My appreciation of Norfolk has grown over the years.
When I were a lad…
He was put on the train by my grandmother and stayed with relatives, Malcom and Joan Groom, who ran The Carpenters Arms in Wighton for a good few years from the 1960s.
This tradition continued after dad met my mum. Indeed, our family holidays up until my mid-teens were spent in Norfolk, staying around Wells and Stiffkey in rented cottages.
We lost contact with Norfolk for a few years, but I guess that the lure of big sky country remained buried in our family subconsciousness. After many years, seemingly out of nowhere, my parents decided to book a Norfolk holiday. I was unable to join them that year; I’d just moved into a flat in Manchester and had just started work.
Something significant happened during that holiday. My parents made the decision to semi-retire in Norfolk. To cut a long story short, dad got a job at Thurlow Nunn in Holt and my parents, brother and sister sold up and settled in Melton Constable, leaving me behind. It sounds harsh, but I was consulted and told them they’d be stupid not to move.
I continued to visit Norfolk on a regular basis, to visit my folks, and now that I’m married with kids of my own it feels like we’ve come around full circle, with a family holiday in Norfolk at least once a year for the last 20 years or so.
The Office for National Statistics reported last October that people living around the Norfolk coast are more satisfied, happy and find life more worthwhile than most in the country. Personally I’ve got no doubts about this report. I’m happiest when I feel inspired, and feel most inspired when I’m relaxed. Norfolk has this affect on people.
I noted with interest how the changing pace of life afflicted my family. We’re all fairly artistic on the maternal side; nearly everyone can either paint, draw or play a musical instrument. With the notable exception of my mother…
Big Sky Country
Mum was always too busy to do anything creative, what with holding down a job and looking after the family. However, since moving down to Norfolk, I’ve seen her chill out and take up painting and drawing with a local art club. She has produced some pretty good watercolours of the local landscape.
Artists have long drawn upon Norfolk’s scenery to create inspirational art through painting and photography. Brian Lewis, who has a studio in Sheringham, is probably most famous for his humorous and colourful paintings of local scenes, with seals in boats and buses.
It seems that you are only a stones throw away from a local exhibition or art gallery in Norfolk, with the Westcliffe Gallery in Sheringham and seemingly dozens of small galleries in Holt.
Finally, in Sheringham, as the perfect homage to the sea you can see the Art Trail, which is the coast being used as an easel for seaside inspired paintings.
In the cloud
Inspiration continues online with numerous excellent social media accounts and blogs dedicated to the county. The accounts are many and varied, from companies promoting all aspects of Norfolk life through to personal blogs.
There are some great photographers in the area, many of them on Twitter, and with a great eye for a shot. I’ve drawn inspiration from their view through the lens and now walk around permanently with a camera, constantly framing photographs in my mind. The Norfolk coast really is that photogenic.
If you are interested in seeing their take on the Norfolk landscape, check out their websites:
Looking back to the past
Of course none of this would exist but for the tireless work of those that seek to preserve and maintain the unique charm of Norfolk.
Preserved, and often working, historic monuments to Norfolk life are dotted around the county and are well worth a visit.
We all owe the staff and volunteers who maintain these fantastic attractions a great debt of gratitude.
To name but a few:
- The Mo and The Museum of the Broads.
- National Trust properties at Sheringham Park, Felbrigg Hall & Blicking Hall
- The North Norfolk Railway
- Cley Windmill and Horsey Windpump
And to the future…
Like me with my parents, my kids now have their own reason to visit Norfolk; The Prairie. I hope that this circle will come around again and they continue to enjoy staying in the area for years to come.
I think I need to add a warning to this blog. If you are wary of catching the Norfolk bug, please make no attempts to visit the area. However, the rewards are there for the less cautious amongst you!