Historical Norfolk In Photos

Closer to home for me these days, some great history can be seen in the county that contains Beetley.

Kings Lynn.
During the 14th century, this West Norfolk town was the most important port in all of England. Some of the historic dockside has been resored.

Central Norwich.
The old part of the city has remained the same since the Elizabethan age. These photos are modern, it still looks the same today.

Bickling Hall.
The stately home where Anne Boleyn was born in 1501. The house as it is shown here was mainly built in 1616, by Sir Henry Hobart. It is now managed by The National Trust, and open to visitors.

Oxburgh Hall.
A moated country house, built by in 1482 by Sir Edmund Bedingfield, and later crenellated. He was a supporter of the Yorkists during the Wars of The Roses. Now managed by The National Trust, and open to visitors.

St Benet’s Abbey.
Close to the east coast near Great Yarmouth, this dates from 1022, at the time of King Harold Godwinson who was killed in 1066 at The Battle of Hastings. Sir John Fastoff (Shakespeare’s Falstaff) was buried here.

Pensthorpe: Part Two

These are the rest of the photos I am posting from my visit to Pensthorpe last Friday.

(All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them, which will take you to a Flickr link.)

A pair of Swans with a huge area all to themselves.


A quiet spot to sit.


This sleeping duck was well-camouflaged.


Birds squabbling over the best dry spot in the lake.


A water feature and some nice daffodils.


Canada Geese running away from me, honking their displeasure.


Two other geese nearby, not at all concerned by my presence.


This idyllic spot didn’t have a single bird choosing to use it.


That’s all for this visit to Pensthorpe, but I am sure I will go back again one day.

Pensthorpe: Part One

Continuing my birthday treats, Julie took me to Pensthorpe Waterfowl Reserve and Nature Park yesterday. It is close to Fakenham, so an easy drive from Beetley.



(All photos are posted on Flickr, you can click on them to enlarge each one.)


Early in the season, there were not that many birds. The enclosure for the Flamingos and Cranes was also closed, because of the risk of Bird Flu in the county at the moment. But the large park is a haven of peace and quiet, and beautifully maintained by the friendly staff.

Sleepy swans, mid afternoon, woken by a dipping Coot.

This Goose let me get quite close, but I used the zoom so as not to frighten it.

This Swan had a reed-fringed pool all to itself.

The all-weather observation area. There are also numerous ‘hides’ located around the grounds, for dedicated bird-watchers.

The central lake is vast, and the River Wensum also runs through the park.

This is called the ‘Monet-Inspired Bridge’.

Julie crossing the bridge.

More photos from Pensthorpe to come soon.

Something Positive

After my ‘Mister Grumpy’ moan about my driving licence this morning, we finally got to go to Pensthorpe Bird Park this afternoon, in lovely weather. I had my shorts on, as it was 16C, and a beautiful afternoon.


This predominantly waterfowl park is set in idyllic wetlands near the Norfolk town of Fakenham. It is a mecca for bird-watchers, who travel from all over England to see the ducks and geese.

Despite the fact that it was early in the season, and the Flamingo and Cranes enclosure was closed because of Avian Flu, we spent a leisurely couple of hours wandering around, followed by some delicious cakes and tea in the cafe, before the park closed at 4:30 pm. Ollie could not come with us, as dogs are not allowed, but he wasn’t left alone for long.

I took quite a lot of photos, and they will follow in some posts to come.

Suffice to say it calmed me down considerably.

“Proper London”

When I moved from London to Norfolk in 2012, I soon realised that my distinctive city accent was unfamiliar to many people I met locally. At least four people asked me if I was Australian, one asked me if I was Canadian, and another said he had never heard anyone from London speak, except on television.

I found it hard to believe that many people who had watched Michael Caine films, or the London-set soap opera ‘Eastenders’ had no idea that they were listening to London accents. Julie didn’t have the same issues. Although her accent is undoubtedly ‘Southern’ as far as British people are concerned, she is from Hertfordshire, not London. Although only 30 miles north-west of the capital, their accent is not the same as those of us born and bred in the centre.

When she worked at a bank in Dereham, she made friends with some of her colleagues. One in particular, Jo, was considerably younger than Julie, but became one of her closest friends, even to this day. Jo is from Norfolk, and has a distinct Norfolk accent. But she is also widely travelled, and can recognise British regional accents very easily. One evening, I had offered to give Julie a lift to a girl’s night out, at a restaurant in North Tuddenham. We picked Jo up on the way, and chatted happily during the 15-minute journey.

As they got out, Jo turned and said, “You’re proper London, you are”.

Thinking about that earlier today, it occured to me to explain some of the differences in what is undoubtedly working-class ‘London English’. One of the obvious speech patterns is that the letter ‘H’ is rarely sounded in casual conversation.

Hotel becomes ‘Otel’. Hat will be ‘Att’, with the emphasis on the ‘T’. This also applies to names of course.
Harry = ‘Arry’
Henry = ‘Enery’
Helen = ‘Ellen’
Then in general, ignore the ‘H’. Hitching a trailer would be ‘Itching a trailer’.
Going to hospital might sound like ‘Going to awspittle’.
Having a laugh is always ‘Avving a larff’, and so on.

A reply of I haven’t got any, would always be ‘I ain’t got none’.
I will fetch my car would be ‘I’ll get me motor’.

Words containing ‘th’ will usually have the letter ‘V’ substituted, sometimes more than one. Or the letter ‘F’.
Neither = ‘Neaver’
Whether = ‘Wevver’
Nothing = ‘Nuffin’

Others beginning with ‘th’ will have those replaced with an ‘F’.
Thing = ‘Fing’
Thermometer = ‘Furmommetta’
Think = ‘Fink’
Thought = ‘Faut’
Theatre = ‘Fearter’

I could go on all day.

So if you ever hear me talking, when I am relaxed and not being ‘careful’, bear in mind you may require a translator.

Delightful Dining

Yesterday was my wife Julie’s 61st birthday. She took the day off work, and enjoyed opening her presents and cards, chatting to family and friends on the phone, and replying to the hundreds of messages she received on Facebook.

I cooked her a late breakfast of traditional English fare. Lincolnshire herb sausages, unsmoked bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, and two fried eggs. The bonus was that the eggs had ‘double-yolks’, so you could argue she had four eggs.

I had already booked a restuarant for her evening birthday meal. We chose the pub The Brisley Bell, in the village of Brisley, four miles from Beetley. This well-known establishment has two big bars, room accommodation, and a large award-winning restaurant in a huge space at the rear. It is extremely popular, but I managed to secure a table from 18:30 until 21:00. As we had never eaten there previously, we had both checked out the menu online. However, I didn’t want to get too excited, as menus can change on the day.

After the short drive in very thick fog, we managed to get the last space in a very crowded car park. The bars were busy, but when we were shown to our table in the Library Room at the back, it was peaceful there, and very nicely lit and decorated. Over a drink, we perused the menu, unusually deciding we would both have the same first two courses.

The chosen starter was Pheasant Broth. This came with assorted wild mushrooms, and delicious small dumplings in a flavoursome broth that was served piping hot.

For main course we had Monkfish wrapped in thin smoky bacon, served with spinach and fresh gnocchi on a smooth white garlic sauce.

Both were absolutely delicious!

After a short interval, we agreed we would also have a dessert. Julie chose the Mango Pavlova, with mango ice cream on the meringue, and slices of mango surrounding it in a mango juice. I had something different, a home-made warm Bakewell tart, topped with a small scoop of pistachio ice cream.

They were good choices, and we were both very satisfied.

Driving home in even thicker fog, we both said it was one of the best meals we had ever eaten, and believe me we have eaten some good meals over the years.

I am not one to take photos of my meal, (Julie did, and posted them on Facebook) but here is a link to The Brisley Bell. If you ever find yourself in this area, you will not find a better place to eat. If you allow the header photos to scroll, you will see the ‘Library Room’ where we ate.


A Very Short Trip To Norwich

Since moving to Norfolk, I have avoided cities whenever possible. I have only been back to London twice in almost ten years, and have also been reluctant to venture into Norwich, the largest city in the county which is twenty miles to the east of Beetley.

However, Christmas is looming, and Julie asked what I wanted as a gift. I chose a new dressing-gown, (robe, for American readers) and regular followers will know how much time I spend in my gown, and how much I love wearing one. I suggested we buy one online, but they are notorious for sizing issues. One version sold as size Large might only just fit, whereas another in the same size could well wrap around me twice.

There was nothing for it, a trip to Marks and Spencer in Norwich could not be avoided.

On Tuesday afternoon, we drove into Dereham, and parked the car for free in the town car park. Ten minutes later, we were on the fast bus to Norwich, heading into the city on a dull and rainy afternoon. I travel for free on my old codger’s bus pass, but Julie had to pay a return fare that was still only half of what it would have cost to park in one of Norwich’s busy multi-storey car parks.

The trip took around thirty minutes in moderate traffic, and the bus dropped us in the shopping centre almost opposite the huge Marks and Spencer shop. We took the lift to the second floor, and emerged in the menswear department exactly at the point where the dressing gowns are displayed. I tried on three different ones, all in the same size. There was that ‘Goldilocks’ moment, with one being too large, (and having an enormous hood that I didn’t want) another only just going around me, and the third being just right.

That third one was a rather luxurious multi-stripe gown of considerable weight and cosiness. The quality was reflected in the price, as it was thirty-percent more expensive than those I had rejected. As Julie paid for it, I quickly bought a new pair of black jogging trousers for dog-walking, and we were back inside the bus station within fifteen minutes of arriving. The next bus was ten minutes away, and coincided with the city’s schools and college finishing for the day.

So the ride home was on a completely full bus, in much heavier late afternoon traffic. But it still only took forty-five minutes to get back to Dereham, and we were in the car and home in Beetley before four-forty.

Considering that we caught the first bus into Norwich just before three in the afternoon, that almost sets a new shopping trip record.

My kind of trip to the shops.

Meeting Good Friends

Regular readers will know that I often mention my friend, Antony. He sends me interesting video clips, and as an accomplished photographer, he also took the photo on my ‘About’ page. I have known him for a long time, since we both worked as EMTs at the same ambulance station in London, then much later he came to work alongside me for the Police in that city. He still lives there, and still works in the same job.

In 2014, we attended his wedding to Natalie, on the south coast. Then in 2017, Antony and I (with Ollie) had a walking holiday in the Lake District which was later the subject of many photo posts on this blog. But given the distance, we haven’t seen each other since, despite keeping in regular contact by phone and email.

On Thursday, Antony and Natalie were returning from a trip to the north of England, and had arranged to stay the night in Wells-Next-The-Sea. As this is only a short drive from Beetley, we could meet up, enjoy a coastal walk, and then go to a restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, Julie hurt her back badly on Monday, and was unable to come. Nonetheless, I was delighted to see Antony and Natalie, and we did go for that coastal walk, followed by a very nice meal and a long after-dinner chat.

(I’m on the right, in case you didn’t know who was who.
The photo can be greatly enlarged by clicking on it.)

As they were not leaving Norfolk until almost 2pm on Friday, they suggested meeting at Holkham Hall that morning. With Julie still unable to walk properly, I went with Ollie, and we met in the car park of that impressive house. https://www.holkham.co.uk/

We then had a long walk around the extensive grounds, happy to have more time to catch up on those five years. Although Ollie had to remain on his lead, he seemed to be delighted to explore somewhere he hadn’t been for a long time.

Then it was time to say farewell just after 1:30pm, hoping it will not be another five years until we meet again.

Nine Years Ago Today

On the 23rd of March, 2012, I moved away from London for good, and arrived in Norfolk.

My wife Julie was already here. Having had to start a job locally, she had moved up on the 31st of December, 2011.

That week in March is one I will never forget. I had my retirement party on the 12th, my mum died on the 14th, and I was 60 years old on the 16th.

For the first months I lived here, I felt as if I was on holiday. Julie was still working full-time then, so I was alone during the day, in a totally unfamiliar place. The quiet of Beetley really got to me then. In a good way, making me relish the move away from the noise and bustle of Central London. But there was still a part of me that wondered if I would ever feel at home in this Norfolk village. I felt out of place even walking up to the post-box.

Getting Ollie saved the day. Having a dog to walk meant that I encountered many other people. Very soon, there was a regular group of walkers, all enjoying the antics of our dogs playing together.

However, I still found it hard to shake the feeling of being rather ‘lost’. So I became a volunteer at the local school, teaching cycling road safety. Then I took on a second voluntary job, working for the Fire and Rescue Service as a home safety officer; fitting smoke alarms, and giving talks and presentations to various groups around the county.

During this time, my friend Antony suggested I start writing a blog, which I began in the summer of 2012.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

It’s Official! I’m A Jinx!

Hands up, I write a lot about the weather. I’s probably the most regularly covered topic on this blog. One reason is that before I moved here, Norfolk had the proud boast of being ‘The Driest County in England’. In fact, that was the title of one of the earliest posts on my blog, reflecting the irony that it seemed to rain every day here.

I also wrote a post about the fact that it always rained at 2 pm, my usual dog-walking time.

Over the years, my obsession with weather has led some people to conclude that I am exaggerating. Others might think it shows signs of serious depression, or some other mental abberation. Moving to a place supposed to officially be the driest spot in the British Isles only to discover it is probably one of the wettest, is a cruel twist of fate indeed.

Then yesterday morning, I had an interesting conversation with a fellow dog-walker, as we both stood looking at the severe flooding that has affected Beetley Meadows. The man was younger than me, but had lived his whole life in this area. And he was a gardener by profession, so spends his life outside, every working day. Gazing at the rushing flood-waters, he told me this.

“This used to be the driest place, you know. Some summers, we had no rain for four or five months, and it never rained during the school holidays when I was young. We had hosepipe bans that started in April, and water was treated like something rare, because of the lack of rain. They even used to close the drive-through car washes because they used too much water. But I started to notice that changing a while back. As I am outside all day working, I get a feel for those things, you know? We began to get heavy rain in early October, and then almost no snow at all during winter, but many consecutive days of heavy rain instead. Washed out summers, ruined barbecues, and only a few reasonably hot days each year.

I remember going home and telling my wife that something bad was happening with the weather here. Even the direction of the arriving bad weather was changing. It was always from the west before, but then it started to come down from the north, and across from the east. Weather patterns and gulf stream directions were all different. I looked it up. Then there was a really big change. I remember it as if it was yesterday. It started with weeks of rain, then a crappy summer, followed by a late winter that left us with snow almost into April”.

I nodded in agreement, then asked. “What year was that then?” He turned to face me, his answer immediate and full of conviction.

“2012. It started at the end of March that year, and it has been getting worse every year since”.

I moved to Beetley on the 23rd of March, 2012. It’s all my fault.