Daily Life, Writer's Blog

How Much Can We Fit Into One Treat?

The early morning fog blanketed the town as my husband and I drove over to collect my niece and take her out for the day to celebrate her 12th birthday. Twelve! How very grown up this young lady has become, so deciding upon a suitable day out was difficult. We didn’t want to travel far, keeping within the county, because my mum is poorly in hospital and we needed to be nearby just in case.

Great Yarmouth on the East Norfolk coast seemed just the right place to head towards. Yes, the fog was quite dense but the forecast was sunny and warm for a late February day.

Wrapped in warm jackets, we headed off on our journey. Within a few short miles, the blinding early Spring sunshine was warming the car and had burned away most of the early mists.

Our first stop was an attraction I had first visited with my parents and grandmother over 46 years ago, the Merrivale Model Village. I had no idea if this would be something a game-playing, music-loving almost teenager of 2019 would find interesting but there was one way to find out. We had our photos taken which would appear in the giftshop later and allow us to be superimposed as miniatures of ourselves, and entered the tiny world.

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Parts of the attraction were as I remembered them from previous visits with my own children and parts were updated to keep the areas interesting and topical. My niece discovered the push button sounds and interactions and was keen to hunt out more of the same. The delights of a modern-day NASA rocket and a suspension bridge over a pond of giant Koi Carp, giant by our standards not miniature standards, mixed well with old fashioned funfairs, maypole dancing and even medieval jousting and dipping. My niece especially enjoyed the sensory garden, although picking and tasting mint and herbs was unavailable due to the time of year.

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We steered little bumper cars around a driving area, another old-fashioned style of beach entertainment, watched a makeshift wedding party at a church, a fire engine rescue a girl from a burning window, with ‘real’ smoke emissions and then headed to the gift shop where we purchased a picture of ourselves in miniature.

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The Merrivale Cafe yielded treats such as homemade soups and pasties and traditional favourites such as tea and toast and cream teas. Refuelled, we used our day pass and re-entered the attraction to play a round of crazy golf.

At risk of overuse of the word ‘traditional’ we spent an hour playing the old-fashioned slot machines and 2p games, spending only £1 each, as the winnings just kept coming!

By this time, the sun was unseasonably warm so we grabbed some bags from the car and, stopping for ice cream cones along the way, made for the beach and a spot of kite flying.

My husband, an avid kite flyer, wanted to teach our niece how to fly his stunt kite. At over twenty years old, his ‘Top of the Line’ kite was in perfect condition and he had brought along a tail, 150 feet in length, which he had made himself.

To begin, he positioned our niece in front of him, allowing her to feel the pull of the kite while he held onto the straps for safety. She soon mastered how much movement was needed to create whirls and patterns against the bluest of skies and even had a turn at flying it herself. Giggles of delight and gasps of astoundment when she almost whipped an onlooker with the tail, were lost in the breeze as the kite danced and gave the onlookers a welcome aerobatic display.

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An hour of beach kite flying under blue skies, surrounded by a light breeze and we were ready to find a gift shop before returning to Norwich for our first ever meal in a vegan restaurant.

Trinkets and the obligatory Great Yarmouth rock purchased, we drove back to Norwich, parking the car at my workplace – a school in the heart of the city and set in the beautiful grounds of Norwich Cathedral.  My niece had never visited this part of the city and was awestruck by the cathedral’s dominance. We were a little early for our table booking so decided to go into the cathedral and show her around.

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The choice did not disappoint and we were treated to the Cathedral Choir singing their hearts out, while my niece photographed tombs, stained glass windows and historical plaques. Even my husband noted there were parts of the cathedral he had not been into before.

My niece and I spotted the prayer candles and lit one for my mum, her grandmother. It felt a nice gesture and we included a donation.

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We arrived at The Tipsy Vegan in time for our table booking and were pleasantly surprised. A lovely restaurant with friendly staff and a cozy atmosphere, previously undiscovered. Our option to choose a vegan venue was largely dictated by my niece’s vegetarianism and the lack of dedicated vegatarian restaurants available, when we searched. Pleased with our choice, we feasted on Saffron Risotto Balls, Korean Ribs, Sweet Potato Curry and Ricotta-filled Pasta Parcels, accompanied by home-made lemonade infused with charcoal, sour apple Palomas and blackberry and mint lemonade.  Our tastebuds were treated to a number of new delights, and all of them well presented and filling.

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Even though we were full to bursting, we greedily walked to Sundaes Gelato, an ice cream bar, for desserts which we surely didn’t need.

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Needless to say we didn’t finish our desserts, a food coma for all was almost induced, and apart from some picture taking of the Cathedral at night, our journey home completed our day of fun. Even if our niece didn’t sleep well, we were ready for bed by half past nine!

 

 

 

 

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Places to write, Writer's Blog

That ‘YES!’ Feeling

Oh the feelings coursing through my veins right now, having finished the story I needed to write for an assignment.

This one is for adaptation into a television drama, as part of the module and I had tears in my eyes as I wrote the ending and the words came out of my own head!

Feeling amazing and I haven’t even adapted it yet!

Norfolk Beach, Places to write

Gorleston – a place to write…

Gorleston was a relatively recent discovery of ours. As a child, nine Sundays out of ten were spent at Wells-Next-The-Sea. Not that I have anything against Wells (as it is colloquially known), but when you have been subjected to the same beach so many times that you can mentally visualise every grain of sand it becomes a little dull. In fairness, Wells does hold lots of memories for me as we had family living there and it was the last beach we ever visited with my dad before he became ill quite suddenly and we subsequently lost him. Maybe that is part of the reason I avoid going back there? Who knows how my subconscious advises me?

My husband and I happened upon Gorleston (Gorleston-On-Sea to give the town its full name), having headed to another nearby beach and found it overly busy and with parking spaces lacking. Driving a few miles along the coast we had arrived in Gorleston. Of course, I had heard of it, living in Norfolk all my life, how could I not have? With its beautiful sandy beach, a promenade stretching out into the distance and a handful of shops and amusements this was clearly a much-loved venue indeed.

The first section of unspoiled beach is a no-dogs, lifeguard patrolled area. Situated near to the few amusement arcades and beach shops, just enough that they are not distracting, it also boasts a generous pond for remote controlled boating enthusiasts and an extremely shallow pool, currently under refurbishment, for toddlers to paddle and splash in while parents look on from the comfort of the surrounding benches.

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Until very recently the beach also sported a generous inflatable play area where children could bounce, jump and burn off excesses of energy. Tragically, following a fatal accident, this area is now closed and, I believe, is still under investigation. It’s difficult to believe such a traumatic event could take place in such a beautiful location.

We discovered a fabulous beach cafe at the far end of the promenade. If you are prepared to walk for ten or fifteen minutes to reach it, or if you know the area well enough to drive to the parking spots close by, up on the clifftops then you will not be disappointed. The cafe is called Jay Jays and serves generous portions of delicious foods ranging from full hot meals to enormous salads, jacket potatoes and chips. The counter displays a most tempting array of cookies, cakes, savoury pastries and biscuits too.  No trip to Gorleston is complete for me without at least a cappuccino from Jay Jays. It was somewhat quiet a couple of years ago, when we first discovered it but it is quiet no more and is most often heavy on customers, with chairs and tables spilling out onto the promenade and queues of customers prepared to wait for the delights on offer. If for no other reason, it’s worth a trip his to pop in for a coffee. The staff at Jay Jays are always friendly and genuinely appear to enjoy their work. They clean the tables non-stop and the place has a worthy 5/5 food hygiene rating.

The beach, more the promenade, is frequented by runners, skateboarders, dog walkers and walkers alike and there is more than enough space for everyone. We often go to allow my husband to fly his kites on the beach or clifftop depending upon the weather and not forgetting the all-important wind speed. This might be a good time to point out that during the great storm of 1987, Gorleston experienced the highest recorded wind speed in the UK, reaching 122mph! I am certain my husband does not have a kite capable of handling that much wind.

The most important thing about Gorleston is the peacefulness. While hubby is happily flying his kites, I can sit and daydream, read a book and write. If its breezy, he puts a windbreak around me and I cuddle down behind it with notebook and pen, in writing heaven. We pick a spot near Jay Jays or, very occasionally, at the busier family end of the beach, just close enough for us to buy drinks and ice creams and use the facilities.

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Whether you want to ride your bike or skateboard, walk your dog, fly your kite, play on the beach or, like me, sit and watch the world go by while planning your next story or poem, Gorleston truly is a most beautiful, unspoiled place to choose.

 

Center Parcs, Places to write

Center Parcs Day 4 and 5

This morning is Spa morning. Originally planned for the morning after dancing but has turned out to be the morning after getting a stiff neck and back from watching football, instead. No break at Center Parcs is complete, in my opinion, without a trip to the Aqua Sana spa for treatments, spa sessions or both.

With numerous steam rooms and saunas on offer, set around the revitalising outdoor quad complete with spa pool where you can enjoy powerful jets and bubbles to massage away the aches and pains. There is a zen garden on the lower level and balconies with various styles of relaxing seating on the upper level. Water beds, both single and double are their for your relaxation, along with a supply of cool, but not chilled, water and fruit for your enjoyment. The compulsory softly piped relaxation music fills the air and unidentifiable fellow guests adorned in white spa robes and towels wander around in a truly zoned out of the real world state.

Hubby and I had just left the intense heat of the Tyrolean Sauna, he had headed to the ice fountain whilst I was braving the tropical rain shower – when I say braving I managed as far as my upper arms, squealed a little too loudly, and stepped straight out. Gone are the days when I would launch myself full on into the plunge pool with my children! I emerged to find hubby talking to his nephew who had apparently started working at Center Parcs only a few months previously. We had spent the usual amount on entry to the Spa and we discovered that if we had known he worked at the Center and had contacted him he would have been able to get us in on the best mates rates EVER – a fiver each! Will be storing that little gem for future reference, indeed. He visits the spa before starting his shift on many occasions – what better way to prepare for a day as a busy lifeguard?

We opted for the Pancake House for our lunch as we had not visited there before. In hindsight, we could have chosen from either sweet or savoury pancakes, but in our innocence, some might call it greed, we felt that etiquette dictated we have a savoury followed by a sweet. Who wouldn’t – now be honest! Wow! We were so stuffed that we positively rolled from the restaurant, bloated and ready to relax. Heading for the beach at the edge of the watersports lake, we found ourselves two sun loungers and melted into them with ease.

Only managing an hour or two of sunshine, as it was by this time very intense, we showered back at the apartment and headed back to the centre for the last evening of this break. We found ourselves at the end of the children’s disco when the DJ was hotting up for the remainder of the evening. We were in the mood for a dance, we hadn’t danced all week which was unusual for us, so we found a secluded spot where we wouldn’t look like we were showing off and had a few dances. No dance shoes meant dancing bare foot but we ended up dancing until midnight. We didn’t partner dance Ceroc all evening but had a fun jigging session. Was such a great vibe. The DJ was excellent and knew how to keep a floor filled with modern music and a fair bit of cheesy thrown in.

Dancing with no shoes results in this mess:

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Our last day was a simple one. We packed up the car and vacated our apartment by nine. We had breakfast at Foresters Inn – a hearty full English if you please – followed by badminton at the centre. I didn’t win but was a close second. We walked, we sunbathed on the beach and had lunch and coffee on the terrace above the village centre. Beautiful sunshine kept us there until mid afternoon when we decided to leave for home. This has been such a great week. Hubby is truly the best company I could have asked for. We have laughed over 95% of the time, with the other 5% given to my complaining about being saddle sore from cycling for one day. At least I have proved my point and we wont be hiring those dreaded two wheeled monstrosities next time.