Tuesday evening on the University of Essex campus, at Wivenhoe House, before going in for dinner.
In 1759, Thomas Reynolds was commissioned by Isaac Rebow to build this, now Grade II listed, property. Later, in 1816, Rebow’s descendant, Major-General Francis Slater Rebow commissioned John Constable to paint the house and grounds. That painting became part of the Widener Collection which was donated to the National Gallery of Art, USA, in 1942, where it can still be seen.
In 1964, Wivenhoe House and its surrounding land became the base for the University of Essex. The house itself has developed into a 4-star hotel and, most recently, in 2018, the home of the Edge Hotel School.
I have fond memories of the house and park from childhood. Today, even with the University’s rapid expansion, this tree-filled part of the campus still feels peaceful and is a relaxing place to sit and watch the sun go down – with or without sundowners. Cheers!
The air is milder, the days little-by-little longer, now, I feel it is but a short hop to Spring. In the morning, I leave for work as the sun comes up, and in the evening, I leave for home just as it sets. Winter is clocking off.
Yesterday was a good day. To be clear, I do see most days that way; I can usually find occasion to smile and moments of gratitude. Unusually, yesterday was aware how good it was, too, and reminded me frequently.
Now, it’s almost daylight when I leave the house in the morning, telling me Spring is on the way. As usual, I traveled in to work on the top deck, front seat of the bus, with a good friend. Once on campus, we walked down together towards the lake, surrounded by many trees and few people. Then, he turned right to his office, and I turned left for coffee in the theatre cafe.
Served while I listened to the jazz playing in the background, I took the drink to my office. Since Christmas, I’ve been the only occupant. I like it that way and long may it continue. My day went from classroom to meeting to meeting to classroom with long enough breaks to walk from one venue to the next and no more. No time to waste or get up to any mischief.
For once, I consciously savoured that time, from my morning coffee, through my happy-hungover students, to my supportive colleagues and their great cups of tea. Starting the walk home, the sun was setting and I stopped to photograph those minutes when the sky is fiery and the trees are cutwork against a layered sky. Yesterday was a good day.
Once upon a time, the campus of the University of Essex was simply Wivenhoe Park. Now, the University expands ever-faster with ever-increasing student numbers and ever-changing demands – so, much of the Park has been built over. Of the few spaces remaining in which to breathe and be still, this is my favourite – by the lake. This is where I take my breakfast before starting work, and where I take my time at lunch. I tell myself that, on this seat, eyes front, Constable might, just might, recognize this view.