Wivenhoe writer and musician Martin Newell elucidates the appealing and charismatic essence of his homeland.
Many of the best things about Essex - like so many of the best things about England itself - are very often the hidden, almost secret things. It's a big county - the country's eighth biggest in fact - and possesses a vast jigsaw of a coastline. Out on the county's marshes, where the Romans, Saxons and the Vikings first came ashore, is a wonderland of saltings, creeks and inlets, noisy with the sound of wild birds.
The interior of Essex however, is equally impressive. For it is here, down those long straight lanes lies a myriad of half-forgotten villages with strange names like Tilty, Wimbish, Wix or Thorpe le Soken. And it is also here that the county, like a meadow flower, quietly begins to open itself up to the visitor. This interior - while often hinted-at when glimpsed from any train speeding from capital to coast - is so often missed by the travellers hurrying through it.
Essex is a county of great flat fields, generous skies, thick ancient woodland, spinneys, farm ponds and distant church towers. Still, incredibly, seventy percent rural, much of the county, far from being London's scruffy back yard, is actually closer to being our capital's Great Lost Estate. This beauty is not lost upon its inhabitants however - only upon those who never pause to explore it.
Martin Newell (born 1953), also known as "the Wild Man of Wivenhoe", is an English rock musician, singer, guitarist, songwriter, poet and author. He grew up in an army family in various parts of England and the Far East. His music is guitar pop with clever lyrics and jangly, upbeat, guitar-centric arrangements. He does spoken word performances and less-frequently, live music gigs. He occasionally presents TV programmes. He has been on national radio quite a bit over the years. He has a number of books and records out. Mostly, he works. Mostly, it's writing, which he loves.
If you have missed Martin's appearance on the Inside Out Show on BBC One don't worry, just click on the link on the right.