Norfolk they say. it’s sort of out of the way they say – no-one goes to Norfolk. Not going anywhere they say. Not on the main routes they say. And for that I am glad, for I can keep it my secret, sort of.
Norfolk is a haunting beauty. The endless beaches (Holkham being a favourite and final scene of Elizabeth in Love). Mist and woodland, windy roads and forgotten coastal towns. Once had an interesting version of Tomato soup on the pier at Cromer. But I do to go for the towns – I go for the fens.
The fens are marshlands, drained and lying in rich, dark soil. Crops abound, surrounded by bogs and water leading to the sea. The Wash, dotted by towns seemingly wrapped in history and piles of the rich. I always wonder at the endless stone boundaries, built years ago and still standing, they go on for miles.
One of my favourite places to visit is Holkham hall.
Some of my favourite towns are Burnham Market (fabulous antique shops), Holt, Brancaster and Blakeney. Walking along the water at Blakeney before tea at the hotel, I am transported to an Enid Blyton book, the small sailing boats ready for adventure. Wells by the Sea is a gem of seaside living.
I do not go for the shops, the towns, the human element, although these are charming as are the local pubs. I go to disappear in Norfolk, between the water and the wildlife. In the mist. Perhaps the best birding experiences can be found the there.
In the morning, in my favourite hotel where I always ask for my favourite room, I rise to view, open the window (even in the middle of winter) and breathe in the salty air. The horizon is endless, the calling birds are my music. The entire world seems to disappear for a while.
One morning, over breakfast in the conservatory, it began to snow. Silent, soft white flakes descending and I cannot remember a time I was more moved by nature. I think that was the definitive moment I fell in love with Norfolk.
This is crabbing country. Fishing terrain. Nature comes close in Norfolk and the space reminds me of my old country. Endless space on this small, mud island. This is Wellington boots, wading, exploring sort of place. A writing sort of place. The poetry lies outside.
Am not writing a review as a traveller would, but writing of how much Norfolk inspires me to simply stop the clocks, focus on the immediate, sand, surf, wind and wildlife, and escape. I am glad few go there, for then I have the indulgence of having her a little more to myself.
We all need an escape from life every now and then, and Norfolk is mine.
Images Telegraph, Holkham Hall and Visit Norfolk