Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Autumn In Norfolk

A trip to Norfolk seems to be becoming an autumn tradition for us. Last October we spent a long weekend in Wells-next-the-Sea and a couple of weeks ago we again headed down the A47 for five days in Little Walshingham. Having just a few days off during half term before starting my new job, and with Thomas having gone straight from his PhD to a new role at the university, high on the list of our priorities was to relax.

Our cottage in Little Walsingham was perfect for the job: with no WiFi or 3G signal, we had to abandon our phones and social media addictions and just... chill. We went for long walks, explored ancient ruins, picked blackberries, met friends, played board games. Most of all, we ate a lot of food, drank a lot of tea, had many pints of local cider, read quietly in front of the fire, and slept a great deal.

Sheringham was a nice place for an afternoon's wander, a classic seaside town where it was practically obligatory to eat chips on the seafront, despite the chilly wind.

Walsingham itself is a fascinating place to visit. The village is tiny, a maze of cramped lanes lined with half-timbered Tudor buildings and traditional brick and flint cottages. A site of pilgrimage since 1061, Walsingham Abbey was destroyed in the Reformation but pilgrimages were resumed in the early 20th century and it's now a major site of pilgrimage for both Anglicans and Catholics. It was quite an experience to sit in the pub one evening (the amazing Black Lion - do visit if you're ever in the area) and listen to a table full of robe-clad, beer-drinking priests debating who their favourite pope was. It was rather like an episode of Father Ted writ large, all the more so when the 'mean girl' priest started taking the piss out of a colleague for the speed of his Mass. Thomas and I decided that a trip to Little Walsingham is the priest equivalent of Ibiza; at least, there certainly seemed to be a lot of late-night drinking going on.

The Abbey grounds are now open to the public as a large park. The ruins, although there's not much left of them, are quite spectacular and we met the sweetest cat in the adjoining woodland, with whom we of course had to make friends. The glorious sunshine on our final day there brought the early autumn colours to life, the perfect weather for a long country walk.

Our few days in Norfolk were the perfect tonic and I've returned refreshed and ready for the challenges of this half term. Little Walsingham was just right for us, too. Quiet, peaceful, and away from the bustle of North Norfolk's seaside resorts, I'd heartily recommend it if you ever decide to visit the area.