The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that my Saturday post is actually a day late. It isn’t due to the summer solstice which is what I would have posted if only I had been able to but simply that I have been rushed off my feet now for several weeks.
This might sound unusual for someone who now works from home for much of the time but it is how things have worked out. Of course it is much nicer to be very busy working for yourself than some numpty 8,000 miles away trying to tell you how to do your job badly.
I’ve been very busy with my tours and was out on a 3 day trip this week with a lovely family from Chicago. We went all over the place, if one can do all over the place within 25 miles of central London but that’s what we did and everyone enjoyed it greatly.
The weather in southern England has generally been good or great since early March. It’s a little unnerving to know what you can wear the next day without waiting to open the curtains. It’s turning into the sort of summer that we seemed to have a lot of until about 7 years ago. Pretty much constant sunshine for months on end which was doubly nice for myself as two weeks ago I went on a short break with my wife and her family to the county of Norfolk.
I worked for many years with a man from Norfolk. It’s always sunny in Norfolk he would say. The grass was greener, the way of life better and slower and the people nicer too though he was forever teased that they were all inbred.
My in-laws being from a hot Mediterranean climate were insistent that they had nothing to worry about except for the cold in Britain. As it turned out they were the ones pooped out by the sun! One day we spent around 6 hours at the beach and it could have been a Greek island. Dark blue sea, blue skies and white sand and barely a soul in sight. Despite my warnings a lot of flesh turned dark red that day.
We also spent several days out visiting tiny villages, and enjoying the outdoors. We visited a few grand stately homes, played out first game ever of Croquet and enjoyed a picnic or two. When I say we played croquet, we used all of the equipment but I can’t be certain we played it to the same rules as everyone else. Also when I say picnics, what I mean is in this perfect summer weather, the once burned, twice sun-shy family decided to eat in the shade. Behind sand dunes, under oak trees or slightly unnerving in a church grave yard.
In some cultures people do go out and visit their dead ancestors, they make a real day of it with food and drink. So I spent my time just a few feet away from John and his wife who died around 105 years ago and are buried at Wiveton. I hope they enjoyed our company.
Sometimes we would drive some-place and walk for a few hours and others we would walk from our holiday home we were staying in. On our second day we had barely walked ten feet when we saw a bird that was struck by two cars. At first we thought it was dead but after a few minutes it revived by appeared to have a broken wing. We put it in some bushes near the road to ensure it didn’t get completely squashed and waited to see if it got better but it didn’t. Our walk postponed we went back inside and called the RSPCA who said they would come and rescue it and give it medical treatment.
We put the bird in a wicker basket with some newspaper and hastily plucked grass seeds in-case it got hungry and closed the lid to keep the sun out and the bird from getting anxious.
There were lots of animal emergencies apparently that day and the RSPCA took a while longer to get to us but as they are a charity and do such good work, we didn’t mind.
Charlie, for that’s what we named the bird, was asleep in the basket when the RSPCA came but when the vet checked him, she said his wing wasn’t broken but that there was obviously a problem somewhere. She said she would take him back and give him the best medical treatment before releasing him back near the village in a week or two. Apparently Charlie was a fledgling and may have been hit by a car on his first morning out of the nest.
As my wife and I are both avid viewers of the 3 week BBC Spring-watch marathon we felt good that we had saved a life, even if it was just a little bird.
The little village we stayed at in North Norfolk was very quaint and picturesque. We got fresh eggs from the farm most morning, hen, quail and Brontosaurus which turned out being goose. We’ve been to Norfolk 3 times now and each time we visit we feel like we’re going home except we like it more than at home. We can go out without traffic congestion, go shopping to places without chain stores and fresh locally made food and have a good chance of not seeing another person all day long and if you do, chances are they are entirely lovely. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we do more in a week in Norfolk than a year in London.
I also got a lot of reading done on holiday which is a rarity for myself. Most of it spent reading the most excellent biography of Alan Johnston. A man many thought might but more certainly should have succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister. He was born into incredible poverty in terrible conditions that I can’t believe even a homeless person would endure today and having always liked him, now find him to be totally without equal having read his totally non-political book which has been applauded by people of all political persuasions. Also many of his tales from the slum like poverty of 1950′s social housing in London though in no way anything I can relate to do have other stories and memories of what life was like then and in many ways in Britain, the 1970′s weren’t much different from the 1950′s so there were many stories about schools, mischief and childhood that I could relate to.
Apparently Norfolk does have a lot more sunshine than my home county just above London even though it is 130 miles north east and sticks into the sea.
Of the 19 days we have spent in Norfolk all in October, late September or early June, it has been sunny and 25-30C/80F-90F for 18 of them which isn’t bad for England out of season. The locals say we must visit more often when I tell them this. I can’t wait to oblige them again.
The endless lawn goes on forever. We stopped and had a picnic after walking for 4 or 5 minutes and not being even 10% near the far end.