I have known Ann, scarily, for about ten years; how time flies. I would describe Ann as my ‘life-saver’, my ‘salvation’; without Ann I would have either just gone crazy or become depressed. Ann and I had an unusual relationship. For about eight years, I probably spent more time with her than I did with any of my friends and she did with her husband. She showed the most incredible patience and tolerance, had a great sense of humour and we shared many interests: Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice, going on holiday, decorating the house, Simastatins and activities for grandchildren……. I watched two of her grandchildren gradually grow up, went through the story of her husband’s knee, got vicarious pleasure from some of her Groupon trips, especially the one where the hotel had closed down. So how did this relationship develop?
I have had epilepsy, active epilepsy, for about 18 years. When I was first formally diagnosed, the consultant took my driving licence away, in order that he could return it to DVLC (and to prevent me attempting to drive again). Not being able to drive was devastating. I had driven, every day, since I passed my test at the age of 17. It was my freedom and independence. In my job, I needed to be able to travel around to meetings and home visits, often in obscure places, with little or no public transport. It’s difficult to explain how dreadful that loss of driving made me feel. The ability to get around was essential to my job so Access to Work funded a ‘driver’ for me. I had to employ someone to drive me around. Altogether, I have employed three drivers: the first was a disabled woman who felt the need to eat MacDonalds most of the time, the car stank and she had an appalling sense of direction; she died after a couple of years; the second was a bloke who was patronising and gave me the creeps. By this time I was getting very wary; you do have to spend a lot of time with someone driving you about. Then along came Ann, my saviour. She would take me anywhere, was incredibly flexible, could make last minute meetings, could deal with my inability to be accurate about how long a meeting might last and knew how to get around Leicester (not quite so good on more distant parts). When you are in the car with someone for long periods, you get to know all about them and I probably bored her to death with my tales. She was fortunate that she didn’t know about my passion for tea towels until a few months before I retired otherwise I really might have bored her to death. Ann was an obvious person to invite to be a Guest Tea Towel but she kept saying that she didn’t have any interesting tea towels. Then a few days ago this arrived….. a wonderful story. Thank you Ann, for your patience, your company, your sense of humour and now your tea towel:
My Love Affair with Norfolk
“When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of my holidays in a small town called Beer, in Devon. My Auntie Gwen and Uncle Mick lived there and I used to go to stay with them and my cousin Maureen (Mo). I remember the main street in Beer having a gulley taking the rain water into the sea and we used to walk right down to the beach which had lots of huge pebbles; coming back we stopped at Auntie Joan’s sweet shop. A lot of my childhood memories are of these holidays.
Then, of course, you get older and other memories are made.
Girlfriends and boyfriends, together we went on several holidays to Norfolk; then on to more serious relationships, I met Stewart and we went away to Great Yarmouth for a holiday and stayed on the sea front for a wonderful few days.
In due course, we married and on came the honeymoon, where else but Norfolk. The Norfolk Broads to be exact, we picked up our boat at Acle and was given a 5-minute lesson on how to drive, “If you can drive a car, you will be fine, forward, reverse or stop” was what we were told, a little bit daunting seeing that this was on the water but hey ho, off we went. One of our night berths was at Oulton Broad and we pulled up at the side of the broad and moored. Went off for dinner and back to bed or so we thought. Halfway through the night I woke up and couldn’t get to the side of the bed, the boat was tilting to one side and, all of a sudden, the cupboards above us all came open and contents showered down. We had noticed on leaving for dinner that a lot of boats had moored in the centre of the broad, but not having a rowing boat we could not do that; our hull had got trapped under the ledge when the water rose slightly. There was I trying to hold all the cupboards shut with my legs and arms whilst Stewart had to jump on the side of the boat to free us!! Great fun!!
Another day we thought we would chance our luck and go over Bleydon Waters; this is a tidal stretch of water between Yarmouth and Lowestoft and we we were bowling along quite nicely until another boat hailed us and shouted “Your backs out of the water”, this not being ideal and my hubby is quite an intrepid sailor so a quick exit from there was necessary. Would do it again in a heartbeat though, a fabulous holiday I would recommend to anyone.
Forward on a few years, and our next memorable Norfolk holiday was with our two boys, still not very old; we decided to save on the pennies and go camping. We bought a lovely big tent with separate bedrooms, canopy and all the paraphernalia that goes with camping and set off to West Runton, near Cromer. It started to rain as we got there and it was very windy, (if it wasn’t for the wind). We pitched at what we thought was a very good spot, that was until we had the tent struts in place and trying to peg them down. Next thing we knew we were all chasing down the hill trying to catch the tent. Finally, having battened down the tent, we sat there wet and shivering and ended up going to a laundromat to dry our clothes.
Believe it or not, this did not put us off Norfolk at all. We progressed on through tents, trailer tents, touring caravans and lastly a static caravan in North Walsham. The area became as familiar to us as our home ground. Cromer with its pier, Yarmouth and the Model Village, Wells and all its boats, Sheringham Park with the wonderful park and all the flowers. Norwich, of course, to satisfy my love of shopping and must be one of the best Park and Ride sites in England; there are at least five or six sites around the city centre.
Just recently we have been to Winterton on Sea and had a week reliving all the places we used to go to regularly. Even a night out at the Greyhound Racing; we won on three races but then, sadly, the night went downhill but still very enjoyable. Cromer Crab bought for our supper for when we got home.
All the best of old and new can be found in Norfolk, there is something for everyone and this tea towel shows some of our old haunts and hopefully will be visiting them lots more in the future”.
Ann is certainly not a woman to be put off by a bit of wind, rain and a sinking boat but she’s right, Norfolk is a great place and this tea towel has certainly conjured up some great memories from over the years.