A Walk to Cley

A Walk to the Beach at Cley

We looked at a map (why did no one think of doing this before?) and realised that it is pretty much impossible to walk to the sea from Blakeney. I received feedback about my ‘by the sea’ cottage. The best way to reach the sea, is to walk along the road to Cley Next the Sea.

We set off with the dog and a supply of overly thin nappy-sacks that Husband had bought instead of doggy bags. Road was horribly busy. The dog always poops at inconvenient times, and the walk along the busy road was enhanced no end by also carrying flimsy bag of dog excrement.

Cley Next the Sea (I still cannot cope with the lack of preposition) is a pretty town with a windmill, tiny shops, and a narrow road that winds through the centre. The narrow road was very busy on Easter Saturday.

We stopped for ice-creams at what is possibly the slowest place ever to buy an ice-cream (very nice ice-creams though, if you have 3 hours to spare). While we waited, a small white VW approached the bend in the road, made a weird noise, and died. Instant traffic-jam.

Jay went and spoke to the driver, offering to push the car to a safer spot. A bolshy woman in large Range Rover behind the VW, honked loudly on her horn (perhaps she thought the VW driver had simply stopped for a chat). I went to speak to the Range Rover driver, to explain the VW was broken rather than incompetent. Driver of Range Rover rather rude to me. I slipped into ‘school-teacher-very-posh-you don’t mess-with-me’ voice (you never lose the ability) and very politely ground her to mincemeat. Family impressed by my telling-off abilities, even when holding flimsy pink bag of poop. (Actually, to be strictly honest, I think I had binned the poop by this point.)

I then went to save Bea, who was attempting to stop traffic from whizzing round blind bend where males were pushing car, whilst also holding 3 ice-cream cones, and a German Shepherd dog intent on snarling at a small white poodle.

Eventually, small VW was safely positioned in a side road, dog was back with me, ice-creams returned to owners, and bolshy Range Rover had driven off. As we left, we saw a coach approach the bend, which it couldn’t navigate due to a small VW being in the way…and all the traffic ground to a halt again. We left—someone else could solve that one.

We found the path to the beach. The beach is shingle, has a shipwreck in the sea, and has heaps of lobster pots and a few fishing boats. We walked towards Blakeney, but there wasn’t time to walk all the way to where the seals were—maybe next time.

Thanks for reading about our Easter trip, it was rather sad to leave Norfolk and drive home. Hope you have a lovely day.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

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

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?
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A Family Christening

We had another family christening on Saturday. These make me feel old, as it feels like yesterday that I was attending the father’s christening.

Arriving on time is always stressful, and not especially helped by my watch, which was 10 minutes slow. In panic, while pulling on tights and trying to find heels, I asked Husband if he could write the card. This was not as simple as I had anticipated, and I was asked a range of questions, such as: “Do I address it to the baby or the parents?” and “What the heck am I supposed to write to a baby?” I dictated the card, he stuck it onto the gift, and we were set.

Daughter decided to buy her own gift. I’m sure the parents will be delighted when they unwrap the super-sized unicorn in their tiny house (and I’m sure Daughter had only the best motives when she chose one quite so large).

Actual event was lovely. Always nice to see extended family (and always slightly odd to see the not-related-but-we met-you-once-at-the-wedding, who are all, of course, as closely related to baby as we are, even if not at all related to us). It was a very windy day, so I was glad it was a christening and not a wedding, and we didn’t all have to pose for photographs. We did though, have to be smartly dressed, and I do find walking in heels bit of a struggle these days – I really ought to practise – living in jeans and wellies means wearing dresses and heels is difficult.

The service was in a tiny village called Markbeech. My son finds this very weird, as my latest novels are all set in an imaginary town called Marksbridge (not based, even remotely, on the village which shares a similar name).

The church was very interesting, I haven’t visited before, it’s one of those little churches which used to belong to an estate (all very English and historical). As I sat, listening to the service and watching the baby (very well-behaved and asleep for most of the service) and his brother (very cute) I peered around the church.

The decorations around the altar were symbolic, relating to the spirituality of women, and looked – to my uneducated eyes – rather masonic in style. Not sure why, perhaps it was the triangles and rainbows. Anyway, after the service, I did a little research, to try and learn more.

It was set up in the early 19th century, as part of the “Tractarian” movement – which was inspired by a sermon by John Keble in Oxford (and is also known as ‘the Oxford Movement’). They believed that the Anglican Church was, in effect, still part of the Catholic Church, that clergy were answerable to God, not the state, and the liturgy etc should all be influenced by the church in Rome – not by kings. In effect, they were sort of the opposite of the ‘protestants’ (a term which means they were protesting against the rule of the Roman Catholic Church – mainly so that Henry VIII could get divorced – way back in 1534).

Anyway, the Tractarians produced lots of tracts (90, I believe) which is how they gained their name. They had support from some influential people (who even I have heard of, such as Wilberforce) but they didn’t in the end, manage to separate the church from the state, and even today, our monarch is head of the church.

I never managed to find out why Markbeech church has the unusual painting decorating the altar. If ever you’re passing through Kent, it’s worth a visit (if you like old English churches).

Hope you have an interesting week.
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

A Flaming Nuisance

A Flaming Nuisance

Sometimes life doesn’t go to plan, does it? In fact, sometimes, quite major things can go wrong, and part of life is deciding what to do next when disaster strikes. This week has been a little like that.

One disaster was due to the hot weather we’ve been having. My mum, having survived a week in Camber with me, then phoned in bit of a panic, as the trees near her house were on fire. I went down to see if it was safe for her to stay there, and found the whole area filled with smoke and the smell of charred wood. There was a fire engine, and a lot of people, mainly neighbours who had come out to watch. The people who lived right next to the fire had been evacuated, and the other neighbours were finding them chairs and cups of tea, holding their hands and being generally helpful. Sometimes people are very nice.

I decided to bring Mum to my house, mainly so she didn’t have to breathe all the fumes, and also so she could recover from the shock somewhere peaceful. Animals are quite calming, and I have lots of animals. Her own house wasn’t damaged, so after a few hours of being climbed on by cats and bounced by the dog and watching the ducks and chickens, I took her home. Mum is fine, but the trees look very sad.

(When I went to collect her, I needed to drive over a fire hose, and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to. So I asked a fireman, who said: “Where are you parked sweetheart?” I don’t get called sweetheart by beefy firemen very often. So that made my day!)

My other disaster was a chicken massacre. Usually the fox is too scared to come into my garden because it gets chased by the dog. So my chickens roam freely all day, and I shut them in at night. But when I went up to shut them into the cage, only one hen appeared. I shut her in, and went to investigate. The compost heap and orchard were covered with feathers. Not a good sign. While I was searching, the fox came back, presumably for the hen I’d shut away, and the dog chased it away. But I couldn’t find the other chickens.

Later that evening, the cockerel turned up at the kitchen window, looking a bit lost. I picked him up and put him in the cage. Am guessing he hid when the fox came (not exactly the chicken equivalent of beefy fireman, as he let the girls get eaten).

So now I only have one cockerel, and the hen who escaped. What a shame. The fox has visited a few times since, so I’m guessing it’s raising cubs and has become more daring. I will leave the birds in cages for a few weeks. They are not happy.

On a lighter note, the duckling that the hen hatched is still doing well. I am now trying to teach it that it is a duck, not a chicken. I moved it into the big aviary and caught a duck from the pond to keep it company. The duckling spent a whole evening crying for his ‘mum’, which was rather sad. I have now moved the other ducks inside, so he is getting used to being with ducks. I’m hoping that in a couple of weeks, when all the birds are free again, he will want to go on the pond, and not into the chicken coop.

When the egg first hatched, it was hard to see if the hen had hatched a chick or a duckling!

As the duckling grew, mother hen was rather perturbed every time it jumped into the drinking water.

 

 

Feathers start to appear after a couple of weeks.

At 4 weeks, fully grown, though not yet fully feathered. Moved into a cage with ducks from the pond, so he can learn how to be a duck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you have a week that is free of disasters. Thank you for reading.

Take care,
Love,
Anne x

If you enjoyed this, why not sign up to follow my blog?
anneethompson.com

****

Do you want an interesting book to read on holiday? An easy read novel, full of excitement and interesting ideas? Why not buy a copy of CLARA? Available in bookshops and Amazon, as both paperback and ebook, this book will both entertain and challenge you. You can order copies directly from me, for the reduced price of £7.95*, simply use the contact form below.

 

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Feeling Frazzled

Feeling rather frazzled as I write this. There are several reasons, but the main one is a mouse, in the house, which is never a welcome adventure. Now, I am quite good with animals in general, and I think that other than spiders, I could sensibly handle any animal, big or small, that I needed to – if it was contained. But there is something about rodents, especially mice and rats, which, when I encounter them running around freely, makes me scream like a girl. Not really sure why.

We still have the painter/decorator in the house (possibly another reason for feeling frazzled) and he had just started to prepare the recently emptied lounge, when he mentioned that a mouse had run the length of the hall and disappeared under the study door. Super news, just what I was hoping to hear.

Old incontinent cat.

I collected old incontinent cat from her new home in the garage (she can’t live in the utility room while the painter is here) and dumped her in the study. Felt she might need back-up, so went into the garden and whistled for the outside cats. They are very good at coming when I whistle. Unfortunately, so is the dog and all the chickens (note to self:learn how to do two different whistles). Separated the cats from the general group of random animals, and took them into the study.

By this time, old incontinent cat had managed to catch the mouse, whilst also leaping over all the stuff recently removed from other rooms ready for the painter, and managing to break an assortment of complicated lego models. (Do not ask me why, when we have no children in the house, it is necessary to keep aforementioned lego models, but apparently it is.) Old incontinent stupid cat had then put down mouse to play, and mouse had run into fireplace.

We could see it, sitting there, completely still. The cats, however, seemed completely blind to all things rodent, and were busy exploring the shelves and desk.

Tried waving various cats in general direction of mouse. Mouse remained still, cats disliked being waved and struggled to be free.

Decided we needed to catch mouse ourselves. Managed to trap mouse in a plastic cup, and slide coal shovel underneath to contain it. Not sure what to do next.

Mouse sat there, looking quite cute, with big round ears and beady eyes. I think it was a baby one. Did not feel I could kill it, nor did I trust the cats to do the job for me if I released it. Nor did I want it to breed a whole family of new mice in my house.

Sent Husband down the lane, with mouse in plastic cup with shovel underneath to contain it. He complained a bit, but I coped. Opened window so incompetent cats could join chickens and dog in garden.

Now, I do know, that the mouse will probably walk back to my house. Though it was injured, so it might not make it. Plus, I am assuming that should it return, it will be slightly more careful to not be seen again. I also know that a quick killing would’ve been the most sensible course of action. But sometimes, there are some things, which I simply cannot manage to do.

Hope you have a rodent free week. Thank you for reading.

Take care,
Love,
Anne x

*********

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and one non-fiction book. They are available from book shops and Amazon. She writes a weekly blog at: anneethompson.com

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How to NOT do Christmas

(Reposted because it’s that time of year again.)

How to NOT do Christmas

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by Anne E Thompson

Okay, so it’s that time of year again, when I look around and everyone seems terribly competent, with beautiful houses and cards sent on time. Or are you, like me, still struggling to clear up stray socks and find the floor under dog hairs? Here are some helpful hints for those of you who need to decorate the house, send cards to the correct people, produce a mound of wrapped gifts and cook that all important dinner; whilst also keeping the house clean, the animals alive, and do all the other jobs which fill your life and don’t disappear at Christmas. Hope it’s helpful.

The Tree

Everyone loves a Christmas tree. Here are some things to beware of:
If you take a man with you to buy a real tree, he will lose all sense of proportion. This is true. Crude jokes aside, it seems to be some strange male trait that they always want to buy a tree that is much too big for the space in your home. They always forget the bucket and top decoration adds extra height. And they always forget that you might want to live in the room where they plan to put it – and if it’s too wide everyone will have to scrabble through the branches to communicate. So my advice: do not involve a male of any age in choosing the tree.

You cannot however, avoid them being present for the annual family discussion on where the tree should go. Now, we have lived in our present house for many years and every Christmas we discuss (heatedly) where the tree should be placed. Every year it always goes in exactly the same place.

If you buy a tree in late December, your family will constantly tell you everyone else has theirs already. If you buy a tree in early December, it will probably be bald by New Year.

If you decide to ‘plant’ your tree in soil, over time, as it is watered, the soil becomes unstable and the tree will gradually fall over. If you follow the shop’s instructions and “treat your tree like the living plant that it is” and stand it in water, then after a while, the warmth of your house will have turned the water stagnant and everyone will be asking you what the funny smell is. If, on realising this, you then add a drop of bleach to the water, the tree first gets very pale looking and then dies very quickly. A dead tree will droop and all the ornaments slide off the branches. Your lounge also smells like a public lavatory.

If you ever want a tasteful tree, you must NEVER allow the children to put on their home made ornaments. Every year I produce those faded photos in plastic frames, the robin that sheds paint. I even have the clay angels that my sister made one year, which look like they slept in a puddle after an especially hard night out. It is true, they bring back lots of special memories, but I can now never not put them on the tree, so my tree, whilst full of precious memories, is also incredibly tacky.

If you do not water your tree, do NOT leave the lights on it and go out for the evening or it might burn down your house. (This did not happen to us, but it did happen to a neighbour in the US. A dried pine is incredibly flammable.)

If you have an artificial tree, you can spend hours sorting out branches and colour codes. My advice is: tell someone else that they are in charge of putting up the tree because it is too hard for you (this works well if you have males in the family, who will actually believe that you are incapable of matching colours.) They will also be keen to supervise the taking down of the tree because they will know how impossible it is to put up if not stored carefully.

Decorations

Do NOT believe that everyone who helps decorate the house will also help tidy up after Christmas. Every year I say, “Only put out the ornaments that you will put away afterwards”. I may as well not bother. I know this is true because one year I was ill, and we had a Nativity scene on one window sill all year. I find family members are very keen to decorate all sorts of random places, and not at all keen to tidy them afterwards.

Gifts

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Do NOT buy gifts too early and if you do, do not forget where you have hidden them. It is annoying to find winter nightclothes for your daughter in June.

If posting gifts, do not forget to name each gift so the recipient knows who they are for (you would be surprised at what has happened in our family).

Do NOT assume you will know when your child stops believing in Father Christmas (sorry if this is a spoiler). When I asked one of my sons on his eighteenth birthday (okay, so he wasn’t quite that old) if he really still believed in Santa, he informed me that he had not believed for years but hadn’t liked to disappoint me by letting me know. This was a huge relief for the whole family, as we could now stop worrying he was completely thick, and it also meant that I could give the children their ‘stocking gifts’ the evening before Christmas. Which meant that we all slept much better Christmas Eve.

Do NOT forget to check that either your husband has bought his mother a gift, or you have bought one for her yourself. Really, I cannot stress enough how important this one is……

Food

Unless you are a very organised person, do NOT buy a large frozen turkey. They take days to defrost – and where will you put it during that time? If you leave it in the utility room, the cat eats it. If you put it in the garage, the mice eat it. If you leave it in the oven to defrost, you are sure to forget and turn on the oven to preheat – melting plastic over poultry is not a good smell, trust me. If you place it in a bucket of brine, as was suggested one year, what are you going to do with the salmonella-infected brine afterwards, and how will you stop the dog licking it? If you put it in the fridge, you cannot fit in any of the shelves, let alone other food. Trust me, big frozen turkeys are a bad idea.

Do NOT forget that supermarkets are open other than on the bank holidays. I always do this; I try to buy enough food for the whole holiday period, which is a military operation in an over flowing supermarket, with insufficient parking, and queues the length of the Nile . Then, soon after boxing day we always run out of something essential, like milk, and I go to a beautifully empty supermarket (which is now selling all the food that is decomposing in my fridge for half the price.) Being overly prepared is always a mistake I feel. Just buy enough for the Christmas Day dinner.

If, like me, you have a problem with chocolates, when you buy the family tub of chocolates, do NOT forget to also buy tape. Then, if by mistake you open them and eat lots before Christmas, you can buy a replacement, add the ones you don’t much like and reseal the tub. Your family will never know. Honestly, every year my husband tells me that there are a surprisingly large number of green triangles in our chocolate tin.

Important Things

Do NOT forget to go to a carol service. Actually, I do not especially like carols, unless they are sung by a choir. They are mostly really really long. A lot of them also have things in them that are very European and nothing to do with the actual account in the Bible. But I do like carol services, full of excited children, and people in thick coats that they don’t have anywhere to hang. One year at our church we even managed to set someone on fire. (It was an accident, I should add. She leant against a candle and she wasn’t at all hurt, just ruined her coat. The following year as a safety precaution the candles were suspended above us. Unfortunately, they weren’t the non drip variety and we all made polite conversation afterwards with white wax in our hair.)

Do Not forget to build some family traditions of your own. On Christmas Eve, if my children are in the house, awake before noon and sober (I assume nothing these days) then they still like to help prepare the vegetables. We all sit round, peeling sprouts and remembering how we did it every year while watching ‘The Lost Toys,’ and the year that the youngest removed every leaf from his sprout and then declared, “Mine’s empty!”

Most importantly, do NOT forget what is important. Christmas is not about family or tradition or nice food. Actually, it’s about a God who thought you were special enough that he came to this dirty smelly earth as a baby. Even if you don’t believe in him, he believes in you. And he cared enough to come, so that you have a chance to change your mind if you want to. So spend a little time trying to remember what it’s all about. Look in Luke’s bit of the Bible, and read the account of what actually happened – no donkeys, no inn keepers with tea-towels on their heads, no fairies or snow. Just a simple story of something special.

xxxxxx

Thank you for reading.

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If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy Hidden Faces by Anne E Thompson, an easy-read, feel-good novel, set in an English infant school. Why not buy a copy today and read something to make you smile?

(Also an ideal Christmas gift for your mother, sister, aunt, or anyone who has ever worked in a school.)

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Austria – Family Holiday Diary

Day One : Munich to Austria

Car arrived 5am. Everyone ready -unexpected -maybe some of them didn’t sleep. Flew Heathrow to Munich, all went smoothly, and everyone managed the automatic barriers. Eventually.

Collected minivan, and drove Munich to Salzburg. J made redundant from map reading due to rather efficient satnav.

Arrived at Sheraton at Fuschlsee, a lake near Salzburg. Staff at reception predominantly female, wearing national dress, which does make them very buxom. Impossible to avoid mainly noticing bosoms. H told M not to wear his glasses while we’re here.

Dinner in expensive hotel restaurant. Lots of antlers on walls, candles, flowers. Nice meal, but tired (me, not meal.)

  Everywhere here is SO pretty.

Day Two : Hallstatt

Nice breakfast, though I had problems with coffee machine and covered surrounding area with milky froth -rescued by very nice waiter who collected me a mug of coffee.

Drove to Hallstatt. Traffic terrible and nowhere to park, so we abandoned Husband and car, and walked into town. It was full of Chinese people, really full. Coach loads of them. All the signs were written in German and Mandarin, so clearly a regular occurrence. Also full of extremely expensive souvenir shops. Followed signs with a skull on them up a mountain (J in flip-flops, but still faster than people in hiking gear). Signs took us to a cemetery.

Found Husband and ate lovely homemade pizza for lunch. Read guidebook to try and find out significance of skulls and cemetery. Read that apparently, cemetery is very small – due to being half way up a mountain, so when it was full, someone had the good idea that they could dig up the old corpses and replace them with the new ones. Honestly, this was the solution they decided on! Did anyone object? Was there a committee involved? Anyway, this is what they did. While the bodies were waiting to be buried, they decomposed, and the bones were bleached by the sun. The skulls were separated from the other bones, and they are displayed in a side chapel. We HAD to go back and look. There they were, bones stacked neatly, skulls decorated with the name and patterns. Brilliant!

The rest of Hallstatt is also interesting. Lots of cute cottages clinging to the mountainside. Too many tourists and over-priced shops, but well worth a visit.

 

Walked around a mountain lake, Vorderer-Gosausee. So beautiful. Lake, trees, glacier, mountains.

Dinner in Fuschl. Parked in large town car park, returned after dark, and didn’t know how to pay. Husband set off in the dark to investigate, we sat in car, then decided to send S (largest male) to protect him. S detoured via barrier and tried to lift it manually. Worried he might break it, Husband would return with paid ticket but we’d still be trapped due to broken barriers. R worried there might be zombies (so glad she’s 25 and works in a bank – easy to forget that sometimes). D returned, barrier worked, all good.

Arrived safely back at hotel, despite best efforts of suicidal deer on dark road. Nice day. Tomorrow we plan to visit Salzburg (which is very exciting, as it’s where they filmed The Sound of Music – because it’s where the real family actually lived.)

Thank you for reading.

Why not sign up to follow my blog? Tomorrow I’ll tell you what we saw in Salzburg.

anneethompson.com

xxx

If you like to laugh, why not read Invisible Jane by Anne E Thompson?
A love story with funny bits!

Available from an Amazon near you…..

Packing

  Today will be stressful – packing for the family holiday. If you’re a mother, you will know what I mean. If you’re male (not being sexist or anything), read on…

There is oceans of washing to do. It seems a bad idea to leave dirty clothes to fester in the laundry basket, plus there is all the bedding. I don’t like the idea of returning after two weeks away to sheets that have been slept/sweated/dribbled in for a week and then locked into a room to ferment. Obviously I cannot wash it all the day we leave, but it feels better if it’s washed the day before – so just one night of body fluids sweated into them.

Then there is the animal stuff. Dog and grumpy-cat taken to kennels, their bedding and towels left here. I can leave them – and be welcomed home by the thick odour a la dog, or I can wash them before I go. Thank goodness for washing machines and please can mine not break today. Of course, not everyone has this problem. I have known people (not female) who quite cheerfully shove dirty clothes into a bag before a holiday; and then return with the same bag of dirty clothes at the end. I am not entirely sure if they were worn, or washed, in between, because I didn’t like to ask.

If you enjoyed this, you will love my new book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary.
I have always written a diary on holiday, so last Christmas, I decided to find all my old diaries and blogs, and make a book for my children. However, several other people also asked for a copy, so I have written a public version – it’s available on Amazon and has been described as “The Durrells meet Bill Bryson”!

Why not buy a copy today? I think it will make you laugh.

The US link is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Sarcastic-Mothers-Holiday-Diary-ebook/dp/B07N95281F/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549015525&sr=8-1&keywords=the+sarcastic+mothers+holiday+diary

The India link is here:

https://www.amazon.in/Sarcastic-Mothers-Holiday-Diary-ebook/dp/B07N95281F/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549015429&sr=8-1&keywords=the+sarcastic+mothers+holiday+diary

The UK link is here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sarcastic-Mothers-Holiday-Diary-ebook/dp/B07N95281F/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1549014970&sr=8-2&keywords=the+sarcastic+mothers+holiday+diary