Tam was turning 27. Winter was still at it’s harshest. What better place to go than the beach?
Tabitha, Becky and James came from the farthest reaches of London, while Crerar and Steph came from just down the road to meet us at Putney. Here, we packed ourselves into “7 seater” van with the most sensitive proximity detector and set off to the Norfolk Coast, passing everybodies house along the way. Could have just picked them up…
In a couple hours we had our first sight of the ocean in months, in Salthouse. It was spectacularly gray and windy, but the ocean nonetheless appeared behind a few marshy bogs. Here we had a hearty meal and met up with Nicole, Tim, Annabel and Reeves in Los Rambler – the campervan that smoked diesel by the American gallon.
We were hunting seals. We weren’t sure how to find them. We didn’t even have a club. The tours went from Cley-next-the-Sea and meandered along a lot of rocky shore. A little old lady gave us about 6 sheets of paper, each with detailed maps and facts on the wildlife of the marsh. After a small throw of the frisbee, we didn’t last very long there.
Further along the coast we stopped at Wells-next-the-sea (surely they could use a few more words) to see a real Norfolk beach. To be honest, we were impressed.
The frisbee again made an appearance. This wasn’t any normal frisbee though. It was more of a ring with a metal band. It defied most of gravitys laws and hovered effortlessly into a blackberry bush, first chance it got. After that recovery, made possible through genius use of a long stick, the frisbee was again in trouble. It floated from the throw of Crerar, above and beyond all clutching hands and after what seemed like an age, sat flat on the surface of the sea, sinking into the depths. We weren’t sure how deep, but Crerar was about to find out how deep.
The water was about 6 degrees, Google said that after about 30 minutes he would be unconscious and after an hour dead. We didn’t have that long to wait. Besides, we wanted the frisbee back.
It turned out that the water was shallow and that Crerar didn’t need to strip right down. It made it a lot funnier though. The other boys helped him out and after a while, Reeves managed to kick up the frisbee with his toes in water a couple feet deep.
Arriving at our accommodation in Heacham, we found a couple of large black cocks sitting on the gate. They clucked and growled deeply at Tam, daring her to lift the latch. Once inside, we prepared a feast of epic proportions. A lot of spuds, a crab, the cheesiest of cheese sauces and couple of large chickens…
The following morning, Tam found an eager local, who owned a bike shop, a lawnmower shop and a home whiteware shop. He was keen to get us all on his old-model bikes and back to his weekend job as a handyman. Our bike gang made a beeline to the promenade, then down to Huntstanton, the wind strong enough to blow us the whole way down.
Huntstanton was a bit of a legacy seaside town. Back before the days of sub £30 international flights from Stanstead to exotic Spain and Greece, British holidaymakers would rent campervans by the concrete lined beach, eat fish and chips and frequent the local fair. These days the fair grounds are a bit ghostly. Given that it was winter, they looked rarely used.
The paths were not quite adventurous enough for the bike gang. Before long, we were off-road and on a narrow stream path. Too narrow in places. Steph had a slip and ended up in the creek and Mitch’s wheel skidded out and he fell in a blackberry bush.
Once back on the road and with our bikes covered in mud, we returned against the strong wind. Forming a peleton to shield against the gusts. Our mate at the bike shop was pretty happy to see us and his bikes back.
The road home was much like the road out – only in reverse. Tam was another year older and we all managed to celebrate in according fashion. Thanks to all who came!
Photo credit to Tam, Nicole, James and Crerar.