5 October 2008


So, Norfolk:

Friday 19th September: Aldbury – London - Norfolk

We found ourselves at the end of our lovely walk, in the lovely village of Aldbury. After a lovely breakfast at lovely The Greyhound Inn (they had gluten-free bread – Es was happy!), we bid farewell (for the time being) to our lovely travelling companions, jumped on the bus to Tring, and trained into London (sharing a carriage with our Canadian Walking Nemesises, who had completed the entire Ridgeway walk in 8 days). Back in London, we quickly repacked, and waited for my brother (Adam) to pick us up, and we were on our way to Norfolk. Or at least, we thought we were. Approaching Walthamstow on the North Circular, we found the road blocked by a spillage of concrete. We sat in slow or unmoving traffic for maybe an hour (always exciting), but eventually we got out and continued our journey eastward. The rest of the drive was thankfully uneventful, and we arrived at around 5pm to find everyone [everyone = my parents (Margot & Aaron), my brother (Eliot), his partner (Leah), my sister-in-law (Orly) and my nephew (Tzvi)] on hand to greet us.

The house was rather large and spacious, with 5 bedrooms (4 of which were en-suite), 2 lounges (the upstairs lounge had a telescope set up to perve on the passing boats), a kitchen/dining area, a laundry room (which was pretty much a second kitchen) and a conservatory. It was located in the very pleasant and awesomely named village of Burnham Overy Staithe, right on the Norfolk Coastal Path National Trail. Jonathan and I, along with my parents and Eliot, went for a very pleasant evening stroll along the Path. As well as a stunning sunset, we managed to catch sight of an OWL!!! (a barn owl, we think) and as you all know, everyone is fond of owls. (Well, almost everyone.) Unfortunately, the mosquitos came out in force, so we decided to head back.
boats in the sunset, norfolk

grumpy man eyebrows

twisty water, bird, dusk

After a tasty shabbat dinner (during which Eliot & I disgraced ourselves with a fit of inappropriately timed giggles), we went to sleep in a bed in which we would go on to sleep for three consecutive nights. Luxury!
our bedroom in the 'cottage' in norfolk

Saturday 20th September: Burnham Overy Staithe and surrounds

We woke early on the first full day after a fitful sleep. Much to his delight, Jonathan discovered a series of OS maps for the surrounding area, and he spent some time gleefully poring over them. At around 11.30, Jonathan and I went for a casual stroll (which ended up being about 9kms), out from the village along the charmingly named Gong Lane, where we encountered butterflies, dragonflies and blackberries galore, as well as a troupe of walkers going the other way.
possessive dragonfly

We meandered on through several charming little villages (including Burnham Thorpe, the birthplace of Lord Nelson) and through fields and meadows (in one of which we saw a tiny little frog hopping across our path – cute!). We also stumbled across Creake Abbey, originally built in the 1200s, and now, due to a history of fire, plague and lacks of funds, a ruin.
on the way to creake abbey

creake abbey

It was a serene spot, and we somewhat lost track of time – we wound up being 15 minutes late for our lunch date with Eliot and Leah. We arrived in the cute village of North Creake, and sat out in the pub (The Jolly Farmers) courtyard. We had some pretty tasty pub grub, but it was a warm, sunny day, and I managed to get slightly sun burnt. After lunch, we drove down the road to the cute village of South Creake and walked along the stream which runs through several villages in the area. Jonathan took great delight in removing his shoes and paddling his feet in the cool, clear water. (The stream was too shallow for the ducks to swim in!)
j and l paddling in the river burn 2

e and l

duckies in a row

When we'd all had our fill of quaint East Anglian villages, we bundled back into the car, and drove back to the house. A lazy afternoon and evening ensued, and I had a bath to try to relieve the nasty pain that was developing in my neck. It didn't really help, and I only slept that night due to blessed, blessed pain killers.

Sunday 21st September: Burnham Overy Staithe, Thornham and surrounds

I did feel a little better the next morning, and had managed to sleep through the night. Jonathan spent the morning with the maps again, planning another afternoon stroll for us. Adam, Orly & Tzvi headed back to London, while the rest of us drove to the village of Thornham to lunch at the Orange Tree. Afterwards, Eliot & Leah headed back to the house, leaving Margot, Aaron and I, led by Jonathan (OS map in hand) to enjoy a decent 12km walk through the surrounding villages and countryside, including a stunning stretch along the coast, which was CRAWLING with bird spotters (unfortunately, there was no sign of either Bill Oddie or Rory McGrath). Which was exceedingly pleasant, but again, I caught a little too much of the sun. Owie.
! tidal flooding

hay shed

d, taking notice

muted tones

norfolk coastal path

a&m 2

Back to the house, and the rest of the evening was spent relaxing, organising, packing, eating...

Monday 22nd September: Norfolk – Colchester – London

Eliot & Leah drove straight back to London in the morning, whilst the rest of us drove to Burnham Market for a quick snoop. We bought ourselves an incredibly cute mug, some AWESMOE post cards, a Guardian newspaper, and some stamps. However, the main reason for our visit to the village (the tea shop) was closed! We then proceeded to drive through several other villages, all of which had closed tea shops! A conspiracy, I tells ya! We ended up in Holt, a slightly larger village/town, which housed an amazing delicatessen, with an award winning cheese counter, a varioutous variety of mustards, rainbow pastas, and many other nom-worthy delights! (and next door to it was a shop whose window display featured both cheese AND lingerie! Together at last!) We ate at deli/restaurant/posh B&B (their words, not mine) Byfords, apparently housed in the oldest building in Holt (they had the awesome slogan: “Byfords: Keeping Norfolk curvy”). The deli looked amazing (they had a dangerously tempting RED blue cheese!), but we went through to the restaurant section, and, after a short wait, were ushered down into their basement (the oldest part of the oldest building in Holt!). Jonathan & I had scones (fruit and cheese, respectively), which were good, but the tea was disappointing (tea bags!): good food, average tea – a recurring theme on this trip.
byfords earl grey

Then back into the car, and onward towards the Norfolk Broads. The first Broad we went past was Hickling, so we decided to have a poke around people's boats and to get a feeling for the famous Broads – a network of navigable rivers and lakes on the Norfolk coast. At nearly 6km2, Hickling is apparently the largest of the broads – but it is only 1.5m deep!* (there's obviously a reason they're not called the Norfolk Deeps). Unfortunately, there's only so much you can see of the Broads without a boat, but from where we stood, it all looked pretty spectacular, in a flat, Norfolky kind of way.
warning signs at hickling broad

By this stage of our journey home, it had taken us so long to travel such a short distance, that we decided to be go a more direct route, and drove on via Great Yarmouth to Colchester – the UK's oldest recorded town, and British Roman capital before London. Sounds promising? The town was a weird mix of roman ruins and bland 20th/21st century UK shithole town. We went to a depressingly unexciting pub, had a depressingly unexciting drink, picked up the car from the carpark beside the depressingly unexciting bingo hall, and swiftly moved on. Our hopes had been high, but we left Colchester totally underwhelmed – with the sole exception of Jonathan's glee for the amazing mullet spotted on the head of a youth in the street. (See nix's flickr account for a pic!) We got back to London around 7pm, glad to be out of the car. We had a lovely weekend – it was really nice to spend time with family members old and new, as well as to explore more bits of glorious English countryside.

*Thanks to wikipedia for that informational nugget.

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