And indeed it is in some ways. Our tour of the British Isles has finished, we have no more sightseeing planned but will be here until Sunday when we return to the south coast and sunny (yeah right) Saltdean. Do not rest easy though, there will be one more blog after this, clearing up the loose ends and looking back on the last few weeks. It is three months to the day since we left home in the early hours of a cold, wet and windy morning on this wonderful tour and quite honestly I don’t know where the time has gone. Right, time for the usual catch up:
Thursday and our last major sightseeing day. First up was the little town of Ely and in particular it’s stunning cathedral. Dubbed the ‘Ship of the Fens’ it is, because of the extremely flat surrounding landscape visible for miles on a clear day. The outside is beautiful and well preserved and inside even more so. Sadly a private event prevented us from exploring further than the nave but you could still glance up at the ceiling and ornate carvings.
Next up and further north and now in to Norfolk was the Sandringham Estate, one the many homes of HRH - the real one that is, not Trev’s Mum. We stopped first at the little church, seen so often on TV when her Maj is about, and there are some royals from way back buried here. Inside was breathtaking but you’ll have to take my word for it as photo’s were not allowed. An attendant assured that this rule was strictly adhered to. Of course, pictures ‘were available to purchase’. I passed.
Entrance to the church is free but to get in to the estate gardens and house, a prising open of the wallet is required. Graham & Robert paid the extra for access to the house, but being skinflints, we stuck to the gardens, and first the museum, which gives an insight in to the history of, and life on, the estate. as well as a collection of some of the royal cars acquired over the years. The heavens opened just as we headed to back to the house and the boys came out from their tour. We stood under a tree for a while, trying to keep dry with varying results until it eased sufficiently for us to scamper back over to the museum. It was a pleasant afternoon by the time we left and strolled through the beautiful gardens back to the car park to continue our journey. Well worth a visit but come on a nice day and bring a picnic and you’ll love it - you could easily spend all day here.
Hunstanton was next - or ‘sunny Hunny’ as it is known affectionately. A popular seaside resort on the north Norfolk coast. I never holidayed here as a kid but I remember plenty of days out - morning and afternoon on the beach at Old Hunstanton, then a stroll along the promenade in to town and a go on the boasting lake if I was lucky. Great memories. It was early evening by now though so first stop was a cafe which satisfied both the belly and the wallet reasonably equally.
Continuing the trip down memory lane, our next port of call was Wells-next-the sea. A charming little port and seaside resort a bit further east. The harbour is the centre point of the town but this time we took the road down to the beach alongside the mile or so long sea wall that protects the lowlands to it’s west. At the end of the road is a massive caravan/chalet park and I had a couple of holidays here as a kid and have visited many times since. A pine forest and sand dunes separates the park from the beach and the main channel out to sea. It is delightful and one of my all time favourite places. It is also famous for being used in the TV series ‘Kingdom’ starring Stephen Fry. Kingdom was set in the fictional Norfolk seaside town of Market Shipborough. The coastal scenes were filmed in Wells and the town scenes were filmed in Swaffam, twenty odd miles inland. We stopped there briefly to locate the house used as the office of the main character - a solicitor - and was tempted to sample a pint in one of the pubs nearby, also used for filming but resisted, somehow.
The resistance wasn’t to last long however. Final stop on was at a friends pub in Isleham, for a couple of well earned pints and brought and end to what was a day of discovery for our friends, and a trip down memory lane for us.
Friday. Highlight of the day was nothing more than a trip to the supermarket during the pouring rain. It eased in the late afternoon sufficiently long enough to cook some bangers on the barbie. The evening things improved however and provided further insight for Graham & Robert in to the early lives of Trev & Rich as we took them to one (well, another one!) of our old ‘local’s’ in Histon for a nights reminiscing with some old friends. Much ale was sunk and a good night was had by all.
Saturday. Hmm. I was feeling a little delicate, not surprisingly but Trev too wasn’t in the greatest of shape either. Having opted to drive and so sticking mainly to cola, way too much caffeine was surging around his veins to allow sleep to come quickly. When it did, the torrential rain and my snoring ensured it didn’t last long.
The rain had almost entirely flooded our pitch, and whilst the caravan was fine, the awning was sitting in two inches of water. We decided to move pitches. The caravan part is pretty easy of course after three months practice but the awning can still be challenging at the best of times. What had started out as a mild headache and a feeling of general sluggishness had turned in to a full blown pounding hangover by the time we had finished. Given the forecast for the next week it had to be done though. The rest of the day was by necessity, quiet!
Sunday, and time for the boys to leave. We ensured that they would’nt leave on an empty stomach by doing breakfast, and the rain held off long enough to allow us to do most of it on the barbie. Soon after, they were off and on their way back to Brighton. We had a great time and particularly enjoyed showing them around our home town and old haunts.
Sunday lunchtime and some more friends came to visit. The plan was to cook on the barbie and enjoy some of the great British summer. Yeah right. We had a good time, but the nearby pub was called upon for the solid and liquid sustenance as the rain had returned. Again.
Monday. A thrill packed hour in the waiting room of certain tyre fitters getting Jessie shod in some new rubber. We’d been putting it off but really couldn’t wait any longer. In the evening we had a delicious dinner at a friends house but not before calling in at another of my old haunts - Addenbrookes Hospital - to visit Trev’s brother who was unwell. Many will know that years back I spent so much time up here visiting one or another of my parents that I should have had my own parking space. It brought back many memories, none of them good.
So, that’s it. Watch out for the final blog at the weekend and then we will see some of you on Sunday. Wonder what the weather will be like?