North Norfolk break
Friday, 24th June 2005


Virginia and I spent a long weekend 24th to 27th June in the North Norfolk area. On the way up we visited the Thursford Collection during a real downpour on the Friday. There we saw the nifty footwork of resident organist Robert Wolfe on a Wurlitzer. How can the brain control so much?

We overdosed out on stately homes of which there are plenty in the area. We saw Blickling and Holkham and Felbrigg but I confess these in my mind all blur into each other. The old faded paintings, libraries of uniformly bound books, false doors through which servants entered, deer parks, ice houses, elaborate silver tableware, manicured formal gardens seem to be the form for the houses of the nobles.

We stayed in a guest house in Little Walsingham which is even more historical than a stately home. A site of pilgrimage for over a millenium, it had a mixture of shops including statues and icons if you wanted to take some holiness home with you. We had a good tarragon chicken in the Black Lion on a very wet day - the Black Lion was the coat of arms of a Queen Philippa.


The highlight for me was going to Blakeney Point to see the seals and oyster catchers. The seals look ungainly lumps on land but in the sea so graceful. The oyster catchers have rather perfunctory nests. The mudflats there with channels only navigable at high tides made me think of Arthur Ransome's "Secret Water". On our way back we dropped into Caithness Glass in Kings Lynn - there's something magical about glass for me, the paradox of something both solid and transparent.

We also saw Sandringham belonging to the Queen. You don't get to see many of the rooms, but there is a grotesque display of the results of royal big game hunting in the Museum. On the way out we went to one of the shops and saw a young kid ineptly steal a souvenir key fob. The shop assistant just ignored it when someone told her - this being Britain the kid's parents would worry more about their brat being told off than them stealing.