Not a fan….
Autumn’s slipped away and the gloom is upon us, but there’s always stuff to do.
Such as going to Norfolk so off we went.
Pete and I joined the rest of the WMBC, and stayed at the Le Strange Arms Hotel in Old Hunstanton, settling ourselves in for a weekend of walking, drinking and bird watching.
Old Hunstanton sits just north of its busier brother, Hunstanton, and is a rarity along the North Norfolk coast in that it is very close to the beach and you don’t need to go clumping over the salt marshes to reach the water.
Old Hunstanton traces its history back to AD 855 when St Edmund was shipwrecked on the coast (I thought I’d throw in a little local history there).
The hotel was originally built in the 1600s when it was a farm house, and is named after pioneering architect Henry L’Estrange Styleman Le Strange.
There was also the added bonus of a pub – The Ancient Mariner Inn – a mere stumble away next door!
Le Strange pretty much put Hunstanton on the map for holidaying aristocrats and, with the help of the coming railway, the town was soon blooming as a popular seaside resort.
So a long weekend was set-up with plenty of healthy fresh air and alcohol. The weather was fine – a bit blowy on the Saturday, and there was a rapid last half hour drenching at Holme where we went to find owls – but otherwise not bad at all.
Spent the morning at Holme Dunes, scouring the salt marshes for our feathered friends before heading over to Thornham to catch some restless flocks of twite. If it were possible to be reincarnated as a bird, a twite is about the least interesting bird you’d want to return as.
Off road, through telescopes, we managed to get miniscule views of rough-legged buzzard as well as the less tardy shanked versions.
At Burnham Norton, a village tucked away down a lane off the main coastal road, there was a chance to stretch our legs along the marshy foreshore where cattle were grazing on the salt grasses of the tidal Norton marshes.
We took in the intriguely-named village, Stiffkey, for even more salt marsh viewing (we like variety). Stiffkey is first evidenced in the Doomsday Book of 1086, and means ‘stump island – island with stumps of trees’. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
We started the weekend with an owl – a short-eared – and finished with an owl – a barn – at Titchwell.
We were only at Titchwell a couple of months ago but by staying overnight, we were able to experience dusk over the reserve. There were huge flocks of golden plovers glittering all over the place, loads of other waders, quartering marsh harriers – and a couple of hunting peregrines, which made all other birds seem slovenly in flight.
Popped into Snettisham on the way home for the odd hour or three – a mere wader- waddle from Hunstanton – to close off a great weekend of afore-mentioned walking, drinking and bird watching!
The mid-week Film Club offered Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion – an anti-war statement set in the German prison camps of WW1, and The Diary of an Unknown Soldier – a short piece revealing the internal monologue of a British soldier on the front in Eastern France (“That’s how I will probably die, left like a poor old rag on the battlefield. When you know this is going to happen to you, your body suddenly becomes something terribly precious to you. This flesh, soft and warm is yours; a personal belonging not to be discarded like an awful piece of meat. You find yourself thinking about this, realizing what a wonderful thing your body is, and what an awful and wrong thing it is to maltreat it.”)
With one weekend away under the belt, the gloom and drear of the month compelled Steve and me to fly to Alicante for a few days sun.
A very pleasant 20 degrees all round – shorts and tee shirts during the day cannot be moaned about!
Alicante is a short two and a half hours flight from Brum, and with the town being only a short distance from the airport, it makes for a very easy destination for a mid-winter break.
There was plenty to do to interrupt the drinking.
The Santa Barbara castle on Mount Benacantil overlooks the city, and can be reached by lift! Great views can be enjoyed over the port and marina, and a pleasant walk down through El Palmeral Park brings you back down to the town.
The promenade Explanada de Espana, lined by palm trees, is paved with marble floors creating a wavy and somewhat unsettling form along the waterfront – a perfect place to stroll along but the wavy lines do make you often feel as if you’re going to stumble into a bit of a dip.
For a smidgeon of culture, we popped into the co-cathedral of Saint Nicholas of Bari, which was built over an ancient mosque.
Plenty of bars to indulge in Tapas and beer – always a joy to eat and drink outside in November when you’re abroad!
Now for some piccies by Steve…
It is 40 years since the Birmingham bombings and a commemorative concert was held at the Town Hall, which was well-attended with a decent line-up of acts turning up to support the anniversary.
The itinerary was as follows:
Shi Ling Chin & piano
Dave Morgan and band with Hossam Rhamzy
Dave Pegg & Steve Gibbons
King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys