It’s been a funny old week.
As detailed on the previous post, I went up to High Force Waterfall on Monday and then on Wednesday workmen were due to start ripping up my neighbour’s back patio and half their driveway as phase 1 of building a new extension on the side of their house and also erecting a conservatory at the rear.
The side extension will bring a wall right up along my driveway (ever since I moved in here 36 years ago, both our drives have been parallel with no fence or hedge separating them and that’s quite unusual for this street) so although I’m not happy about it, there is nothing I can do. I didn’t contest the plans as I couldn’t. It’s just that my kitchen window will look out on this wall instead of looking across their back garden and on towards other homes. I’m sure I’ll loose some light into the kitchen but it was all approved so on we go.
I’d already planned on going out every day as the noise will be annoying and as the building work will risk damaging my car but when my neighbour informed me early on Wednesday morning that work wasn’t going to start till Thursday, I had a lie in and enjoyed this delay.
So when, on Thursday morning, I was woken by the noise of heavy equipment arriving, I got up, had a quick breakfast and set off for a road trip. When planning where to go, I ruled out routes based on the forecast weather (heavy rain spreading up from the south west) and finally picked East Anglia in general and the seaside resort of Cromer in particular.
I’d only been to East Anglia a couple of times and never to Cromer. Apart from small parts of the M11 and A1(M), East Anglia isn’t blessed with motorways and so getting to the coast there from the north of England can be painfully slow.
My outward drive wasn’t helped by the fact that starting on the A1, I managed to go onto the M1 towards London ! I think I was enjoying the start of the drive so much on a lovely blue sky morning that I took my eye off the ball, so to speak, and totally missed the overhead signage informing me to be in the 3 left lanes to remain on the A1 or pick one of the 3 right hand lanes to merge onto the M1.
Clearly I’d been in one of the right lanes and didn’t leave it !
This situation partly came about because I’d decided that I didn’t need to waste my phone’s battery by using its GPS app (Waze) as it was only 5 different roads to get me all the way to Cromer and I had them memorised.
And so it was that a mile or so later, I saw signs for Wakefield and London and the penny dropped. Now I HAD to use Waze to get me back on track and after powering it up, it advised me to leave the M1 at the M18 junction a few miles away and rejoin the A1(M). This added 24 miles to my journey but I didn’t mind as my recently serviced car was purring along nicelyand its cruise control took the strain out of driving.
My first stop came 177 miles and 3.5hrs after leaving home when I was well into Norfolk. If I’d known it would take so long to get there I’d have picked somewhere different to drive to in order to avoid the workmen next door !
I was on the A149 along the top of East Anglia, just beyond Hunstanton, and saw a narrow road to my left and a sign saying “beach”. Needing a break, I fancied a walk along a beach so I took the single track road till it ran out at a small parking area. Unable to drive any further I parked up and started walking towards the beach.
It was quite a walk, first crossing Hunstanton golf course and then crossing over sand dunes before finally reaching Holne Beach. And what a beach it was. Enormous in both directions. Flat hard sand as far as the eye could see and not a soul on it.
Photographically it was boring as there was nothing to break up the beach and provide some interest. I only took one phone photo but it gives an idea of what I experienced.
I walked along it for about a mile before walking back to the car and rejoining the A149 towards Cromer. I turned off the phone again (and so no GPS) as I knew the road led all the way to Cromer but when I came to a T junction at Wells with no mention of the A149 in either direction, I knew I’d made another mistake but had no idea how.
Later on I found out…….
Going through Wells (or Wells-next-the-Sea to give it its full name), if you stayed on the main road, which I did, the A149 simply becomes the B1105, There was a turn off to the left which was the continuation of the A149 but the sign was actually AT the turn off, on the right hand side of the road, with no easy way of spotting it. So it was the B1105 I was on when I came to that T junction. I went right and after a few minutes I joined the main A148 to Cromer, the road I’d wanted to avoid as I wanted to hug the coast and pass through the numerous little villages along that route.
This little screw up added 11 miles to my drive and so by the time I parked on Runton Road in Cromer, I’d driven 221 miles and it had taken me the best part of 5 1/2hrs of actual driving.
I’d only had cereal at 8:30 before setting off so by now (4pm) I was very hungry. Wanting to take advantage of the lovely weather and knowing rain was on the way, I put off eating and walked around the town, along the promenade, out along the pier and finally back near to the car to eat that most traditional of seaside meals, fish and chips.
In winter, UK seaside resorts can be like sad ghost towns with the amusements closed and few people around. Despite officially being spring and it being relatively mild and sunny, this was the case on Thursday with Cromer. I’m not sure I’d ever want to return, even in high summer, as there wasn’t much to see or do there. Yes the pier was well maintained but there wasn’t anything to see on it but a restaurant and theatre at the end.
After walking the length of the pier and back, I went along to the actual beach but that was a great disappointment as it was all shingle and large stones at that. It was so deep that every boat that was above the water line was connected to a tractor so they could be towed to the water when needed.
There was also a lifeboat station and a museum but the aged tractors fascinated me. They were mostly very rusty and it was hard to believe they’d actually start when called upon.
One in particular, the most rusty, reminded me of the field of sleeping tractors in the movie “Cars” when Mater and Lightning McQueen crept up to do a bit of sneaky tractor tipping one night !
I was impressed with the standard of the “bathing huts” lining the seafront as they weren’t the usual basic wooden constructs. You could easily live in each one although I’m sure that wouldn’t be allowed.
After that, I walked back to the town centre, smiling as I passed the main seafront hotel, the Hotel de Paris. Not quite as grand as the one I’d seen in Monaco but with a faded glory nonetheless.
I popped in to a couple of souvenir shops but decided against buying my usual souvenir when visiting somewhere new, a fridge magnet. My fridge freezer has no more room on it for any more magnets so I just looked around and after buying a bottle of Pepsi Max Cherry from an Iceland store and spending a few moments of reflection in St. Peter and St. Paul Church, I headed back to the car, getting a box of fish and chips on the way.
I sat eating them in the car and with a view overlooking the pier, it was a lovely spot to do so. By now it was 6pm and 9 hours since I’d last eaten – that cereal before leaving home, so I was ravenous. The sea air and all that.
While eating, I used the time to charge up the phone as I knew I’d need to use the Waze app due to doing most of the drive home in the dark. Once I’d finished my meal and when the phone was on 65%, I put in my home address and was pleasantly surprised to see that it estimated it would be 186 miles and 3 hrs 45 mins back as I was going a more direct way.
Checking the dashcam footage and timings, I left Cromer at 18:08 and driving non stop, I was on my driveway at 21:52.
Yes Waze is pretty impressive when it comes to forecast timings !
Yes, as you can see, I didn’t “spring forward” the dashcam clock. There’s always one you forget about !
All told, I drove 399.5 miles and was behind the wheel for 9hrs and 5 mins. I never meant to drive that far just to get away from the work going on next door (you can see the pile of soil etc on the left of the photo above) and if I’d realised I’d be driving 400 miles, I’d have gone to somewhere more interesting than Cromer.
I could have gone to Edinburgh and back or London and back for goodness sake. Then again that would have involved mostly motorway driving which I find quite tiring (and boring) these days. I enjoyed my time on the minor roads in East Anglia and my time on the beach so it was still a good day out.
Just maybe a couple of hundred miles too far !
Then yesterday on my way to my friend’s house here in North Leeds where we have lunch together every Friday with sandwiches I collect from Cooplands on the way, I had a very close call with disaster – all caught on the dashcam.
But I’ve waffled enough on this post so THAT story can wait till the next time.
See you then………..