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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Drum-Box kite, Drumbox kite, How to fly a kite, How to make a kite, Kite flying, Kite making, Writer's Blog

Making a Drum-box Kite

I am going to show you the Drum-box kites my husband is currently creating. Along with his brother I think the plan is to fill the sky with these latest designs. These instructions assume you are an experienced enough kite flyer to know how to add the spars and line at the end of the process but please do contact me if further information is required and I will send you more instructions.

First, the template needs to be marked out and created as shown below.

The two long edges need to be 890 mm but measuring a 10 mm concave.

The bottom edge is 540 mm with a 10 mm concave to the centre and the small flat top edge needs to be not quite pointed, but with a flat of 10 mm.

Plans

Ten sail pieces are required in whatever choice of fabric you have decided upon, but alternating patterns/colours look the most effective. The side edges and the wide bottom are slightly concave by only 10mm to the centre of each panel. The reason for the concave shape is that when they are all sewn together they will be as tight as a drum!

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As you can see in the above image, the alternating design is effective and will look stunning in the sky. The sections are then all sewn together (as above) and then the two ends are joined to form a continuous circular shape.

At the almost-pointed end of each panel, he then created reinforcing pockets into which the spars would eventually fit. They start with semi-circles of fabric sewn with the edge lining up with the flat at the top of the triangles as shown below.
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The overhanging parts of the reinforcing fabric need to be hotcut to remove and tidy.
The top and bottom edges of the fabric are bound in black to create a stunning-looking outline.
Next, you need to create ten pockets. Cut a piece of fabric 15cm long and turn over 1cm at the end and then fold in half (as below).
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Turn the fabric over and fold in half with 5mm to spare as shown below.
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Mark up the centre and then in between as shown here.
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Pushing the edges inwards, first mark up and then sew straight along as shown below, sewing both sides to form the pocket.
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Attach these two the almost-pointed ends, on top of the reinforcement semi-circles.
At each pocket-point, tabs are added which is where the flying line will be attached.
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When the sewing is all completed, create your frame, using 10 carbon fibre spats which need to be 6 mm wide and each one just under 1 metre in length. A cap is fitted at one end which pushes into the pockets which were sewn in as above. The other end of the carbon fibre goes into a centre piece shown below – five pointing up and five pointing down.
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Attach the line (if you are a beginner kite maker then do contact us for more information on this as needed), and your kite is ready to fly!
ENJOY!
Credit for the pocket images goes to Dick Toonen. My husband has used his instructions to create his kite and I look forward to sharing the images of his finished Drum-Box when the frame is finished.

 

Norfolk Beach

Journey, jam, fight and flight!

Brake lights are frowning, fierce brows lie ahead,
Hoping the green light dares not change to red,
Birds taunt our dilemma, with freedom of wing,
Their flight is our envy, delay is our thing.
***
Crawl slowly past houses, this holiday morn,
Those who sleep late meeting not break of dawn,
Fields of young corn whisper, mockingly so,
Leaves rustle their solitude, we pass by – so slow.
***
Yawns of indifference break through the tension,
Eyes avoiding each other, annoyance unmentioned.
Silently yearn, wish we’d stayed warm in bed,
Tempered vibes palpable, pounding of head.
***
Ominous clouds threaten even less joy,
Incite inward screaming, no smile can destroy,
What lies ahead more than a dull, gloomy day,
Please pass by quickly, my mind can but pray.
***
The beach, still no brighter, cold seeps unseen places,
Companions arrive, the same gloom on their faces,
The journey, so tiresome, at least now has ended,
Our spirits, now together, our anger is mended.
***
Trolleys now loaded with kit and kaboodle,
We’ll hide ‘neath the shelter, but not to canoodle!
Our journey, not wasted, our men take their stance,
Of their kites we are voyeurs of much merry dance.
***
Much laughter and chatter, and wrongs to put right,
Hidden from cold winds, the men just in sight,
Sun’s rays, their appearance a welcome array,
A far better end than the start of our day.

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.