Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Fellbrigg Hall & Cromer

It was almost by chance that we happened upon 'FellBrigg Hall'. I had noticed that there was a public footpath at the end of the drive where we were staying and thought it would be well worth exploring. Felbrigg Hall is a 17th-century English country house and a National Trust property. The house is noted for its Jacobean architecture and fine Georgian interior. the Felbrigg estate covers some 1,760 acres (about 7 sq. km) of parkland including the 520-acre (2.1 km2) of Great Wood, which shelters the house. There is public access to the grounds along a number of waymarked walks through the estate, including the Weavers' Way long distance footpath.

 As we made our way through woodland and then round the lake we were treated to the wonderful sigh of a young Roe Deer. We managed to watch it for a few minutes before it disappeared into the undergrowth. Created by joining together the three smaller ponds, the new lake was the perfect place to lazily unwind during long summer days or entertain visiting members of the genteel set who were enjoying holidays in nearby fashionable Cromer.


 Planted over many generations the primary purpose of this 380 acre wood was timber production. There are a wide variety of trees of all ages, including ancient Beeches, some of which were pollarded in the past, (indeed part of the Great Wood used to be known as Felbrigg Beeches). You can also see Oak, some ancient, Sweet Chestnut, Hawthorn, Ash and Sycamore. We could have continued our walk as far as Cromer, about a further 3 miles journey but time was against us. Instead we picked up the car and drove to a busy bustling Cromer. Like Sheringham (and most seaside resorts I guess) another haven for fish and chip lovers. Although it's real delicacy is 'Cromer Crab' although I didn't indulge on this occasion.

 It was RNLI day so there was a lot going on around the Pier. Plenty of side stalls an demonstrations to raise money for this very worthy charity. The Lifeboat station operates two lifeboats - one for inshore work and the other for offshore work. The current lifeboat station on the end of Cromer Pier was re-built between 1997 and 1999 to replace the smaller 1923 one which was re-located to Southwold in Suffolk where it is used as a lifeboat museum. The station at Cromer is one

of the most famous of those operated by the RNLI . Always nice to wander on the Pier and see all the young and old with their crab lines and buckets trying to induce the local crustaceans from their watery home. Some evidently were having more success than others. I didn't do an in depth study but it seemed that 'thick cut back bacon' was the flavour of the day.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Sheringham 'Poppy Line'

The Norfolk Coast Path runs from Hunstanton in west Norfolk round to Sea Palling on the north east Norfolk coast.A total of 62.5 miles. We probably only managed about 2/3 miles from Sheringham as we bordered Sheringham Golf Club on our left hand side. Some smashing views in both directions as the sun tried to break through. We were treated to the rare sight of a Steam train making it's way across the countryside. As we made our way inland we managed to get on top of the bridge as the train passed through. We managed to find out that the train stopped at a nearby 'Weybourne Station'. Taking a beautiful walk around the edge of Sheringham Park we made our way to the picturesque station . It reminded me of a model village , something from a bygone age where life moved at a slower pace.
  It wasn't surprising to hear that Weybourne Station had been the location to film four episodes of the classic comedy 'Dads Army'. The famous "Royal Train" episode of Dad's Army was filmed back in 1973. It was formerly part of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway route between Melton Constable and Cromer. The route is called the 'Poppy Line and offers a spectacularly scenic ride from Sheringham along the coast to Weybourne and through the heathland to Holt. In total a journey of 5.25 miles. After a nice cup of Green Tea on the platform it was time to take up position on the bridge to watch the next arrival

After I had a crash course in changing the points in the signal box and another cup of Green Tea (well it was thirsty work you know) We took the train back to Sheringham . For those interested in this sort of thing it was a type Y14-J15 060 loco that saw us safely and unhurried but in some quintessential style back to base. As we left the Station I heard someone calling my name? It's true I can't seem to go anywhere without bumping in to somebody I know. On this occasion it as my Teamwork colleague from Corby and her husband. They had been for the Harley Davidson rally earlier and were doing the evening dinner 'cruise' on the Poppyline.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Watling Street Book Signing

A book about a road , not something that would ordinarily have me popping down to Waterstones on a Wednesday evening. However having heard the author John Higgs talking about the concept on Radio Northampton it sounded rather interesting. Secondly one of Northampton's most iconic of characters Alan Moore was also to be in attendance. Throw in a free buffet and I needed no further persuasion !
 It is a journey along one of Britain's oldest roads from Dover to Anglesey. The route takes in Canterbury, Kent, London, St Albans, Dunstable, Bletchley Park, Northampton, Rugby and Bosworth Field. Along the way he introduces us to a host of interesting characters – from local guides to historical figures Originally a path, that path became a track, and the track became a road. It connected the White Cliffs of Dover to the Druid groves of the Welsh island of Anglesey, across a land that was first called Albion then Britain, Mercia and eventually England and Wales. Higgs describes how it unlike other ancient monuments the road keeps evolving
. Alan Moore is there because he features heavily in the chapter on Northampton. For those unaware of his work he is best know for his comic book writings such as; Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. Frequently described as the best graphic novel writer in history, he has been widely recognised as one of the most revered and influential writers in the country. Also one of the most confounding – perverse and hard to fathom
. Five blockbuster films were made of Moore's stories yet he turned his back on Hollywood as he edged away from mainstream. At the same time turning down huge payments for adaptions of his work as his aversion to corporate America grew. He has spent his entire life in Northampton and is glowing in his appreciation of the place. "This is a good place for me. Keeps me focused. Life's not easy; it's not massively difficult. There's a gravity about Northampton that I like." He is a common sight walking around the Town Centre with his caved snake cane and often carrying carrier bags. There is definitely something of the 'Gandalf' about him with his mane of hair and thick beard. To look at him you could be forgiven for thinking 
this is a man down on his luck ..The reality couldn't be further from the truth !

Monday, 24 July 2017

Canoe Trip - River Nene

A nice bright start to the day with rain forecast for later in the afternoon. It would be a close run thing to beat the anticipated heavy showers. Logistics not simple, two cars needed one to be left at destination point Wellingborough Embankment. Then a drive back to the starting point at Billing Mill.

 I managed to get soaked and almost overturned the 17ft canoe before we had even got going! The balance of the canoe is a delicate business and my ungainly entrance left a lot to be desired, taking my companion by surprise who nearly went in too. Thankfully I was only drenched down the left hand side. Just a few barges and the odd riverbank to avoid as we gently made our way upstream. The water was very clear and the fish were quite visible amongst the reeds and lilies. Our journey took us past the edge of Cogenhoe caravan park and up to Earls Barton. On several occasions we had to haul the canoe out of the river and carry it on land to pass the locks. I believe the proper term for this manouvre is know as 'Portage'. Unfortunately as we got level with Summerleys Nature Reserve the sunshine gave way to grey skies, before long the heavens opened! Like the cows it was time for us to find shelter. The only vague shelter was a narrow bridge that provided at least some relief ..
Luckily the rain did ease off and we continued our adventure albeit sodden. As we approached Great Doddington locks we were treated to a very special sight. It was the unmistakable blue and then the orange flash of the fantastic Kingfisher. Very fast but we watched as it made it's way backwards and forwards across the river, a real treat. We also saw several Terns divebombing into the water. As you approach Wellingborough Embankment two things are very obvious.The first is the old and decaying Whitworths flour mill. A more modern version is built next door , the old one seems to be a luxury pigeon hotel these days. The second thing is the amount of swans (at least 100) that permenantly congregate here. I'm not sure if there is a warm undercurrent or some form of extract from the mill ? Whatever it is the swans seem to love it !

Friday, 14 July 2017

Stowe Landscape Gardens (Summer 2017)

Always one of the great pleasures in life to visit Stowe Landscape Gardens just over the border in Buckinghamshire. Certainly one of my favourite places whatever the season , with a phot opportunity at every turn. So no waffle from me this time just some photographs taken an a beautiful English Summers day.
Gothic Temple
Lord Cobhams Pillar
Shell Bridge
Stowe House and School
Palladian Bridge
Temple of British Worthies