Sunday, 31 July 2011

Norfolk Wildlife Centre


Photo by Alan Machin

This handsome fellow is the caterpillar of the Swallowtailed butterfly.  He’s rare and there were 20 of his siblings around on the flowers, though we only saw two.


It is a lovely area at Ranworth with access by boardwalk over the wetlands.


One this was all reedbeds, harvested for thatching but as thatched roofs became less popular, the trees moved in and changed the character of the area. Today the reedbeds are useful as a means of spreading the water in a very low lying area and avoiding flooding in built up areas.



Ranworth Broad is part of the nature reserve and is teeming with water birds. From the Visitor Centre, we watched life on the Broad for a while and also a pair of swallows nesting in the eaves, raising their second brood of the year.


Friday, 29 July 2011

The River and The Broads


We went to Wroxham, which is not far from where we are based.  We drove at a crawl through heavy traffic, turned into a busy car park and walked over the bridge.  Then we looked at the crowds, looked at one another, turned and walked back to the car.  We may have been influenced by the weather as it started to rain but I think we were really having a fit of the hermits!

It is a shame as, although it was always busy, the last time we were here it was no where near as commercialised.  That’s what 20+ years does to a place.


All was not lost as we went on down the river to Horning, where Arthur Ransome’s  ‘Coot Club’ begins.


Here the river takes a broad sweep and, while there were plenty of boats, it was not any where near as commercialised and the atmosphere was more in keeping with ‘messing about in boats’…


The only frenetic activity was the ducks and geese squabbling over bread.



A large part of the river and the dykes which connect it to the Broads is only accessible by boat and this pseudo sternwheeler runs a tour service which turned out to be well worth the money.  The skipper gives a very knowledgeable commentary about the history of the area and the wildlife.


From reed bed


To thatch.


All along the river in the towns and villages are boathouses and moorings.


On the opposite side of the river, the moorings have no land access and have to row across the river to get to a shop or road.  Even the local churches have moorings for people rowing over to attend services.  This is where some people live on their boats.  So long as they move for a day and a night every so often they don’t pay council tax!


Once you leave the villages, the reed beds stretch as far as the eye can see. Ranworth Church, on the horizon, came nearer and then receded as the river wandered lazily round bends and twists.


Eventually we came close to Ranworth before turning for home.


Back in Horning, we had a coffee in the garden at The Swan. Smart restaurants often have parking attendants but here we find a mooring attendant.  The man in the blue shirt moors the boats for the visitors – just as well as we saw some very scary steering by day hirers.



We also watched this wherry set out from the local yacht club, hoisting its sails as it crept slowly and serenely down the river.  Once, these were the workhorses of the area but now they are pleasure boats.

It is an amazing area, very low lying.  We were 25 miles from the sea by the twisty river and only 1 foot (30 cm) above sea level.  One wonders what rising sea levels will mean to this lovely place.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Cromer : a Real Seaside Town


Cromer is on the North coast of Norfolk. It has everything you could wish for an English seaside town. There are miles of beach, cliffs, a pier, fish and chips and one thing more.  Cromer Crabs!

The town had grown up as a fishing station over the centuries and became a year-round fishery, with crabs and lobsters in the summer, drifting for longshore herring in the autumn and long-lining, primarily for cod, in the winter, when weather permitted. The pattern of fishing has changed over the last thirty years, and it is now almost completely focused on crabs and lobsters. At the end of the 19th century, the beaches to the east and west of the pier were crowded with fishing boats. Now, about ten boats ply their trade from the foot of the gangway on the east beach, with shops in the town selling fresh crab, whenever the boats go to sea.



The last picture is a cheat because it shows Lindisfarne and was taken last year.


There are records of a ‘pier’ here in 1391although then it was more of a jetty. In the year 1582, Queen Elizabeth 1, in a letter to the inhabitants of Cromer granted rights to export wheat, barley and malt with the proceeds to be used for the maintenance and well-being of the pier and the town of Cromer.

Today, it still provides shows in the theatre at the end which are well regarded and have won awards.

The sun was bright, the people friendly and we had fish and chips.  A result.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sunset in Norfolk


The land here is very flat – hence the term ‘big sky country’.  This sunset had us out of the caravan with our cameras taking photos with lots of excitement and cries of “Ooh!”, “Aahh!”, “Wow!”.  It was wonderful and the sky changed by the moment.


Red at night, Shepherds’ delight.  It was true and we woke to bright sunshine.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Big Sky Country


We’re down in Norfolk at Pound Farm (see above picture).  Once again we’ve struck lucky with the site. A square lawn, enclosed by hedges and a friendly farmer as host.

The farm is at Hevingham which is between Cromer and Norwich and we are here for 3 weeks before moving a bit farther south.

Hevingham is not exactly a one horse town – it’s more of a no horse village with one antique shop, a post box, telephone box and a pub, which is now a restaurant catering for tourists.  Oh, there is a church a mile or so away with a layby outside which sports a mobile burger bar.  All of which suits us fine (apart from the burger bar which holds no appeal!) and it is nice and quiet.


The house was built in 1675 when Charles II was on the throne and is built of a lovely warm brick with red pantiles, which are typical of our East Coast.


Various boundary walls seem to have been rebuilt and incorporate flint (geologists will frown at that and tell me it is chert, but I’ll go with the locals rather than the academics any day).  Some of the bricks are very thin and may have been salvaged from Roman buildings.


So here we are on our latest adventure.  So far, we have had the weather station blow down in a gale, eaten fish and chips at Cromer, hastily left Wells Next the Sea in disgust at the overcrowding, spent a couple of hours in an independent Lifeboat Station, danced round like mad things photographing a magnificent sunset, oh, and lots of other things – will post again tomorrow.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Smoked in the Dales



We do most of our fruit and vegetable shopping at Keelham Farm Shop, which is just up the road from us and, increasingly, our meat and fish is being sourced there as well.

We took a decision a while back that, as prices were going up and our income wasn’t, we would rather have less meat and fish but keep buying good quality – which is how we found produce from Mackenzies Yorkshire Smokehouse in Keelham Farm’s cooler.

The smokehouse is not far from us, right up in the dales at a small village called Blubberhouses.  So we loaded the car with a cool box, some money and our appetites and set off to sample the delights of it’s restaurant and shop.  After some delays and detours caused by road repairs because of a landslide, we arrived just in time for our reservation.

I haven’t quite got up the nerve to take photos in a restaurant  yet so I can’t show you the delicious meal we had but there are pictures of the restaurant and a menu on the website.

Then to the shop to fill the cool box with smoked mackerel, smoked tuna, smoked salmon, smoked meat, smoked sausages, smoked paprika – well, it is a smoke house!  All the produce is fresh and so I was shopping for the freezer.


The picture above is, believe it or not, a kipper.  Forget the bright yellow, dry fish sold as kipper in most places.  This is pale, delicate, moist, delicious. It is half a pack and plenty for the two of us with a poached egg to boost the protein.


Such a simple meal, quickly cooked and served with new potatoes and peas. 


And I’ve still got the other half of the pack in the freezer.  I’m off to browse in my cookery books.

Related Posts with Thumbnails