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Index : Holiday Reports, Travel Blogs and Trips Away : Nine Days in Norfolk - by Tigermouse

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Nine Days in Norfolk

UKCampsite.co.uk member Tigermouse relates the tale of her camping trip in Norfolk - Part 1 - Days 1 to 2

Day 1 - Saturday

It was raining as I left home at 5am for my 6-hour drive - that heavy but fine stuff that wets you within minutes. I hate driving in the rain but as I couldn't do anything about it I had to accept it, so turning the radio to my favourite station and with my two dogs settled safely in the back I set off. I was heading for Norfolk, and my favourite site at California, just north of Great Yarmouth. There were two reasons for leaving home so early, the main one being that I was driving over Woodhead Pass and wanted to get that part of the journey over early. For those who don't know, the A628 over Woodhead is a very winding single carriageway road used by a lot of HGVs - get stuck behind one of those and there's absolutely no chance of overtaking for miles (unless you want to risk meeting God a lot sooner than you anticipated) so it made sense to travel early and avoid the worst of the traffic. Also the earlier I set off the earlier I would get to the site and start enjoying my holiday.

An hour and twenty minutes into the journey and with Woodhead Pass behind me, I stopped at a truck stop a mile before the M1 for a much needed brew and a bacon and egg barm. Motorway services don't figure in my travels - the food is expensive crap and the coffee tastes like the sump oil from an old banger. Not that I've ever had to drink sump oil but you get my drift. The coffee at the truck stop was decent and came in a large mug, with a bacon and egg barm the size of a small dustbin lid - I only just about managed to eat it all. After taking the dogs for a short walk along the grass verge I continued my journey via the M1 and A57 to the A1, then the A17 and finally the A47.

My second stop was at the Cheerio Cafe on the A17 near the airfield at RAF Cranwell - the large mug of coffee had taken its toll and I needed the loo. On the outside cafe door there's a notice - "The cafe toilets are for customers' use only" and on the toilet door inside is another notice which has amused me for many years - "No tea - no pee!" Certainly short and to the point. So in order to justify using the loo I purchased a can of Coke and a KitKat, then took the dogs for a walk along the edge of the field behind the cafe car park. I say car park, but it looks more like a lunar landscape with rain-filled potholes the size of small craters - not to be reccommended if your car has a low-slung exhaust or you like to keep your pride and joy clean, although the car park at the front of the cafe is much better. By the time I hit the road again the rain had petered out and it was getting brighter by the minute, and when I reached the A47 and the outskirts of Kings Lynn the sun was almost shining. By my third stop at the Necton Diner just past Swaffham it was positively blazing, and really put me in a holiday mood. "Are you ready for the last leg?" I asked the dogs. "Yip" squeaked Sophie, and "Yap" replied Sugar. Am I mad for talking to the dogs? Are they mad for answering me? Who cares? - I don't!

My route to California took me off the A47 at Acle and through several small villages, one of which is Filby - I've never been to that area in August before and I was surprised and amazed to see that almost the whole village from one end to the other was bedecked with flowers. They were everywhere - on bus shelters and lamp posts, outside the village shop, cascading over garden walls, along the roadside and on the village green. The whole place was a riot of colour worthy of a place at the Chelsea Flower Show, and certainly warranted a return with my camera.

I finally arrived at the site - Drewery Caravan and Camp Site - a few minutes after 11am, and after calling in at reception I parked on my pitch and set about putting up the awning. Now for some strange reason, even though the sun was blazing and there was hardly a breath of wind a couple of miles inland, on the site it was blowing a gale worthy of a mention on the BBC Radio shipping forecast. Not very good for erecting an awning but I [I]had [/I]to put it up as that was my living space and I couldn't do without it. I have a foolproof method of coping with it in the wind though, and within an hour and a half it was erected, fully guyed and pegged, groundsheet down inside, ehu connected and everything set out. By that time I was feeling rather tired and would have loved a nap, but I can't sleep during the day so I made a brew instead then took the dogs for a walk through the site and onto the beach.

Oddly enough, it wasn't as windy down on the beach as it was up on the site and it was very pleasant walking along in the sunshine. When I finally made my way back 'home' I called in at the site shop to say Hi to the lady who owns it. She used to work in the cafe on the chalet site just down the road, you wouldn't believe I've known her to talk to for more than twenty years but I still don't know her name! I picked up a couple of magazines while I was in there and after having a sandwich and a brew I spent the evening reading till it was time to take the dogs for their last walk and go to bed.

Day 2 - Sunday

I woke that morning at 7am with the sun shining through the side window of the van and the sound of magpies chattering in the trees behind me. Normally at that time on a Sunday I would open one eye, look at the clock, then roll over and go back to sleep again, but this was different - I wanted to be up and out, and enjoying the time before the site came to life. The dogs were still sound asleep on their beds in the awning but the minute I picked up the leads they were alert and raring to go. I walked through the site and out onto the lane, turned right at the end and headed in the direction of Scratby - strange name for a village, it always makes me think of someone with a flea problem! About halfway along the road is Lands End, a privately-owned and gated part of the cliff top which for many years had a couple of wooden holiday chalets on it - there were always lots of rabbits hopping about round there and every time I went past I would stop and count how many there were, but over the years the chalets have been removed and the rabbits have all gone. Now Lands End is just a plain grassed area, but I still stop and look for rabbits every time I pass.

Just beyond Lands End is a layby with a bus shelter and toilets, and a steeply sloping path leading down to the beach - it was this path that I took, and once on the beach I headed back in the direction of the site. The tide had recently turned and was on its way out, leaving smooth shining wet sand and pebbles glistening in the sunlight. There's something about 'new' sand which evokes the child within me - just like being the first to walk in fresh snow I take great delight in being the first to walk on the sand after the sea has retreated. After walking a couple of hundred yards I stopped and looked back - the sun was warming up nicely, seagulls were wheeling and swooping overhead and the white-capped waves were tumbling over onto the beach. I felt a bit Robinson Crusoe-ish, standing there alone while nature happened around me, but where Crusoe's footprints were accompanied by Friday's, mine were accompanied by two sets of paw prints.

A short distance from there was a large patch of shingle and pebbles not far from the water's edge. As I walked past a slight movement caught my eye - at first I couldn't see anything, but looking closely I noticed a small bird with a long beak sitting amongst the stones. Its feathers were almost the same colour as the stones surrounding it, and had it not moved I would have been totally oblivious to its presence. I didn't want to get too close and risk scaring it off - the dogs were some way down the beach, exploring the rocks at the base of the cliff - so I used my camera zoom to observe it in close-up and managed to get a couple of good shots of it.

By that time the fresh sea air had given me an appetite, so calling the dogs from their rock exploration I headed off down the beach to the next cliff path which would take me back to the site. Once back at my van it was bread in the toaster, kettle on, and cereal in the bowl, and when everything was ready I set out my chair and coffee table in the sun outside my awning and breakfasted at leisure while reading a magazine and planning my day.

Whenever I go to California I always use part of my first full day on a trip to Lathams store at Potter Heigham. I love Lathams, it's the sort of place that sells everything, and if you don't want anything when you go in you will always come out with something. So Lathams it was, but first was a visit to Hemsby a mile or so up the coast from California. Hemsby is what I call a mini-Blackpool, but the only possible resemblance to Blackpool is in the many arcades, gift shops and cafes which line both sides of the narrow road leading down to the beach - other than that it's nothing like Blackpool at all. I've been to Hemsby many times over the years and nothing much changes, but I wanted to have a look round the Sunday market. And I was glad I went, as I managed to get a folding camping chair in red (to match the decor of my van and awning) for only a fiver. It was the only red one on the stall so I was well pleased with that.

So on to Potter Heigham and Lathams, where I bought a dvd and a couple of books about Norfolk and the Broads, and went in the cafe for coffee and cake. When I went in there in June I had the most delicious Belgian bun so I opted for the same this time, but for some reason it just didn't seem to be as nice and I was rather disappointed. Then I remembered - the one I had in June had fresh cream in it but this was just a plain bun. How could I have forgotten something which had tasted so divine?? I had to rectify the matter before I left the cafe, so in the interests of quality control and customer satisfaction I returned to the counter and bought one with cream in - and who cared if it contained a million-and-one calories, I was walking the dogs after so the exercise would cancel it out. Well, that was my excuse and I was sticking to it!

After the 'cream cake cock-up' I took my purchases back to the van, collected the dogs and my camera and headed off towards the riverside footpath. Potter Heigham always fascinates me and even though I've photographed various bits of it many times I still can't resist taking another few shots, so I lingered for a while by the boat moorings and watched the comings and goings of the various river craft. There were boats of all sizes, from the small daily hire craft right up to floating palaces which would need the proceeds of a lottery win to finance a week's a holiday aboard one.

The sign on the bridge reads "Keep off deck, Lower windscreen, Sound horn". The river is tidal and hire craft have to use the services of a bridge pilot - I've been under that bridge several times in previous years on a friend's boat and there isn't a lot of room. I've heard there's more than one boat got stuck under there, or had its windscreen smashed on its way through.

By the time I'd finished doing my David Bailey impersonation the sky was beginning to cloud over a bit so I thought I'd better get on with my walk. The riverside footpath is part of the Weaver's Way, and to walk 6 miles in one direction will take you to Horsey. I didn't intend to go so far though, just far enough to give the dogs a decent walk. Eventually I reached an old windmill set back from the river, with a derelict cottage at its base, both standing in a garden overgrown with long grass and rampant nettles. I love windmills and rather hoped I would be able to find a sneaky way in to have a quick look, but any means of access was thoroughly boarded up so I had to give up on that one. By then the blue sky and sunshine had all but disappeared and grey clouds were starting to gather overhead - not wanting to get caught in a possible downpour I decided to head back to the van, which I'd left in Lathams car park, and go from there back to the site. It turned out to be a wise decision, as no sooner had I arrived back 'home' than it started to rain. It didn't last long, but by then the best of the day had gone, so I made a brew and a sandwich and settled in for the evening. Once I'd fed the dogs I got out my laptop, plugged in my PAYG dongle, and spent the rest of my time here on UKCS. That just proves how addicive this site is, even when I'm on holiday I can't keep away from it!

This article has the following linked sections

Nine Days in Norfolk Part 2
A UKCampsite.co.uk Member's wonderful tale of a camping trip in Norfolk told in words, and a visual treat of photographs.
Nine Days in Norfolk Part 3
A UKCampsite.co.uk Member's wonderful tale of a camping trip in Norfolk told in words, and a visual treat of photographs.
Nine Days in Norfolk Part 4
A UKCampsite.co.uk Member's wonderful tale of a camping trip in Norfolk told in words, and a visual treat of photographs.
Nine Days in Norfolk Part 5
A UKCampsite.co.uk Member's wonderful tale of a camping trip in Norfolk told in words, and a visual treat of photographs.

Index : Holiday Reports, Travel Blogs and Trips Away : Nine Days in Norfolk - by Tigermouse

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