I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

Being beside water is meant to be calming (not sure this applies to white water rafting or shipwrecks) and we have swapped the canal and river experience for the sea, by coming to see Bryn on the Norfolk coast. Many people associate Norfolk with canals due to the Norfolk Broads but those are not connected to the rest of the network of English canals so are not accessible to us on Bartimaeus.

We picked up Nye and David at Norwich station and Bryn was waiting for us at our accommodation in Cromer. Poor Nye was feeling rough with a cold and headache and missed out on the first of Bryn’s suggestions. Looking at the weather he had spotted it was a clear night and it was likely the best night of the week for a night walk to see the stars, an activity he does with groups of children regularly. Nye had a hot lemon drink and snoozed while we went out into the dark. It was indeed perfect and not even cold. In addition there was a fine view of the Cromer lighthouse flashing.

Bryn had a number of other attractions lined up and everyone was up for an animal themed day. Fortunately Nye was well rested and able to join us and we all went together to an animal sanctuary, deceptively named as a horse centre, but in fact housing a very wide variety of animals and birds, including a chinchilla and a molluccan cockatoo. The horses were however the most amenable to being stroked though others were given a pat.

Bryn had gifted Nye and David animal adoption for a turkey and pig respectively from there so they were able to visit their adoptees. The weather was perfect for an outdoors day.

After lunch we had another trip lined up that was pre-booked and timed with the tides and also planned to be in good weather, a seal viewing boat trip. It was a bright day and rain free, just a bit of salt spray. While they warned us the seals had been recently disturbed by people walking past the “go no further” sign and carrying on, and so sightings could not be guaranteed, we were all happy to see a variety of seals and have some swim close to the boat. I was really pleased Nye had been able to join us as he so loves animals and seeing waves!

After a day of driving around, and going to sea, we had decided to have a close to base day and be able to nip indoors when the wet weather arrived, as promised. Bryn had a crabbing bucket and net and Cromer is famous for its crabs. The pier is apparently the place to be and instructions are provided.

Poster on the pier

Bryn ingeniously filled the bucket with water by standing on a raised stump at the shoreline and keeping his feet dry while dipping the bucket in the incoming wave. He then made a relaxing homely environment with a stone and some seaweed.

Bryn preparing his bucket

We were having no luck though. After a while, we moved our spot, tried again but still nothing. I disappeared to the toilet and shop and returned to see Bryn and Nye crab dancing around to signal that they had caught one. Nye told me they had named him Claude.

Shane and Bryn dropping their crab net and line from the pier

It was beginning to rain and late lunch time so we thought we might call it a day. I was happy a crab had been caught but mildly disappointed to have missed the catch. Shane pulled up the net to pack up only to find a larger crab in it. We put it in the bucket. The two crabs seemed uneasy with each other. Carefully I lifted the larger one up and established it was another male. A beach worker passed and admired the bravery of crab handling and the size of the crab. We then took them to the shore and gently returned them to the water.

Cromer is famous for its crabs. While we released those, they are on the menu in every eatery, including last night’s Chinese restaurant. Shane had a crab sandwich at the cafe the day before and this time I chose a green Thai crab burger in the fish restaurant. More seafood may be eaten before the week is up.

It was raining more heavily when we left the late lunch spot so we headed for the Cromer museum and the Cromer church to keep dry. Both were worth a visit. The church is a flint building as are many in Cromer, and the museum had early flint tools and exotic fossils, found in Norfolk. An excellent photography exhibition, of Olive Edis’ work, surprised us all.

The west window of Cromer Church

The rain had abated when we left the church, so to complete the Cromer experience I fancied a walk along the beach to get closer to the beach huts. Shane, David and Nye had headed back but Bryn and I enjoyed the multicoloured flint shingle, finding many “witch stones” with holes worn through the centre, and took one back to Nye. The beach huts were even more multicoloured. At the end was a Banksy of crabs without a home, feeling slightly guilty that locals are priced out of housing by the holiday accommodation market.