Whenever we drove through nearby Shenfield, Denise and I told each other we had to go visit the Courage Playing Fields some day. It is now part of that long list of things we sadly never got around to do.

Yesterday I was in a strange mood (that’s a euphimism for quiet desperation) and went for a walk to clear my mind. Soon I found myself walking towards Shenfield, and when I got to the Courage Playing Fields, I sat down and did a bit of people watching. There were two couples on the playground taking pictures of their children, one of them with an expensive looking DSLR that the mother held with outstretched arms while she continued to take pictures of her daughter seen from above. Cute child, though. Watching nature, and people doing ordinary things, improved my mood.

Next to the playground is one of three churchyards for St Mary’s in Shenfield. It looks like the last plot was allocated sometime in the 1970’s. So there were plenty of old looking graves, and a corner where a handful of forget-me-nots were growing wild. Denise always loved churchyards. The first time she visited me, we went to Belgium on a day-trip, and on the top of Denise’s must-see list was Dunkerque. So I was thinking about her, and the many pictures she always took of graves, while I walked around the small churchyard.

A little further away is another section of the churchyard. This one with a handful of wooden crosses as well as the normal headstones. I think most of them were for children. And by that section is a butterfly meadow. It’s part of the grounds gifted to the church by the Courage family, but as they still have plenty of space for graves, they decided to plant bushes and plants that would attract insects and butterflies. At this time of the year, there were a lot of insects but not very many butterflies.

Next to the church itself is the third section of the churchyard, and it was here I met Dennis. Dennis is in his late 80s, and were checking the church to see if it was open. He had a letter to deliver to the organist. He explained that he used to play the organ in the church, and that organs was his big interest. His son had recently taken him on a weekend trip to somewhere, and next to this somewhere was a church with a steam-powered organ. So Dennis wanted to explain that to the current organist. We spent 15 or 20 minutes talking, and as I walked back home, I was thinking that one of Denise’s great gifts was her ability to talk with anyone. She would connect with strangers effortlessly, and would soon know their life story. Maybe she made sure Dennis’ and my path crossed.

As I walked home, in a lot better mood than I had been in three hours earlier, I promised myself to come back and try to take some pictures of this pictoresque place that Denise would have loved. So today I went back to capture the forget-me-nots.

Forget-me-nots on the churchyard by St Mary's in Shenfield