Wednesday, 28 September 2022

All the Grid Squares: Grays Riverside

I'm going to change my approach to the posts I write for my project of walking every grid square of Thurrock. I've found describing the walk in detail with appropriate photographs to be too time-consuming so I'm going to write shorter accounts with 'highlight' photos in future. My blog has always been primarily for myself and I don't need the level of detail that I've been recording here. If you have any questions about anything I share then please ask them in the comments and I will answer.

I returned to the River Thames for this walk, following the waterfront in Grays which runs through four grid squares.
There's a footpath all along here but it's ultimately a dead end. I was aiming to walk off the end of that footpath if possible and get as close to Tilbury Docks as I could. I'm certain that there is an inaccessible grid square (TQ6275) in the docks, but I'll do my best to approach it from all sides before I finally declare it to be so.

I walked from home to a point a little downstream from my previous walk. This area used to be all industrial (much as we have seen further upstream) but the old wharves and jetties have mostly been swept away to be replaced by housing.

Overview of the Route

There's a reminder of that history with a small park and sculpture of Britannia at Heritage Wharf.

The only building of any age is the 18th century, grade II listed pub, previously known as The Sailors Return.

The path still weaves round the remnants of old docks,

including Grays Town Wharf, which dates back to medieval times.

I passed Thurrock Yacht Club, which holds the mast and lantern from The Gull, a lightship which saw service from 1860 to 1941 before being laid up. She was bought by the club in 1947 and used as the clubhouse until 1971, before falling into disrepair and ultimately being destroyed by arsonists in 2002.

I walked along the foreshore as far as possible, rather than on the path which was tucked against the perimeter wall of the docks, before retreating back to the path when the ground underfoot felt less safe. 

There was no obvious point where the public footpath was supposed to end, and I was able to walk right up to the docks' outer fence. Mission accomplished. 

I walked back to the Yacht Club and then left the river to tick off a couple of footpaths on the way home.

And finally, a look at how this walk fits in to my grid, being the four squares highlighted in yellow. I've also added a red outline to the Tilbury Docks square that I'm sure I'm not going to be able to visit.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Afternoon Tea

Well, it's taken me all summer but I have finally reached the end of Scrap Squad's 12 Days of Summer Scraplifts. The last lift is of a page by Melissa Vining, pinned from

I took inspiration from the three columns of paper and photos on Melissa's page, but extended mine to cover the whole layout. I used a 6x6 pad from P13's Sugar and Spice collection to make my grid and arranged the boxes with larger pieces in the middle to hold a 4x6 photo that is not part of the original page in any way.

Cardstock - UK Crafts
Paper - P13 Sugar & Spice
Letters - American Crafts/Shimelle
Die-Cut - P13
Wood Veneer - P13
Enamel Dots - Pinkfresh Studio, My Mind's Eye

Big Shot & Dovecraft Label Die

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

School Days Are Here

I'm continuing with the 12 Days of Summer Scraplifts from Scrap Squad today, and I've reached Day 11 now. This page (by an unknown creator) is built around a series of rosettes, but they are not my thing so I switched to a cut-file instead.

I used the Colour Wheel and Circle Border from Jenny Wren Cut-Files for Twilight Crafts, cut it from white cardstock and backed it with a mix of scraps and 2x2 papers from a Paige Evans swatch book.

I used white cardstock for my background too, as per the original page, and smooshed it with a mix of blue inks. My photo is of my nephew in his first term at school, and I added my title in white letters to echo the white on white of the original page but without using another cut-file. I finished off with some stamping and a few enamel stars.

Cardstock - UK Crafts
Paper - Paige Evans Wonders, My Mind's Eye, Studio Calico
Letters - Tim Holtz
Enamel Stars - Doodlebug
Inks - Ranger

Silhouette Portrait
Amy Tangerine Asterisk Stamp
Studio Calico Stars Stamp

Disclosure - I received the digital cut-file free of charge from Twilight Crafts. All other supplies are my own.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

All the Grid Squares: St Clement's Reach

Following on from my last walk, I have made a few decisions about my project to walk in all the possible OS grid squares in Thurrock:

1. I now intend to visit every square whether I've been there before or not. 

2. If I've never been there before then it should be a substantial walk through the square wherever possible.

3. If I have been there before then a brief in-and-out of the grid square or a path that cuts across the corner will suffice so long as it's part of a longer walk. 

4. I don't want to leave any 'orphan' squares between different walks so I will be working outwards from home, firstly east and south, then north and west.

After my last walk, my 'visited' squares looked like this:

The purple square contains my home; the green squares are ones I've walked in, with dark green for anything after 22 August and light green for earlier visits. The grey squares are land borders and blue squares are river borders; these will turn green (or red if they are inaccessible) as the project continues. Black squares have no Thurrock land.

(c) Ordnance Survey
Having decided to revisit old squares and to work outwards from home, I took a Sunday morning stroll round the block of four squares south of my home square, taking in a section of the River Thames known as St Clement's Reach or Fiddler's Reach.

A bit of road walking to start, and then I picked up a footpath that crosses under and over the railway to reach an industrial estate that fills the space between railway and river. It's a place of high fences and high security, but also pedestrian-friendly with zebra crossings at key points and a gap in the fence to access the riverside path.

Once by the river I checked out the state of the tide and the ship moored at the nearest jetty before heading west following the path between fence and river, a fence that becomes a flood defence wall a little further on. 

It's a highly decorated wall, absolutely covered in an ever-changing display of street art, a stretch that I have visited numerous times and it's never the same twice.

I was struck by the hashtag #knivesdownpaintup and also by this tribute, possibly to the artist's mother judging from the 'Mummy B' sign.

Moving on upstream, I passed a World War II pillbox defence (which I really wish had been left plain rather than painted), and the foreshore opened out to a large grassy/marshy area with Stone Ness "Lighthouse" at its tip. (I've put the word lighthouse in quotes as it's barely worth the name, being little more than a light on a pole.) I kept going round the curve of the river until I could see the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, and then I turned back. 

Walking west my attention had been on the art and the river, but once I turned back Proctor and Gamble's big red factory dominated the view.

I turned inland as I approached it and then dropped in to St Clement's Church. The building is no longer in regular use and is maintained by P&G for the community. It's graveyard is now a Nature Conservation Churchyard and contains the mass grave of 16 cadets (aged 13-18) and an officer from HM Training Ship Cornwall who were killed in a sailing accident on the Thames in 1915.

From here I made my way out through the industrial estate where I stopped my tracker and headed home.

The red line on my map shows the walk from when I left London Road (the main east-west road hereabouts) until I rejoined it. It just skims the edge of the NW grid square of these four so I took an alternative route home from work a few days later (the blue line) which ensured that I could definitely tick off that square too. 


Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Mama Bear

Back to the 12 Days of Summer Scraplifts from Scrap Squad today. They were published in July but have taken me all summer to do, and it's feeling rather autumnal now. This is day 10, a horizontal design by Loredana Bucaria for Hip Kit Club from June last year.

The light airy colours sent me to my Pinkfresh Studio stash, and a flip through my photo albums for a small single photo threw up an old one of me and my son when he was a toddler. I've always thought I look quite protective of him here so I used that in my title and journalling.

Paper - Pinkfresh Studio Indigo Hills, Pinkfresh Studio Escape the Ordinary
Letters - American Crafts
Die-Cuts - Pinkfresh Studio
Stickers - Jen Hadfield, Tim Holtz, Pinkfresh Studio
Paperclip - Doodlebug
Ink - Ranger
Mist - Mister Huey's

Fiskars Postage Stamp Border Punch
Hobbycraft Star Punch
Big Shot & Dovecraft Star Die

Saturday, 10 September 2022

All the Grid Squares: Tilbury Commons

(c) Ordnance Survey
There are certain OS grid squares in Thurrock that are going to be inaccessible to us as members of the general public, such as ports and industrial areas, and there are other squares that are going to be difficult to visit as they don't contain any public rights of way.

One that caught my attention was TQ6676 (outlined in red), which contains Tilbury Power Station. There's one track marked on the 1:50000 OS map, but it's not a right of way and even if I could access it, a quick in-and-out walk wouldn't be very satisfactory. However, my husband spotted that if you switch to the 1:25000 OS Map then the square contains a patch of access land (outlined in orange on the map). 

Walton Common appears to be cut off from neighbouring Parsonage Common by the railway, but further investigation found a level crossing at that point. Our further investigation also uncovered the fact that an application has been lodged by Thurrock Power Limited to de-register the land as common land, and replace it with another plot running south west from the edge of Parsonage Common along the line of the railway.

The application is dated April 2021 and has been made so that they can build a 'flexible generation plant' on Walton Common, which means we'd better visit it sooner rather than later, before it disappears for ever. So we did ... but, to be honest, the research was more interesting than the walk!

We parked the car in West Tilbury by The Green (also common land), outside a house that used to be the village pub, and started out by trying to follow Footpath 66, but it was a lost cause and a lost path as we turned back when faced with head-high vegetation with no clear way through. 

We turned to the roads instead and headed down Church Road, past ex-St James' Church, now another private house, and into Cooper Shaw Road, where the hedges receded and the landscape opened out. We could see Parsonage Common alongside but there was no obvious access, with tall grasses and brambles running along a probable ditch between the road and the common. Rather disturbingly, it was fly-tippers who helped us through as their spoil heap had flattened the vegetation and filled the ditch.

We picked our way carefully through and arrived on Parsonage Common, an underwhelming grassy field, then headed south towards the nearest pylon (one of a forest emanating from the substation beyond) and thence the level crossing. We were slightly perturbed by a group of workmen on the other side but they ignored us and it turned out that they were Network Rail staff cutting back the trackside foliage. Once over the crossing (23 miles and 880 yards from Fenchurch Street station), we followed a broad track down towards Walton Common at last.

There were workmen on the common too, who seemed to be digging a series of small holes; we thought they were probably doing some sort of land survey, and that was backed up by the signs on their vans. We exchanged greetings and then left each other to get on with whatever we/they were doing (though I wonder if they had seen anyone else turn up there). We decided to 'beat the bounds' by walking round the edge of the common, while watching yet another group of workers doing something to a pylon in the next field and marvelling at the contrast between the green grass of the commons and the parched yellow grass elsewhere.

We retraced our steps, back up the track and over the level crossing into Parsonage Common, pausing to look at the plot of land that will be swapped with Walton Common, becoming a new piece of common land. It's an ordinary field, dotted with telegraph poles, where they plan to plant a wildflower mix and thicken the line of shrubs beside the railway.

We decided to walk right round Parsonage Common too and admired the other side of the church-that-isn't on our way back to Cooper Shaw Road. 

I'd achieved my objective now, but my husband was eager to explore the rest of the common land, which stretches along parts of Cooper Shaw Road, Fort Road and Gun Hill. Given our earlier experience, we didn't think we would be able to access much of it, but on Cooper Shaw Road we found a track each side of the road, with tyre barriers proving to be less of a deterrent than the horses beyond, each one tethered to prevent its escape. One in particular seemed to be watching us closely, so we stepped past the tyres for a few moments so we could say we'd been there, and then retreated. 

However, on Fort Road and Gun Hill the common land was just a strip between road and field; we could do little more than step as far as we dared among the grasses and brambles while avoiding the drainage ditches that were ready to trap the unwary.

There's one more plot of common land nearby; Tilbury Common is at the other end of Fort Road, but that's a walk for another day. 

Here's the route map: 

We checked out four more footpath ends on the way back to the car, and only one (Footpath 72) was open and accessible. One had a signpost buried in the hedge but no path in the field beyond, one had an stile smothered by overgrown hedge and one had nothing at all. They have all been reported to Thurrock Council but I don't have any expectation that this will lead to them being cleared. I will just have to remember that I can't rely on using footpaths to complete this project, which is a great pity.

I added three more grid squares to my Visited List this time, the eastern-most ones on this map:

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

150 Runs - Twilight DT - 7 Sept

Today it's my turn to share a page for Twilight Crafts using a Jenny Wren Cut-File. I chose Triangles Zig Zag, which I rotated and cut from navy blue cardstock. I backed both pieces with a multi-coloured number print paper and used them to frame a 4x6 photo of me doing my 150th parkrun.

I made the page on white cardstock which I smooshed with distress ink in tumbled glass, to match the light blue in the number print paper. I then picked out a few scrap papers in other colours which matched the numbers print  paper to create a few layers behind the photo. 

Cardstock - Papermania, Stampin' Up!
Paper - Studio Calico, Echo Park, Dear Lizzy
Letters - Paige Evans
Enamel Hearts - Marianne Designs
Stickers - Tim Holtz

Silhouette Portrait
Woodware Scalloped Circle Punch

Disclosure - I received the digital cut-file free of charge from Twilight Crafts. All other supplies are my own.