Thursday 13 July
It is at least 10 years since we visited the North Norfolk coast having been there regularly from 1985 to 2008 whilst Sally’s parents were still alive. Early ferry from home, calm crossing and no trouble getting out of Liverpool.
Fred Olsen’s cruise ship, Boudecia, in the cruise terminal.
Stop at IKEA Leeds for lunch and of course you have to buy things – well it is things we wanted anyway.
Next stop was Great Heckington on the A17 between Newark and Kings Lynn where we had stopped before when we were regularly plying this route on our way to Brancaster.
A bit surprised though by the Penguin Pie on sale there!
Our destination tonight is Norwich and we are in an older style Holiday Inn Express on the northern outskirts of the city. This has definitely seen better days and is in need of some TLC.
Receptionist thinks we are not members of their loyalty club which is somewhat surprising bearing in mind we have been members for over 15 years and amassed several thousand points.
Not a good start as we also took the last parking space and he had no idea on suggestions for an evening meal tonight.
We chose the Reindeer, a pub on one of the roads out of the city; a good choice although a bit alarming as we were the only customers for a meal to start with and it was about 7pm.
Friday 14 July
Woken at 05:45 by what sounded like drilling or sanding followed by banging. This lasted a good 30+ minutes but we did manage to get back to sleep before being woken by our alarm at 8.
Day out to the North Norfolk coast to reminisce from when Sally’s parents lived there.
First stop is Old Hunstanton, meet up with John & Deirdre for a walk along the beach to introduce their dog, Lucy to the sea and to marvel at the unique rock formations.
Windy and overcast, so it was not really the weather for shorts and t shirts and Lucy was not impressed at first with the waves, but soon gets accustomed to it and manages to get somewhat wet which does wonders for her recent doggy perm!
I am not sure I had ever walked on this beach on the North Norfolk coast, so crumbly and the difference in colours is somewhat amazing.
Lots of windsurfers struggling with the wind, all wrapped up of course but there were some hardy kids in the sea.
Lunch as a picnic was not allowed in the car park so we eat in our cars instead! Jobsworth!
Next stop was at Brancaster where Sally’s mum & dad had lived for 22 years before their house had to be sold for nursing home fees.
We parked up and walked around a local footpath, what a change but we understand many of the houses are now holiday homes and not lived in permanently.
It was interesting to see the changes made, especially to the “old” family house.
Wells-next-the-sea was the last stop of the day and although we debated going to the end of the causeway on the little train, we opted for a walk along the causeway instead stopping half way along just to sit and stare, just so peaceful.
Now that the sun had come out and the wind dropped, photographs were looking good and we took more than we normally would as hopefully Gary can turn one or two of these into a painting for us.
After walking up the high street, the hairdressers, Jenny was still there, we head back to the car park and the fish and chip shop for a classic evening meal of fish and chips on the harbour wall and surprisingly not bothered by seagulls.
After our farewells, we head back to Norwich for a much better night’s sleep tonight.
Saturday 15 July
Drive to Earley for a visit to Flic, Gary and Cody. The traffic was appalling, where does everyone go?
Gary called out for work so we entertain Cody before we head to our hotel and then to a meal at Prezzo in nearby Woodley with them and Gary’s mum, Barbara. Cody was so good allowing us to have a virtually uninterrupted meal.
Sunday 16 July
After lunch with Flic and Gary, we head off to Clearwell. Some great comments in our visitors book, one guest has been there 7 times, so we must be doing something right.
The garden is in need of some TLC since our Gardner left at the end of May but the new gate looks good.
Monday 17 July
Of course, most times we come here, work is required on the house but this time, we thought we would do some touristy things, so head off towards Wales.
Our first stop, using our Manx National Trust cards, is the nearby National Trust castle at The Kymin. A castle on the hill above Monmouth which has connections to Nelson who, in 1802 dined at The Round House at The Kymin having sailed down the River Wye 3 years before Trafalgar and is probably the most famous guest to have dined at the Round House.
Allow an hour to look around the grounds but for those who are of reduced mobility, it is not really accessible inside the Round House but the view from the grounds are fantastic.
We drive on to Abergavenny for a coffee, we last were there at Christmas in 2003, and then on down some narrow lanes to Llanthony Abbey, a 13th century monastery sacked after the dissolution of the monasteries by the Henry VIII administration in the mid 1500s.
The Abbey is surprisingly intact after all these years with some of the rooms still recognisable.
Retracing our tracks down the narrow Welsh lates, we head for Skenfrith, a village on the border between England and Wales for afternoon drinks at The Bell, whilst we watched youngsters wandering around in the river Monnow.
A walk around Skenfrith castle, which was built in the 13t Century on the banks of the River Monnow to help keep the English and the Welsh apart!
This brought back memories of a Scout camp I had gone to, possibly when I was 14 or 15, and whilst I had not visited the Pub then (I am sure the Scout leaders had!) we had visited The Bell a couple of times recently, once with my Mum about 12 years ago for afternoon tea and once on New Year’s Day 2014 when torrential rain had raised the river Monnow to virtually flood level.
Much more civilised weather today.
Tuesday 18 July
After meeting up with our caretaker and his brother-in-law, Paul who is now going to do some limited gardening for us, we head off to Westbury gardens close to the Severn River.
This is a National Trust property so using our Manx National Heritage cards we were able to get in free to view these gardens modeled on a Dutch garden complete with canal and very hungry fish.
The one building remaining, a tower, had some very ornate wood panelling and there were many differing species of flowers, plants and fruits in evidence including the most enormous 400 year old oak tree and a somewhat larger than normal thistle.
A brief tidy up of one of the hedges on our return from food shopping and pack up ready for our journey home tomorrow.
Wednesday 19 July
A stop at Labels near Ross-on-Wye for some clothes and we head off northwards taking A roads rather than Motorways.
Our route took us via Ledbury, Malvern and Brockhampton where we stopped for our lunch and had a brief view of the extremely ancient house again using our Manx National Heritage cards to get in.
What a wonderful house this is, just wish we had more time to explore it and the area around.
Back on the road, we get held up by 3 sets of traffic light controlled road works and a broken down Lorry on our way towards Shrewsbury and are at the ferry in Liverpool with plenty of time for our crossing home.
Now for some home time, garden time and preparation for our next visit – this time to Jersey and France.