Rob and Julia’s Beach Hut

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It had become a long-standing joke when Rob invited Steve and me down to visit his beach hut. It was 15 years ago when this invitation was first extended, but in all that time we had never been able to all get together at the same time.

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So after a lot of diary shuffling we all managed to make a date for early August. There wasn’t much shuffling on mine and Jane’s part, being retired, and Rob has started to wind down a bit so no problem there…………..It was just getting Steve and Sara to finish early on a Friday afternoon……………..

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While we were waiting for the workers to arrive, Rob decided to serenade Jane with his versions of The Beatles greatest hits.  Julia and I had both heard these renditions many times before, so we went for a swim!

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When Steve and Sara finally arrived Jane was so plastered that she couldn’t get out of her chair……….mind you I was struggling myself!

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And so, as we sat on the beach at Mudiford and watched the sun slowly set over Christchurch, we wondered if we might get another invitation to this lovely tranquil place…………….we had behaved ourselves well and Steve had almost been on time, give or take an hour or so, so I think we might be alright!

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After all the wine we had imbibed it was just as well we booked to stay in Christchurch for the night. In the morning we were greeted by this lovely view of the River Stour.  After a hearty breakfast it was time to return home to pack for our cruise to the Canary Islands………

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Thorpe Park

A Trip to Thorpe Park for Zena’s Birthday

 

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To celebrate Zena’s 12th birthday we took her and her friend Izzy up to Thorpe Park for the day.  We got there early so that we would beat the rush and get on the rides without too much queuing…………..

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……….but when we got there and saw some of the rides we started to change our minds…….

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But it seemed the more horrific the ride looked, the more the girls wanted to go on it!

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Mind you there is a slight look of trepidation on Zena’s face as she is being locked into place on this photo…………

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It was entertaining enough for us just to sit down and watch the girls having fun, without the fear of us losing our dignity (and stomachs) in the middle of a triple loop!

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But we all managed the really scary queue for the ice creams without too many problems……..

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Although some of us didn’t quite manage to find our mouths!

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Ah that’s more like it, a ride the oldies can go on without having to close our eyes!

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I still had to hold on……..just to make sure!

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And for the final ride of the day we really let our hair down, and went on the tea cups!

A good day was had by all, the girls went on loads and loads of rides and we enjoyed them having so much fun!

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Robbie Williams at Hyde Park

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It’s been a long time since I last updated the blog, so here we go, this is what Jane and I have been up to over the summer of 2019.

Just before last Christmas I managed to buy a couple of tickets to see Robbie William at Hyde Park. So rather than visit London just for the day I thought we would take the opportunity to stay for a couple of nights.

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I decided to drive up to the capital as the cost of train tickets were far more expensive than the petrol and parking would be, and we had the flexibility to carry more of Jane’s luggage!

We stopped off at Kew Gardens on the way, an oasis of calm in a busy city!  There are wonderful displays of colourful plant life everywhere you look………………

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Although the “marigolds” were a little bit disappointing! (This was actually just outside one the restaurant/toilet blocks, just in case you were wondering!!)

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And I wasn’t too sure what Scooby Do was doing outside one of the hot houses!

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And if there wasn’t enough colour from the plant life they also had several art installations to add to the brightness of your day!

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Our hotel was a Premier Inn in Knightsbridge which we had booked 6 months ahead and got a great rate for central London.  Whilst here I took the opportunity to do a bit of geocaching, I really can’t understand why Jane gets embarrassed when I’m on my hands and knees scrabbling under statues on a busy street!

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Our walk to the concert took us past many of London’s world-famous landmarks, and as it was the summer holidays it was packed with many tourists from around the globe enjoying the sights and sounds of the city!

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And in the park there was a reminder of the countryside with a border of wild flowers!

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Well here we are, just about to enter our first festival for many years……………..

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Jane was not quite sure what to do, so finding something to lean against and read the papers was the order of the day!

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And as the hours passed it got a lot more interesting with lots happing all around (but we still didn’t give up our space with the back rest!)

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The sun shone and Sharleen Spiteri was on stage with Texas to entertain us……………

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And as the afternoon passed the park filled up and we were glad that we got there early enough to get a space close to the stage, well when I say close you still couldn’t see who was singing without the help of the large video screens!

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And then it was time for the main man…….Robbie was on………..

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It’s great to see such a shy retiring introverted man overcome his fears and perform to so many people………

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Robbie took time to thank his dad for his childhood, sat in the wings of many nightclubs watching his father perform and setting him on the right path…….they performed a duet to a rapturous applause from the crowd!

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As the sun slowly set the music got louder and the crowd more appreciative…………

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And then all too quickly it was over……….what a great show, Robbie was fantastic, the atmosphere  was terrific and the day was a great success! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience but I’m not so sure that we will want to spend a whole day at a festival again……unless its VIP!

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St Malo

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It’s very nearly the end of our short break in France, and this time we are sailing home from St Malo.

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St Malo is more than just a port, it’s a destination in its own right. We always try to add a few extra days here at the end of our holiday to enjoy its unique charm.

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As you can see from these two photos we haven’t changed a bit………….

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Although Jane thinks I might have put on a few ounces!!!!!!

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But I’m sure you will agree it’s only muscle!

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So if you are sailing to or from St Malo I highly recommend that you save a little time to explore this lovely walled town………..

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And the vast sandy beaches………

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And the stunning rocky coastline…………..Enjoy!

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Guidel

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There are so many beautiful walks to choose from close to our base at Clohars-Carnoët, and today we decided on an estuary walk.

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La Laïta is the river that heads to the coast and the resort of Guidel-Plage, and this was where we were headed for our chilled drink before our return journey to the car along the bank of the river

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There are so many hidden gems that would be missed from the comfort of the car, and it’s always good when you have made an effort to put on your walking boots and you find places like this!

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And when you get to your destination it’s alway special when you are rewarded with a view like this!

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Another day another dilemma, this time we chose to visit Quimper which is the ancient capital of Cornouaille (sounds like Cornwall). Although it is a lovely town, I think that it’s the natural beauty I prefer!

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The rocky coastline, as well as being stunning to look at, is also great for hiding geocaches……….some were a little more difficult to get to and Jane was a bit concerned when I started climbing up a rock face……

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This cache was cleverly hidden by sticking the container to a large stone hidden in a crack in the rock covered by foliage!

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I’m glad to see that we are now following France here in the U.K. by having more areas set aside for the cultivation of wild flowers.

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Hold on to your hollyhocks!

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It’s great to see the wild flowers in their natural habitat but in France they are grown on many many roundabouts and in the verges alongside the road!

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Some properties are lucky enough to have commanding views along the rocky coastline.

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Even with the help of the map, Kev wasn’t too sure where the sea was!

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Glad to say that it wasn’t chilly in Concarneau!

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Whilst we were in Concarneau we watched the contestants taking part in a new French game show trying to collect as many mussels as possible in 15 minutes……………it’s called who wants to be a mouleinaire!

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Do you ever get the feeling someone is watching you?

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I was not expecting this when I ordered the van blanc!

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We have travelled down many interesting and beautiful roads whilst we have been travelling in France……the route de Napoleon…..the route Leclerc, but I’m not too sure who this Barree is!

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Brittany

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Doëlan

We are now in a small quiet campsite near the quaint fishing village of Doëlan in the Finistere region of Brittany. The temperature here is a more bearable mid 20C during the day and in the mid teens during the night so we are back to having a comfortable nights sleep!

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This lovely little port is where they film the French version of Doc Martin!!!!

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You can certainly see why this stunning location was chosen for the filming of this T.V. series.

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A short walk through town brings you to the coast path. It is so like Cornwall it’s untrue, the major difference is that they walk on the right over here!

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There are wild flowers here in abundance which makes every walk that much more enjoyable for us both, and for me it gives me an extra challenge of trying to capture that beauty on camera!

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This immense coastline is full of little bays where you can certainly enjoy a bit of seclusion if you want it, or if you fancy a bit of company then all you have to do is find the nearest resort and then you will find a huge great beach full of about a dozen people!

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Or if you fancy something a little different you could just sit out on the rocks and watch the world go by!

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We have done many walks whilst we have been here for this 10 days but we haven’t scratched the surface of the walks we want to do, so we will definitely have to come back and explore some more. The amount of times I have said that I want to return to places I think I will need another lifetime to be able achieve this goal!

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Whilst Kev and I are scrambling around on the rocks looking for geocaches Jane and Val take the opportunity to discuss the latest fashion trends in M&S

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When you walk the coastline here you get the chance to stroll up some of the many estuaries and there are some lovely houses in such stunning locations.  I don’t think I would get bored with watching the tides come and go !

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A little inland there are many small villages to explore………..

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The best time to visit these little towns and villages is just after midday, when the parking is free and the shops have closed!

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Mind you there are often markets open, but I don’t mind strolling around these if the background is always as good as this!

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Even the loos are rather interesting !

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How come even the weeds in France look that much better than those at home!

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Domaine De L’Etang

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What a brilliant campsite with a great ethos.  What really makes them different from other campsites is that camping de l’Etang is part of a not-for-profit organisation. Their policy is to employ people with disabilities wherever possible. You’ll find all their staff are knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.

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The site is nestled at the heart of the vineyards of Angers and the Loire Valley, and is set around the former farmhouse of the Château de Brissac. Camping de l’Etang benefits from a preserved natural environment that’s perfect for rest and recreation.

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The campsite belongs to the Sites & Paysages chain which I can high recommend.  We have visited many on our recent travels and they operate a loyalty scheme where you get a stamp for every 4 nights you spend at a new campsite, and once you have 4 stamps you get 5 nights free. We have already had one 5 night stay for free and are well on way for the next one!

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One of the things that I particularly liked about the site was the feeling of space.  The site is 20 acres and they only have 110 camping pitches and 40 rental properties.

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Each pitch was a lot larger than many you find in France. There was plenty of room to swing a cat but we didn’t have one and we weren’t able to catch a local one so we didn’t bother!

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From the campsite, a delightful pathway takes you right into the small town of Brissac-Quincé in about 10 minutes. Brissac Quincé is a quaint little market town, with lots of old stone buildings, a very laid-back atmosphere and plenty of shops.

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Funnily enough the shop that most interested me was the boulangerie.  I visited there so often the lady behind the counter decided to give me a few lessons in French pronunciation, who knew that a baguette traditional was feminine whilst an ordinary run of the mill baguette was masculine? Well I do now!

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Our pitch was very close to the fishing lake. It became quite noisy in the evening when the frogs came out to sing………..strangely enough they didn’t have a french accent!

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But the best place of all was the swimming pools. You might have read that France was experiencing extreme weather in the form of a HEATWAVE.  Well we were right in the middle of it!  The only place to be when the mercury hit 40C was in the pool.

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Even then when you got back to the caravan you had to improvise. It was so hot that we all decided that we should move up to Brittany 4 days earlier than planned where the temperatures were a chilly 15C cooler at 25C.

More from Brittany later.

 

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Back in the Saddle (driving seat) Again!

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Well it’s been quite a while since I last updated the blog but we are back on the road again so here goes…………..

We are off for a short 3 week break with Kev and Val in France………little did we know of the impending HEATWAVE that we were about to experience, but more of that later!

Our first night was spent at Camping des Capucines which is only a short distance from the port at Ouistreham, and as we arrived at 9.30 pm and I didn’t really fancy driving too far this was an ideal place for a rest, ready for an early start in the morning!

 

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Early the next morning I set off for a short walk to the local boulangerie to get a baguette and  pain au raison for our breakfast.  Whilst out on the walk I took the opportunity to sneak in a quick geocache, this one being hidden in a hedgehog which was itself hidden in a tree in a church yard.  Luckily there weren’t too many people around to see me ferreting around!

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After an uneventful drive we arrived safely at our new campsite in Brissac Quince in the Loire region of France.  Not that I’m always thinking of food but this was the little river that I walked beside every morning to get my fresh bread and croissants!

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Oh there was a castle there as well…………

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I told my sister-in-law Sally that we were going to the Loire and she insisted that we visit the Abbey at Fontevraud because it has so much history……..

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It was founded as a monastery by Robert of Arbissel in 1101 and the first permanent structures were built between 1110 and 1119.  We were very lucky to virtually have the place to ourselves and were able to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the surroundings.

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The Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (I should have made a note of all these that we have visited over the last two and a half years!)

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This is the bit that Sally was interested in, the King of England, Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and son King Richard the Lionheart were all buried here at the end of the 12th century.

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It was disestablished as a monastery during the French Revolution.

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So much for the history………the food at the local bistro was stunning (if a little small!) – braised ox cheek and frites!

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The local Ferrari owners club had turned up to visit the Abbey, I couldn’t make up my mind which one I wanted so in the end I stuck with my Kia!

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The next day we set off to see the Chateau at Angers. The temperature was rising and there had been several weather warnings of an impending heatwave in France. An amber alert, the second highest, was given as there was possible danger to life!

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We had heard that this Chateau was the home of the Apocalypse Tapestry and it was housed in air-conditioned luxury, well luxury for us! The tapestry was produced between 1377 and 1382 and depicts the story of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation by Saint John the Devine in colourful images, spread over a number of sections that originally totalled 90 scenes. It is the oldest French medieval tapestry to have survived. And we got to see all this in the lovely cool!

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There was a great view over Angers from the top of the castle, but it was too hot to wander around the city so we had a picnic in the local park in the shade of the trees, and then back to the campsite for a well-earned swim!

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Back at the campsite,  right next to Kev and Val’s pitch, this blue tit was encouraging its baby to fly the nest. K&V had already seen two other fledglings take their first flights and I managed to get this shot of the last one having its preflight meal!

 

 

 

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Mountaineering in Norfolk

 

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One of the main things we wanted to achieve on our short break to Norfolk was to climb some of the many high mountains that this part of the country has in abundance! As luck would have it we spotted our first summit whilst on a cliff-top walk from Cromer to Sheringham.

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The name of this mighty peak was the Beeston Bump. We managed to climb this majestic a lot quicker than we expected, and I mainly put this down to the fine weather which produced perfect visibility!

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The only sad thing was that there was a huge queue as we approached the top, but patience is a virtue and when we eventually reached the peak it was all worthwhile!

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The views from the top were stunning, you could see over the lovely Sheringham golf course and we even managed to see this steam train thundering by!

 

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We managed to get another glimpse of the train when we visited a National Trust property in Upper Sheringham…….

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…. which was full of rhododendrons all in bloom.  It was an absolutely lovely way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon!

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We are certainly getting our moneys worth from the National Trust this year. Blickling Hall was on our list of places to visit whilst in Norfolk.

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It has an interesting history because behind these doors during WWII this was home for RAF officers based at the nearby airfield.

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It’s hard to believe that this quiet tranquil place was home to all these brave men. They have kept one of the barrack  rooms exactly the same as it was during the war, I have to say that it didn’t look very comfortable!

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Plenty of places for reflection between missions.

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I liked the walled gardens and the many doors that led you through to another hidden gem!

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We were lucky to visit Blickling on a quiet lovely sunny day, and it really made you think of all the airmen that were based here during the war and what they must have been thinking while sat on this same bench!

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On our way back to the caravan there was time for another cliff-top walk……..however this time it was only a short stroll as it got very chilly very quickly!!

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Norfolk And Good!

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Fish and chips in Cromer, delicious and very welcome after not too long a drive, but a very long time getting settled on the pitch. The time was spent trying to get a spot where I could get a signal for sky TV as I wanted to watch the last episode of Game of Thrones, and Jane had a few programmes she wanted to see. It has worked for us all around Europe and we even got Sky movies in the south of Spain, but one tree in north Norfolf was giving me a lot of grief! We eventually moved pitches away from the tree and then all was right with the world!

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The sun was shining when we set out for our tea, but by the time we left the restaurant it was bloody freezing, just as well I had my coat and that there was a hat in the pocket! It’s probably not the best of looks wearing shorts with a coat and a woolly hat but I was so cold I didn’t care!

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The next day the sun was shining again, so we headed off to Blakeney Point for a walk along the coast.  This was my first time on the north Norfolk coast; I had spent a week on the Broads about 30 plus years ago with a group of mates, but we were either on the boat drinking or in a pub drinking so I didn’t get to see much of the surrounding countryside!

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The wind was a little bracing but with the sun out it was a lovely walk!

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In this part of Norfolk it’s like time stood still, I was half expecting Captain Mainwaring to come around the corner leading the rest of the cast of Dads Army!

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Although there were quite a few people close to the car parks you didn’t have to walk too far to find yourself completely on your own!

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And what a great way to get the 1/2 time refreshment……..a Cromer crab salad!

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There was still plenty more to see of the lovely unspoilt coastline on the walk back to the car. It seems to me that the council have been very careful about letting any development change the characteristics of this quiet place!

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After a long walk this seat really got the “seal” of approval!

 

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On Wednesday 22nd May, my birthday (ok, but don’t forget next year!), we took a trip to Wroxham to visit the broads. A very helpful young lady in the broads national park tourist information centre told of us a walk along the River Bure that would take you to St Benet’s Abbey which was celebrating its 1,000 year anniversary.

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The walk was again lovely and peaceful and when we got there you could see how the original building had been cannibalised and used to make a mill by what at one time had been the main gate!

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This was a great place for peace and reflection…………..and time to strike a pose!

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When you stopped and stood still, it was completely silent.  You couldn’t hear anything, not even the sound of a car in the distance!

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There was the occasional interruption of the peace when the gentle putt-putt of a boat engine would enter your consciousnesss as it passed you by on the river.

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This was more like the boat we had when we tried to drink Norfolk dry all those years ago, although this one was being driven far more sedately!

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Jane was a little worried when she first saw this sign but she relaxed when I explained it was the name of a pub and not a sordid get together in a carpark!

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My birthday meal was back at the fish and chip shop that we had visited on our first night, and yet again they were delicious, and this time Jane was driving so I could have a glass of wine!

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When I first saw this egg I was a little worried at the size of seagull I was about to meet…..

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But it turned out to be a peace of art……….eggcellent!

 

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