(For part one of this mini-series – don’t miss out on chicken poxy shenanagins! – click here.)
On day two we were already suffering from that vague sensation you get when you go on a self-catering holiday entirely unprepared for mealtimes. After a bit of a verbal scuffle with the hubster I had to concede that eating out every day was not going to be an option. We decided on a trip into Norwich (“A Fine City”) which would allow us to treat the boys to a cheeky Happy Meal at the Golden Arches.
Norwich really is an interesting place, packed with history. Anyone who reads the brilliant Put Up With Rain blog will be in no doubt that Lucy’s pride in her home city is justified. Having said that, history is not something that really appeals to pre-schoolers and we had second thoughts about a trip round Norwich Castle with them, instead opting for Norwich Cathedral (which felt like less of a commitment money-wise). It was actually really fortuitous because our visit coincided with the filming of a major motion picture starring Judi Dench – Tulip Fever based on a great book by Deborah Moggach set in 17th Century Holland. The hubster and kids were decidedly underwhelmed by this (although the hubster did attempt to pimp EJ out to the film crew should they need a ‘child with the pox’ for any reason – they politely declined).
For me though, this was one of the highlights of the holiday (being on a movie set, not having my toddler pimped out)! I have been a lover of all things cinematic and film-related for as long as I can remember and used to be able to claim encyclopaedic knowledge of what was going on in the industry, devouring Empire magazine from cover to cover month in month out. Nowadays I don’t get much opportunity to take in a movie – even on the small screen, but I will be keeping an eye out for this one because I know there will be one little scene during which I was tucked away just behind the action desperately attempting to keep EJ from either yelping or charging headfirst into the limelight.
The hubster was much more taken with the twitchers camped out on the green outside – actually the Hawk and Owl Trust all set up to view and record the movements of the peregrine falcons which nest up in the turrets. They let us have a look through one of the viewfinders and they really are impressive birds.
A quick Costa latte fix, a trip to Langleys toyshop (where the boys got a coach and an ice cream van respectively – the latter of which went on to drive us to distraction with its annoying tune!) and our day was complete.
Day three we set off for JJ’s promised land – the North Norfolk Steam Railway! Honestly I don’t think I have ever experienced so many trips on steam railways since JJ was born – he absolutely loves them and it was perfect to have a little branch line in Sheringham – so close to where we were staying. We opted for a very short trip (you never know where you stand on enclosed spaces with a toddler in tow!) and journeyed to the first stop and back with a little time to spend looking around the lovely old-fashioned station at Weybourne. The friendly guard on the train told us to look out for the toilets in particular and he wasn’t kidding – genuine Crappers! The whole of the Ladies (not sure about the Gents!) was a museum piece in itself.
There was also a lovely café and toyshop on the station and a pretty little garden area with tables where I caught this butterfly shot (in between lunges at a wayward toddler who seemed to quite like the idea of diving off platform edges ).
When we arrived back at Sheringham we still had the day ahead of us so we took a stroll down the High Street with the intention of seeing the sea. I have to say that my initial impression was that, for the crowds, it could almost have been Camden or Covent Garden on Sea. However the average age was probably 70 and street entertainment was thin on the ground. You can see why this place appeals to the older generation though – it is like stepping back in time to a former decade – one in which out of town supermarkets did not exist and you would visit green grocers, butchers, bakers and ironmongers all individually. I am old enough to remember the very end of that era and it was a bit nostalgic in that respect!
We made it to the end of the road and on to the seafront but the weather wasn’t great and the munchkins were beginning to flag. A quick ice-cream (pistachio for me – delish!) a few photo shoots of the giant lobsters which seemed to abound (!) and we were en route home.
After a pit stop for an EJ nap and lunch we decided that a little afternoon trip was in order to keep the little people from mutiny. As we became members of the National Trust in April it was a no-brainer to seek out the best Norfolk had to offer (a free trip means no obligation to ‘make a day of it’ and we knew we could call it quits if tantrums or chicken poxiness got the better of any or all of us). We opted for Blickling Estate – such a stunning property – even though we didn’t go inside the building itself it was a pleasure to stroll in the lovely grounds. The boys didn’t take long to discover some little hills for rolling down. EJ became very attached to a rock on a gravelled path which he attempted to kick along like a ball (perhaps after all he was aware of World Cup fever…) and then we stumbled upon some giant lawn games (and who doesn’t love the idea of getting a pile of giant Jenga bricks collapsing on a sandaled foot?).
Coming up in Part three:
- That doomed trip to The Pigs (a Fine pub)
- Wroxham (who the f**k is Roy?)
- Two boys, one buggy, in Sheringham Park
- And finally – the sun comes out in Overstrand and we hit the beach!