Walking in the slow lane by Angie Jones

Reporter: Anne Grimshaw

 

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The first meeting of the year started disappointingly for the audience and infuriatingly for the speaker: the projector would not ‘talk’ to the laptop and even when another was brought there were technical problems which meant no pictures.

 

But what was lacking in technology was more than made up for by the enthusiasm of the speaker,

Angie Jones, a retired teacher. She told us how she had managed to combine two loves of her life: writing and walking. It all began by her writing articles for local papers and magazines about walks she had undertaken in Suffolk and Essex. This eventually grew until a publisher suggested a book of these – not a guidebook with instructions on how to follow the route but ‘jottings’ about curiosities, the unusual and the downright quirky.

 

Before undertaking a walk, she would swot up the destination and its route, seek out or go off the path in search of other things. She would talk to the locals, especially old people who had lived in the area all their lives. People such as Michael Clark, the butcher in Hartest who had had only two holidays in his life: one when he was 23 and the other when he was 58!

 

A visit to Charsfield resulted in interviewing Ronald Blythe who wrote Akenfield then talking to a local man whose children had featured in the film of the book. In Chelsworth, Woodstock Cottages were supposed to be the site of hidden loot and from a robbery. Thanks to someone who had had too much to drink and spilled the beans, it was found there in 1922.

 

Cavendish was the site of three wartime aeroplane crashes. After the one near Robbs Farm local man, Tom Doe, walking over the debris-covered site, found a man’s shoe. The next day he found its mate. They were almost new and they fitted him perfectly!

 

Angie delighted in snippets of ‘useless’ information but the kind of information that adds interest to a place, a building, a farm or whatever that would otherwise
remain ‘anonymous’. For instance, Dalham Hall was once owned by Cecil Rhodes the founder of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe.) Edwardstone has an old school which is now private house but the owner welcomed Angie inside and showed her around. Bildeston was where the Kray brothers used to live. Groton has the remains of a motte and bailey castle.

 

Angie’s enthusiasm was infectious because after she had finished, she was besieged by people saying, “You really ought to go to…”

 

Her collection of walks will be published by Sigma Press and is due for publication in August this year. The title will be Walking in the slow lane.

 

Anne Grimshaw