In some vain attempt to avoid the hell of fitting a new kitchen we decided to bomb it back to the Waveney Valley for the Easter weekend. When you live somewhere you stop seeing the beauty in it but this weekend enabled us to open our eyes again to this stunning part of the country…
My husband was born in the Waveney Valley and his parents live on the family land where they can look out of the window and see the house where is father was born and the field where his Grandfather entered the world. Some would say they have lived a sheltered life, never straying far from home and I too used to think this is my ever so slightly snobbish way. However, after this weekend I am starting to see perhaps why his parents have not particularly felt the need to go anywhere else.
There is a running joke in the Waveney Valley that going abroad means going to Norfolk (the border is 2 miles away). The area is in many way very inwards looking, there is a certain disconnection to the rest of the country, indeed the world. It is like stepping back in time, many say that the area is 20 years behind but you know what, is that really such a problem? Is this not one of the things that makes this place the way that it is?
We lived here for 7 years and it was not a particularly happy time for me. Despite having our children I felt incredibly lonely, 5 hours from Bristol, my parents and my friends. I never ‘fitted’ in to this unique part of the world; I was too modern, too left-wing, too middle class. I had a posh accent and read The Guardian. It was never going to work.
But, since then when we come back I have started to see the magic of the place; the beaches, the towns and the beautiful city of Norwich.
We decided to relive our working days in Norwich and take the kids on the train which was our old commute to work. I used to work for a Publishing House is St James’s Mill next to the river and every day we would get the train over the marshes and Broads. It is a stunning train journey where we used to see a plethora of wildlife as well as the famous Cantley Bench (long story but it’s still there!). We promised the kids that they would get to see some great wildlife, and perhaps if they were really, really lucky a Marsh Harrier. Well, they did see a Marsh Harrier, in fact they saw two. The Girl was beyond excited, and The Boy, like a puppy spent the whole journey with his head out the window of the train soaking up the endless vistas, windmills, sailing boats and marshland.
On arrival in Norwich we headed along the River to the Cathedral where we got to see a breeding pair of Peregrine Falcons, another BIG tick for our wildlife obsessed children (so proud) before heading in to the city. We had a day of wandering around The Lanes, the Market Place and shops. Listening to street singers, watching entertainers, eating ice creams and hot dogs and finding church upon church. By all accounts Norwich used to have 52 churches and 365 pubs. Not bad!
Coming back to the in-laws we had a beautiful sunset and glimpses towards the sea and the huge expanse of white sandy beach at Lowestoft (an often maligned seaside town which is a gem of a place when you look a little deeper). We spent the rest of the weekend walking around the upland and lowland marshes that surround the house and the light, the peace and tranquility were mesmerizing. I can see why they are so happy here, it is an easy life, no material pressures, you can shut yourself away and imagine you are living in another time, which is today’s economic and political upheaval is a wonderful thing.