Monday, 9 July 2012

Holiday Rundown

Sooo, I’m back from my holidays in Great Yarmouth, and the crafting can recommence.  But first, I thought I would tell you about my holiday . . . .

As someone who has never really travelled much in England (I think I have seen more of Greece than the UK), it was a first for me to go on holiday south, other than the odd weekend to London.  Family holidays when we were kids were spent near Bridlington, I’ve been to Whitby with school, and I have/had family near Inverness and in Cheshire, and that is about the extent of my travelling within my home nation.  I now know why this is – travelling in the UK makes me dissatisfied with the urban sprawl of Leeds that I live in now, and have done all my life.

Anyway, for those of you that don’t know, Great Yarmouth is in Norfolk, which I hereby declare a very pretty county, or the bits that i have seen of it are very pretty anyway.  I’m thinking I could quite happily live down there.  Urban sprawl is at a minimum, and it is so lovely to drive down the country roads and see all the wildlife and pretty hedgerows.  I think it was the splashes of red poppies in the long grasses of the hedgerows that did it for me – I am a lot of a romantic at heart and read far too many romantic (trashy) novels set in idyllic countryside – and prettiness will win me over every time.  We stayed not too far from the Norfolk Broads, and I would have loved to go on a cruise on the Broads, but we were on a budget holiday, and with my family, so it was definitely ruled out.  I did learn a bit about them though when I visited Norwich Castle.  More about that later, and I must stop going off on a tangent . . .

So, the nearly five hour drive to our destination wasn’t actually too bad, but then again, it wasn’t me driving, it was my fiancé.  I am still amazed our beat up little car got us there in one piece.  I always expect it to fall apart at any moment – comedy silent film style, where everything just falls off at the same time.  We didn’t take the typical A1 route, but did the A17/A47 route, which takes you through all the pretty villages, and is much quieter.  It is also quicker, as we found, as we set off at the same time as my sister, who had her partner, my mother and my two nieces with her, but got there first!

Anyway, we arrived about 2o’clock and met up with my Uncle, Aunt and cousin, who had come down from Scotland.  My other cousin should have come too, but she had a better offer to go to Ibiza, and I have to say, given the option, I would have gone to Ibiza too!!  My great-Uncle had also come over from Germany, and my other sister came over for a couple of nights when she’d finished work on Friday, as she is based in Bedford at the moment, so not too much of a trek for her.  As is typical of a Wood family holiday, the bickering started almost straight away, but that’s nothing new and usually starts within 5 minutes of more than two of us being in the same room together.  The first night was, however, pretty uneventful.  We were stopping in Scratby, which is about 5 miles from Great Yarmouth itself, and there isn’t really much there.  The holiday site we were staying on was oooookay, but I’m not sure I would go back to that particular one.  It was clean, just not to my standards (OCD), and pretty basic.  There was a nice-looking caravan park next door though . . .

An early night beckoned for me on the Friday – being in a stuffy car all day had caused me to overheat and get a migraine L, but Saturday morning, me, my fiancé and my little sister (who is 24, so not that little) got up and drove into Great Yarmouth.  We had a lovely time wandering along the front, had a stroll on the beach (tres pebbly), ate ice-cream (I think I will miss the whippy ice-cream most) and had a round of mini-golf, which I lost, but not too badly.  We then had a wander around the town, which was typical seaside really – a couple of shopping centres with the normal shops in and then lots and lots of shops of tacky rubbish.  However, I feel that it is customary to take some tack home for the rest of the family – my dad and step-mum got a magnet, and my grandma (who had decided to go to Greece instead of coming with us) got a tea-towel, and she always brings me tea-towels back from her holidays, so I feel it only fair to return the favour.  I did try and find the tackiest one I could, because I’m nice like that.  We had a BBQ Saturday night and it was just a nice, relaxed day.  One downer on it though was that despite the fact I had suncreamed, I still got burnt.  I already use Factor 30, so it looks as though I am going to have to up it to Factor 50.  Why did I get such pale skin?

Sunday, my little sister went back to Bedford, and I went with my big sister with family etc. back to Great Yarmouth.  My dad had given us some money for a day out, so we spent some of this going to the Merrivale Model Village in Great Yarmouth.  We seemed to be there ages.  It was a good day though.  I had our mascot from the pub, Disco Dave, with me, so he could have some holidays too, and he seemed to have great fun terrorising the little people of the village.  He even went on a boat ride.  My nieces loved it, and it was definitely money well spent, and we even had some left over for another day out.  They had an old penny arcade at the model village, and my nieces absolutely loved it.  After that, we had another wander around Great Yarmouth, and did a pot of shopping.  As I can’t go anywhere really without thinking crafts, I managed to buy some craft materials on my wanders. 

Monday was a day for just me and my fiancé, Phil, and he wanted to go to the Caister Castle Vintage Car Collection.  I think he enjoyed this more than I did though.  Although the history aspect was nice, I’m not really interested in cars, as evidence by the beat up little 206 I drive.  I would however, really like a Beetle Cabriolet, if you are out there Mr Volkswagen, and would like to donate one, so far, I’ve only got models . . . . Anyway, it was £10 each in, and you weren’t even allowed to take photos of the cars.  Imagine the photos we could have had of Disco Dave . . .  There were a lot of cars though, and we must have spent at least an hour wandering around.  There were also vintage bikes (or the motor and pedal variety) and even a vintage pram section, which I know two little girls would have loved.  To assemble the collection must have cost a fortune.  We also had a wander around the ruins of the castle itself, which had a lot happen to it during the Wars of the Roses it seems, and was the first brick-built castle in England.  I decided not to climb to the top of the tower (as I have an irrational fear of certain types of staircases – mostly spiral, mostly old), but Phil did and he took some photos so I could see the view.  I don’t think that overall, it was worth £10, as we did better things cheaper, but maybe I am biased and bitter about the lack of photos.

After leaving the Castle, we went in search of Caister Roman Fort.  I have to admit, I was expecting something impressive, and I was very disappointed when it turned out to be just a few stones in the ground.  I’m sure the archaeologists who painstakingly excavated the fort would have been very excited about it, but as a visitor experience, it was definitely found wanting.  You could pretty much just look at them from the other side of a fence.  I’ve been to ruins before where you can play on them, or there is a lot of information to look, but nothing.  But then again, I suppose for free, you can’t be too fussy.

From the disappointment of the Roman Fort, we went onto Hemsby, which is a little resort a mile or so from Scratby.  There wasn’t much there, one street with some amusements, a fish and chip shop and some gift shops, but we had a nice wander and walked along the beach there, which was a lot less pebbly than Great Yarmouth.

Tuesday was quite possibly my favourite day.  Me and Phil got up early – even the kids were still in bed when we left – and headed into Norwich.  We had it planned – I wanted to go to Norwich Cathedral, Norwich Castle and the Colman’s Mustard Museum.  It was really a day for my geek to be satisfied, without anyone else being bored.  Despite the fact that this was the only day it rained (barring Friday when it was practically Monsoon weather, but we were coming home anyway), I really enjoyed my day.

We went to the Castle first, which was £6.80 each in, but we had vouchers for £1 off each.  Norwich Castle is a Norman fort, one of the first stone forts to be built following the Norman conquest, and was visited by Henry II.  The main floor is all about the Castle during medieval times, with things for the kids to do, such as dress up and build a stained-glass window (which, naturally, we had to do too), a scale replica of how the Castle would have looked during the Christmas that Henry II visited, including all the little rooms, and loads of information to make the brain explode about the period.  This floor also had an exhibit on Vikings and Anglo-Saxons in Britain, again with games etc. for the kids, and lots of information for the rest of us. 

Downstairs, was information on the Castle when it was used as a Gaol from the 1300s onwards, including information on prisoners and jailers alike.  There was so much information I couldn’t take it all in.

There were also loads of other little rooms with information in the Norfolk Regiment, the Egyptians, the Romans, fashion from Georgian times, the Twinings Teapot Gallery, which was a lot more interesting than it sounds, natural history, and art galleries.  I’m sure I’ve probably missed some things out there, but there was so much, as it was definitely worth the £5.80 each we paid.

We left the Castle and headed up to the Cathedral (getting a little bit lost in the process), but what a beautiful Cathedral it is.  Very busy though.  I’m not particularly religious, but I have always found churches to be quiet, reflective places, but there was just too much going on in Norwich Cathedral to really site and reflect.  The architecture was beautiful though, and it was free to get in.  I lit my candle for my sister, Teegan (who sadly died as a baby), and then wandered around for a while.

We then headed towards the Colman’s Mustard Museum (getting a lot more lost in the process).  As we were leaving the Cathedral, that was when the weather decided it would like to be really mean and rain on us, and we didn’t have an umbrella, so we had to shelter in a shop doorway while we figured out where we were going.  Anyway, it wasn’t so much a museum, as just a shop, but I did spend a fair while in there.  As requested, I bought my sister some mustard (even though it is readily available in all good supermarkets!), and I am still annoyed with myself for not buying some cheese and mustard scone mix.  I will have to see if I can get it online . . .

After leaving the Colemans shop, we wandered around the shops and the market a bit, then headed back.  Norwich is a nice city.  It still has lots of old buildings and a lot of history.  I think its northern/Yorkshire equivalent would be York, which is another city I love, for its prettiness and history.

Wednesday was another good day.  We went to Thrigby Hall with my sister and the nieces.  This is a wildlife park and had all sorts.  The only downer of the day is that I got a bit of sunstroke.  Lesson to everyone, especially if you are fair like me – wear a hat when it is sunny.  The kids, and adults, loved Thrigby Hall.  There were so many animals – tigers, leopards (Amur, Snow, and black – apparently there is no such thing as a black panther), alligators and crocodiles, apes (very noisy!), snakes (I think I ran through that part), and birds galore including owls, storks and peacocks.  It did make me a bit sad that the animals were in captivity and not free to roam, and the enclosures weren’t huge, but most the animals there are endangered species, and if it is the only way to ensure their survival, then needs must I suppose.  There were loads of play areas for the kids to keep them entertained too in case they got bored, but ours never did.  I can’t remember exactly how much it was each, but it was £50something for four adults and two kids, which isn’t that bad, and definitely worth the money – we were there all day.

Then it was Thursday, our last day.  We headed into Great Yarmouth one last time to buy the last bits and pieces of presents we needed.  We spent most of the day there and I must have eaten three ice-creams in total, finishing off the girls’ when they’d had enough, so I’m surprised I’ve not put on a couple of stone this holiday.

There was loads more that I wanted to do, but ran out of time, so I think we will be going back in the next couple of years to do everything else.  That’s if I don’t move down there permanently first.  I did look at houses and jobs briefly . . . I think I would be more inspired for my crafting in a prettier setting, but we shall see what happens.

In the meantime, I shall get back to my crafting . . .

Happy Crafting.


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