Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Norfolk Coast

Another place to celebrate - the North Norfolk coast. I'm just back from three days there: it's almost a manageable day trip from Harwich. I go there mainly because it's an outstanding area for birdwatching, especially in autumn (not just for the Brits - there were Lithuanians visiting a reserve when I was there), but it appeals to me in other ways too.

The coast is open and bleak. If you stand on this coast and look north, there is no land between you and the Arctic. At a place like Deepdale Marsh, looking out to Scolt Head, the expanse of saltmarsh is so great you might imagine you were seeing halfway to the Arctic. In September to November it's full of the urgency of migrating birds, huge flocks of winter thrushes, starlings, skylarks; skeins of hinking and chattering geese; lone harriers and peregrines.

The villages, though, are full of quirky variety, no two old buildings the same or even very similar, brick and flint mixed in walls. Nowadays a lot of the small shops cater to visitors (delicatessens, mini art galleries, binocular and telescope shops), but they have variety too; and the pubs are superb, real ale havens and each with its own personality.

The coast is marked by many Second World War fortifications. When Britain expected invasion from Germany, both the British and the German high commands identified two likely locations for invasion, one Norfolk to north Suffolk and the other Sussex. The British fortified both strongly but thought Norfolk the most likely because of the open country behind the coast. After the war they discovered that the German plans had been made for Sussex because it offered a shorter sea crossing. The fortlets I knew as a kid as "pill-boxes" are now preserved as archaeological resources.

To change the subject briefly: in the Morrison's supermarket yesterday - 12 November - the staff were wearing "Happy Christmas" sweatshirts! Have I missed something?

No comments:

Post a Comment