Tuesday, 15 April 2014

NFN


I have only visited Norfolk once, but I loved it. The rest of this post is going to be written for the 'benefit' of anyone who has never visited it - and that covers an awful lot of people - but bear in mind that I am no expert on the place, so treat it as you might read the first impressions of a foreigner in a foreign land.

The reason why so few people - relatively speaking - have been to Norfolk, is because there is no through-traffic to speak of. There is one (ok, one and a half) road in, and you have to use the same road to get out of it. You get to Cromer on the North coast, then you turn around and go back down again.

Norfolk (with a little help from Suffolk) forms the bootylicious arse of England - the bit which sticks out rudely into the North Sea, right the face of the Low Countries. It is - effectively - a larger equivalent of an ox-bow lake, with almost three sides of it surrounded by water.

Driving through its country lanes is like going back to 1950s England, with old, cast-iron, black and white signs at the sides of the roads, pointing to the next village. As soon as you get out of Norwich, you enter my Surrey childhood.

Because of the two cul-de-sacs of the A140 and the A148, Norfolk has the reputation for having more people who are directly related to each other than any other part of Britain of the same size.

On the other side of the Forest of Dean, the river Severn forms a very similar - but much smaller - shape to Norfolk, and the water-locked villagers around Arlingham usually have at least two relations living within a few miles of them, usually with a different surname to their own. Funnily enough, the Forest of Dean - a short ferry trip away if they had not done away with the ferry - has the same reputation, but that's more to do with the impenetrability of the woods than its shape.

Norfolk was the favourite retreat of the Queen Mother, but since she kicked the bucket the place has fallen out of favour with the younger generation, who like to be within easy reach of a motorway and have been solely responsible for the ludicrous price of property around the Tetbury area.

When I visited Norfolk it was Christmas time, and on Boxing Day I was invited for drinks at the houses of three elderly residents, each of whom had a photo of themselves standing in the same room next to the Queen Mother, usually on a baby-grand piano. I was actually invited to tea with the Queen Mother, who was going to visit my elderly host a week after I was due to leave the area.

Norfolk is so cosy. If I had nothing better to do, I would quite like to go and live there, but - as they say - you should never go back, and making a one-way trip up a cul-de-sac is one of the scariest things you can do.

I thought I would highlight the picture above of the next Queen, laughing her tits off at really bad, Australian art.

42 comments:

  1. (In earnest, planning my next summer trip to GB): do you know a flat share in Cromer?

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    1. No, not really, but I'm sure you could stay with Rachel and Pascale.

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  2. Wonderful composition (the picture).

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  3. Very funny. Ha ha. At least you're not claiming to be a fucking expert. From the officer in charge, Norfolk County Council, 5th Floor.

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    1. Well I smiled - and, I notice, you have given us a picture of you smiling as well!

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    2. Was this post the antidote to yesterday's to appease me?

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    3. Kinell - anyone would think the world revolved around Floor five of Norfolk County Council, the way you go on.

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    4. Keep out of Norfolk Stephenson.

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  4. Hello Tom:

    What a county!! Wonderful. And Blickling is almost our favourite country house.

    Possibly, now that it is out of favour with the dreaded Royal Family, it might be a place to consider.

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    1. Go on, spoil yourself (I actually miss-typed this as 'soil yourself'!) - move to Norfolk!

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  5. I was looking at maps of Norfolk - it looks like a brain.

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    1. What county looks like a cock?

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    2. I don't know. What country DOES look like a cock, me old cock?

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    3. The county I live in looks like a Tetris piece.

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    4. I'm just wondering what your husband looks like, if you think Cornwall looks like a cock.

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    5. Perhaps I am thinking of the Mull of Kintyre

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    6. Every time I think of Mull of Kintyre, I think of another cock - Paul Macartney.

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    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    8. So here's my undeleted response: Leave my husband out of this, Stephenson, and Cornwall is the most phallic looking county in England.

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    9. Right - a couple of questions: How many legs have you got, and how many husbands?

      (Phallic-looking cunty? An oxymoron, surely?)

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    10. Eight, one, no, maybe.

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  6. Normal For Norfolk!

    What a pity that PC concerns outlawed this analysis once hallowed in the loony bins of the county.

    Which also used to be renowned for the number of people with limbs missing after the attentions of Mr. Ranger at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital...

    Not to speak of the effusions of the Singing Postman and the writings of the Boy John...

    And the bloody Queen Mother.

    I liked the oysters at Morston though, but apart from that give me Silly Suffolk any time.

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    1. They do a nice crab sandwich too.

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    2. Not in my time...and I used to pick my oysters myself from the unlicensed beds after visiting the mussel scalps...Cley had a nice line in brown shrimps though, sold from a van in a paper poke.

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    3. You can't go wrong with Nord See Krabben - unless you are Chinese and the tide is coming in. That sounds like bad taste, but it is more an attack against gang-masters.

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  7. When Charles ascends to the throne will the queen become the King Mum?

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    1. Good question, but I can't see him in charge whilst she is still alive.

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  8. How very dare you! I beg your pardon Tom, but that is really terrible NEW ZEALAND art they are laughing at.

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    1. OMG! I knew they were in the area, but I didn't know they were at the gates of Morrrdorrr. My sincere apologies.

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  9. How did the freeway system come not to be developed in Norfolk?
    Separate item. There is a large naval base in Norfolk, Virginia. Southerners unabashedly pronounce it Nor-f**k. Northerners say Nor-folk. As phonetically as you can, how do you say it? I'll ask Tony for a go at it this summer, with his East London accent.

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    1. Nor-ferk is how we say it, but without a Norfolk accent.

      And a freeway through Norferk would have to terminate in Denmark to make any sense at all.

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    2. We used to reckon that anyone with the brains and sense of organisation to be able to build a main road had left Norfolk for better things and those that were left wanted to keep their female relatives to themselves

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    3. Norfuck is how we say it actually. And there are no roads in because we don't want any fuckers coming here.

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    4. Good policy. Keep it in the family.

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  10. That is not the Rolf Harris portrait of our Queen is it? Norfolk is the county in which I would most like to live; it has no mountains and is relatively flat and, I adore the accents. Plural. Also, I spent the most wonderful month in Thetford Chase with my aunt and uncle when I was thirteen. They were almost entirely self-sufficient.

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