For a few years following my father’s retirement, my parents lived in Norfolk. They moved to the strangely named village, historically two villages, of Repps with Bastwick, as seen on the modern road sign, or, as can still be seen on the village sign using the much more intriguing Latin, Repps cum Bastwick. Until this year, when we popped up in June mainly in search of a localized dragonfly, the Norfolk Hawker (Aeshna isosceles), I hadn’t visited Norfolk for over 20 years. In addition to finding the specialized wildlife, renewing our acquaintance with the picturesque Norfolk Broads was great. I suspected we’d be back.
We have recently returned from a 2-week walking trip in Tuscany, which was also our first visit to Italy in more than 20 years. Having been back at home for just five days, Francine turned right around and went straight back to Italy in the company of her mother to give the 91-year-old a treat. Actually, I think Francine really wanted to continue gelato comparisons in a newly begun effort to find the best Italian ice cream maker.
So, yours truly was to be left home on his Jack Jones. With the year now dying, the offer of redecorating the kitchen was unappealing and, interesting though 2013 has been in regards to pastures new (Singapore/Cambodia, Spain in summer, Tuscany), I had a couple of withdrawal symptoms brewing (France, New Forest). The idea of a solo trip in Guillaume formed; Guillaume would keep me company; we’d have a sort of male bonding trip. 🙂 I checked the weather forecasts and it seemed set to collapse both in the New Forest and in France. Curses! However, the poor weather looked to be arriving a little later in points further north and east, Norfolk looked good. I booked back into the Caravan Club site near Ludham.
This morning the alarm went at 4:30 AM. Franco-no-mates was booked to take Francine over to the aforementioned 91-year-old mother to board their 6:40 AM coach back to Italy. This time, they were to visit Lake Maggiore. Duty done, I returned home, loaded the car with a few essentials including my bicycle and, this time, a key to unlock it from the carrier :D, and prepared to set off. Norfolk should be about 2½ hours away but I also needed a fuel stop before collecting Guillaume. With a check-in time of 12:00 noon, I hit the road at 9:00 AM.
Sometimes, the simplest of things seem difficult. I headed for Asda about 10 miles away ‘cos it usually has the cheapest fuel around. Making a special journey there is a false economy ‘cos you use all the saving getting there and back. However, in this case, it was en route so made sense. The queues however, did not. Half the pumps were out of action and the remaining few had the diesel nozzles covered. I went on to a couple of nearby Shell stations where I found more covered-up diesel nozzles. Yikes! What gives? Back to Tesco near to my original Asda port of call. Phew! Not only was diesel available but, unusually, it was a little cheaper than Asda. However, at this point I really didn’t care what I paid for it. Much relieved with a brim full tank, I went to get Guillaume and we hit the road at 10:00 AM.
We sailed along nicely until we hit road works widening the A11 around Thetford when we began to crawl along nicely and very slowly, in between complete stops, that is. I’m sure the end result will be worth it but it’s causing complete havoc in both directions. Guillaume and I finally checked-in at Ludham at 1:00 PM. The good news is that the weather was great and our favourite pitch, on grass tucked away in a corner, was free so I snagged it and we got installed. Guillaume was absolutely delighted.
A late afternoon/early evening saunter along the River Ant from Ludham Bridge proved a very pleasant way to unwind from the frustrations of the journey. I took the wildlife lens along. There were lots of uncooperative Migrant Hawkers (Aeshna mixta) and slightly more cooperative female Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum) but nothing else with a heartbeat.
The evening light was wonderful. I even took a shine to a plant’s seed pods in it. If my botanist were here, I might know what the plant is. 🙂 I would have been better taking a landscape lens so let’s hope I get a repeat opportunity to correct my error.
[Francine and mater are spending night #1 at Saarbrücken in Germany. I hope they are comfortable.]