Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 4 - Norfolk Coast and Villages

Friday 30 March 2012

I wake early anxious to capture details of our visit to Norwich Cathedral before they become muddied by poor memory and visits to other cathedrals. Long hours of journaling are followed by near despair as the whole of yesterday vanishes unsaved.  Stupid I know better. I resolve to return to sensible, backed up processes in future!
Ultimately its time for breakfast and we join a lovely English couple celebrating an anniversary who also arrived last night and who are also here for three nights. Breakfast was had over a very enjoyable conversation.
I started with some raspberries and blueberries and a small glass of juice. Followed this with kippers and a potato waffle. Hubby had the full English breakfast with black pudding which was a most impressive affair with sausages, bacon, fried bread, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans.
Weather forecast is for a high of 16 C. Tomorrow to drop back to a top of 9C so we have decided to rearrange the itinerary and do the coast today. Albeit a fairly late start getting away.  Hubby hasn’t slept very well. No problem with our accommodation, just him.  

We head towards Cromer first up, but as we are passing Alby Crafts we decide to stop and check that out.  The driveway is flanked by a lovely garden and daffodils.  The buildings are all flint and there are birds singing merrily. It is a lovely scene.  We have a quick look at the outlets but find we don’t need long and head on our way.

It’s a pleasant drive and the terrain is quite different from yesterday. More undulations and it is also more wooded.  Just before we arrive in Cromer we pass a magnificent flint mansion. Our confidence in using and stopping on the narrow roads is not yet well developed and so I was unable to get a photograph.. I haven’t given up hope of doing so though. It really was very special and we are back in the area tomorrow evening.
 We spend a good deal of time meandering around in Cromer. The architecture is quite distinctive with nifty turrets. As we stop at the lights I have opportunity to capture one example as well as a close up view of a flint church.

Cromer is quite a pleasant place I thought.  The overcast skies leave the ocean looking rather leaden.  We fail to discover any parking that is not a very very long way away from the pier, and by the time we’re ready to make the decision we decide the pay and display parking we’ve found is a bit further for walking than we’re up for. Hubby points out that my knee could probably use a break today and he’s right of course,.  In one foray of exploration we end up exploring down the coast through Overstrand (very pretty) and Sidestrand is graced by the lovely flint church of St Michael All Saints. Though I have to say we are very lazy in our attempt to capture it.. just snapping quickly as we pass.

Between the coast and the road open there are lovely vistas of open fields and eventually we regain the town and drive up along the ocean front and row upon row of what appear to be guest houses or private hotels. Suddenly we are out of town and we pass along past many caravan or mobile home parks which crust the coastal area.  We drive on, shamelessly wasting an opportunity to explore Sherringham and after passing through a number of communities we spot Cookies crabshop at Salthouse. This has been recommended to us by our host so we pull over and though it is still quite early decide to lunch here.

We wander in and are at something of a loss what to get. The premises are modest but they are doing a steady trade even this early.  With a little guidance from the lady behind the counter we opt for the crab salad and a lobster salad.  The lobsters having just come out from cooking.  and we are upsold on a slice of bread and butter and some mayonnaise.  Hubby gets a Fentiman’s “biologically brewed” ginger beer to whet his whistle This pale and fairly clear ginger beer has a clear ginger flavor. Quite refreshing and not overly sweet.
Our salads are delivered to our small table in the gazebo, which is a plastic sided affair complete with a small heater. A plastic container of malt vinegar and a shaker of pepper are sitting there in readiness.
Each plate of salad is stacked with a wide variety of fish and seafood products artistically arranged. These are accompanied by tomato, cucumber, coleslaw, potato salad and some leaves.  A wedge of lemon and a wedge of lime are the finishing touch.  Our meals are tasty and satisfying and I am again struck by the similarity of both presentation and (some) contents to the meals my grandmother used to prepare. The particular seafood is of course a more local Norfolk variation.  We are glad we stopped here.

Nicely satisfied I spend a moment taking in the wilderness across the road before we continue up the coast to Cley Marshes.

As we approach the Cley Marshes Visitor centre we start to observe people with tripods and spotting scopes, binoculars and so forth walking along the paths among the swaying reeds. On arrival at the complex I’m not overly keen to wander about the marshes without my binoculars, but we decide to head in to the visitor centre for a look.  We browse the items on sale and I spend a little while using the spotting scope over by the huge picture windows along which birders are arrayed. Some eating lunch while gazing longingly out across the marshes. It’s a powerful scope and I easily observe a wide range of waterfowl. I can put names to avocet and shelducks, coots and moorhens but I am a lazy birdwatcher and in any case hubby is not feeling so hot so we’re thinking we’ll head towards home.  Before we leave I snap a photo of the view from the command centre and approach the duty officer who is busily noting the latest sighting for the day on the whiteboard at command post A. 

My question relates to the bittern I saw the other day from the coach.  I have noted here at the marshes visitor centre that they are rather fond of a rare bittern a sighting of which is highly prized. Must be another species that I saw by chance surely so I ask. Turns out there’s only the one species and it is considered entirely possible to see a bittern exposing itself in what would seem an unlikely location for a rare bird sighting.  How’s that! No the birding without my bins has not been shabby at all!

We press on. We head towards Aylsham, but I cannot resist requesting that we head across to Foulsham for a look at some family history related places.  This proved to be a good move because our altered route took us through Briston where we find a petrol station with fuel and no queue of panic buying motorists.  YES!  Doubly good because we find that Melton Constable is a nice place too.

I make a fairly unsuccessful attempt to capture the beauty of the open fields. This whole district reminds me so much of beloved central west of NSW.
Before we know it we’ve come to Hindolveston. This is serious stuff so Hubby pulls up and I hop out to try and capture some reasonable photos.  

The Hindolveston village hall is quite impressive. I stop for a moment at the war memorial and notice that there are a couple of Holseys listed (perhaps they are very distantly connected).

Ah, here my secret is once again betrayed. My family is weird.  As I turn to head to the car I notice the shriveled corpse of a baby bird.  Daughter 2 would love that thinks I. Photos duly follow.

 As we drive through the district we find the drivers are very courteous and give a wave of thanks when you’ve done the right thing and stopped at a wide point to allow them to pass before you proceed.  People in the street too are often friendly and give each other a wave.  We feel very welcome and gee it adds a lovely touch to our visit.

Just outside of Foulsham we take a last minute decision to head up and check out Wood Norton. Along the way we stop on a quiet wide spot so I can walk up to get some photos of the wild primroses.

As I explore Wood Norton on foot a elderly man gives me a friendly wave. I’m loving Norfolk and I’m pleased as punch to be descended from Norfolk natives!

We move on back towards Foulsham. No blood connection here as far as I can prove but my great grandfather’s stepfather’s people were from here. Charles Barber was the stepfather’s name. His father was a bricklayer but died when Charles was barely a teenager.  I do still wonder whether Charles Barber was actually the biological father of my great grandfather. A secret buried in the mists of time. None the less Charles Barber gave his name to my great grandfather and through him to my grandmother.  Which brings me to another thing I’ve noticed while I’ve been here.  There is certainly a “type” resemblance to the people I’ve seen here (particularly the older men) and my Barber relatives. Perhaps it is only fancy but it’s a strange experience really although kind of satisfying too.

We continue with our attempts to get at least one decent landscape shot as we proceed towards Foulsham.  The whole area is crawling with pheasants.  How marvelous! We’ve given up counting them all.

We arrive in Foulsham and have no difficulty locating the war memorial.  Yep. There’s a Barber listed on it.  The church is visible in the distance so we head over there and I hop out to have a look. The church is locked but they have considerately installed glass doors so that it is still possible to look inside.

Foulsham Holy Innocents is a flint church and there is some beautiful detail around the base of the walls.  Family connections aside I’m very pleased to have seen it.
Our next stop is Cawston (dodging pheasants along the way).  We find the local church which appears to no longer be operating as an active place of worship. It is not as impressive an edifice as Holy Innocents, but is still very large and must have been quite an impressive church in it’s day.

Next on the list is Marsham and I’m so pleased to have persisted in the family exploration because to get there we have to pass through an area of woodland.
Marsham doesn’t present with any particular scenes I feel moved to capture so we press on to Buxton.  This is where I believe my great grandfather and his mother were actually born, though family further back were born in Aylsham and indeed my great great grandmother and her father and her son all lived in Aylsham later. Buxton is very small and we are glad to need to retrace our steps because it is a far more atmospheric place on the return!

Back in Aylsham we are delayed parking at the Old Pump House by a workman’s van. I take the opportunity to pay a visit to the antiques shop across the road. Daughter loves her tea and has enthusiastically supported my suggestion that perhaps she’d like an old tea cup from one of our forebear’s places of origin.  This little shop has just the sort of thing I’m looking for. Apparently dating from about 1850 there are some really nice matching trio sets. I go beserk and grab the lot so she can have some options for how many people etc. Not the most convenient souvenir purchase I have to say. We might have to think about posting them home.
It’s a cash only sale so I head via the proffered directions down to the market place to a cash machine. On my return I have quite a nice chat with the proprietor for a while before heading back to collapse! I’m quite anxious about falling further and further behind on my journal but I’m just too tired and sleep instead. .. for about six hours anyway.. then it’s up and the outcome is here to see!
Tomorrow (well actually today.. sigh) we’re staying local and then tonight we’re out and about. The night time writing has had it’s upside though. In daylight I’ve not noticed the regular chiming of the town clock, and it’s been a real pleasure listening to the dawn chorus.  But now it’s off to the land of nod for a while… I hope.

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