Lazy Days in Norfolk

Continuing our Easter holiday diary…

Wells-Next-the-Sea

After attempting (and failing) to walk to the coast from Blakeney, we decided to drive to Wells-Next-the-Sea—another name with no preposition, but we coped. We parked amongst pine trees and walked over the hill to the sea.

There was a row of pretty beach huts, and we borrowed the porch of one to eat our picnic, while looking at the beach. Wells-Next-the-Sea has a lot of beach—miles of it.

Dogs are allowed on the beach to the left of the steps, so we left mother dozing on the beach hut steps, and wandered off towards the dunes. In the distance, we could see a digger, dredging the river (family commented that in Norfolk, people take their sandcastles very seriously, and perhaps we should invest in a digger too, to keep up).

We walked for a long way. After a while, we stopped to rest in the sand-dunes, feeling the warm sun, listening to the waves. Two seconds later, Emm was bored, so took the dog into the distance for a walk. We wanted to leave, so sent Jay after him. Jay never came back (probably forgot what he had gone for). Husband then decided to go and tell them to come back – but he got side-tracked too, so I left him and walked back to sleepy mother.

Wells-Next-the-Sea is a lovely beach if you like lots of sand, but you need determination if you plan to reach the sea. It has a very nice car-park, with toilets and cafes and a shop selling clothes you will never wear except on holiday. Some people danced in the car-park. It was a lovely place to visit (I cannot explain the dancing).

 

Tea in Cromer

When I was child, we visited Cromer most weekends in the summer. We camped, so I pretty much hated Cromer. However, now I’m all grown up, I can see that it is actually a very nice town, and the sort of place where I too might choose to take children. (Not to camp though, I have promised myself I will never have to sleep in a tent, ever again.)

We booked afternoon tea at The Grove guesthouse in Overstrand Road. It costs £14 per person, and is a very generous tea, with sandwiches and cakes and scones. The fruit cake was my favourite. They also provide boxes, so you can take home the leftovers (trust me, you will have leftovers).

After tea, we walked down the steps by the lighthouse to the beach. The lighthouse is short and fat, and very disappointing if you are a child and expect lighthouses to be tall and slender and standing on rocks with the waves crashing. Cromer lighthouse is on a grassy cliff, and not even particularly near the sea. (As I said, there was a lot about Cromer that disappointed me as a child.)

We walked, past bright beach huts and wooden breakwaters, past rusty tractors attached to fishing boats, towards the setting sun. The tall church tower looms above the town. We walked to the pier, and stood, looking up at the cliffs and wondering why the dominant hotel facing the sea is called the ‘Paris Hotel’.

The beach at Cromer is lovely. So too is the town (if you’re not camping). I stole some snippets of the town for my book, Counting Stars—why not read a copy? The link is below.

Hope you have a nice day.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

Counting Stars is an exciting novel, set in the near-future. One of the children (a bolshy teenager) pretty much sums up my own childhood feelings towards Cromer…You can buy a copy from an Amazon near you, UK link below:

Morston Seal Trip

Morston Seal Trip

We’re staying in a house in Blakeney, and at the pretty quayside, there are advertisements for boat trips to see the seals. We phoned the number displayed, and booked a trip. We were then told that we needed to be at Blakeney Quay an hour prior to departure to pay, and then drive to Morston (a couple of miles away) where the boat departs from. I felt the posters in Blakeney were rather misleading, as they imply that the boats leave from Blakeney quay, but they don’t.

We followed the instructions, and arrived at Morston quay in good time (not easy with six people). We then took longer than expected to find our boat, as several different companies depart from Morston. Our boat—Bishops—was a muddy walk away. The boats can only leave on certain tides, so the times change about an hour every day.

We climbed aboard the boat, leaving a trail of muddy footsteps. The skipper was mopping as we walked—which meant that all the seats were wet—but we pretended we didn’t mind having wet bottoms, as this seemed like a fishermen thing to do.

The boat was wet and windy, but it was a lovely sunny day. Unattractive beany hats which had been shoved into pockets were pulled out and jammed onto heads as we drew near to the sea and the breeze became a wind. The estuary was studded with a thousand colourful buoys, and water birds stalked the sand dunes. People were holding onto the sides, and staring across the water, everyone unsure if we would actually see seals.

We rounded Blakeney Point, and there they were, like fat boulders lying in the sunshine. There were grey seals (the most common) and common seals (which are, bizarrely, less common). Every so often a seal would move, humping its body awkwardly to a new position. They were unperturbed by the queue of boats full of tourists snatching photos on their phones—they didn’t even look at us.

The most exciting views (I thought) were the glimpses of seals in the water—the flash of a Labrador-like head, the lazy dive under the waves. There was a long line of tourist boats, and we circled a few times, watching, before going back to the quay.

The trips can be booked in various places (though they all leave from Morston). It cost £13 for adults for a one-hour trip. It was worth it. Wear old clothes.

Hope you have a good day.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

If you enjoyed this, why not read my new book?: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary (You can read it for free if you have a kindle.)
Available from an Amazon near you, UK link below:

Walk to Cley Next the Sea

Walk to Cley Next the Sea

We were staying in Blakeney for a week. Mostly, this was lovely, though a couple of things were unexpected.

The quay at Blakeney is very pretty, with a few boats, and views of the river meandering through the salt marshes. It’s a wonderful place for watching birds, and even has a duck pond (my kind of place). The duck pond is surrounded by a tall electric fence, which keeps the ducks safe from foxes. The pond was full of exotic ducks (much prettier than the ducks on my own pond) but also had a lot of wild mallards who flew in for a holiday. There were ducklings too—but not for long, as the seagulls swooped in and ate them.

Anyway, next to this, leading away from the quay, is a footpath, which looks as if it’s heading for the sea. When I booked the house, I thought Blakeney was next to the sea. Every day, a long line of hikers set off to walk this footpath, complete with woolly hats and leather boots and binoculars (for bird spotting). We decided to join them (though we don’t own binoculars, and my family is way too noisy for bird-spotting).

The pathway bends towards the coast, tantalising you with sand dunes in the distance. You walk along the raised footpaths, above the boggy salt marshes, and then, just as you feel you’re almost at the sea, the pathway curves back, away from the beach. You can see dunes, and fishing boats, and hear the whoosh of waves, but you never actually reach the beach because a river winds alongside the path, cutting between the town and the beach.

Instead, you pass acres of rushes, golden brown and hissing in the breeze, tall as a man; and fields of cattle grazing, and the river—green brown and sluggish, sitting in a valley of mud with long-legged birds busy on the banks.

Eventually, the pathway takes you to Cley Next the Sea. (People in Norfolk have an aversion to prepositions, which I don’t really understand.) As you approach the town, there is a windmill. You can admire the scenery, and breathe the salty air, and discuss (at length) why there is no ‘to’ in the name, and what it is like to sleep in “a coffin” (see previous blog, Bea was not impressed with her bunk-bedded child’s room…)

We had drinks in the garden of The George, and then we walked back to Blakeney. But we never actually saw the sea.

As we returned to the house, we noticed several signs on Blakeney quay, advertising boat trips to see the seals. We decided to book one, and hoped that unlike our walk to the sea, we might actually see some—though if I’m honest, I expected to see tiny black dots in the distance which someone would tell me were seals. I’ll tell you about the trip tomorrow.

Thank you for reading. Hope your day is not disappointing.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E Thompson has written several novels, available from bookshops and Amazon. She also writes a weekly blog — describing her travels, her animals, and life in general — why not sign up to follow her blog today?
anneethompson.com

Trip to Blakeney, Norfolk

This year, we decided to go away for Easter. Usually we stay at home, and I attend roughly a million different church services over the Easter weekend, and then on Bank Holiday Monday, I spend all morning making scone dough, and all afternoon cooking scones and serving them to about 90 people who come to our house for a country walk and cream tea. It’s usually exhausting, and I love doing it. However, last year I was aware that all my children, who have grown up, returned home for the Easter weekend, and I spent the whole weekend not seeing them. Which seemed wrong. So this year, we decided to go away.

I booked a house with HomeAway—an online cottage rental service which I have never used before, so it was all a little scary. However, we needed a 5 bedroomed house, with an enclosed garden, that would allow me to take a dog, so there weren’t many options. I found a house in Blakeney, and we loaded the car with the dog and my mother and a lot of bags, and off we set.

The drive took about 6 hours, because the Dartford crossing was terrible and we stopped on the way for lunch at Castle Acre. We found a pub—The George and Dragon — next to the road, and the dog sat under the table, and the food was okay.

We arrived at the house. The last house I had booked was bit of a disaster (it had sewage coming out of the drains) so the family was slightly worried about what we would find. The parking place was outside the house, on a blind bend, so that wasn’t great. But the key-safe was where the instructions said, and the key fitted the door (these are all things I worry about) and we went inside.

The downstairs was great. There was a little hallway, with stairs lined with bookshelves (excellent start). A through-room led to a long kitchen, and it all looked clean, and there were hot-cross buns and local beer and a tea tray waiting for us, which was lovely. There was also a tiny sitting room, with a door handle that fell off when we opened it. But we could manage without a door handle, so no worries there. Then we went upstairs.

 

 


The top floor had a large room and a bathroom, with lovely views across fields. We (I) decided that Emm could have that room, when he arrived, as he was taking a holiday from work. On the floor below, were 4 other rooms. We took a room with an en suite bathroom, Jay took a double room, Mum took a twin room. Which left the remaining room for Bea, who was arriving at the weekend. It was a child’s room. With bunk-beds. And Mr Men books. I was worried about this. Bea (works in a posh bank in the city) wasn’t really used to rooms like this (not since she was 5 years old, anyway). The boys assured me it would be fine. But I was worried.

Thanks for reading. I’ll tell you more about our trip tomorrow.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels, which are available in bookshops and Amazon.
Anne writes a weekly blog – why not sign up to follow?
anneethompson.com

 

If you enjoyed this, you will love my new book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. It will make you laugh, and you can read it for free if you have a kindle.
Available from an Amazon near you, UK link below:

Why the Bunny?

 Have you ever wondered why we have bunnies at Easter time? Chocolate bunnies, eggs with bunnies on, greetings cards with bunnies?

Or why we have chicks? Or eggs? Or artistic photos of sunrise? Ever wondered what, exactly, they have to do with the Easter story? I have many times sat in churches where this same question is asked: “Now children,” (because for some reason, the preacher always thinks the children are the best people to answer this question) “Now children, who can tell me why we have eggs at Easter?” (Or bunnies, or chicks…or sunrise.) Someone (usually an adult) will then say that we have eggs (or bunnies, or chicks…you get the picture) because they represent new life, and Easter is all about new life. However, this reason is not, actually, true…

Way before we began to even think about God or Jesus or the stories in the New Testament (such as the resurrection story) we were pagans. (I use ‘we’ lightly here, I am not suggesting that you personally were a pagan, more the people who populated this green and pleasant land.) Every year, there was a festival, in honour of the goddess Eastre (sometimes spelt with an ‘o’) who was the goddess of fertility. People gave gifts that represented fertility, such as eggs or chicks…or bunnies, and she was thought to be represented by the rising sun.

Later, the Christians came, and wanted to have a time when they remembered that their faith is based on the fact that Jesus didn’t stay dead; they wanted to celebrate that Jesus is still alive, and that we can come to God because he will accept us. Someone (probably a committee) decided that the pagan festival to Eastre was a good time to pick (I guess because it coincided with the Jewish Passover festival, which was when Jesus was killed). The christians therefore chose, at this time, to celebrate that Jesus is alive, and all the other symbols were floating around, so they sort of got muddled in.

I assume the changing of the gifts to chocolate based ones had nothing to do with the Christians, and was more because modern children wouldn’t be very excited if given a real egg (and their parents would make a fuss if you gave the child a real chick or bunny). Though it would be nice if this was due to the Christians, as I’m rather partial to chocolate.

So, does it matter that we no longer remember why we have the bunny? I guess not…other than sometimes Christians can be rather smug and slightly superior to those outside of the church. Our religion has evolved, over time we have adapted to the world around us – God hasn’t changed, but aspects of our religion have. Perhaps Easter should remind us to be humble, remind us that there are some things we do in church that we don’t even remember why we do them, and that we don’t always have all the answers.

***

Thanks for reading. Hope you have a happy time this Easter.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

IMG_1163

The festival was for Eastre,
Goddess of fertility
But they swept it away
With a cross of humility.
They took over the sunrise
Coloured eggs were hidden,
They introduced religion
And pagans were forbidden.

Then the bunnies
Hopped back,
With the chicks
And the eggs.
Spring flowers
In bright posies
Feast times with friends
And fun with families.

But beneath it all
Well hidden within,
Was a story of death
And the blackness of sin.
The anguish of God
Turning his back.
A story of tears
When the world went black.
That tragic tale,
Which wont go away,
Has a promise of peace
That we long for today.
And the torture and pain
And despair of that day,
Is why God turns and listens
When we kneel and pray.

IMG_1188

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow today?

Birds

I thought I’d give you a quick animal update (because the rest of my life is pretty boring at the moment — I’m doing lots of writing, and not much else, which doesn’t make for a great blog post!) However, while I am writing, I am frequently disturbed by a tapping on my window. We have some chaffinches who must be nesting nearby, and they spend a lot of time on my window sills, tapping on the window. I’m not sure why –whether they can see their reflection and want to say hello, or whether they are keen to get inside, I don’t know. They’re very pretty though…and absolutely determined to not be photographed. I have many photos of my empty window.

At first, I thought I had siskins, as I had only seen the females, and they’re a greenish yellow colour. When you see a blur of colour disappearing from the bathroom window, it’s hard to identify. The males are bolder though (so much I could say) and I’m sure now that they’re chaffinches. I have managed one photo. Just one. So enjoy…

My rather bigger birds are the chickens. They caught a mouse the other day, and I spotted them running round the garden, trying to snatch it from each other. Not sure which one eventually won. Also not sure if the eggs will taste different if they start eating mice — not something I want to think about really. We’ve had another raid by the fox. I did have two quite stable flocks: the father cockerel with two hens, and three of the surviving five cockerels that hatched, who live in a different cage at night and wander round the garden during the day in a sort of uneasy truce, not quite daring to approach father cockerel, but also not wanting to be too far away. But then the fox came, and ate the father cockerel, which was a great shame as I’d had him ages and he was a lovely temperament.

As soon as the father was gone, the three young cockerels tried to move in on the females. They’re mother and sister, so I wasn’t keen for them to breed, and if the fox is around, I’d like to have a few more chickens (because I don’t like animals in cages, and yet if they’re loose, I’m sure to lose some). So, I’ve shut the females into the aviary. At the moment, I’m removing their eggs (because they’ll still be fertile). After a few days, I’ll let them go broody. Then I’ll buy some unrelated eggs from Ebay, and replace the ones they’re sitting on, so they will hatch and care for the new eggs. In the meantime, the cockerels can take their chances in the garden…and hopefully help the cats to keep the mouse population down.

Non-bird news is that Milly has decided she no longer wants to live outside, and has pretty much moved into the kitchen. She’s very snuggly (but only when she feels like it –there’s still a lot of wild cat in her.)

We also have lambs in the field next to the house. They are always so pretty. I smile everytime I see them scampering around. Hoping the fox doesn’t venture over the fence. Life is precarious…but maybe that makes it more precious.

Have a good week.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

How We Use the Bible…

Hello, thanks for popping back to read this post, which continues from yesterday’s post about how the Bible was compiled. As we saw, the Bible was assembled gradually, and it was relatively recently that the Bible we have today came into existence (even though the books were written thousands of years previously).

Firstly, I find it interesting that our holy book was assembled using logical criteria. This is the way that God chose for people to learn about him, and it was put together logically. I think that sometimes today, churches rely too much on ‘supernatural’ inspiration —we want God to show us things miraculously. Yet the Bible was put together by a group of people making sensible decisions. When we read the Bible, we find this is consistent with how God often led his people, in both the Old and New Testaments. People tended to win wars/save nations, mainly by logical strategy, and less by miracles. We want God to “zap the answer to us” and yet, it seems, God has given us brains and he expects us to use them. Should we move house/rebuild the church/go and preach in darkest Peru? Perhaps, after prayer, we should think about all the pros and cons, and then make a sensible decision. You might see writing in the sky telling you the way, but that would be rare.

When we are disputing something, we need to be careful about saying: “It’s clearly written in the Bible that…” In my experience, people only say this when someone else has obviously NOT seen something as “clearly written” and has formed a different belief. If it was CLEARLY written, then there would be no differing of views amongst people who claim to believe the Bible. We should remember that the Bible was written originally in Hebrew and Greek, we are probably reading a translation, we will certainly be reading it in a different age and culture. Meanings can get lost, we can misunderstand things. A little humility when discussing the Bible would be good.

The Bible does not claim to be infallible. Some religions, such as Islam, believe that their holy book was dictated by God, so it cannot reliably be translated into other languages (because you always change the meaning slightly when translating things). However, the Bible was not dictated word-for-word by God. There are seeming anomalies between some of the books. This in my mind makes the Bible more authentic, because if people were going to sit down and write a ‘holy book’ they would make sure it had no mistakes! The Bible, however, was written by people who had witnessed God working, and they wrote their accounts, and they remembered some details differently—which doesn’t make the account untrue, it simply shows they were real people, writing what they honestly remembered.

What about the books which were rejected? Is only the Protestant Bible correct? This is tricky. I recently listened to a sermon about the book of Jude (which is included in the Bible). Jude refers to ancient Hebrew books, which we have since lost, but which Jude himself obviously regarded as ‘scripture’. Jude was a brother of Jesus—you would think he might know what was ‘holy’ and what wasn’t. Personally, I have no idea.

And that’s the thing really, the point of why I am writing this. We want everything to be sorted, we want God to be nicely tied up, to be sure we see the whole picture, know everything there is to know. But we don’t. God has not chosen to tell us everything. The Bible is, I believe, inspired by God—but we should be careful how we use it. Those early Christians were, absolutely, followers of God—they died for their beliefs. But they had a slightly different Bible to us. They relied on God, not texts, and God used their belief to explain the texts they had, so they could come to him.

Can we believe the Bible? It is the book which I believe God has given to people, to help us to know him. It is not an absolute, definitive, set of rules; we should be careful when we are applying it to others —people have used the Bible in the past to justify slavery and wars and all sorts of injustices. Be careful when you quote bits of it. Almost anything can be justified using selective editing of key verses:
Do I believe in reincarnation? No! (Can I find Bible verses which seem to support reincarnation? Yes.)
Do I believe some people were created to be slaves? No! (Can I find verses which seem to support slavery? Yes.)
Do I think we should be dishonest and scheming? No! (Can I find verses which seem to support gaining things through cheating? Yes.)

But if we read the Bible, honestly searching for God, then we will find him. I did, and I know other people who have…why not read it and decide for yourself?

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow today?