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Thriplow – St Patrick’s Day 17th  March 2013

Katie Avagah

The sky is overhung with threatening clouds as I begin to dress.  Warm undies; thick wool tights; cotton tee shirt; water repellent jeans; warm top.  Layers of thin natural fibres, and I was also advised to wear thick tights under my trousers, so here  goes.  Now the food - cheese rolls, fruit, drink, mustn’t forget the ‘jelly-babies’.  Flap jacks – if they think them delicious ‘I made them  ?- if not the truth; they came from Tesco’s. Pack the ruck-sack.  Trusty ‘Peter Storm’ rain coat; umbrella; food; first-aid kit in side pocket; drink; money. Breakfast – bowl of nourishing porridge to sustain me throughout the journey.

Time to leave!  Toilet first – struggle out of layers of clothing.  Pants back up; wriggle back into woollen tights; off I go – oops! nearly crashed over – forgot the trousers! On with the anorak, walking boots, scarf, gloves, this  is hard work! Heidi and I catch the bus to Chadwell Heath.  Oh, sorry!  No!  I am not joining an expedition to Antarctica; we are off for our annual visit to Thriplow with the Barking Histericals! It’s Thriplow Daffodil Weekend.

The coach approaches along the High Street; Richard instructs us to walk further down the road – the coach drives past us - we all turn and chase back after the coach. We clamber aboard with many ‘Hello’ ‘How are you? ‘Nice to see you’, and settle in our seats – I am feeling rather warm!   Richard walks up and down the coach; then he gets off; then he walks up and down again, then.....  Bless him, he has hit his head at least 3 times already  and the coach hasn’t moved yet!  It is a rather strange ritual –must be a ‘please keep me safe on the journey’ thing.  Perhaps we should get him a ‘St Christopher’. As we drive through Dagenham & Barking we admire the hundreds of daffodils growing in the Parks and verges. The journey to Cambridge is quite uneventful.  We pass flooded fields; no sign of the sun; the sky remains  foreboding.

We arrive at Thriplow by 11 o’clock and are warmly greeted by a Villager and all given a programme for the day.  We step off the coach onto sticky mud; further along they have covered the paths and walk-ways with straw.   First  port of call, as usual, is a cuppa and the loos.  However the Village is already busy and we take some time finding somewhere to stop.  After refreshments and a ‘comfort stop’ we are entertained with singing by the local school children.   We then visit the Church. The oldest part of St George’s dates back to the 1100’s, though most of the structure seen today is late 13th Century.  Its Norman  roots can be seen ‘in the ‘cross-shape’ with a stocky tower and a tall, thin nave’.  It was built as ‘a sanctuary and a fortress against the storming skies and the raging ghosts’.
The story goes that Trippa a Saxon Lord was buried here under his own mound – a Law – and so we get Triplaw. Later when building the Church ‘they wanted to place it  down the hill in a peaceful meadow (behind the present school building) but every time they started the Devil would tear up the foundations’– so St George’s was built on the hill-top  ‘despite it being haunted by ‘the Law’. I discovered on the Church Rood that Thriplow was originally Trippalaw - or Triplaw.  I could understand how it became Triplow, but why add a silent ‘h’? I asked  the lady selling the Thriplow Guide if she knew; ‘No’, but promised to read the guide book to find the answer.  She did, however, gleefully tell me that the nearby Village of Fowlmere had originally  been known as Foul Mere – a filthy or dirty lake – I could see why they changed their name!  I bought and read the guide, ‘In the mid 19th  Century Triplow was changed to Thriplow’ – but it doesn’t explain why!  As we left the Church I asked the gentleman giving out leaflets; again he knew nothing, but promised if I sought him out next year  he would have the answer!

We decided it was time for food and every one drooled over the meat pies on sale, except me of course!  Brenda then discovered a stall selling pickles and chutneys.  She enthused over the wonderful tastes; I was tempted to ask if I could spread some on  my cheese rolls!  We then sampled ‘chocolate and beet-root cake’.  Now I have always had my beet-root steeped in vinegar; and very tasty, too.   I couldn’t believe you had it with chocolate, in a cake! – it was delicious.   If you are interested there are numerous recipes on the inter-net.

We continued to slither and slide around the many stalls; I was able to get Doris her rhubarb plant, much to June’s amusement who didn’t realise Doris has a garden!  As we wandered around the Village there were exclamations of surprise and  joy whenever a lone daffodil was sited.  We were told it was their worst year for daffodils in the 40 years they have been running Thriplow Daffodil Weekend.

At 3.30pm the storm clouds really built up, and as the stalls were closing at 4 o’clock we ‘sought sanctuary from the storming skies’ in our coach; we didn’t notice any raging ghosts.   By 4 o’clock our coach was full, the car-park was quickly emptying, and soon we were a lone island in the mud and teeming rain, as it grew darker and gloomier.  Richard began walking up and down the coach – he was trying to give the impression  that he was counting heads – but the head knocking did not go unnoticed!  Finally at 5 o‘clock we were able to leave.

The home journey was taken in teeming rain but we had been quite lucky throughout the day.  There had been occasional sharp showers, we even saw the sun at times; a typical English Spring Day.  I had felt quite warm and comfortable all day – woollen  tights are definitely a good idea, and the ‘jelly-babies’ were enjoyed by all.

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