Icebergs and Oil Rigs

Cattle grazing on the coastal path between Blakeney and Cley, Norfolk

The north Norfolk coast has a special place in my heart. When I was a boy we would take a cottage with my Gran and Grandpa at Blakeney or Cley.
Dressed crab from Cromer was always a particular treat and picnics on the Sheringham line as the steam engine puffed along the coast to Holt with its lovely galleries and shops.

The shingle ridge at Cley was a favourite spot. My Grandpa would take my brother and I swimming there. He was of that particular generation where his face and hands were sun-kissed and brown but otherwise he was as white as porcelain standing there in his knitted trunks. “Come on boys” he would cry as my brother and I followed him into the freezing North Sea, “nothing between us and the North Pole except icebergs and oil rigs!” It really was that cold. I have said the same things to my girls many times swimming off the north Norfolk coast. It’s called wild swimming now but since childhood I’ve always enjoyed the excitement of swimming in the sea from April to October at Goring and elsewhere.

At Blakeney we would fish for baby crabs on the quayside. Delighted if we made a catch the crabs were always returned to the estuary and its fast flowing tide.
My wife, Teresa, and I were blessed to spend a long weekend at the wonderful Blakeney Arms Hotel late in the season last year. With its gathering English country house interiors and antique furniture the hotel provides a welcome retreat from the busyness of life. Wonderful food and the generous staff made for a special weekend.

The view from the Blakeney Arms Hotel, Norfolk

We arrived late in the evening and drank thermos tea on the quay as the sky darkened. When we awoke the following morning the rain had cleared. We drew our curtains and were greeted with a rich late autumn light illuminating the marshes and incoming tide. The sky always seems bigger on the north Norfolk coast and extends the horizon, a welcome experience in these times.
After breakfast we set out on the coastal path heading out to sea and then east towards Cley with its famous windmill and pottery. The path is raised above the marshes and to the side of us cattle grazed in a timeless scene reminiscent of a painting by Sir John Arnesby Brown RA.

News that we will probably all be holidaying in the UK and at home in Sussex this year is an exciting prospect.

Here in Sussex we are blessed with some of the most beautiful countryside and varied coastline in the country. Our museums, country houses, gardens, theatres and art galleries add to the cultural richness of our landscape and they will need our support.

Post lockdown I look forward to exploring our own county with you once again, celebrating the richness and beauty of Sussex, her history and her heritage.
Until then stay local and stay safe.