Posts Tagged Norfolk

A trip to sunny (yes, really) Norfolk

After returning from Portugal, we got started on the work we’d undertaken for Sutton Trust.  This and other things kept us pretty busy, but we had a couple of evenings out at the weekend.  We did our usual Friday evening pub walk, this time aiming for the Crown at Penn, where they do Sandie’s favourite ‘vegetarian fish & chips’.  When we left the Dolphin (our first stop) the rain came down heavily, and after walking through the woods we were soaked.  This necessitated stopping at another pub (shame!) to shelter and drink port to warm ourselves up.  The following evening we went to see the film Victoria & Aqbal – Judi Dench was wonderful as ever, and it was a great film.

Any port in a storm

The Crown at Penn

Off to Yarmouth

The next weekend we were off again, this time to Norfolk. It was our first trip there for some time, and was arranged to coincide with Sandie’s cousin Mike’s golden wedding anniversary. We wanted to combine this with a nostalgic visit to Great Yarmouth, Sandie’s home town.  We collected a rental car on Thursday afternoon, so we could make an early start on Friday.  On our way we decided to have a coffee stop (as we always used to do) at ‘The World Famous Comfort Café’ (yes, that really is what it’s called) but to our disappointment it had not yet opened when we arrived. We ended up at the ‘Waffle and Pancake Shack’: the location was familiar but the café was not.  We discovered that it had changed hands (and names) twice since our earlier visits!

In Yarmouth we parked near the far end of the Pleasure Beach.  (Those who do not know Yarmouth may want to skip this paragraph, as it won’t mean much to them.)  It was that time of year when the Pleasure Beach and some other places open only at weekends, but although the place was quiet there were still visitors around. We strolled along the seafront, noting lots of changes since our last visit.  The Big Wheel that used to stand in the Pleasure Beach has disappeared, and a new wheel has been erected in a different location.  The jetty has been demolished, and the Wellington Pier no longer reaches the sea.  The Winter Gardens is in desperate need of some TLC – a shame, as it is (or should be) such an attractive building.

Gt Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

The new Big Wheel

On the beach

Seaside colours

Beach huts and the Winter Garden

The other great change was in the weather.  It was actually warm and sunny – miraculous for Yarmouth at any time of year, let alone late September!  We ate our lunch sitting outside one of the many beachside cafés.  Later we walked up Regent Road to the town centre, and couldn’t resist some Yarmouth market chips.  Back on the seafront we had a drink (again sitting outside) and walked north to the Waterways, due for complete restoration nest year. We just had to have some hot donuts (another seaside treat) on our way back to the car.

Sandie with Chef Charles


They even have Aperol Spritz here!

Donuts on their way


On to Ormesby

A few miles outside Yarmouth, we stayed two nights with our friends Una and David at their home in Ormesby St Margaret.  On Saturday we all went for a walk in the woods near Acle.  In the evening we all had dinner at the Filby Bridge restaurant, where we were joined by our other friends Linda and Don. We recalled being there in 2012, for their ruby wedding celebration.   Sandie, Linda and Una were at school together – many years ago! – and it was great to meet up for the first time in some years.  The food was great, and certainly plentiful, more than even Ian could eat, and that doesn’t happen often!

A walk in the woods

Sunbathing butterfly

Norfolk landscape

Old friends’ reunion

And then Sheringham

On Sunday morning we said goodbye to Una and David and drove across to Sheringham, on the north Norfolk coast.  There is a steam railway which runs between Sheringham and Holt; Mike (a real railway buff) and Jane had chosen to celebrate their golden wedding with lunch onboard.  About 40 of us filled two railway dining carriages.  From Sheringham to Holt is a short journey (only about six miles), so it doesn’t take long, even by slow steam train.  But there has to be a longish wait at either end while the engine is moved to the front of the train.  We did two round trips while eating lunch: a starter on our way to Holt, and main course on the return, then pudding on the second trip to Holt, and coffee on the return. The food was excellent, and the portions very generous.  The service was brilliant. And the weather was amazing – again!

Waiting on the platform

Old station building

Steel and steam

Here comes the Black Prince

When we finally arrived back in Sheringham, lots of us went to Mike and Jane’s house (quite close) and enjoyed a cuppa sitting in their beautiful garden.   There was food too, but nobody had any appetite left!

The happy couple (1967)

The happy couple (2017)

Norfolk sunset

And finally Ely

We’re cheating a bit, because Ely isn’t in Norfolk – it’s in Cambridgeshire.  But we’d reckoned it was about half way between Sheringham and Wycombe, so decided to stay overnight on our way home with our friends Robert and Teresa, another couple whom we hadn’t seen for years.  Another opportunity to have a long chat and catch up with each other’s news!

On Monday morning we visited the magnificent Ely Cathedral, accompanied by Robert who is a voluntary chaplain there.  The weather wasn’t so good, and there was even some light rain while we were driving home in the afternoon.  But we couldn’t complain, as the weather had been so remarkably good for the past three days.  We’d had a great weekend – the golden wedding party, the nostalgic wander around Yarmouth, and seeing so many old friends – but it was definitely not good for our waistlines!

Ely cathedral

The Octagon

Looking down the nave

Jesus and Mary Magdalen

River Cam at Ely




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Our UK tour 2012

On Thursday 27 September we hired a car and began a tour of friends and family in the UK.  We drove first from High Wycombe to Faversham, with two stops on the way – one pleasant, one less so.  First stop was Slough, where Sandie collected her new specs and Ian had a tooth extracted. Second stop was Box Hill, where we enjoyed a circular walk which took us up to the top of the hill and enabled us to enjoy some glorious views of the English countryside.

View over Surrey from Box Hill


We stayed for four nights with Andrew, Ellie and the girls.  On Friday they were all at work or school, so we did a pub walk (6.5 miles) from Conyers Quay.  Part of the walk followed the Saxon Shore, rather bleak but beautiful.

Marshland near Faversham

Walking the Saxon Shore Way

On Saturday afternoon we took Hope and Isobel to Margate, where we strolled along the beach and visited the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery.  The actual galleries were closed (preparation for the next exhibition) but there was a colourful interactive art installation which kept the girls entertained for some time.

Hope & Isobel on Margate beach

The installation at the Turner Contemporary gallery

It had been Hope’s eighth birthday a few days earlier, and she had had her party the previous weekend, but on Sunday there was a family get-together in her honour.  Claire drove down with Charlie and Oscar for the day, and we were joined by Ellie’s mother and sister, brother and his family.

Hope, her cousin Robert, Charlie and Isobel enjoy ice creams together


We left Faversham early on Monday 1st October, and drove north to Norfolk. We headed first for Sheringham, where we had lunch with Sandie’s cousin Mike and his wife Jane.  In the afternoon we visited Mike’s mother in a nursing home, and then drove to Ormesby, to stay with our friends Una and David.

On Tuesday they joined us for a walk in Burlingham woods, and we discovered that students from a local high school used the woods to display their GCSE artwork – a novel idea, and we had fun spotting the ingenious creations.  After a pub lunch we visited the Fairhaven Water Gardens nearby.  In the evening we joined other friends (Linda and Don) for dinner at a hotel on the seafront in Great Yarmouth.

Art in the trees at Burlingham woods

More student art in the woods

At Fairhaven Water Gardens

More woodland art at Fairhaven

The next day the two of us returned to Yarmouth, but on the way we stopped at Caister Cemetery and laid flowers on the graves of our friend Barry and some of Sandie’s relatives, including her grandparents.  They died many years ago, but it has only recently been possible to erect a headstone on their grave.

The new headstone for Sandie’s grandparents


On Thursday 4th we left Ormesby and headed west.  We stopped first at Peterborough, a city that Ian had never visited before, to have lunch, visit the cathedral and have a brief stroll along the river.  Then it was on to Loughborough, to stay with our friends Jacqui and Roger.

Inside Peterborough cathedral

The towers of Peterborough cathedral

On Friday we walked up Beacon Hill, the second highest point in Leicestershire.  It was a nostalgic trip because we went there often with our children when we lived in Loughborough.

On top of Beacon Hill

Long-horned cattle on Beacon Hill

On our way back we stopped at the university, where Ian once taught for nine years.  In the evening we went with Jacqui and Roger to the new Curve Theatre in Leicester to see Finding Neverland – the musical.  The music was great and the special effects amazing; we thoroughly enjoyed the show.   On Saturday the four of us drove us to Derbyshire, stopping at the village of Eyam, and again at Matlock Bath on the way back.

Autumn colours at Eyam

12th century Celtic cross at Eyam church

Matlock Bath


On Sunday 7th we drove 300 miles north to Glasgow, to visit Ian’s Aunt Margie who is in a nursing home there.  Following a stroke, her mobility is very limited, but we were able to borrow a wheelchair and take her to some of her favourite haunts in the Trossachs and Loch Lomond.  We were lucky again with the weather, and the autumn colours were beautiful in the sun.

Loch Lomond

Autumn colours at the Pond Hotel

On Wednesday 10th (our 42nd anniversary!) we completed our grand tour by driving back south to High Wycombe.  As it is a long journey, we made an early start.  We checked out of our hotel at 8.15, and found the car completely frozen over.  Unfortunately, the hire company had not provided us with de-icing equipment, so we used non-essential plastic cards as scrapers.  As Ian remarked: ‘We know we’re not in Ghana any more!’

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Interlude in Norfolk

At the very end of February we went for an 11-day visit back to the UK, and spent most of the time in Norfolk. We had a night in High Wycombe at each end, but otherwise were staying in a house in Sheringham, on the north Norfolk coast, with Claire and her boys. The house belongs to a relative (Sandie’s cousin’s daughter), who is happy to have family using it when she’s not there herself.

One of the main reasons for coming back at that time, and going to Norfolk, was a ruby wedding invitation from two of our long-standing friends who live near Great Yarmouth. When we received the invitation we thought it was infeasible to make the trip back, but the more we thought it over, the more we liked the idea of an extra trip home which would enable us to see the family as well as taking part in the ruby wedding celebrations.

On March 1st we landed at Heathrow at 6 am, and spent the rest of the day in Wycombe, mostly buying stuff from the cheap shops to take back to Ghana. The next day we drove up to Sheringham, with Claire, our two grandsons and all the baby gear – fortunately Ian has plenty of experience at driving without being able to see out of the rear window! That evening we went to Filby, near Great Yarmouth, for the first part of the ruby wedding celebrations: a very pleasant meal for just six couples at the Filby Bridge restaurant. There was much reminiscing and catching up on 40 years of history.

The effect of 40 years of marriage?

The next day we went back to Filby, for the second stage of the celebrations. This was a lunch for over 80 guests, with a chance to study wedding photos (who could we still recognise?), meet old friends and indulge in further reminiscences. Sandie and Linda were at school together, and Sandie was a bridesmaid at Linda’s wedding.

Cutting the cake, rather than each others' throats

During our stay in Sheringham we were able to visit Sandie’s cousin Mike and his wife Jane, who live in the town.  We also visited some of the other towns in Norfolk: Norwich, Cromer and Great Yarmouth. The weather was very bad – cold, wet and windy – when we went to Norwich and Cromer, but our visit to Yarmouth (Sandie’s birthplace) was marked by bright sunshine and relative warmth. We walked along the seafront, and bought sticks of rock for colleagues in Ghana.  Charlie enjoyed his day at the seaside even if the summer attractions were all shut.

On Cromer pier

In the sun on Great Yarmouth seafront

Lunch in the pub

We spent a lot of time exploring the charity shops in the different towns we visited, looking mainly for books and DVDs to take back to Ghana.  Charlie just loves charity shops – he can spot the toy section as soon as he walks into one. He managed to acquire a massive heap of Bob the Builder videos for just 10p each.  Charlie also much enjoyed playing with the vast selection of toys, lego, jigsaws and games in our ‘holiday home’.  We sometimes had difficulty persuading him to go out!

Toy heaven in the playroom

On our last day in Sheringham the local North Norfolk railway line was having a steam festival, so we had a couple of trips on a train, and saw a variety of steam locomotives, as well as many middle-aged gents with beards and expensive cameras.

Steam festival on the North Norfolk Line

On the train

The next day we loaded up the car; by some miracle we were able to cram in all our purchases in addition to all the stuff we’d brought to Norfolk.   We drove first down to Faversham, to take Andrew and family out for lunch to celebrate his birthday three days later.  Again, it was a beautiful spring day, so after a leisurely pub meal we were able to go for a short walk along the Creek.

Hope, Isobel and Charlie show off their ice cream containers from the pub

Hope and Bel

After that we drove back to Wycombe, did yet more shopping, and unpacked/repacked our luggage.  All our winter clothes were returned to Claire’s shed, and our cases were filled with food and toiletry items as well as books, DVDs and painting equipment for Ian.  The next day we flew back to Ghana.

Although it was only a short interlude, it was great to see friends and family, and we were really glad we decided to make the trip, although we were not sorry to return to the African sunshine!

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