The family and I passed last weekend in the country, don't you know - Essex Country, mate, a very nice stretch near to Saffron Walden. Our host was my esteemed editor Lee Brackstone (pictured, with me and wor bairns.) When it came to the sightseeing dimension of the sojourn, Lee was fairly sure that I would be wanting to tramp around the very turf where Cromwell made camp with the Roundheads; and ordinarily, of course, I would - but that's not really going to provide the requisite diversion for bairns, is it? In any case, it was classic turn-of-winter weather, hardly ideal for tramping.
Instead we had a fine late afternoon wander round the gardens of Audley End House, the former Walden Abbey, gifted by Henry VIII to Sir Thomas Audley - and the sort of magisterial estate that makes you marvel at the very thought that somebody once called it 'Home'. Late though we came to the tourist-oriented on-site proceedings, we made it at least to the kitchen shop and were able to enjoy a delightful jam-tasting, which was, obviously, just what the bairns had been after.