Friday, 22 November 2013

Happy Birthday to me....

I didn't get around to writing this yesterday, so I thought I would make a start while the kettle is boiling for our porridge and drink this morning!

Yep, yesterday was my birthday. 21 again. Well, 46 to be more precise, but they are only numbers so I keep being told.

We went back to Norwich yesterday to have a better look around the shops and to have a birthday meal out and about. I have to say, I had heard that Norwich was good for shopping and it really is. Besides all the little independent store are all the usual high street stores and mostly they have BIG stores!

The John Lewis was very very good and the staff were excellent as one would expect. The Marks & Spencer was also rather impressive, although as we are used to the Coventry one, its not that hard to impress us!!

There were also large branches of BHS, Debenhams and Next, but we didn't go into any of these.

There is a large outdoor market with permanent wooden hut type stalls. This seemed to be very busy but we didn't have a look ourselves.

Sally bought me a new pair of slippers from John Lewis, a pair of Ugg ones which were expensive but look as though they will last for years.

Lunch was at Bella Italia, sally had tagliatelli, while I had chicken wrapped in Parma ham. We also had a naughty dessert of an ice cream and popcorn sundae.

I needed the gents after the main course, and followed the signs to what I thought was the toilets. I didn't think about it straight away, but it did vaguely occur to me that there were only cubicles and no urinals. On the way out I noticed a picture of an old lady on the door. By the time I got back to the table I was beginning to think that maybe I had gone into the wrong toilets. I mentioned this to Sally, and when she came back from her visit to them she confirmed that I had indeed been to the ladies and the gents were down the stairs in the basement! Needless to say, she is planning on mocking me about this for the foreseeable future.

After lunch we went into Jarrolds department store, which is a good old fashioned store. We had seen some Sabatier kitchen knives there on Sunday when we had visited, and we wanted another look at them. Sally bought a couple of bits for the kitchen, but decided against the knife set as it wasn't quite what she wanted.

It was dark by now, so we headed back to Cromer. It was also raining a bit, so we were glad to be in the dry. The day had started out sunny and dry, but had drifted downhill as the day had worn on. (A bit like me really!)

The journey back was less eventful than the journey to Norwich - the satnav had failed to take us to the john lewis carpark, but just to the front of the store, a few button pushes later it decided to get us to the carpark, but by ignoring most of the rules of the highway code. "Do a u turn now, drive across the pavement knocking over anyone who gets in your way. Then take the first turn on the right, go the wrong way up the one way street and then try to outrun the police car" (well, it wasn't quite THAT bad, but not far off!!)

Back at the "villa" we settled down to a few games of rummy, Sally watched Masterchef, and we had a few crackers with cheese quite late as we were still pretty full from lunch.

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Tuesday, Wednesday, happy days.....

Tuesday was supposed to be the day that the snow hit. I gather that it did slightly back home, but we didn't get any at all here in Norfolk. It was however very very cold. The temperature was around 4 degrees, but the windchill made it feel a lot colder still. It was clear and sunny though, so it was acceptable.

We decided to head into Cromer town itself to begin with, and once again we're not able to find any free parking spaces, so instead parked in one of the carparks we have used several times before. It is only a short walk into town from there, and we ventured in to see what had changed in the two years since our last visit.

There were indeed some changes, with a few shops either having changed hands or simply closed down entirely, but the majority of the town is as we remembered it, and we still are very fond of it. The little side streets still have the small independent shops, and there are very few multiples to be seen. As with most towns now there is a plethora of charity shops and estate agents, and the inevitable bargain basement £ shops.

Sally was able to find a couple of things she had been looking for, but there was not a lot we needed or couldn't live without, so we were not there for too long. We did take advantage to go to a couple of places and streets that we hadn't been to before, and I was able to get a few photos of the pier and seafront.

When we got back to the car, we were a bit dismayed to discover a parking ticket on the windscreen. It seems that the ticket we had bought from the pay and display machine had blown off the dashboard when we shut the car doors, and so we were given a ticket. We will appeal against it, we have the ticket we had bought with the date and time on it, so hopefully we won't have to pay the fine, but let that be a lesson to us all to check and check again before we leave our cars!

We went back to the house for lunch of chicken and salad before heading back out to find the "craft villages" we had been to on our last couple of visits. We had bought some pencil type drawings of the area before, and wanted to add to our collection on the dining room wall. We had driven past one of these places on the way to and from Norwich on Sunday, so headed off to "Alby" craft barns. It is only a few miles south of Cromer, so it didn't take long to get there.

However, it was rather a disappointment when we did get to it. Most of it was closed and empty. Sally was pleased to discover a paper craft shop there, and found something she wanted. We got talking to the owner, and she told us that since the cafe had closed down and would not be re-opening until the spring, most of the trade had dried up. Most of the shop keepers had decided to give up or move out, and she was going in a few weeks time.

It seems to be very short sighted of the landlord to close the cafe before Christmas, as they used to get lots of trade in the run up to it. It is such a shame for these traders to have had the rug pulled out from beneath their feet so to speak.

She told us about another craft village, which I suspected was the one we had been really looking for. It was about ten miles away, but as with anywhere in Norfolk, it takes much longer to get from point A to point B than one would expect because of the roads, and so it was almost dark by the time we got to it. Thankfully it was still poem, and we found the art gallery where we had bought the previous prints, and they still stocked them by the same artist. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any that fitted the bill for what we wanted, so we came away empty handed, but at least now we know where it is and how to get there so we can return again at some point.

It had now started to rain, and we did wonder if it would turn to snow as it was still so cold, but thankfully it didn't. When we got back, we discovered that the swimming pool was still out of action, so had to give that a miss yet again. We did decide to go to the restaurant for dinner though, and that turned out to be a total success.

We both had the gammon, me with chips and salad, Sally with jacket potato and salad. The portions were huge, and we're absolutely delicious. Sally's was classed as "free food" on the diet, which is rather surprising, especially when you saw the size of it, and mine only had the chips as "naughty". We even treated ourselves to a dessert, which were most definitely not "free" on the diet!!!

Wednesday, we awoke to the sound of heavy rain, so decided to have an even longer lie in than usual! When we finally emerged from hibernation, it had stopped and we headed out to the town of Fakenham, which we has passed by many times but never actually been to. It is slightly larger than most of the town around here (not as big as Cromer though) and again has mostly independent shops plus estate agents and charity shops!

We did have a quick bite to eat at a cafe called "Qs" which was pretty good. We both had the soup (which claimed to be tomato and basil, but was more like tomato and vegetable in our opinion, but very nice anyway) and a half sandwich of tuna and mayo on granary bread. It also came with a nice portion of salad which was fabulous. I had a latte (which to me was actually a cappuccino if I'm going to be picky!) and Sally's diet coke did appear to be diet coke.

There wasn't a lot left to see in Fakenham after lunch, so we headed back north towards the coast and Wells Next the Sea, which we have been to several times before. It is a lovely tiny town right on the coast, and for a change was not teeming with tourists. It seems to more or less close down in the winter, but still brought a smile to our faces.

By the time we got back to Sheringham it was dark, we parked up so that I could collect my prescription and pop into a couple of other shops we had run out of time for on Monday, and then made our way back to Morrisons in Cromer for supplies for tonight. The afternoon had brightened up considerably, and the sun had shone for a few hours, but the drizzle had now come back and it seemed that we would be in for a wet evening.

Dinner of chicken and salad for sally and pork with salad for me was followed by a few games of rummy before sally watched master chef on the telly, and I watched a channel 5 documentary.

It is now time for bed, and sally is obviously tired out after the excitement of today, and is fast asleep next to me, so I thought I would take advantage of the time to get this blog post done. Tomorrow is my 46th birthday, and the plan is to head back to Norwich. Let's hope the weather is kind to us!

The harbour at Wells Next The Sea.

The main shopping street in Wells !!

Me by the pier in Cromer. It always makes me smile there.

One of my favourite views. I feel home there.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Monday Monday, too dull to see......

Yes, here we are on Monday evening after a dull and slightly drizzly day. We had a lie in and didn't get out and about too early. A short drive into Cromer, and we were very surprised to not be able to park on the cliff top at the side of the road - every time we have been here in the summer we have managed it, but today on a November Monday late morning, no chance, all the spaces were full!
So, we carried on to Sheringham, where they now have dubious pleasure of a tesco supermarket in the town. The last time we were here two years ago, we signed the petition against them coming to the town, which I think I mentioned in my blog at the time.

We had a nice walk around the town, it was still just about dry at the time, and did look like brightening up for a while. Not too much has changed shop wise, although some of the shops were now closed for the winter. There were a few new shops that we didn't remember from last time, and overall we have to say that we still really love the place. 

We did have fish and chips for lunch at "Dave's" which was delicious. We were also very good because we didn't eat the batter, which would have been the worst part of the meal for our diets. #proudofourselves !!!

I had put my prescription in to the chemist, but when I went to collect it the pharmacist was at lunch so they couldn't give it out to me. Our carpark ticket was about to run out, so we decided to go back and get it tomorrow or Wednesday.

We drove along the coast through all the tiny villages we have seen before many times, past Wells Next The Sea, and further along than we have been before until we headed slightly inland to Burnham Market. Ann at work had told me about this village after she had stayed there for a few days recently, but we had never been before. It is a very pretty little place with some lovely shops, mostly upmarket, but really nicely done. We did go into one that was a bit of a general gift shop but had hats upstairs. Nothing could have prepared us for just how many hats they had though. There were thousands of them, lady's and gents ones, all shapes, sizes, colours and styles. It was all a bit mind blowing. Sally found a nice warm furry one she liked until she saw the price - we'll over £200! I discovered that Stetson is a brand name and not a style of hat - I did not know this. I tried a few on, but the ones I liked Sally shook her head at, and some of the others just made me look like a right old codger!
By now, it was raining more, and starting to get dark, so we headed back to Cromer and "home". We had decided to go for a swim, moly to discover that the boiler was broken and the pool out of action as the water was cold. Oh we'll, back go the villa then, get the fire on and get comfy of the sofa for a bit of a read and a lot of a doze!
Dinner tonight, to try to make up for the lunchtime naughtiness, was mugshot and crackers, which I have to confess, is really really nice and one of my favourites at the moment. Never let it be said that we don't know how to live it up!!
Naff all on the television tonight, so after this blog post I shall turn back to the book I'm currently reading: The Sign by Raymond Khoury.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Norfolk holiday.

Yes my friends, we are on holiday yet again. I know, I know, it must seem that we are semi-retired, but that just isn't the case! Because our summer holiday was a bit of a let down, we decided soon after to book something for around the time of my birthday, a bit like we did a couple of years ago when we went to Whitby.

We played around with a few ideas, including Saundersfoot in South Wales, but in the end settled on Norfolk, or more precisely, my beloved Cromer. We have rented a "villa" on the Cromer country club resort for a week. Villa is a bit grand of a title for what is basically a two bedroomed house, but if that is what they want to call it then so be it.

It is very nice, well decorated, clean, and fresh smelling, so a total change from the dump we stayed in on the Isle of Wight in the summer! It has a very large living/dining room with two leather sofas and a six place dining table. The kitchen is tiny, but well equipped, and there is also a master bathroom downstairs. Upstairs are the two bedrooms, the main one having a king sized bed and ensuite bathroom the other having two single beds plus a day bed.

There is a paved patio area complete with table and chairs, but I doubt that it will be getting any use from us at this time of the year!

The country club has a swimming pool, gym, restaurant etc, and all the facilities are available to us while we are here. Cromer lighthouse is just to the side of the carpark, so as you can gather, we are close to the sea, although on a cliff top I believe.

We got here yesterday afternoon, and just made a quick trip to morrisons in Cromer for provisions before settling in for the night. It is quite cold in here, this is partly because it is quite cold anyway, partly because the property hasn't been used for a few weeks, and also partly because we have both lost quite a bit of weight and are feeling the cold more anyway!

Today we went to Norwich, which is somewhere we have not been to before despite this being our third visit to Norfolk. I have heard good things about the city as a shopping venue, and am pleased to report that I had not been lied to. It reminded me of York in many ways, with lots of narrow streets with little shops. While there are all of the usual shops you get in cities, there are also plenty of independent and interesting shops to draw your attention too. We hope to go back there again later in the week.

We haven't really made any plans for the week. We knew that the weather was not likely to be too kind to us, most of the national trust places are closed at this time of the year, the hours of daylight are short, and also, the whole thing has rather crept up on us and caught us a bit by surprise - we have both been so busy at work that the holiday planning has taken a back seat priority wise.

I very nearly didn't bring my good camera, but at the last minute threw the bag in the car. I have my doubts that it will get used, but for how much space it has taken up, it doesn't really matter.

Today the weather has been very dull and overcast, and as we came back from Norwich, it started to rain, and it is quite foggy on the cliff top. No star gazing tonight! The forecast is for snow on Tuesday, so we have to keep our gingers crossed that they have that wrong.

We may go for a swim in a little while, it is a quarter to six in the evening right now, and pitch black outside. The pool is about a 5 minute walk away, so not far, but the weather may decide for us what we do.

The photo is of me in Cafe Nero in Norwich sporting my new jacket (thanks to Ron and Beryl!) which I am really pleased with.

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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Blimey - where did i go?!

They say that time flies when you are having fun - i'm not totally convinced by that, but time has certainly flown this year. 
You will have noticed that i didn't do a holiday blog during the summer - i really did not have the inclination to do one this time around, and in a way it's a good job i didn't because the holiday wasn't exactly a success.
We went to the Isle of Wight - the first time for either of us - people who had been were all telling us how much we would love it and that it was like "going back in time".
What they all failed to tell us was that it would be like going back in time to the middle ages!!!!
Honestly, a dual carriageway would be frowned upon as the work of the devil over there. Tarmac has yet to be perfected. Weekend shopping is pretty much unknown. Seeing as how it was an island we would have thought we would have been able to find a decent fish and chip shop, but no such luck.
As for the place we stayed in - a houseboat - or basically a container on stilts more accurately.....if i just tell you that the first thing we had to do was buy a can of Fabreeze, and that i had to take anti-hystamines all week to survive the experience, and we will just leave it at that!!!!
Neither of us can believe that it is almost a year since we moved - the 14th of November to be exact - it almost still feels as though this is just a "holiday home", but we cannot remember what it was like to not be here either. (no, we haven't fully unpacked yet!)
The other major thing we have been doing over the last few months is trying to lose weight. Sally has been going to Slimming World, so, by default, i am also following the plan. She has lost almost two and a half stones, and i have lost one stone ten pounds. You can see a difference in both of us from our June holiday pics. 
We are both really pleased, feel a lot better, and have never eaten SO MUCH as we are now. The fact that i am reaching for the fruit bowl on a purely valuntary  basis is much source of amusement to Sally.
I plan to try to keep this blog more up to date, but please don't shout at me if i fail to :-)