Saturday on our way home from the market in Bury St Edmunds, we spotted a church out in a field. Bob wanted to get a closer look, so turned toward it, but the place we turned was a private driveway. Now many people are protective of their driveways, so when we saw a man walking toward us, we prepared a speech. Bob rolled down his window, and the first word out was "sorry." Bob said we were just wanting to look at the church. The man was very nice about it. He said it was no problem, we could sit there as long as we liked. Then he came back to say if we wanted to get to the church we could take the next right, then right on --- Road, and there was a footpath to the church. How very thoughtful of him.
So we went on around like he said. The street was a dead-end residential street, and there was the footpath like he said. So we pulled to the curb, and as we were getting out of the car an elderly lady was crossing the road. She stopped to admire our lovely children, and Bob volunteered that we were just going up to see the church. Well, she thought that was wonderful, and offered to call the "keyholder" to unlock the building for us to look inside. We didn't want to be any trouble, but she insisted. After delivering her newspaper to her neighbor, she went back in her house and made the phone call. Then she came out with a printed history of the church, which she gave to Bob, and proceeded to walk us over half-way down the footpath, talking all the way about the church and the area.
So there were two super-friendly encounters.
Today, we decided to be friendly. Bob's cousin T is in London, taking teacher training to teach music and English in Spain. So we arranged to meet him at the Epping tube station, and spent the day with him. First, we decided to go walking in Epping Forest. I'd looked it up and knew there wasn't any playgrounds or things like in Thetford Forest, but still, after a few weeks in London a walk in the woods was welcome.
So we walked a little ways, took pictures of trees and the children running around, talked. We found a blackberry patch and picked (and ate) quite a few. I had a pint container with me that was quickly filled, and several pickers were just eating, not putting in the container. Wow! some of those berries were sweet. Anyway, we were headed back toward the parking spot when we met a man with his dog. Someone commented on the dog (he was a beauty, and well trained), and the man just started talking to us. He told us a little about the forest, and mentioned an old fort site not far from where we were. We thanked him and started on, but Bob said he wanted to see the fort, so he went back and asked the man for specific directions, which he was happy to give. So we started walking (he estimated 3/4 mile), enjoying the day and each other's company. About 1/2 way to the fort, the man and dog showed up again. He was afraid we wouldn't find the place, and remembered his first walk in the forest where he was lost for about 3 hours. So he walked us the rest of the way to the fort, visiting with Bob and T the while, sharing what he knew about the area.
We were just astounded at his extreme friendliness.
So that's it on the friendly theme, but to complete our day...
We had lunch at a restaurant between Epping and Loughton, called Old Orleans. It was a little pricey, but well worth it. The food was excellent, service was pretty good despite being busy, portions were quite generous. We were VERY pleased with the experience there.
Then we went to the shopping/outlet mall in Braintree. T bought a couple of shirts at the Reebok store, and Taryn got a pair of shoes at another store. We also got some Cadbury's outlet goodies.
We took the back roads back to Epping, stopping at a little church halfway there. The churchyard was full of holes - rabbit and moles, I guess - and the children had fun avoiding them. William said, "Church fun." Made my day. This one was open so we explored inside, too. Very nice, simple, small church.
Stopped before getting to town for dinner at McDonald's. Had a good time there, too. Then took T back to the tube station, and we headed home.