Sabbatical, Day 42: A Day Off In Brentwood

I’ve been treating one day each week as a day off from proper sabbatical work. This week, it was today, so that we could take the children out. Given a choice, they surprised us by not opting for Marsh Farm Country Park but a visit to Brentwood. What’s the attraction? For them, the King George V Playing Fields. It has an imaginative adventure playground, and a good café serving ’99’ ice creams and other delights. 

After tiring out the monkeys there, we made for the High Street. It isn’t the most exciting High Street you’ll ever find, but it has one or two pleasures. Unusually, Debbie didn’t invade all the charity shops. We took the children to Crafty Arts in order to buy Rebekah a present to honour the hard work she put into getting her number bonds two days ago. Whilst in there, Mark spotted something he would like – pack of fridge magnets. It was a list of words that children in Years 3, 4 and 5 (ages 8-11) would be expected to know. He reeled off nearly all of them. He’s not five until August, but he is obsessed with learning and has a phenomenal memory. In case you’re wondering, I’m proud of him. 

With Mark complaining he wanted to go home, though, we insisted on one final treat. In Essex, there is a small chain of cafés called Belgique. Well, café just isn’t a sufficient word. But ‘coffee shop’ doesn’t do it justice either. Nor does ‘patisserie’, ‘sandwich bar’ or ‘chocolaterie’.

But maybe you get the picture from that array of words. The sandwiches and quiches look lovely, but we always go for the cakes. Chocolate eclairs filled with chocolate cream – definitely a cure for Mark’s tiredness on this afternoon’s evidence. Pastries with strawberries, fruits of the forest or other fruits all begged us to eat them. In an act of kindness, we obliged. The afternoon tea looks decidedly tempting, too. 

You know, it’s not the sort of place where Christians should be seen during Lent. Did I say we liked the cakes? Oh yes. So perhaps it’s time to watch again that wonderful film Chocolat, because if anything provides a theological justification for reinterpreting self-indulgence as pleasure, it’s that wonderful movie.

Oh, and by the way, their cakes are great.


  1. sounds wonderful, go Mark!!!

    As for cakes, well as you say Chocolat provides great justification ( love that film!!!)


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