Wednesday 24 June

Ok folks, here’s the proof of yesterday’s adventure. I was swimming in the River Nene, in Northamptonshire. I am spending a few days in a friends’ empty Airbnb flat in Peterborough, and going on a few expeditions. The incredibly good weather seems to have put everyone in a holiday mood.

Today we decided to go to the Norfolk coast, and so it seems did everyone else. The traffic on the A47 was worse than on an August Bank Holiday. We diverted off to visit Castle Acre, a Norman town with a ruined abbey and ancient castle. This is the so-called “wine-glass” pulpit in the church.

The little town is held to be a masterpiece of Norman town planning, with delightful flint built houses, typical of many Norfolk villages. The gate below is the only remaining gate of the original fortified town, the Bailey Gate.

The pub door was open so we ventured in to ask if a beer was a possibility, but they were only getting ready for 4 July opening. However the landlord very kindly gave us for free a bottle of Adnam’s beer: we only realised subsequently that it was 0.5% alcohol but nevertheless very refreshing.

From there we drove to Wells-next-the-Sea. The huge car park was practically full and yet as this was late afternoon, some people were leaving. We did get a space, and the people next to us gave us their parking ticket as they were going, so 2 freebies in one day is good going. The beach is huge, and the tide was out so you could only swim in the channel, but that was fine, and very warm. Kids with buckets and spades, rounders sets, umbrellas, picnics, a real English day by the seaside. With plenty of room for distancing although no-one seemed bothered and I saw no masks.

It was windy as it always is on the east coast, but as the temperature was 30c in the shade, it was rather welcome. It is kind of tradition to have fish and chips in Wells, but as the queue was miles long, and nothing else was open, not even the supermarket, we drove on, and by chance found a Chinese take-away open in Burnham Market. Now Burnham market is exquisitely pretty, full of second homes, known as Kensington-by-sea. This evening it was almost empty, quite spooky really on a warm summer’s evening, and it makes you realise how the pubs, cafes and restaurants add atmosphere to a place. I think many places will erupt on 4 July: you are going to see the party to end all parties. Or maybe not, especially if it rains.

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