Sunday, 18 August 2013

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” - Oscar Wilde

Thursday 15th August

I didn't want to get up when the alarm went off, but if we were going to get the best out of the day we needed to get up and get going. Despite initial reluctance Robbie was out of bed and into the kitchen while I still clung to the duvet.


We were on the road before 9.30am and by 10.00am we were pulling into the station car park at Holt. For the third time this holiday we were at the North Norfolk Railway, sitting on the first train of the day with a cup of tea (coffee for Robbie) waiting to depart. What could possibly be better than this? I love the feeling of anticipation with the whole day stretching ahead of us. I don't mind if I travel on a coach or compartment that I've travelled on before, I don't mind which engine is out, and (unlike Robbie) I don't even care if we depart late, I just love the whole experience. 

The railway was very busy today and we had more than our fair share of badly behaved brats travelling on the trains. As a parent and step parent I know that coping with children can be challenging but it is up to the parent to set limits and to say 'no' and mean it when necessary. Why on earth do they think that it's acceptable for their 'little angels' to stand on seats, to yell at the top of their voices throughout the journey and to behave in a way that spoils the experience for everyone else. One little horror who rejoiced in the name Caspian had a father who was so pathetic that I wanted to shake him and tell him to man up and control his child. Who calls a child Caspian for heaven sake,  with a name like that its hardly surprising that the boy has issues. 

We spent the earlier part of the day dodging badly behaved children, but it didn't stop us enjoying the railway. There is something about Weybourne in particular that makes you feel calm and relaxed and the Ladies toilet is so wonderful that you can't help smiling. The black five and the 56XX were out today, they are both interesting, 5619 was making a strange blowing noise again today, we heard it making the same noise last Wednesday but it sounded fine on Sunday so I don't know what is wrong with it. 

I must admit that I tend to prefer diesels rather than steam so I always look forward to the last two round trips from Sherringham. Today we had a Class 101, Robbie likes it, but it is not among my favourites. To me it feels like being on a bus and I'm not into buses in the way that Robbie is. We sat at the front in the seats behind the driver and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. The view through the front windows enables you to see things which you would usually miss, so we took lots of photos. When we were departing Holt we saw deer running across the field and Robbie even managed to get a photo.

I will let the photos speak for themselves.

“The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys”

Wednesday 14th August

A lovely sunny day, we sat outside during the morning and early afternoon. It was lovely to have a relaxed and unhurried day and it was warm and sunny outside. I read a few magazines - Robbie has plenty to choose from, but mostly I just sat quietly and enjoyed the beauty of the moment. The beach looked beautiful and the rhythmic sound of the waves on the shore line felt like the heartbeat of the earth. I would have liked to put time on 'hold' to stop the day from ending, but all I could do was to treasure the moment. 

Robbie enjoyed the sunshine too, but he doesn't like too much sun so he went back into the bungalow a couple of times to play with his toys - he brought Lego,  jigsaws, 'N' gauge railway, binoculars, a ship spotting app, railway DVDs, loads of magazines and a pile of railway books. Today was a 'Lego day' Robbie built a Lego Technic tractor, it took quite a long time and it involved a lot of huffing and puffing but it looks rather impressive

After a brief trip to the shop and a flying visit to Tesco we went out for a meal at the Lighthouse Inn. 

"Book lovers never go to bed alone" - Unknown

Tuesday 13th August

We'd planned to make an early start this morning because we were going to Cromer, but it proved harder than expected to get up and get organised, so it was 10am before we left the bungalow. It didn't really matter, we had an enjoyable drive and we found a parking space without too much difficulty. 

Our first port of call was the tourist information centre, it has an Internet hot spot. We have missed having a reliable Internet connection while in Norfolk, so we took the chance to catch up on email, facebook etc. While there we bought a pile of railway poster postcards - Robbie likes to collect them. 

 We wandered in the direction of Jarolds, but we didn't get that far, I had forgotten about Robbie's need to stop and photograph every bus that he sees - he even used his phone to take photos as he was crossing the road! I had also forgotten  about the hardware shop, Robbie absolutely loves that shop, he has a bit of an obsession with crockery. I waited and waited until I was so bored that I told him that I was going over the road to the second hand bookshop. I was in heaven! I had forgotten about this shop and I spent a very happy time looking at all the children's books. When Robbie saw the Ladybird books I thought he was going to burst with excitement. He bought the Ladybird book about the railway, he had a good look at the railway book section but he didn't buy any, instead he chose two hardback Snoopy books - one of them is in French!

We finally got to Jarolds where Robbie indulged his passion for pens and erasers as well as books, Playmobil, purses and postcards. We were bothered by now but Robbie still had another bookshop on his list so we walked across to the bargain bookshop and Robbie checked out the transport section - they had bus books as well as railway books so I knew I was in for a long wait! I found a fantastic book which contained all the Britains model catalogues of the 1970s. We bought that book as well as a railway book that Robbie just couldn't resist. 

At long last it was time to eat, we found a little restaurant called the xxxx Grill. I loved the meal, the service was prompt and friendly and the toilets were excellent. It was good value and I would definitely go there again. 

'For the traveller in search of the English Heritage, the county is a paradise.' - Arthur Mee

Monday 12th August

It is week two already, I really want to slow down time and make this holiday last for ever, I love it here and I love having Robbie all to myself. I need to make the most of it, after this fortnight he will not have any free time for the foreseeable future so I need to make the most of it. I'm not complaining, when he went self employed we worried that he wouldn't find enough work, but thankfully he has, in fact he has had a very busy first year and things are looking good.

Robbie was very tired after his train filled weekend, he fell asleep in the chair last night and he wasn't keen to get out of bed this morning so we are having a lazy day today. It makes a change to enjoy each others company and not have to rush to get ready. 

After a very chilled morning we went out we took a drive on the coast road to Waxham Barn. Robbie loves this drive because there are so many interesting things to see, churches, the Happisburgh lighthouse, and various interesting buildings. The trouble is that it is a very narrow winding road and Robbie keeps wanting me to stop so that he can take photos and take a closer look. It reminds me of taking a dog for a walk and having to stop at every lamp post, I love him dearly but at times like this I have to say a very firm "no". 

We had a cup of tea and some cake at Waxham Barn, then we went to have a look around. Robbie enjoyed looking around the barn and taking lots of photos. The highlight for me was seeing a bat, they have Naterer bats at the barn, but it is very unusual to see one in daylight. It was looking up at the roof timbers and the thatch and I happened to see it fly in and vanish behind one of the roof timbers. It was a really nice afternoon. 

We drove home via Stalham to pick up some groceries, then we went back to the bungalow to cook a nice evening meal. Robbie had goat burgers, home made sauté potatoes and a bottle of local ale. I had something rather more 'normal' and non alcoholic! He said that the goat burgers were lovely, I'll take his word for it!

"For solace and relief I flee to Bradshaw or the ABC, and find the best of recreations In studying the names of stations." C L Graves

Sunday 11th August

We had another early start and once again Robbie was eager to get up and get ready. Before long he was showered, shaved, the picnic was packed and we were ready to go. The things I do for Robbie, I'd agreed to give up The Archers, a trip to the car boot sale and Sunday Lunch at Jonet so that Robbie could go back to the North Norfolk Railway on a day when the bookshop would be open. I didn't mind all that much really. 

We arrived in Holt bright and early, the station was only just waking up and Robbie got some lovely photos of the station while there were no people in the way. My early start was rewarded with a nice cup of tea and we caught the first train to Weybourne. Robbie rushed around taking photos as usual, not just photos of trains, he stood by the door with his head out of the window to get photos of the harvesting in the fields near Weybourne (he is a closet tractor/combine spotter!). It was a beautiful clear day and he got some lovely shots. You could see the sea with the wind turbines in the far distance, I tried to count them but I gave up there are loads of them and I don't think they spoil the view at all.

Robbie spent an eternity in the bookshop, he added a number of magazines to his enormous collection, then he found several books that he absolutely had to have and the crowing glory to his shopping spree was an old copy of Bradshaws from 1954. Thankfully I'd packed a heavyweight shopping bag and we took the bag which was now full to capacity and impossibly heavy on the train to Sherringham (we had a non corridor compartment coach - probably my favourite coach of the day) and all the way back to Holt. There was just time for a quick picnic in the sunshine before we were off again heading for Sherringham again.

We travelled backwards and forwards all afternoon making sure that we were in Sherringham in time to see the Class 37 arrive and to take lots of photos. It was awesome, definitely the best part of the day. Another couple of journeys followed but I may as well have been on my own because Robbie had his head out of the window taking photos and listening to the powerful growl of the engine. We stayed for the very last train to Holt and then headed back to the bungalow tired but happy. 

Take time to Reflect

Saturday 10th August

A very early start! The alarm woke us at 5am and Robbie seemed unusually keen to get out of bed. I snuggled back under the duvet for a minute or two, listening to him trotting around getting ready for the day. The ritual of packing the rucksack is a time consuming and from my point of view irritating procedure. Everything has to be taken out of the bag, checked and then packed back into the rucksack in the correct place, then additional items will be added according to the occasion. Throughout this process Robbie provides a running commentary on each item, presumably this is for his own benefit as it is of no interest at all to me. The result is that his newly packed rucksack weighs a ton and contains equipment to deal with every conceivable railway emergency as well as personal essentials. 

I could hear Robbie reciting the contents of his rucksack to himself in the other room so I took the opportunity to beat him to the bathroom. Before long Robbie was showered and ready for the day's adventure and we headed in the direction of North Walsham. He was going to play trains for the day, he likes to do something that he refers to as the drags when we are in Norfolk. By 8am I had delivered him to the station and I was safely back at the bungalow enjoying a nice cup of tea.

 I decided to take a drive to Stalham to do a bit of shopping. I bought some lovely treats from the Truly Local shop, strawberries for Robbie, raspberries for me, bread, bread rolls, and tomato focaccia. I popped into a table top sale in the church hall and I bought myself a necklace from a handmade jewellery stall, I really like it, it's made of colourful glass beads with tiny little flowers within the glass. I went back to the bungalow to put the food away and then I took a drive to  Mundesley, it was lovely to enjoy the beach and the sunshine. I had a little look at the shops and sat in the sunshine for a while, then I went to the beach cafe for some lunch. I never tire of the beach cafe, the food is beautifully cooked, the portions are generous and the views across the beach are wonderful. I had fish and chips, it was lovely but it was such a large portion that I couldn't manage to eat it all.

I spent a quiet afternoon back at the bungalow, enjoying the sunshine and catching up with some writing. Robbie sent regular updates throughout the day, his second text of the morning was just one word "Farce!!!" apparently things hadn't gone exactly to plan. Robbie is never deterred for long and he scraped his timetable for the day in favour of Plan B which among other things involved a trip to London. I suppose it is all route knowledge and if it floats his boat why should I stand in his way. I picked him up at 9.45pm. The road from North Walsham to Walcott has lots of twists and turns and at that time of night it was pitch dark, so we took a gentle drive back. On the way I became aware of two sets of eyes at the side of the road and there were two deer looking out at us from the undergrowth. They stood still at the side of the road as we passed, it was a very special moment.

Time heals what reason cannot. - Seneca

 Friday 9th August

A week has almost passed without us going to Wroxham Barns, so after a leisurely start to the day we headed towards Wroxham to visit one of our favourite places. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

'It inspires me, the sea, the limitless skies, the mud and the burning sunsets and the freedom of a place where more than 50% of the neighbours are fish.' - Raffaella Barker

Thursday 8th August

We'd planned to go to Cromer today, but it was such a beautiful morning that we decided that Cromer could wait and we would enjoy the sun and the beach. This is what I dream of all year, the luxury of time, freedom from routine and the peace and tranquility of the Norfolk coast. The huge Norfolk sky reaches down to touch the sea and rhythmic sound of the waves rolling on to the beach and the cries of sea birds are the mood music of the day.

We walked on the beach.  I splashed in the surf and looked at the beauty of the sea washed pebbles glistening in the sunshine while Robbie took photos. The beach is a lot lower this year, it is a long time since I can remember the sand being this low. The beach is different every time we come, the level of the sand changes, sometimes as now the tide leaves pools behind at the back of the beach. My children loved the pools when they were little,  and seeing the beach like this again brings back so many memories. 

We sat in the garden all day, enjoying the sunshine, reading and relaxing. I wrote all my postcards and caught up with one or two other bits and pieces of writing too. Despite the factor 50, I still managed to catch the sun a little bit, I have stripes on my legs because I was wearing shorts so I will have to try and even it out in the next few days. 

Photos of the beach to follow

"No one left and no one came on the bare platform" - Edward Thomas

Wednesday 7th August

We had an early start this morning. I don't like being ruled by the clock when we are on holiday, but we planned to visit the North Norfolk Railway and we wanted to get there early so that we could spend the whole day travelling between Holt, Weybourne and Sherringham. 

Surprisingly Robbie didn't make a fuss about getting up early, he got up,shaved showered and ate breakfast without any 'delaying tactics' - almost unheard of even on a work day! I more or less knew the way to Holt but more to prove a point than anything else I decided to use the sat-nav! It decided to take us on a different and rather contorted route via North Walsham so instead of the voice of the sat-nav sighing and saying "recalculating" I had Mr B at the side of me huffing and puffing because he didn't approve of the route and because he couldn't get a good enough phone signal to send an important email to his work. Norfolk is dreadful for phone signals and Internet access, Vodafone is better than 02 but it is still dreadful. If I drive to Stalham and stand on one leg on the middle of the Tesco car park I can usually get an 02signal of sorts but it is rather hazardous and tends to attract attention!

We got to the North Norfolk Railway in time to catch the 10.xx Black 5 to Weybourne. I needed to visit the rather splendid toilets at  Weybourne and after the early start I needed a nice cup of tea and a piece of their lovely cherry and walnut shortbread. A Class 31 arrived into Weybourne heading for Holt and I thought Robbie was going to burst with excitement. He was disappointed to find that they planned to swap it for a kettle off the shed at Weybourne on its return journey but at least he had a chance to see and hear it and take some photos. Apparently the kettle (GWR 5619) had failed that morning and the Class 31 had replaced it until the kettle could be coaxed into action. We watched it come off the shed and it didn't sound quite right (to my untrained ear) it was making strange 'trumping' sounds as if it was expelling air, but it looked rather splendid and I was delighted to see a woman in the cab. 

We travelled to Sherringham, had a look at the shop and bought a jigsaw and Dvd for Robbie and a few postcards etc for me. then when the next train arrived we got a welcome cup of tea (coffee for Robbie) and travelled all the way back to Holt for a picnic lunch. Robbie positioned us in exactly the right place so that he didn't miss anything and as soon as there was anything to be seen or photographed he dashed over to get a better look.

More trips between the three Stations followed as well as a brief walk into Sherringham (which was horrible because it was far too crowded).For me the highlight of the day was the diesel, it looks amazing and sounds even better. I decided to pass on the very last trip of the day because I wanted to get some film of the train leaving and arriving. I made the right choice I got some really nice photos and video clips but there was something even better than that. I sat on a bench some distance down the platform towards the signal box enjoying the tranquility and thinking of the poem Adlestrop. In our case the blackbird's song in the poem would have been replaced with the mournful calling of the wood pigeon, but the line "no one went and no one came on the bare platform" seemed to describe the late afternoon tranquility of Holt station perfectly. I knew that the train wasn't due but I glanced along the line and I saw a slight movement on the other side of the line almost level with the signalbox. As I watched a deer came into view and ambled across the line towards the signalbox before vanishing into the undergrowth. I was not close enough to take a photo and I didn't have time to think of that anyway. It was one of those special moments that can't be preserved except in memory.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

'The Norfolk landscape sends a shiver through my soul....' - Raffaella Barker

Tuesday 6th August


The picture shows the view from our back gate this morning it is such a lovely day that I would have been happy just to wander on the beach or sit in the garden. However we had a couple of errands to do so we decided to sneak another trip to the Beach Cafe as well. I love it there, it was absolutely packed today but the food was excellent and the service was exceptional. 

As we ate our lunch I watched the people on the beach, the children with buckets and beach toys playing in the pools left by the tide and paddling in the sea and the parents keeping a protective eye on their little ones. It took me back to when my children were little, they loved the beach and they loved to play in the pools left behind by the tide. In one way it seems as if I have blinked and they are all grown up, but at the same time it feels as if it was a lifetime ago because so much has happened in our lives since then.

We went to Stalham for the errands I mentioned and on our way back to the car we found a fantastic little shop called Truly Local. If you are ever in Stalham it is well worth a visit. All the produce is sourced from a 35 mile radius of Stalham and the quality is obvious. We had a bit of a spending spree, we bought some beautiful strawberries, cream, strawberry jam, marmalade with whiskey (for Robbie), tomato focaccia, tomatoes (for me), goat burgers (for Robbie) and a couple of local beers Grain Brewery's Blonde Ash and Hare of the Dog by the Why Not Brewery (also for Robbie!). He wanted to buy some squirrel meat too (apparently it is very popular) but we are on holiday and I really don't want to mess around making a casserole. We were told that it tastes like rabbit and you cook it in much the same way. I don't eat rabbit and I really don't have a burning desire to try squirrel, but Robbie seems to have other ideas! We will certainly go back to Truly Local while we are in Norfolk, I wish we had a shop like this at home.