Friday, 17 December 2010

A great story about telephones

This one just turned up in our email from a village council colleague of my husband's, and I thought it was worth sharing...

Old telephone numbers rarely rose to more than three digits in those days when the telephone was relatively uncommon.

I spent my boyhood in the late forties and early fifties in Skegness. My Mother had re-married and my step Father was a lifelong member of the church choir and knew by heart every hymn in Hymns Ancient and Modern. He used to remember telephone numbers by the first line of the hymn which had the same number as the telephone number.

We would be travelling through the town when he would say "Oh there's old 'Hills of the North rejoice'" for one of his friends who had a telephone number 269 ect. ect.. I am afraid, despite his tuition, I never developed anything like his memory for the numbers in the Ancient and Modern Hymnal but I do recall that there were some that always seemed especially apt:
  • The AA were - Hymn 300 - "Be thou my guardian and my guide".
  • The optician was - Hymn 161 - "Bright the vision that delighted"
But two I will never forget:
  • The local off licence (where step Father was a valued client) - Hymn 156 - "Come thou Holy Spirit come"
  • and the town Vicar - Hymn 307 - "Stand up, stand up for Jesus"!!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The nuthatches are back

Spent twenty minutes watching these little guys out of the kitchen window, and eventually had to tear myself away to get some work done. Click on the album to see the full set on Picasa.


Friday, 5 November 2010

A glorious day at Salthouse

Seagulls, lapwings, friends and seafood - and Norfolk big blue sky. Click on the album below to view on Picasa.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

We have our pub back!

We have something of an ulterior motive in following closely the progress of the re-opening of our village pub: it's 58 steps from our front door! Here is an album of a few photos taken over recent times. Click on the image below to view the full album.

The Parson Woodforde Pub

Thursday, 7 October 2010

it is what it is

it is nonsense, says reason

it is what it is, says love

it is unhappiness, says reflection

it is nothing but pain, says fear

it is hopeless, says insight

it is what it is, says love

it is ridiculous, says pride

it is frivolous, says caution

it is impossible, says experience

it is what it is, says love

Erich Fried

translated by Paul Oestreicher from the original German

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Autumn thought

A lovely reflection from a friend of mine, the awesomely talented Tony Bannister, spotted this morning on Facebook, which I thought was well worth capturing.

Autumn is the only season that never disappoints: summers can be cold and damp or too short, spring can come late or not at all, winter can fail to yield a white Christmas, but autumn's best days always surprise, and its worst are simply autumnal.

I always liked autumn the best.

I'm taking the liberty of adding a favourite image from one of my favourite photographers, the wonderful Phil Barrett:

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Holiday suggestions for senior parents, please

Having just returned from a truly wonderful three weeks in France, we feel as blessed as always to see such beautiful places. Despite my ongoing problems with plantar fasciitis, which prevent me from walking very far, at least I'm mobile and can enjoy our usual sightseeing trips around castles, stately homes, gardens, towns & villages.

I realise, with a guilty start, that it's been a good many years since my parents have enjoyed the same sort of thing. They used to give us wonderful holidays when we were children - we were never aware that we were on a shoestring - using every facility from relatives in convenient holiday locations (the Isle of Wight, or the beautiful Norfolk coast) to camping holidays down the west coast of France. In later years, after we'd left home, they took walking holidays, or driving tours to visit friends in a variety of places around the West Country. (Dad has always refused point-blank to set foot in an aeroplane, and while mum would manage this OK in the past she's not too keen these days.)

Now, aged 76 and 80, they're in the tricky situation that Mum really isn't happy for my dad to drive much further than the 12 miles across to visit me; she doesn't drive at all; and more importantly, while Mum is still pretty fit, Dad can't manage more than a few yards of walking before he gets out of breath.

They still like to be independent of us ("we don't want to get in your way"). They love beautiful scenery. They are quite sociable, especially my dad, but not party animals. They've come up with the idea of some kind of train tour: something that doesn't involve changing of trains or much walking, but where they can enjoy pleasant scenery and good company, and the minimum of hassle. Preferably something that originates somewhere I can take them to from Norwich!

So this random post is to ask: does anybody have any suggestions about this sort of thing? This is of course the UK we're looking at, given the veto on planes; possibly the Lakes or Scotland. I'll be searching around online, but in the meantime, if anybody has experience of such things, I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Roadworks on A1067

A weird thing to post here, I know, but I need somewhere to keep friends informed who might be visiting me across the summer!

From Norfolk County Council:

Motorists are warned of a long period of disruption on the A1067 Norwich to Fakenham road during two major road maintenance schemes - including repair to road surfaces damaged by the severe winter of 2009/10. T

Work will start on Drayton High Road, Hellesdon, on Monday 19 of July finishing in early September. Two weeks later, work will start on strengthening and resurfacing the road at Lenwade / Great Witchingham.

Drayton High Road, Hellesdon

The work beginning on Monday 19 July will repair and resurface the A1067 Drayton High Road at Hellesdon. The work will last for seven weeks and will include lengthy closures. This essential maintenance, costing £411,000, is being carried out almost entirely during the school holiday to reduce its impact, but serious disruption is inevitable.

Resurfacing will cover a 650m stretch from the Taverham side of the Golf Club entrance to the car park entrance for Fishes fish and chip restaurant . It will include work within the junctions to Middletons Lane and Hospital Lane, and some improvement to pavements. Diversions will be in place for all the following closures. Pedestrians will not be affected.

From 19 July to 15 August the road will be closed to out bound traffic heading away from Norwich. There will be no right turn out of Middletons Lane and no left turn out of Hospital Lane.

From 16 August to 27 August the road will be closed to all traffic in both directions. There will be no left or right turns out of Middletons Lane and Hospital Lane.

On the weekend of 21 and 22 August Middletons Lane and Hospital Lane junction will be completely closed.

All traffic restrictions will be lifted for the August Bank Holiday weekend (28 to 30 August ). From 31 August to 3 September temporary traffic lights will be in use during the final stages of the work. Throughout the work, access to properties and business will be maintained from one or other end of the closure depending upon point of working. The work will be carried out by Norfolk County Council's Environment, Transport and Development Partnership and their contractors.

The road will be back to normal when the schools go back on 6 September, but two weeks later work will start at Lenwade/Great Witchingham.

A1067 Lenwade/Great Witchingham

This is a major scheme to repair winter damage and strengthen the road. The work, costing around £200,000 will affect most of the road through the village, from just west of Heath Road to a point just short of the river bridge. The road will have to be closed for most of the work, which is currently scheduled to start on Monday 20 September and last for about three weeks.The marked diversion route, which has to be at least the same standard as the road that is closed, is lengthy, via Norwich ring road, the A47 to Swaffham and the A1065 to Fakenham.

Norfolk County Council apologises for the inconvenience these essential maintenance schemes will cause.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Theatre for kids

Publicising for my lovely friend Lou: theatre workshops for young people this summer in Norwich.

Visit their website for further details of the group.

Why didn't they have this sort of stuff when I was a kid? (that's *ahem* years ago...)

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Noises Off: local publicity

I believe at least 3 nights out of 8 have now sold out; so if you're thinking of coming along, please call Jarrolds as soon as possible!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Noises Off

My next theatrical outing at the Sewell Barn. One of the most insane theatrical productions I've ever taken part in, and certainly one of the funniest. (If you're wondering, I'm playing Belinda, who is playing Flavia - do keep up!)

Here are the details:

The Sewell Barn Company presents ‘Noises Off’ by Michael Frayn at the Sewell Barn Theatre, Constitution Hill, Norwich, NR3 4BX on 10th - 12th and 16th - 19th June at 7.30 pm. with a 2.30pm matinĂ©e on 19th June.

"Spectacularly funny" New York Times

Google "the funniest play ever written" and references to Noises Off abound.

We join a production of a classic modern farce, Nothing On, in its final stages of rehearsal. Opening night is the next day and things are still going wrong.

Noises Off follows the cast, director and crew as they struggle with difficult props, doors that refuse to open, and relationships that threaten to spill onto the stage, as the tour moves from town to town.

Tickets (including programme) £7 (£5 concessions) available from

Customer Services, 2nd Floor,
Jarrold Department Store,
London Street,
Norwich NR2 1JF

Tel: 01603 697248

Monday, 12 April 2010

A beautiful week in the Peak District

Just a few random images from a wonderful week in Derbyshire.

2010-04 Peak District

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Blame the season

“Sir, Sunday morning, although recurring at regular and well foreseen intervals, always seems to take this railway by surprise.” W S Gilbert

A different look at the Lord's Prayer

My husband is looking today at resources for use during Lent. This year, the Diocese of Norwich is focusing its Lenten thoughts on Papua New Guinea. Among the items in the resources pack on the website, he's found the following.

I find it delightful to see the most familiar prayer in the English language expressed in this way. I especially enjoy the idea of untying wrongdoings.

English translation interlined

Papa bilong mipela,
Our Father
Yu i stap long heven,
You are in heaven,
Nem bilong yu i mas stap holi.
Your name must be holy.
Kingdom bilong yu i mas i kam.
Your Kingdom must come.
Mipela i mas bihainim laik bilong yu long graun
We must follow your wish on earth
Olsem ol i mas bihainim long heven.
Just as all must follow (your wish) in heaven.
Nau yu ken givim mipela kaikai inap long dispela de:
Now you can give us enough food for today:
Na yu lusim ol rong bilong mipela
And you untie our wrongdoings
Olsem mipela i lusim ol rong ol man i mekim long mipela.
Jus as we untie the wrongdoings people make towards us.
Na yu no bringim mipela long traim,
And do not bring us to trial,
Tasol tekewe mipela long samting nogut;
But take us away from bad things;
Kingdom, na strong, na biknem
Kingdom, and strength, and honour
I bilong yu tasol
Belong to you only
Oltaim, oltaim. Amen.
All time, all time. Amen.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Pork pies, and other good things

We said farewell to the Retreat on Friday morning, but still had the rest of the day to ourselves. Our first port of call was the little village shop and art gallery in Itteringham: the former well-stocked, including a tiny book corner with sunny table by window, the latter (St Jude's Gallery) containing beautiful woodcuts, prints and cards.

We then made a long-anticipated trip to see the lovely girls of Bray's Cottage Pork Pies in the beautiful location of Bayfield Becks (having found them on Twitter). We simply followed our noses across the yard to find them... The pies weren't quite ready, so we dropped in to their neighbours at the fascinating Berber Interiors to browse around. If we'd had a spare £500, we'd have had that beautiful leather long footstool like a shot. As it was, we restrained ourselves, and then exercised further self-control by not diving into the bag containing six pork pies - four for us, two for mum and dad - which smell permeated the car temptingly for the rest of the day!

We'd mentioned to Sarah and Fee that we would be making for Wells-next-the-sea, and they mentioned a seafood cafe that might be worth a look. We found it, at the bottom of the high street, next to the Golden Fleece pub: serving very simply seafood sandwiches or chowder, it was a real find. Our chowder was completely delicious.

Finally, it was on to Aylsham to spend the evening with mum & dad - and get in the fish and chips!

We'd had a lovely break, seeing more of the county than we usually have the opportunity for, and chilled out - ready for the next mad flurry of activity. We'd also seen several beautiful small businesses, serving their small communities and beyond, dedicated to the products they make and the services they provide, and that was truly inspirational.

We like living in Norfolk.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Retreat and nearby

Here are a few views around 'our' cottage. We woke on Thursday to the beautiful sight of winter sun through the blind, casting the shadow of the just-opening hyacinth on the windowsill.

Gill the tabby loved to have visitors, and I would sit in the garden, in the sun, with the laptop, and have my left elbow gently head-butted by a bunch of grey fluff!

Jane (the owner) invited us to pop over and let her know how we'd found the place during our stay, so we went and chatted after our Thursday wanders. As we walked down the lane, the light on the fields beyond The Loke was beautiful.


Heading north today to this very pleasant little town. Like much of the North Norfolk area, it has a reputation for a certain exclusivity, arising from the number of wealthy Londoners who either have holiday homes in the area, or have retired here; nearby Burnham Market is often referred to as Chelsea-on-Sea. Still, it means there are plenty of lovely things to look at, if not to buy!

However, there's plenty that is affordable too. We much enjoyed our visits to Great to be Green, with its lovely homewares and soft furnishings; to the lovely Bird Ventures, with every supply for garden birds and other wildlife; and finishing with excellent tea and cake and the "higgledy-piggledy" (their phrase) Byfords of Holt.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


We chose well: today's weather was rather grey and uninteresting, so we spent our time with the paperwork and line-learning that was our main purpose in taking this break. Curled up in front of the little woodburner, we were, as a previous guest had put it, "happy little hermits".

However, in the evening we went out for a meal, this being the sixteenth anniversary of our first date. 3rd March 1994 had seen us in an Italian restaurant in Surbiton; in 2010 we chose from several highly-recommended pubs-with-great-food, and finished up at The Walpole Arms in Itteringham. Superb food (Moroccan lamb with couscous for us both) and a delicious bottle of the wonderfully-named Arrogant Frog red wine; lovely atmosphere; and the weekly quiz evening began at 9pm, which we were happy to join in with (but didn't do terribly well at!).

We'll go back and try out the other local eateries another time...

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Beautiful graffiti, great coffee

Looking for tea and a snack before going back to the cottage, we stopped in the small town of Stalham. Sitting patiently in the high street was a cheerful shopfront, filled with artifacts and fairy lights; when we walked in, we found the walls covered with neatly-written graffiti, provided by both the owners and the customers, reflections for others to find.

Excellent coffee, tea and teacakes were much appreciated; the customers laughed and talked to total strangers. Visit Reads Coffee House. It's great.

The town that fell into the sea

... or is on its way there, anyway.

It's a beautiful piece of coastline, and especially on a bright day like today.

However, look closely. Standing on the coast, looking over the eroding cliffs at collapsed items of masonry, is a sobering experience.

We'd previously visited Happisburgh about three years ago. On that occasion, we'd had tea in a B&B-cum-cafe in the worst hit part of the village, and the owner told us then that they wouldn't be open next year. We're not certain whether anybody still lives there, but certainly the houses along that small road have a feeling of desolation. Somehow, I couldn't bring myself to take photographs of them.

We looked from the end of the road across to the great red-and-white lighthouse. Whether that stands far enough from the vanishing cliffs to remain there - only time will tell.

Move along with us for tea in Stalham.

The round tower of Witton

After a lazy morning (we were tired!) and a practical early afternoon gathering supplies, we had an excellent lunch (posh welsh rarebit) at The Cockerel in North Walsham. Lovely food in a friendly place, and they seem to host great events, too.

Then, in the late afternoon, we drove east towards the coast. On a beautiful day, the sun descending but still bright and clear, we stopped off at Witton, with its beautiful round tower (we weren't able to go inside, but details can be found here on Simon Knott's excellent website). It makes an impressive sight against the skyline, and especially on a clear blue March day.

One of our parishioners is the writer Rory Clements, and he had mentioned that he takes names for some of his characters from ancient gravestones. We think he might find this one useful.

From the back of the churchyard, the horizon displays at least three churches, plus the bright red-and-white lighthouse that points us towards Happisburgh. Pronounced Haseborough. Don't ask us why - we've only been living in Norfolk for five years.

Follow us to Happisburgh.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Norfolk retreat: a few days out

I'd just completed the run of a show (Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean at the Sewell Barn), complete with long blonde wig, lots of leg and very high heels...

... yup, that's me on the right with the understated wig... we felt that a few days out was a sensible idea before jumping back into the fray.

We didn't need to go far, and in the event, the place we found was just fifteen miles from home: The Retreat, near Itteringham. Jane's wonderful little cottage is the perfect hidey-hole, with tiny but beautifully equipped kitchen, shower room and cosy bed-sitting room, with excellent wood-burner, and a beautifully sunny outlook over the garden. You can see the exact location here.

During our visit, we were fortunate enough to have some beautiful (albeit very cold) weather, and exploring time around some corners of our lovely county that, despite location, we don't get to see very often. So follow us through a few little well-kept secrets that deserve to be better known... (click on Newer Post to see the next instalment)

Saturday, 6 February 2010

The robin that fell out of the fridge

Take one garden-bird-watching session, one husband with a blocked-up ear, and you have a problem...

Having been watching, through our kitchen window, the various members of our local ornithological community bouncing around the bird-table (clearly delighted that spring appears to be on its way), we turned our attention to lunch.

Opening the fridge to get out the ham, I remarked in passing "One of the yogurts fell out of the fridge yesterday - that's why it's dented." I got a startled look, and when I repeated what I'd said, my husband replied "sorry - with this blocked ear, I thought you said "one of the robins"..." I then spent the rest of our lunchtime in repeated helpless giggles at the thought of a robin hurtling out of our refrigerator going "****, it's cold in there..."

I'm easily pleased.