Monday, 16 April 2012

Walk For Little Legs - Walton Naze Tower Circular Walk

In which we take a short walk suitable for the Chap to toddle on (although we did have to carry him for a fair bit), I lose my week to reading The Hunger Games, and bemoan toys for girls.

Ordnance Survey Number: Explorer 184
Time: 40 mins. Little legs don't walk very fast, and we had to pick daisies too.
Distance: 1 mile

Rating: Easy Walk, suitable for small people.

Now, you will notice that some of my walks have been a bit shorter recently. This is not entirely due to my overriding desire for laziness, but more associated with the fact that the Chap is also walking now. With great enthusiasm. All over the place, although he was overcome by glee when he realised that if the right doors are open he can do a circuit round and round his Nana's house, roaring with glee every time he came through the living room door to 'surprise' us. We were shocked on each occasion, I can assure you.

So yes, this post has got a new title & tag on it - Walks For Little Legs. While I still like rambling through a woodland somewhere, and I like that bit of headspace you get when your child is in the sling and either zonked or peering about, I also like giving him occasions to do extended toddles in his weird toddler-goose-step. You could also manage this one if you had an off-road pram, or a less-high-tech pushchair and a child that doesn't mind being bobbled about a bit.

We started our walk at The Naze car park on Walton-on-the-Naze and headed towards the tower. The tower was built around 1720 and was a new and exciting innovation in the days before lighthouses, as it served as a marker for ships heading towards the port of Harwich. Standing 86ft tall with 111 steps inside, you can climb the octagonal tower to the viewing platform it between March 31st - November 4th for a small fee (or it's free if you just want to go to the tearooms inside and not to the top).

Erosion of the cliffs on the Naze
We passed the tower on the right hand side, walking along the cliffs so we could enjoy the views of the sea and spectacularly crumbling cliffs. Indeed, these cliffs are a real cause for concern, as they are eroding at a fearsome pace. As we walked along, we could make out the tops of the pill boxes left over from the Second World War that were built as defences along the coast, and that now lie on the beach. When they were built in 1940-41, they were on the cliffs. When we were there, they were covered over by the tide, although we could still see the tops poking out over the waves. With the coast eroding at such a speed, it's not surprising there's a society trying to protect the coastline, including a 'Save the Naze' charity shop in the town. All smacks a bit of the King Cnuts if you ask me, but hey ho. And while we're on the subject, did I ever tell you about the time my mother was teaching history and had to read an essay from a sweet little year 7 on the subject of King Cnut? Would have been fine had the dear little soul not been dyslexic...

Childish sniggering aside, we continued along beside the cliff, grateful that we had put reins on the Chap. He can move at quite a speed these days when he gets a run on, and it wouldn't take too much for him to get overenthusiatic near the edge and do himself a mischief.

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Spring blossom with Harwich cranes in the distance
This walk along the cliff gives you a lofty view of the sea and across to Harwich, where massive tankers arrive. It is to places such as this to which China delivers Christmas each year, and all our plastic tat is unloaded.

I avoided plastic and chocolately goodies this Easter break, but I lost most of my Easter week to downloading The Hunger Games trilogy on my Kindle. I paced myself on the first one because I was enjoying it too much and I wanted it to last, but by the second book I was struck by that sort of crazed fever that meant I had finished the whole series before the week was out.
Having seen and enjoyed Battle Royale on many occasions, I had not really bothered with the film or the book on the basis that this was ‘Battle Royale for children’. It was only after my husband mentioned that there was a twitstorm going on about the fact some of the characters in the film are black (indeed, as they are in the book) and this had surprised some people that I decided to get it because it was going cheap, what with the movie tie-in.
And thus I lost my week.
Addictive and compelling, I found it incredibly heartening for it to strike a chord with a teen market who have known their countries to be at war. I was also delighted to find that, once we encounter the rebel forces, it’s not all Ewok celebrations and perfect harmony that so let down the second two films of The Matrix trilogy. It is not black and white, there aren’t goodies and baddies, there are just people put in very difficult situations and forced to make choices. I liked it.

About 500 metres or so along this path, a grass path leads off to the left towards one of the pill boxes that still remains on the cliff and has yet to fall into the sea. You can go into it if you wish, but it appears the inside has mostly been treated as a bin and is full of rubbish. Katniss wouldn't approve, you know.

I really liked The Hunger Games. I liked the social compulsion to get married and have children, I liked how Katniss felt uncomfortable with that choice. It was something I certainly felt uncomfortable with, and my husband very charitably bought me cups of tea and nodded in the right places when I had crises a) after we bought the engagement ring, b) after the pregnancy test came out positive c) for the vast majority of the first nine months when the Chap was with us, that I wasn’t somehow Letting The Side Down by capitulating to the cultural norms; I had been interpolated into the dominant ideology. Whilst I feel the Twilight trilogy mostly centres on the importance of having a boyfriend, I felt the element of coercion in The Hunger Games – pretend you’re in love with Peeta or die – made for a more compelling story.
And hurrah for Katniss, hurrah I say, because at least she’s not flapping round worrying about her hair. She just gets on with stuff and shoots people with arrows, which is a role model I far prefer than others that we’re offered as young women. I was interested when I saw that, in line with the films, Mattel have brought out a Katniss Everdeen Barbie doll. It is for the collector’s market only, of course. Only for grownups (and, as the Jezebel website noted "a Katniss doll is sooo Capitol. District 12 kids play with twigs"). It struck me as a sad thought that, while I was growing up in the 80s we all had She-Ra to wander round and kick arses (although, let’s face it, she was not ideal as a proto-feminist icon, agglomeration of the tropes of hotness that she was, all pseudo-porn atop a gigantic pink stallion-cum-unicorn (please, let me apologise to anyone who has come to this page in hope of whatever the phrase ‘cum-unicorn’ may bring. You must be terribly disappointed.)), but who do young girls have to look to now? Barbie tries to tick a box with the ‘I can be’ range, although you have to click around for a while on the while until you find it, and even then the careers are limited (and remember, girlies, if you’re black and want to be president you need to have a weave). Who else is there? Bratz? Inexplicable  musical toy hoovers that suggest that the best thing you can do is be a pampered Princess who does her own housework?

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The larger pillbox on the Naze
Well, I'd rather be up a tree with a bow and arrow, thank you. Continue along this path past the first pill box, and continue straight on to be led in a gentle arc round to the next pill box a little further on. This one appears to have been designed to hold a bigger gun as it has bigger openings than the little slits, and what could be used as the base for some sort of larger artillery beastie (the technical military term, so I am led to believe). As it's more open, it has just been subject to a quantity of marijuana-themed graffiti rather than the rubbish dump the more enclosed one has been.

When you reach the second pill box, follow the path past it back towards the Naze tower. As we did, we passed a fenced-off section of what seemed to be a section of unmowed grass that was being allowed to grow unchecked. "A haven for beneficial insects" I gestured to the ChapDad, who has long learnt that when I say this about sections of our garden it means "I'm leaving that whole area to go to seed and will deal with it when I'm good and bloody ready, thank you." It was therefore with some degree of amusement that it turned out to be exactly what I claimed it to be: or, more exactly, a haven for Fisher's Estuarine Moth.

Once you get to the end of the fenced-off area for the moths, bear left and head back to the base of the tower, where you can end your walk with a cup of tea & a cake.

Things I Learnt

  • Fisher's Estuarine Moth! I shall continue with my 'havens for beneficial insects'.
  • Barbie has a wider range of 'careers' on offer than I thought, but it's still mostly fashion/beauty/caring professions oriented. And she's too thin to menstruate, so nurr.
  • Teen lit these days is not all Mormon sparkly vampires... I was mistaken...

1 comment:

  1. Several books/films I've never heard of here (poor ignorant old fool that I am)so I cannot enter the discussion.
    Loved the nested parentheses, though - I've always been a big fan of those.
    And I am now a fan of Fisher's Estuarine Moth. How could I not be?