Norfolk 1 - Fellbrigg - where is the parking ?/ Blickling Hall /pea and mint soup/Great Yarmouth racecourse

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July 13th 2017
Published: July 13th 2017
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Where in the world is Suzy today? She is parked up on a racecourse and a dog track . We view the finishing line just outside her windows. We slept well last night and woke to the coo cooing of a pigeon . For a moment it reminded me of the Scops Owl with its radar like pinging call. Had it been a Scops I would be in Greece not waking up instead in West Runton caravan park. We had already made our mind to move. We tried initially to ask nay plead with the wardens to move. There were spaces across the road. Nothing behind us and only motorhomes to our right and left. The tents were being packed up . It is Sunday and the residents are on their way home ready for work tomorrow . I smiled - no work for me. The smirk became wider and deeper causing more deep rifts to appear on my face. Worth it for the thought of not having to put up with work. The wardens prevaricated . Yes perhaps we could move. Where were we thinking of? Well the plot opposite and a bit up the road. We were told to come back two hours later when all the weekenders would have gone and they could see if there were any spaces . So the dilemma . Stay two hours and see what happens or bite the bullet , forget the money and move on. We emptied the black waste and ate our breakfasts . We could go to Fellbrigg Hall down the road , do the visit , eat our lunch out and come back and see what was occuring. The neighbours brought their plastic chairs closer. They set up the cadac and cooked bacon and sausage for breakfast . They were not all bad then. The smell of the food was lovely. I headed for the East Shower block . Let us waste a bit more time. Clean and tidy but tiny. There was space for 200 people on this site and only five showers. I waited and waited eventually getting in the lovely hot water and feeling refreshed headed over to Suzy to see what had been decided. That settled it . Fellbrigg it was. Packing up is easy , the kettle is put away, the cooker lid put down , the windows closed . It takes us all of 5 minutes to set up and another five to get back on the road again.

Todays thought was very apt " Wait and listen and learn from experiences. Learn from daily life" Well we did wait and listened and we watched Loud laughing and screaming , the dog barking and wandering round . It was not going to get any better. Is it us I wonder ? ARe we becoming less tolerant in older age? Probably.

Our drive took us a short drive to Fellbrigg Hall. Another National Trust property down a narrow road . Sally Sat Nag our new satelitte navigator hated the roads . She kept telling us we were going off road and that the roads were not suitable when clearly in front of us were narrow lanes with trees overhanging but perfectly suitable for Suzy. She is on trial at the moment and the jury is out on her shortcomings. In the bright sunlight she is worse than useless as the screen cannot be seen. We have to try to find the optimum spot to stick her on and hopefully she will work. She barks at us to turn right or left and her directions seem clearer than other sat nags we have used . We reach the car park ...................we cannot believe our eyes it is tiny. Space for no more than 20 cars and certainly no room for Suzy . We do try to park but in the end feel that we will block someone in if we stay so all plans of visiting Fellbrigg get put in the dustbin. We regroup as we always do . What else is there to see Blickling Hall. Again just a short drive down the road. A place I have been to before but I cannot remember one thing about it .

We drive down more narrow roads ,Sally Sat Nag barks out instructions to us . We pass fields of maize , a rat runs across the cross and a small Reeves’ muntjac deer . Small, stocky and russet brown in colour in summer and grey/brown in winter it wanders slowly across the road allowing us a wonderful view of such a small deer . Not a native of Britain it has slowly been introduced to the south of England and we saw one. What a pretty deer it was too. The jury is out on the rat. I have to take you back to 1985 now . In the back of my mind I had that sort of date floating round. It was the last time I was in Norfolk . Why do I remember it I hear you ask? Well I remember taking my children a 6 year old girl and a 3 year old boy to a small holiday cottage in Overstrand near Cromar. I cant remember much about the holiday accomodation nor much about Blickling but we did go there for a visit . Why do I remember the date ? I listened to Eurythmics There must be an angel playing with my heart on the radio whilst driving through Kings Lynn. Memories flood in and out of my mind. I must have been here but I dont remember the car parking. The house can bee seen from the road , a small neat drive , some ornate gates and a beautifully manicured lawn. The house sits at the end of the drive . Jacobean and brick .

We drive down the front . There appears little parking to the front unless you have a blue disabled badge . Suzy has not got one. She may have Crit Air tickets to take her into Paris or a German Umweltzone ticket to get into Berlin but no Blue Badge . We try round the back and find a perfect spot in a corner out of the way. Later we find a bigger car park but this one will have to do. We walk round the front of the house where there are seats outside and Sunday afternoon visitors are drinking tea or cold drinks, kids are eating ice creams, folks are visiting what looks like a second hand book shop. The whole area is surrounded by thick yew hedges which hide the view of the front lawn and the house . There is a museum upstairs . We will come and visit that after we have eaten lunch . For Glenn a thyme and rosemary chicken on top of mash and broad beans and for me Mint and Pea soup with rustic bread. After eating we forget to go to the museum . No bother on our way out we say.

Blickling is another National Trust house so it meant another free visit . We were given a badge to put on our clothes to show we had paid and given the usual leaflet to show us what was in the house. The house was handed over to the Trust in 1940. There was some kind of property here around 1045 when Harold Godwinson was King Harold II. By 1091 it was given to the frenchman Herbert de Longinga. Around 1378 it was owned by Sir Nicholas Dagworth and by 1407 it had changed hands and the owner was Sir Thomas Erpingham . Shakespeare got a look in as the house was owned in 1431 by Falstolfe of Falstaff fame. It has been reputed to be haunted and the ghost of Ann Boleyn has been seen here , headless and wandering round the property. The connection her father Thomas Boleyn owned the hall and she was or might have been born here. Odd my story book is about the three "sisters" Margaret Tudor who married King James of Scotland , Katherine of Aragon who married Margarets brothers Arthur and Henry Tudor and finally Mary Tudor who married Charles of France . Ann Boleyn being the key to the sisters story.

We walked into the hall and were as always greeted by the room guides . "Have you been before ?" Gosh yes but I cannot remember a lot about the place . "Welcome - walk around there are written guides in every room . Please read them ., The room guides will help too" The hall is lovely as all tudor halls are . Panelling and a pretty roof. Furniture in keeping with the times depicted. Paintings hung from the walls. All the prominent family members and all the aristocracy. Elizabeth I . Charles I and II all looking down on us from the walls . Exquisite pieces of pottery and stained glass in the windows. The gentle light falling on the heavy tapestries . Silver ware set out on the tables. Ornate fireplaces and ceilings.

By 1539 Sir Edward Clere owned the house before it was sold to Sir Henry Hobart and his wife Dorothy who rebuilt the house we see in front of us today. The smell of baking floated through the house. Cakes being baked and sold for profit in the kitchens . Produced by lady volunteers dressed in the way a Victorian cook would dress.

The upstairs rooms were filled with ornate four poster beds, libraries full of book lined cases. Leather after leather volumed books all lined up. Old gramaphones were playing jazz music in some of the rooms creating a wonderfully evocative atmosphere. A radio in another room crackled with the news that Edward VIII was abdicating. By 1625 the ownership of the wonderful house had changed hands to Sir John the 2nd Baronet Hobart.

The best room of the house came next - the Long Gallery . One of the finest we have seen with bookcases along the walls filled with leather bound books. Tables down the middle . A wonderful ceiling looked down on a wonderful room much used by the ladies of the house for exercise and recreation. By the year 1683 the 4th Baron Hobart moved into the house. A Henry knighted by Charles II he lost his life fighting a duel By 1698 the house had moved into the control of John the first EArl of Buckingham. It was at this point the words on our badges revealed themselves "Why are you here?" it said . Along the walls were photographs of various owners of the house and underneath painted the words explaining what their connection was with the house. Throughout the 18th century the house had many owners 1756 - Sir John Hobart 2nd Earl of Buckingham. His claim to fame was that he was ambassador to the court in St Petersburg. Between the years 1793 and 1850 Caroline Lady Suffield owned the property with her husband . She was pictured on the walls with the words " I made alterations to the house". They also had connections with India and many Indian items were displayed in the many display cases.

By 1850 this lovely house was owned by Constance Talbot and her husband William Schomberg the 8th Marquis of Lothian . Underneath her picture were the words " I redecorated the house and modernised it". Sadly after all her remodernisation the house fell into decline as did many of houses at the time . It remained empty between 1901 and 1929. Left to decay it was owned by both the 9th and 10th Marquis of Lothian. By 1930 the Marquis decided it was not worth keeping the house and bequeathed it to the National Trust . A board was placed in one of the rooms and a list was up of all the houses offered to the National Trust in 1930. They could not afford to take all of them on and maintain them so they took Blickling but refused Erddig Castle in Wrexham. Not quite a castle but a house . Not as grand as this one but ironic that in 1983 the last Squire Yorke gave Erddig to the National Trust and it became one of the most loved houses in the portfolio of the National Trust .

The gardens are vast , areas of grass with mature trees, water and ponds, ducks and geese. Flower beds and walled gardens full of vegetables . A lovely end to an odd day. A poor start, a ride to a house we could not visit , long lanes with overhanging trees and finishing up on a Caravan and Motorhome Club site based on the racetrack at Great Yarmouth. Just outside the town the site is large and sprawling with plenty of space to pitch up and not feel overcrowded. More motorhomes than caravans. A clean and tidy toilet block , friendly staff , an excellent information point it had everything we were looking for.

Before we left we walked into Great Yarmouth. A leisurely stroll took us over the bridge to the sea . The North Sea glistened silver in the distance and looked less formidable than at West Runton. We walked along the seafront with the dunes marking a divide between the land and the sea. Along the way we fell upon the deserted Venetian lagoon. I dont remember this from the last time I was in Great Yarmouth but it must have been there. It was built in the 1930 as a pleasure garden full of waterways . Boats would have travelled along its length, travelling through its pretty gardens and under its Venetian bridges . Now it was empty and rather sad. However further along it was filled with water. Tiny thatched cottages lined the route selling ice cream and snacks in the summer months. The gardens were very pretty and cared for by volunteers. Beyond that was the closed pier, shops , fish and chip shops , cafes and a funfair. Everything was closed and had an end of season feel about it. A town of Kiss me Quick hats and Great Yarmouth rock. I did not like Great Yarmouth years ago and was not over impressed now. It looked a sad place. Further into the town we saw night clubs where the famous would have plied their trade. Now we did not recognise the names on the billboards or the buildings were closed down. The usual shops lined the towns streets. We stumbled on the town hall, the south quay with its boats and mills . It felt odd coming back after all these years . Going home we caught the local bus using our concessionary bus passes. Now that raised a smile on our faces . Saving £4.70 each and not having to walk all that way back. Now that was a result .

As we walked back to Suzy I thought about variety. Oddly eastern and western philosophy and sayings can be similar . The eastern one says cheerfully that Variety is the first principle of life and who am I to disagree. My mum would say Variety is the spice of life . We have seen a new county, slept in two different campsites, visited some different castles and houses and we are only two days into our week away.

Tomorrow we are off to a city . Norwich the home of Delia Smith , a city, a different campsite, a Norman castle and a cathedral . What else will tomorrow bring?



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