This is the time of the year for walkers of a certain age. There are many people of that certain age walking here, there and everywhere. It’s the Peddars Way that attracts so many old codgers round here to wear themselves out on what Mrs H describes as ‘a really boring walk’. But back in the days of the Iceni, Queen Boudica and the Romans, the Peddars Way was a vital communications route, not for recreational walkers, but for survival itself.
We prefer walks of contrast, of trees, of meadows, of fields... and preferably with a pub at the end.
On the far horizon off Blakeney you clearly see the farms. Norfolk is a farm county, but now it seems it’s extending north, into the North Sea. Myriad wind turbines combine to churn out their invisible produce - energy from natural sources. They churned very well this week. Our furious friends from across the pond saw to that.
Many find ugliness in these dynamos, pirouetting in the wind, messing with the view of the horizon. Mrs H is different - she’s an artist... she’s allowed to be different. She loves their lazy, unsynchronised movements.
And do you know what? So do I.
Brancaster Beach... probably the most wonderful beach I’ve ever seen. Miles of unspoilt golden sand as far as you can see east and west. A favourite for kite surfing and kite buggying. I bet the two future kings who have a house nearby will be up for some of that.
Our companion wasn’t a future king, but Storm Ali. If Florence was tricky the day before, we were in for a real blow. The sand was lifted from the beach to produce a continuous moving, shimmering, magic flying carpet. It was Ali... not from the east, but the west.
The day after Florence did her best to sandblast us off Holkham Beach, we ventured to Brancaster. First, Brancaster Staithe, to The Crab Hut. Online it’s billed as a ‘fish and seafood restaurant’, but in reality, it’s a hut.... no tables, no chairs... a hut.
But don’t let that put you off, this hut sells the most wonderful, enormous, crab-fullicious, pointy baguettes you’ve ever tasted. All for just £4.50. I enhanced mine with a huge mug of hot chocolate for a mere £1.
I lunched in good company with Mrs H... ooh, and Storm Ali.
And then... Brancaster Beach...
Today we went east. To Cley next the Sea, pronounced ‘Clye’, like ‘Wye’. It’s very smart. We hit the wonderful deli first, bought lunch, then to Cley Smokehouse. Seduced into buying more lunch... whole smoked haddock, prawns, mackerel and pate. Then back for a feast.
Feasting included wining... rarely indulge at lunchtime. Time for wine-induced naps.
Still drowsy, we needed to wake up properly. Time for a walk in the wind. We’d just started when totally unexpectedly we spotted Lewis and Su, friends from home, supposedly holidaying in Ross-on-Wye.
Either RoW was crap, or we’ve got stalkers.
“I would throw them out” she announced. She was talking about the leftover veggies from our (shouldn’t say it but will) delicious partridge gourmet dinner.
‘NO!’ I thought but didn’t say - no need, because she continued, “but you’ve probably got a plan for them!”
I did indeed have a plan, which I have just executed to perfection (I know, I shouldn’t say that either) and interred inside me - Mrs H declined my offer of sharing. Mashed potato and brocolli meant, of course, bubble and squeak, with carrots for added colour. Local crispy bacon completed my holiday treat.
Kippers tomorrow! Yeeha!
Wanting to discover more of Wells-next-the-Sea, we left the pretty harbour and the fishing boats Mrs H so loves and ventured up the high street, past lots of shops and people. A selection of establishments, with many rather trippery offerings until we reached the butcher, displaying a delight of choice, including partridges. And here’s the real treat, they were just £1.50 each!
“You bought it, you cook it!”... so I did. Online recipe in place, I set about making a sauce. Onions, caramelised, plus wine. Lots.
Not exactly Michelin, but she said I was a star anyway.
My plan for our visit to Holkham Beach yesterday was to swim in the North Sea. When we’d been in Southwold earlier in the summer, I’d swum a lot in that same North Sea. It was remarkably warm. It was warm at Holkham too and swimming there is brilliant! However, the sea was very rough, with myriad white horses and a wind, courtesy of Hurricane Florence, that was mighty.
There was another important reason for swimming, but with no other bathers there, I decided to head for the dunes. A westerly wind behind, so I had to point it east.
Holkham Beach, a huge, magnificent expanse of sand... a favourite of royal princes, cantering across the sand and in the shallows.
Today though, it was us and the remnants of Hurricane Florence. Florence might have been in remnants, but still generated 60mph winds, whipping up sand to resemble stage smoke on the surface of the beach. It stung our beshorted legs. Lovely cloudless sky, but we had to seek shelter in the dunes. We had a picnic lunch to eat.
Florence wasn’t going to be beaten. My complaints prompted Mrs H to declare:
“Aren’t we lucky? Sandwiches with real sand!”
A characteristic of Holt, Blakeney, Wells-next-the Sea, Holkham, or indeed of anywhere in North Norfolk seems to be that every single household has at least one dog. Many seem to have two or three.
I like all these places and I was impressed to see the amount of poop that is regularly scooped. But not everyone was quite so pooticular! I tolerate pooches... but not the unscoopered poopers.
When I scowled at a particular doggy offender, it’s unrepentant owner declared, “If you don’t like dogs, you’re in the wrong place.”
“Right place, right dog, wrong owner!” I replied.
On the way to our rented holiday cottage, we collected the keys in Holt. Holt is a lovely, ancient, upmarket Norfolk market town with lots of quality shops, eateries and money. Places one might take sons or daughters, who boarded at the nearby posh Public School, on the occasion of a parental visit.
The weather being hot, we lunched alfresco at Byfords, one such of these lovely eateries. The world of Holt walked by as we people-watched. Other than obvious trippers, we imagined that these passers-by were of two kinds, artists or writers. We immediately felt at home.
We’re on holiday again. Destination north. Not Yorkshire, not Scotland, but north Norfolk, of royal patronage, arctic birds and longshore drift.
The forecast? Hot, then cooler... a problem for Mrs H. What clothes to pack? The boot of our SUV bulging with clothing and footwear... plus the contents of fridge and vegetable basket, my boat and outboard were banned. Worse, I was given this solemn warning.
“Don’t pack so much booze this time!”
On the way we passed through Little Snoring. I predicted there would be rather a lot of it as I had filled the spare wheel space! Cheers!