After the rain

Sun over Southwold

After leaving North Norfollk, Deepdale Backpackers and Sea Palling behind, we headed towards Lowestoft.

Where it rained – a little at first that ensured we wore jackets for the walk to the pub on our first night there, but then the heavens opened overnight, a move that meant that we went nowhere during the first day in the town and ended up reading books on our respective tablets and having tea, coffee and snacks in our room and the lounge of Hotel Katherine.

After another walk to the pub for our evening meal, we checked out the forecast for the next day – no rain, so we ventured to Southwold, a town we’ve visited a few times and a one which provides good photo opportunities.

Southwold’s inland lighthouse

There’s quite a bit to see and do in Southwold, but I won’t spoil it as deserves to be visited and explored in order to get a feel for the place and what’s on offer. Yes, we couldn’t get served in one of the pubs, but that was down to the Covid restrictions at the time and how busy the pub’s outdoor seating was on a nice sunny day.

There’s plenty of places to shop that will appeal to the hipster, but also places that are more down to earth. We make a habit of visiting RNLI shops when we see them as it’s a charity worth supporting and one that doesn’t generally go for high prices for diaries, calendars, t-shirts and bags of fudge.

Further east…

Sea Palling…

When we were planning this trip, we had two options to get from Burnham Deepdale to our next stop Lowestoft.

One was cross country and the other was to follow the coastline as much as possible, so that was the choice.

Why did we pick Sea Palling as a stopping off point for lunch/leg stretch?

Largely because I’d seen a newspaper article extolling the virtues of the area, so Sea Palling was entered into the route planner as a stopping off point rather than Cromer, a place that we’d been to on several occasions.

Lunch was a pure and simple affair for us at the cafe pictured above after which we headed up to the Lifeboat station and onto the beach.

It was a grey day, so fleeces/soft shells were more suitable than t-shirts.

As I’m not much good walking on soft sand, Caroline went off for a longer walk on the beach whilst I stuck to more supportive areas to take photos.

Although a tractor was working on the beach, it hadn’t removed the dead seal pup that was lying on the sand – I did warn one or two people about this, but that was largely because the adults had small children in tow (an image of said seal is on this post, but one from a distance rather than a close-up).

Would we go back to Sea Palling? I’m not sure as there’s more places on the Norfolk coastline that we haven’t explored as yet along with a few around the Norfolk Broads – time will tell!

Another grey day..

More on Wednesday!

Still looking east

As seen on Michael Portillo’s railway programme last week!

Today’s post is a quick one, as there’s things to do and people to talk to…

After leaving Normous Newark behind, we headed to our usual bolt-hole in North Norfolk, Deepdale Backpackers at Burnham Deepdale. We’d booked an ensuite room, but the communal areas – kitchen, lounge – were closed due to Covid restrictions, so we were eating outside at meal times.

We’d booked a rail trip on The Poppy Line between Holt and Sheringham for our first day down there and whilst I would normally post pics about that day on here, guess who forgot to take both cameras with him! D’oh!!!

I didn’t forget them on our second day out though – a short ride on the Wells & Walsingham narrow gauge route followed by an afternoon in Wells and on and around the beach…

Back on Monday!

Looking east…

Normous Newark Autojumble

Changing holiday plans isn’t something we normally do.

Last September’s two week trip was planned out and accommodation booked way before it was due to happen, but fortunately we’d made a savvy move by booking most of our overnight stays through booking.com which had free cancellation as an added incentive, just in case Covid rules were instigated at short notice.

The original plan for last September was to head up to Scotland and use trains and buses to get into the Highlands to explore the area and get to places such as Mallaig and Kyle Of Lochalsh by rail.

Why didn’t that trip happen? Not because of Covid, but a wedding…

Not ours, but Caroline’s son and his fiancee – who live in London.

The timing was going to be a bit close, so we decided to postpone it and cancel bookings in order to look for a break closer to London so Caroline was in striking distance for when the date/venue were finalised.

East Anglia became the location of choice, largely because we’ve been to both North Norfolk and Suffolk before, but we’ve never done the full circuit…

The process for cancelling the Scottish trip and booking (again by booking.com) the stays for the new plan took just four hours from start to finish – our favourite backpacker hostel’s ensuites in North Norfolk, a very good small hotel in Lowestoft, a chain hotel in Bury St. Edmunds, a coaching inn near IWM Duxford Air Museum and another chain hotel in Cambridge.

Our earlier than usual start on that first Sunday was down to our first port of call – Normous Newark Autojumble at the Showground on the outskirts of Newark which is next door to Newark Air Museum.

What’s an Autojumble? Think of a very large car boot sale devoted to predominately items for cars, motor bikes, memorabilia, bits for bikes and books, models, clothing and tools and you won’t be too far wrong.

We’d seen footage from Normous Newark on ITV4’s Junk & Disorderly TV show where presenters Henry Cole & Sam Lovegrove find things, fix them up and then flog them at other Autojumbles.

There was no sign of the dynamic duo though, but lots to look at and ponder on as we wandered around, had coffee and then wandered some more. We left empty handed, but now we know what’s what, a return visit could be in order when our Skoda has an empty boot to take any purchases!

Once lunch was taken care of, it was time to head for Deepdale Backpackers in Burnham Deepdale to find our room for the night. As the kitchen was closed due to Covid restrictions, we bought snack stuff and beer & cider for consumption later in the open air in the courtyard below our room.

As we had another early start on Monday morning, an early night was had, largely because we had a steam train to catch after finding our breakfasts!

Friday smile…

Smile for the day, Burford, The Cotswolds

Look east packing…

Not every day was this sunny!

Packing for trip around East Anglia was a last minute affair as we waited to see what the BBC’s twelve day forecast was predicting weather-wise.

The bags were our usual Osprey Farpoint 40 packs, but there were a couple of additions as we were car packing, so we had a shopping bag with our stainless steel coffee presses plus reusable plastic plates, mugs and cutlery, a newly acquired travel kettle and some bags of Taylor’s coffee.

Clothing choices reflected the weather outlook – sun at first then light rain, heavy rain, breezy days and also ensured that we didn’t look out of place in the backpackers hostel, hotels or inns we were staying in.

Personal choices were simple – a trio of cotton t-shirts from Gladstone Motorbikes, Uber Moose and Weird Fish, three tech tees from Rohan, two shirts/over shirts plus jeans, Trailblazer and Stretch Bags (all Rohan) plus M and S socks and undies. Jackets were an Alligin fleece, Troggings soft shell hoodie and an Ascent waterproof – all by Rohan.

Footwear came courtesy of Merrell and Oboz whilst hats came from Uber Moose and Lowe Alpine.

Tech taken along included the Nikon digital compact, my Sony Alpha DSLR, the iPhone, iPad and respective chargers. Kindle software is on both of our tablets along with a varied set of books too.

Caroline’s packing was similar to mine with Rohan jeans, fleece hoodies, tech tees and her Troggings hoodie being packed along with Bamboo socks, Rohan camisoles and underwear plus her Nike Gore-Tex, her Healthy Backpack handbag, her Samsung phone, tablet and chargers…

Shoes came from Ecco, Merrell and Reiker…

As we were staying in different types of accommodation, wash kits were taken along (inc battery operated toothbrushes) and travel towels for the nights in the backpackers hostel ensuite.

Was everything used?

Oh yes, especially when the rains came and we had to head out to a pub for our evening meal!

Look East…

Normous Newark, but no Cole or Lovegrove
Wells & Walshingham Railway
A grey day at Sea Palling
Southwold Pier
Sixties travel classic at IWM Duxford

The above pics are a taster for what’s to come over the next couple of weeks

We spent time exploring the east of England last year heading off towards North Norfolk, Lowestoft, Southwold, Woodbridge and IWM Duxford.

It would have been a full two weeks, but the forecast for the last days was not good, especially as we were supposed to be exploring Cambridge on foot. Thankfully we’d booked a chain hotel on booking.com, so I hit the cancel button on the iPad and cancelled the two night stay.

We will head back there, it’s just a case of when…

Carpacking…

Small, but perfectly formed…

When our car was written off by a supermarket delivery van in April last year, the choice of replacement vehicle came down to a shortlist of two – the Kia Picanto and the Skoda Citigo.

The dealer selling the Picanto screwed up big time when I was trying to see it when the first UK lockdown finished and the car showrooms reopened for viewing, so I got the bus down to the local Skoda dealer and took a look at the Citigo Monte Carlo that I’d seen online.

To say that I’d done some research would be an understatement. Not only had I looked at reviews for the Monte Carlo version and the standard model, I’d also looked at reviews of the VW Up! and the Seat Mii as well.

It’s the first time I’ve bought a car without taking it out on a test drive, but with with sound understandings in place, the car was bought, insured and taxed before driving it off the forecourt and heading back home the long way round.

The Citigo may be small, but it goes well thanks to the gutsy engine and aerodynamics and has been known to see off a few white vans at traffic lights since June last year.

The one thing we were worried about at first was the size of the boot/trunk. We knew that we couldn’t get a road bike in, but we could get the folding Dahon in and our bags if the back seats were down.

Osprey Farpoint 40 – 2013 model still doesn’t disappoint!

What we did find however was that it swallowed both of our Osprey packs, a bag of shopping and the usual gubbins that are kept in the car most of the time – foot pump, tyre repair aerosol, window wash/water bottle, hand gel, baby wipes/paper towel (both handy when checking the engine oil) and cleaning stuff for the interior surfaces.

Now this wasn’t to cope with two or three days away, this was also good for the two weeks we spent in East Anglia in late September last year. Yes, the camera bag was placed on the back seat when we were travelling, but it was handy for when I needed to use my DSLR at planned or unplanned stops.

With good mpg (@50+), low insurance costs and Vehicle Excise Duty of £20 a year at June 2020 rates, the Citigo is a good low, cost pre-owned option (new ones are now electric only whereas ours is petrol only).

That visit to East Anglia confirmed the decision to buy was a wise one!

Southwold lighthouse…

Next up, Packing days are here again, then East Anglia, here we come!

Familiar territory

A nice & sunny day in the Lakes

If it’s Saturday, then it’s our last full day in the Lakes and it’s a walking one.

The route was very familiar as I’ve been using it for years, but we chose to walk under half of the usual distance and take it at a leisurely pace too.

The full route is from Ambleside to Rydal Hall then to Grasmere via the Coffin Path. After that It’s out on the road for a while before heading upwards over Red Bank before hitting the village of Elterwater.

From there it’s onward to Elter Water, Skelwith Bridge and skirt Tarn Foot Farm before going up over the back part of Loughrigg and then dropping back into Ambleside via Rothay Park.

The full route is around thirteen miles and it’s the one I used often back in my days as a gear tester as it’s a) familiar and b) has just about every surface you’re likely to encounter if you’re assessing & reviewing new boots.

Our choice, and we chose to accept it, was to wander through Ambleside, walk towards Rydal Hall, have some coffee and cake then head upwards towards Rydal Mount (former home to the Wordsworths) and then along the Coffin Path to How Top before taking the road down to Dove Cottage (the other home of the Wordworths) before walking into Grasmere itself.

The way through to Rydal Hall was the quietest I’d seen it for years and the campsite I’ve used on many occasions was quiet.

At Rydal Hall (both pics)

After taking some shots of the waterfalls, coffee and cake was ordered and paid for by card for a change as there was a no cash policy in operation. 

Then it was up to Rydal Mount and time to hit the more rugged part of the track leading to Grasmere. This was also quiet and surprisingly so considering how many people had been wandering around Ambleside on Friday and first thing on this Saturday morning. 

Dove Cottage was reached in no time, but there was no chance of heading inside as it was closed to the general public at that time. 

We did get the chance to pay homage to the Wordsworths, because one place was open as a means of paying respects…

Lunch beckoned, but it wasn’t to be at the first place we sat down in. We were shown to a table, given a couple of menus and that was it. Staff came and went with food or taking orders at other tables, but not ours, so we legged it in search of another café.

And found one – Heidi’s (heidisgrasmere.co.uk). It’s a café and there’s rooms available too, but we were there for lunch and yes, it was warm enough to sit outside to eat.

Once fed, we took a look inside Sam Read Booksellers (samreadbooks.co.uk) and came away with a couple of paperbacks that I’d taken a shine to. Caroline and I had the place to ourselves as only two mask wearers at a time were being allowed in to browse and buy. 

We also took a look inside a couple of art gallery shops too, but didn’t buy anything as we are running out of wall space at home due to the calendars, photos from previous travel trips and the pieces of art work that Caroline has made over the years.

Another coffee beckoned, as did a soft drink, but the soft drink may well have been one of the worst I’ve ever tasted so it was time for another double espresso to take the taste away!

We did take the easy way back to Ambleside – by bus, so we got back, had time to wash & brush up before heading out for our evening meal.

Which was at The Priest Hole once more – they were as good as their word and rang me after a table came up, so it was back there for another evening of good, unpretentious food and a bottle or two of fine local ales.

The Priest Hole – one more time!

The next stop was back to Wanslea to prep for the next day, which turned out to be a quiet one. The museum we drove to turned out to be advance bookings only, so we ended up going to Booth supermarket in Kirkby Lonsdale for sandwiches, soft drinks and the chance to stock up on some unfamiliar ales and cider for home consumption.

Then it was time to head home, sort the washing out and use the phone to order a couple of curries for delivery as we didn’t feel like heading out again. 

A good few days? Oh yes…

Not only, but also…

Thought that I’d lost these pics, but they were just misplaced!

Caroline, The Minstrels Gallery and a wet hire bike...

“Now that was a good ride”