JC’s November in a Nutshell

November… Jeez…!

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.


Lance and Erin

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:

Carl Chinn

Shi Ling Chin & piano

Dave Morgan and band with Hossam Rhamzy

Steady Hands

Dave Pegg & Steve Gibbons

King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys



JC’s October Miscellany

And the Lord said unto John, “Come forth and you will receive eternal life.”

But John came fifth and won a toaster.


Well, it gave me a grin…


Now for some culture before the journal jottings begin.

It is Dylan Thomas’ centenary year, and to mark it, I thought I’d roll out his most famous poem: Do not go gentle into that good night.

Guess how it begins.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Dylan Thomas was popular in his lifetime and died young in New York – at only 39 years of age!

In his later life he acquired a reputation, which he encouraged, as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet.”

However, he may not have been so keen on John Walsh’s view of him in the Independent’s i newspaper – this was a magnificently vented spleen:

…an alcoholic, wet-brained, bulging eyed, blubber-lipped narcissist and logorrheac sponger; an incompetent lothario and Mummy’s boy who sought a sympathy shag from every woman he met, especially his friends’ wives; and a poet of narrow range and Victorian subject-matter cascading a sub-Joycean flood of banging monosyllables, semi-comprehensively, over rather trite sentiments about childhood, love, nature and death.

I thought it a bit much calling him a Mummy’s boy.

PS: in case you’re wondering what ‘logorrheac’ means, it refers to pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech.

So he didn’t really come out of it at all well…


Anyhoo…October write-up beckons thus:

I went to see Jo Enright at the Glee Club. As ever, she was on top form – one of our most underrated comics and actors although I could be biased (no, I’m not – go see her!)


Then it was off to the seaside (not straight after the Glee Club – this was at the weekend!)

To Spurn – one of our usual jaunts at this time of the year. Almost 4 miles of sandy spit gobbing out across the mouth of the Humber into the North Sea.

It is quite a unique coastal nature reserve, constantly changing as it moves in a westward direction along the fault lines of the Humber and the North Sea.

Armed with wader overload and plenty of other birds flitting about, it was just as good to see roe deer and a stoat as we wandered around.

A Barn Owl was one of the top birds on view, even if it was a fleetingly and infuriatingly glimpse behind the pub!


The monthly fell-walk took us somewhere very local – Barr Beacon. We are considering a name-change, as it is some years since we embarked on anything remotely fell-walkerish!

Barr Beacon was my first home – here’s a photo of the caravan we used to live in – with Mom outside looking all glam! We were so trailer-trash!




…and finally – here’s the walk, courtesy of Stuart who put the route together, which included some surprisingly rural landscapes.

It was very difficult at times to imagine that we were sandwiched between Great Barr and Walsall!

Directions are included for this one!

Start: At Barr Beacon car park, Beacon Road, map ref: SP 061970

M6 North to junction 7. Leave motorway towards A34 and Walsall. A34 joins from right. Keep to right hand lane to take slip road and first right into Chapel Lane. Follow Chapel Lane downhill past church and Great Barr Park on right. Road then goes uphill and becomes Pinfold Lane. At junction on left hand bend turn right into Old Hall Lane. Continue along Old Hall Lane past industrial estate to join junction with Beacon Road (B4154). Turn left and follow road for about 1/2 mile to turn right into Barr Beacon car park next to junction with Bridle Lane.

The Route:

After admiring view of north Birmingham and the impressive war memorial, we head northwards to follow the B4151 for a short distance before following Beacon Way past Cuckoo’s Nook, The Dingle, and Hay Head Wood. Crossing A454 we continue alongside Rushall canal then through Lime Pits nature reserve to arrive at Rushall Hall. Our route then passes through Walsall Arboretum before we rejoin Rushall canal to head southwards, leaving the canal at Bell Bridge. After a short distance alongside A34 we enter Merrions Wood to return to the car park via Chapel Lane and Beacon Heights.

There is a pub (The Bell) within a mile or so of the finish where we can stop for a drink if the need arises (we did – of course!)

This is not a walk that we are usually accustomed to. There is some pavement walking but also a lot of paths through pleasant countryside and nature reserves.
















The final social fling of the month was the UCB Film Club showing Gaslight.

Here’s the review from moviemail.com:

Based on Patrick Hamilton’s celebrated stage play, Gaslight is one of the great British thrillers, and only improves with re-viewing. It tells a harrowing and claustrophobic tale of domestic fear. Anton Walbrook stars as the terrifying husband who puts the sanity of his fragile and tortured wife (Diana Wynyard) under siege to cover up a dark secret from his past that she was close to uncovering – until a chance meeting with a retired police constable brings the situation to its climatic conclusion. Unmissable.

The success of Gaslight on stage and film encouraged Hollywood studio MGM to buy the remake rights in the early 1940s, with a clause insisting that all existing prints of Dickinson’s British version be destroyed!

There can surely be no higher compliment than the world’s most famous movie studio trying to destroy the negative of your film because it’s a bit too good. That’s the fate that befell Thorold Dickinson’s Gaslight in 1944, as it dawned on MGM that their remake of the British film – released four years earlier – didn’t really measure up.

Before the main feature, we were treated to a short feature: Whistle and I’ll Come to You

This is touted as one of the greatest small-screen horror films ever made, with Michael Hordern’s fusty, mumbling academic uncovering a long-buried flute and making the mistake of blowing it to see what happens.


Did I say final social fling? Not so.

At the end of the month, it was off to the Rep to see an excellent production of Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck’s superior short novel.

Here’s Annette Nuttall’s review, which pretty much sums it up and saves me a job, plus a photo from the Rep web-site.



From the moment Lennie (Benjamin Dilloway) and George (Michael Legge) walk out of the distance the differences in their characters are clear. Directed by Roxana Silbert, their balance of frustration and care is beautifully portrayed by Legge as he struggles to keep them both out of trouble. Lennie is a gentle giant, until he gets angry or scared. Dilloway displays all of the nuances of this simple, yet complex, character with conviction. The other farm workers and owners add layers and insight into the times touching on racism and the struggles of the time. You are completely taken into the story by the convincing and compelling characterisation.

This is a stunning production that leaves you in contemplation. Another triumph at The Rep that is not to be missed.