stuck close to the shore, treading water and warily watching the swans.
Despite the (probably) unmerited fear, it was a lovely swim. I buzzed with energy and felt more mentally clear after getting out than I’d felt all day.