Sunday, 23 July 2017

A Royal Location.....

We have enjoyed some mixed weather over the past week since we have been here at our site on the Sandringham Estate......
Sandringham House is within walking distance of our location being just a mile up the road...
We have walked up to the visitors centre but have not made a proper visit yet.....
There will be a flower show in the grounds of the house on Wednesday this coming week and we are planning to visit the grounds and the church then.....
'The Norfolk Gates' of Sandringham House
We have a nice pitch at the C&CC site situated in amongst the trees..... The site itself is pretty big having over 270 pitches and ten members of staff to run it... It is the largest site that we have stayed on since we started fulltiming nearly two and a half years ago.... 
Our pitch at the Sandringham C&CC site....(Note: Still flying the Devon Flag)
The cycling in the area continues to be good.... Lots of B-roads with very light motorised traffic... The more I have cycled in Suffolk and Norfolk the more I see what a great area it is for cycle touring. I was so lucky to have cycled in these counties all those years ago when the roads were even quieter than they are now.
Since we have been here I have cycled up to the North Norfolk coast a few times and enjoyed each ride...... 
Village sign on one of my rides..
A view along the Groynes at Hunstanton
 We have also visited Hunstanton a traditional small seaside town which I have always thought of as the Swanage of the East Coast.... 
The last time I visited the town was on Boxing Day about forty years ago when I visited a friend who had moved there.... The town certainly seems to have grown a bit since that last visit and doesn't seem as desolate a place as it seemed to be on that day.. Mind you the picture that I have shown here doesn't show the best view of the town so don't judge it by that photograph.

Two things of interest about Hunstanton are:-
1) It's the only East Coast seaside resort where you can watch the sun set directly over the sea .
2) It's also the home to Britains largest joke shop which is packed to the rafters with things like itching powder and whoopie cushions.....

Castle Rising.... The Castle Keep showing just above the mounds of the dry moat.
 A couple of days ago we completed the five mile return walk to Castle Rising another place that I haven't visited for forty plus years....
The main attraction at Castle Rising other than the very nice tea rooms is of course the castle...

It is a 12th century castle that became the home of Queen Isabella, mother of Edward 111, following her part in the brutal murder of her husband, Edward 11 in 1327.
The current owner is a descendant of William D'Albini 11 the Norman Baron who raised the castle.....
Interior view at Castle Rising Keep.

Another interior view of the Castle Keep
 After visiting the Castle a visit to the superb tea rooms was in order for a spot of lunch and as we were leaving the tea rooms we noticed a telephone box on the corner of the road...
We took a double take .... the telephone box was full of books with a notice stating that this was the Castle Rising village library.....
Whether this was the result of financial cuts and needing to move to smaller premises I don't know...but pretty unusual just the same....Dare I say 'a pretty novel idea'
Telephone Box - Home to Castle Rising Village Library
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Sunday, 16 July 2017

More images of Norwich...

With the TDF still running and our move on to the next site on our list timed with the TDF rest day I am not going to write too much in this post....however I will post some additional images taken during our stay in Norwich.......
Norwich Castle

Norwich Cathedral

The cobbles of Elm Hill

The coloured canopies of Norwich Market

The Guildhall
We nearly didn't come here as there were a lot of poor comments on the internet regarding the site.... 

The toilet facilities are dated...straight out of the 1950s in fact and the club really should invest some of our membership fees into a new facilities block...however everything is kept clean and tidy by the Managers and Assistants who are a friendly and helpful bunch and the position of the site has proved just perfect for us..... the comments proved far worse than the reality and we have enjoyed our stay here.....

On Monday we move on to Sandringham......

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Lots to Do....

Well our stop here in Norwich is one of those places where the two weeks that we booked is proving not to be long enough as we are finding lots to do....

Starting with the important thing..... my daily ride on the bike.
I have managed to sort out a really good loop to ride out into the Norfolk countryside...
As with Suffolk I am finding some really quiet lanes and roads to enjoy....although the roads here in East Anglia are not as flat as a lot of people think they are I do miss the really stiff hills that you can find back in Devon and Dorset....

Below is a picture of my bike at Starston Church which is a village about fifteen miles south of Norwich on my daily ride.....
Starston Church about fifteen miles south of Norwich...
 Walking is good here direct from the campsite.....
There are some good walks along the river Wensum which loops around the city...
The River Wensum and part of the old city wall
 As an alternative you can head out of the city...... You can walk out to the village of Trowse where there is a very nice pub where you can enjoy a pint in a very pretty beer garden just full of flowers.....
Trowse village sign
 Apparently the pubs beer garden was a regional winner last year in a pub garden competition....
I think this was my second pint......
 I have also managed to visit some places from the past as well......
The image below is of the alleyway running between the rear gardens of the houses in the street (Marlborough Road) where my Maternal Grandparents used to live.

When I was a small child we would sometimes come to Norwich to visit my Grandparents and I can remember playing in this alleyway.....
It actually seems to be a lot more neat and tidy than I remember it when I was a kid....
The Alleyway at the back of Marlborough Road......
As I said we have found lots to do and on top of that there has been the Tour de France to watch on the TV as well....

This retirement business can be hard work......

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

We just had to pay a visit.........

We have left Suffolk and are now in the county of Norfolk....
We are camped on the southern edge of Norwich but before we left Constable country we just had to pay a visit to Flatford Mill.....

For nearly 100 years from 1742 to 1846 Flatford Mill was owned by the Constable family and it was around the mill that John Constable got inspiration for some of his most famous pictures such as the Haywain or Boatbuilding near Flatford Mill among many others....

I had always wanted to visit the area and stand in the exact spot that Constable had stood when he created his preliminary sketches for his famous picture 'The Haywain'.

Now I am not an Artist but I did manage to take a photo from the spot..... the only thing missing of course is the Haywain itself......
Although the foliage is much thicker and the view not so open as it was in Constable's time you can see that it is the same view with the end of Willie Lotts house visible on the left side of the frame.....

The visit to the area was really enjoyable and was a good place to finish our stay in Suffolk before our move up here to Norfolk....

I've posted my photo of the Haywain view (minus the Haywain of course) below......




Friday, 30 June 2017

Constable Country.....

 For the last couple of weeks we have been camping in Constable Country....
The Polstead Camping and Caravanning Site to be exact....

Sign for a Great Site
 Anne and I really like this site..... 
It is a franchised site and I must say that Karen, Greg and family run a first class C&CC location...
It consists of four different camping areas and our pitch is in the centre section of the site... 
In this area each of the pitches has dividing hedges and our pitch has given us plenty of shade during the very hot weather which we have enjoyed since we have been here....

There our plenty of country walks which are accesible direct from the site and lots of Suffolk lanes for cycling..

Great Suffolk Cycling....
One very good plus for the site is that there is a pub within a ten minute walk.... It serves good food as well as good ale..... A grand place to quench your thirst after a 45 mile spin through the wonderful scenic Suffolk countryside...

A well earned pint after another enjoyable ride,,,,
 I haven't cycled in this area since my youth hostelling ride many years ago and obviously lots of things have changed since then but one thing that hasn't changed is the lovely cycle friendly Suffolk countryside....

The Suffolk country lanes are a bit of a maze but are mainly traffic free and are just made for cycle touring trips......

A short break on another ride....
Even though I don't have the most ideal bike (Felt Z1 Dura Ace) with me for the narrow and winding lanes (my touring bike would be more suitable) I have still enjoyed my rides here very much and this area has produced some of my best rides so far this year.....

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Another Memory.......

Following on from my last post and my memories of the cycle touring trip I made when I was fourteen years old....here is another memory from that same trip............

The penultimate night was spent in a town that I had always wanted to visit since I had first heard it's name...... It sounded mystical and spiritual....soft and beautiful.... that town was Saffron Walden  in the county of Essex..

Unfortunately the reality I found at that time did not match up to my expectations.....
I don't know exactly what I had expected to find but I think it had something to do with my serious interest in Buddhism even at that age..... Perhaps I had thoughts of 'Saffron Robes'.

Now don't get me wrong Saffron Walden was a nice town but it just wasn't the place of spiritual mystery I had wanted it to be....

So what is it like these days..... Well Anne and I took time out to pay it a visit and I must say that we both enjoyed our visit very much.....

This is what we found......

The Church of St Mary the Virgin...... This is the parish church of Saffron Walden and is the largest non-cathedral church in Essex. The overall length is 183ft with a spire of 193ft high which is the tallest in Essex... it really is a pretty impressive sight...


St Mary the Virgin - Saffron Walden
We visited Bridge End Gardens which is a real gem of a find and amazingly is free to visit...
The gardens are a group of linked ornamental gardens which are listed Grade 11 on the register of Parks and Gardens. 
There are a number of walled gardens and also a maze that Anne and I got totally lost in. 
I have to say that the gardens are pretty stunning - just take a look at the image of the Dutch gardens below.....also the gardens have the cleanest public toilets that I have ever seen..they were better than many hotels....


The Dutch Garden at Bridge End Gardens.
We visited the building at Myddylton Place that used to be the Youth Hostel  that I stayed at on my first visit to the town during that cycle tour all those years ago......

As with Houghton Mill it is no longer a Hostel having closed in 2011..... 
The property was acquired by the YHA in 1956 and was believed to be Saffron Waldens oldest inhabited property....
Timber framed and Grade 1 listed it covers some 6.000 sq ft....

It was often said that it was the most photographed buiding in Essex...
I don't know what the building is used for now...
The Youth Hostel (Now Closed Down) at Saffron Walden.
In the buiding across the road from the hostel at 'The Close', is a rare oval Spider Window.... Just another of the little secrets that Saffron Walden has that I didn't see on my first visit....
The 17th Century Spider Window
Back to Bridge End Gardens - A peek into the Rose Garden
So Saffron Walden might not have measured up to my expectations as a fourteen year old but it definately pushed all the right buttons all these years later.....


Friday, 16 June 2017

Going Back 55 Years........

I mentioned on this blog a few years back that when I was 14 years old I set off on a touring bike ride around East Anglia.....
My family were living in Feltham near Heathrow airport at that time and I talked a friend into doing the trip with me..... I have to say that I am amazed that my parents allowed me to set off on that mini adventure but it does highlight the difference between attitudes then and now....

At that time it was still the golden age of the Youth Hostel Association (YHA)... 
In those days you could link up a number of Youth Hostels in order to complete a walk or a cycle ride...nowadays it would be impossible to do those trips and rely on a Youth Hostel for an overnight stop.. So many hostels in the YHA network have now been closed and those that do remain seem to aim at families, students and school parties as their core customers....

Back in 1962 when I did that trip the objective of the YHA was to "help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside, particularly by providing hostels or other simple accommodation for them in their travels and thus to promote their health, rest and education."

Sadly the needs and expectations of young travellers has changed over the years and the YHA has struggled at times to adjust..... I ended my membership a number of years ago when I felt that the changes to the organisation had altered it beyond recognition and it no longer suited my needs....

Having said that the YHA (along with the Scout movement) was fundamental in helping to foster my desire for travel and adventure and is probably one of the reasons why I am currently doing what I am doing....

Going back those 55 years.... the Youth Hostel that had the biggest impact on me during that trip was Houghton Mill near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire....
This was our second nights stop....our first night had been at St Albans....

I've always remembered the smell of the interior of the mill ....... beauty of the location.... the sound of the water.... 
For the 14 year old Trevor the place was just magic and I have always wanted to revisit Houghton..... 

Well the other day after 55 years I went back.....

Anne and I visited the mill for a day out and it was everything that I had remembered....
It is no longer a Youth Hostel (that closed back in 1984) and is now maintained by the National Trust but I was so surprised to see a corner of the mill had been dedicated to it's YHA history with a display of membership cards, badges and hostelling magazines... also they even had a bunk bed exactly as it would have been back when I visited all those years ago.... there was even a classic Roberts style radio playing music from the 1960s.....

It's not often that you can revisit somewhere without feeling a little let down but this was total magic.....it was a magic carpet ride whisking me back to when I was 14...... Perfect.


Houghton Mill
Bunk Bed straight from the 1960s

YHA Membership Items

A View From a Lower Floor of Houghton Mill
Entrance to the Mill