A 50 mile cycle ride takes you from east London to Cambridge passing through some of the most picturesque countryside in the South East.

Head north of Chigwell and grey suburban streets are quickly replaced by a quiet network country lanes, wooded dells and gently rolling countryside fat with the bloom of late summer.

Essex’s patchwork of sleepy villages and single track roads are a pleasant discovery for those who associate the county with ugly satellite towns like Basildon.

The place names are equally rustic: Molehill Green, Duck End, Little Laver, Toot Hill, Radwinter and the wonderfully named Nasty.

There’s not a white stiletto or boy racer in sight as I follow the soft green folds of the Rodings northwards over forded roads, past signs warning of deer traffic and cricket teams playing off the baize of village greens.

The rural idyll extends to people leaving home-made jams and honey for sale outside their homes along with donation boxes. There are ‘for sale’ signs for ducks, hens and rabbits. Some saintly soul is even giving away free manure.

I half expect to hear the distant sound ‘Jerusalam’ carried on the breeze such is the Englishness of it all.

Summer’s last sigh is in the air and what better way to watch her slip into autumn than stopping off for a cone of Mr Whippy’s finest.  Today was a good day.

Anyone who has reached the end of this rambling rather self-indulgent blog may be wondering about the photo. Didn’t I tell you? Essex is awash with the living dead.

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