Jump to content

taleteller

Members
  • Content Count

    6
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    2

taleteller last won the day on January 31

taleteller had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

83 Excellent

1 Follower

About taleteller

  • Rank
    Member

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. Isn't it funny how sometimes a completely random, unexpected event can awaken a memory of so many years ago? I had cause to drive up to Edinburgh today to fulfil a promise I made some years ago to attend the opening of a friends business. Today was the day it finally happened and so rather than take the easy option of flying I decided to make an early start and drive. I left early, very early. My plan was to put Newcastle behind me before the day was truly awake then stop for breakfast at a favourite haunt just of the A1 south of Berwick Upon Tweed. All went to plan and it proved to be an enjoyable day if fairly uneventful, but long. Very long. With three hundred miles between me and home I was glad when the formalities were finally complete and after a polite amount of socialising I made my excuses, and my escape. I left Edinburgh just before rush hour really got into full swing, allowing that busiest time on the roads to pass me by as I chewed up the miles on the A1. By the time I made it back as far as Newcastle rush hour would be over. I had toyed with the idea of visiting Lindisfarne on the way home. It is a special place for me and somewhere that I have not visited since my mother passed away some years ago. Sadly the crossing times for the causeway were not favourable, so as I passed the Beal turn off the A1 I made a silent promise to visit again soon. Sadly, my favourite transport cafe on the A1 is no more. A victim of the recent road improvements which have left it severed from it's passing trade by thirty yards of grass and a fourteen foot bank. The building stands empty now, awaiting the onset of dereliction unless some other use can be found for it. From the boarded windows with the word “CLOSED” whitewashed across them you would not believe that just a few short years ago it was the place to get food on the A1. So now I am devoid of ideas on where to find food, and since that triple sausage bacon and egg full English went down at eight o'clock this morning I have eaten precisely two blinis with something on which claimed to be caviar but tasted more like tiny balls of wallpaper paste and a mushroom vol-au-vent which was close to inedible. I pulled off the A1 at Coxhoe and found a takeaway. The Pizza was about as good as the earlier canapes and the coffee was warm and brown but I doubt it had much to do with the Coffea plant but I was too hungry to turn my nose up at it and still a good three hours from home. So I swung the car around and headed back to the A1 and set the three pointed star on the bonnet for home. And here comes that random moment (you didn't think I'd forgotten did you?) By now the sun has set and the sky is a beautiful pale orange turning to dark blue. It isn't really dark yet, it's that brief moment of evening when, even on the motorway it's a sheer delight to be out with the roof down. At that moment the digital radio station I was listening to played Xanadu, you remember? Olivia Newton John and ELO. Instantly I was carried back to the summers in Norfolk, a memory so strong I could almost taste it, almost reach out and touch it, almost but not quite. It sent a shiver down my back. I'm sure the water leaking from my eye was a consequence of the freshening breeze blowing round my spectacles. I categorise my time in Norfolk in to two distinct eras. The first as a child, which ran roughly, I would guess until I was around eleven or twelve, then adolescence, when the focus of our attentions changed. As a child the focus of our world was Oulton Broad, the water itself, the park and one or two other locations we hung out. As we grew older that shifted more to Lowestoft and to Heathland Beach. During the last days, in fact the very last summer in Norfolk Xanadu was the big summer hit. We played it on the beach every night. In truth there are probably three eras in play, I discount the one which pre-dates my memories though there were several visits to Camping Boats in that period. My very first memory is, in truth not my own but afforded me by that pensieve which is elder siblings. It recalls that occasion when as a tot dressed in wellington boots and duffel coat I was enjoying splashing in the puddles by the landspring drain which ran through the site until, inevitably I splashed in a puddle which was not a puddle but the creek itself. I disappeared from site momentarily and as I bobbed back to the surface my eldest sister grabbed me by the hood and dragged me to the bank where I was hauled back on to terra firma.
  2. Saturday usually began at or just after first light. The trusty “torpedo” camping stove came out and the first thing on was the kettle. Whilst the girls walked the dog, named Sandy who was a basenji, for those who have asked, I was despatched to tell father that the kettle was on. This was an implied instruction from mother that it was time he was packing up. Tell your mother I'll have one more cast was the invariable reply as I was press ganged into service as a donkey, carrying the little bits and pieces like his net bag whilst he catapulted the last of his ground bait into the river and packed his basket and rod bag. I noted that more often than not his nets were dry. He was good my dad, at fishing at least, but he never seemed to do much on the Old Bedford. Once the tea was made a ready prepared frying pan appeared from the boot of the car, full of part cooked sausage and bacon and it was put on the stove to finish off whilst mum sliced and buttered rolls. The reason for our early start was Downham Market, where the A1101 crossed the A10 King's Lynn to London road in the town centre. Nowadays both roads have bypasses, the former to the south of the town, the latter to the east. Mother would be keen to get through Downham before this otherwise sleepy little town awoke to the weekly chores of shopping and such like. East of Downham we turn onto the A134 towards Thetford. With Thetford behind us the greenery of the forest gave way to the rolling greenery of the Waveney Valley as we continue east on the A1066 towards Diss. The arrival in Diss was always met by the regurgitation of many, generations old jokes. “if this is Diss, where is Dat? And, is this Diss Mere? No it's Dat dare ….” They seemed funny at the time. Of course we loved them because, as much as the familiar landmarks which we passed by, they were waymarkers of our journey. An indication that we were getting close to our destination. At Scole the A1066 crosses the A140 which ran north – south through the centre of the village. This was not quite so bad to cross as other roads as it was a staggered crossroads, left then right. The right turn was easy to miss, and it took dad yelling at mum on one occasion, “turn right there, by the fellow with the blue shirt”. To this day that junction is referred to as “the man with the blue shirt”. From this point onwards the road we travelled is hardly recognisable. East of Scole the 1066 joined the A143, almost completely rebuilt in more recent years along the line of a disused railway. Much of the old road is still in use now numbered the B1062 which winds it way through the village of Brockdish, more age old puns, and then through the pretty village of Harleston where petrol was obtained from a garage straight from the 1930's. The pump was inside the garage window and the delivery pipe hung from a gantry out over the road. You didn't pull in, simply parked on the road outside and would be served with your five gallons of four star. It was there that I remember vividly my mother remarking that the price had reached fifty pence per gallon. I think that would have been during the oil crisis of 1973/4. “Ten bob a gallon, where will it end” she asked? Harleston is bypassed today, as are most of the towns and villages between here and the East Coast, which whilst a blessed relief to residents I have no doubt, is still somewhat of a shame. The road continues to Bungay but before we arrive there is another stop to be made. I grew up in an age where everything had it's season and as a result we looked forward to them. One such item, perhaps the queen of seasonal produce was the Strawberry, it arrived in the shops is June and was gone by September. It was the essence of English summer and it was best enjoyed straight from the field, and that is what we did. Pick your own was not the widespread industry that it is today, it hadn't achieved it's current day status of family day out but there was a large pick your own farm near Earsham and we stopped and filled basket upon basket with large juicy fruits ready to permeate our holidays with pies, flans, scones or at their best with the lightest sprinkling of sugar and lashings of fresh cream. If you have only sampled strawberries from a supermarket then you have never tasted a real strawberry. There is a world of difference between something grown in a field, ripened by the sun and, dare I say it fertilized with horse muck and the bland, watery, pale imitations proffered by Mssrs Sainsbury et al, heavily hybridised varieties bred for yield at the cost of flavour, grown in huge poly tunnels, usually in Spain or Turkey or Egypt and increasingly in India in troughs of water suspended at the perfect height for picking and ripened to order by artificial light. They never see the sun, they never sit in soil and they never develop any flavour. With baskets (and my tummy!) full we climbed back into the car to complete our journey. The final stretch to Oulton Broad. I remember Bungay from my childhood as a colourful, pretty little market town. We passed through the centre of the town and onwards to Beccles. It would soon be time to start searching the horizon for the giant, four legged cranes which in those days stood on the quayside at Lowestoft and could be seen from miles away. With Beccles andWorlingham behind us we joined the A 146 bound for Oulton. Despite many recent improvements, straightening and widening this road largely still travels it's original course, past North Cove and Barnby into Carlton Colville and finally Oulton Broad. Our caravan park was at the end of Marsh Road which turns back sharply from the main road. Today, this left turn is prohibited, a complete circuit of the new roundabout on Saltwater way and a right turn being the preferred manner of entry onto Marsh Road. But in the 1970's a left turn it was, waiting for oncoming traffic to clear and then swinging wide across both lanes and then down by the railway station along the somewhat bumpy lane, past the “new” holiday chalets, Knight's Creek and finally to Camping Boats.
  3. Please accept my apologies for my extended absence from this story. There are several reasons. Firstly a severe dose of tonsilitis which kept me off my feet for a week or more with no desire to do anything but coil up in foetal posture and occupy my mind with my entire library of audio books. Secondly, and most sadly I have said farewell to one of my oldest friends, taken at no great age by modern day standards and thirdly a holiday, for once not in Norfolk. The other issue with the composition of this drivel is that whilst I know how and most importantly where it begins and ends the bits in the middle are something of a fog. I don't intend to recount a precise diary of the holidays which spanned more than a decade, rather try and deliver my favourite memories and recollections of a different age in what has become my favourite little corner of England. Putting these memories into any kind of meaningful chronology is proving somewhat challenging. Nonetheless come with me on the next leg, the final stage of our journey to Oulton Broad.
  4. Before the next instalment I should like to congratulate those who have made it this far. If you stick around a little longer then I promise that my Hinge and Bracketesque "random jottings" will begin to encompass the Norfolk Broads, especially Oulton Broad and the Waveney Valley as seen through the eyes of a schoolboy. I'm writing this as I go along, and although it's all in my head somewhere, finding certain bits of it takes a little longer than it once did. Please forgive me if the interlude between instalments is sometimes a little longer than would be polite. If you are expecting a new edition of Swallows and Amazons then accept my apologies now and return to your daily life before I cheat you of time irrecoverable. Our adventures were, in hindsight somewhat more mundane. There will be no mysterious castings off to investigate, no tales of derring-do as we attempt to evade the attentions of hullabaloos, though, as you will see, Arthur Ransome had a big influence upon us. I woke early this morning, as I always do, if you can call it waking. Sleep is a luxury mostly denied to me now. Days are punctuated by brief periods of restless recumberance, itself perforated by nocturnal wanderings between bedroom and bathroom. Titter not, you will find out what I mean one day. My early rising did however afford me a glorious sunrise this morning. Firstly, as I always do, I checked that I was still breathing, I consider that my main goal in life. Each day that I can "tick that box" is one more minor victory. Another night successfully negotiated. Was it Edgar Allan Poe who said "Sleep, those little slices of death. How I loathe them? There would be little for him to loathe in my nightly routine. Last night was clear and crisp, very crisp in fact. The garden was icy this morning, shining bright silver in the half light which all too briefly perforates night and day. Standing in the sack yard on top of the old "coal hole" puffing away on the "e-cig" gadget which some years ago replaced the Woodbines I stood and watched the first promise of the day to come as the sun rose between the two plane trees at the bottom of the orchard. It was quite a Stonehenge moment. It was about then that I decided to pen this minor interlude. Originally it was my plan simply to divest myself of each episode as and when they became available, inflicting them upon an unsuspecting world through the vessel of your wonderful site, without comment or explanation. This morning I changed my mind. I do that a lot just lately. So at this point I would issue a word of warning. Some of what I write, if not much of it really happened. "The stories are real, the people are real", oh golly, too much daytime TV me thinks. To that end the names have been changed, what do they say, to protect the innocent? On this occasion it's perhaps more a case of protecting the guilty, but either way changed they have been. I have watched this site for many years, awaiting the moment when it seemed germane to dump this diatribe upon you all and I am aware that there are those amongst us who will know the area and the time, and perhaps some of the people in my story. One or two here I may well have met during the period covered. I would ask that if anything thing, or anyone seems familiar then ignore that familiarity and just go with the story. It will all make sense in the end. Sense? Who am I kidding, but stick around, nonetheless. Finally I should like to issue two apologies. Firstly for the somewhat coarse manner in which I ended the previous episode. A vulgar and unpleasant word however you didn't know the dog. No more polite descriptor adequately portrays the vehemence of the flatulent pyrotechnics of which that animal was capable. And secondly? Please excuse any errors of logography, my grammar and spelling are not what they might be. Occasionally I may invent word which doesn't, but which in my head should exist, hopefully it's meaning will be clear by the context in which it sits. All my life I have been a little dysexlic, though I try not to let it show.
  5. Travelling any distance took planning. It wasn't like it is now. I can get in my car today and be anywhere on the Broads in around three hours and a single tank of fuel completes the 360 mile round trip twice. If I don't have enough fuel I'll pass at least six filling stations in the first ten miles or so from home. In the early 70's we didn't pass that many garages on the whole journey, and they opened “office” hours. Saturday morning if you were lucky, never on a Sunday. A full tank would just get us to Oulton Broad with enough leeway. Three hours was a pipe dream, the journey took six on a good day, on a bad one it could take eight. There were no “improvements” on the A47 in those days. No dual carriageways, no crawler lanes, no straightened sections. The climb up Rutland's Wardley Hill could be murderous. Lorries laden with coal and gravel from the mines and quarries of Leicestershire could make no more than walking pace up the narrow, serpentine three mile ascent. The road passed through every town and village on the route, bypass was a word still alien to our language. Every village had it's crossroads, towns had traffic lights. Travelling was stop start, stop start. There were motorways, the M1 had opened some years earlier but mother would never use it and no motorway went anywhere near Norfolk. At least some things never change. For us, the adventure began on Friday afternoon. It was straight home from school and into the back of the car. The first car I remember was a brand new Ford Escort 1100L 2 door saloon, hired from our local Ford dealership and nicknamed “Silver Fox” after it's paint colour. Two adults in the front, three kids in the back and a rather portly and often flatulent dog in the back window. A boot full of everything but the kitchen sink and a roof rack on top with father's vast array of fishing tackle. All that and the grand total of 40 horsepower. Even when you found a bit of “open road” progress was never rapid. I often wondered if mother, who was the driver in our family, father never learned, was grateful to those lorries on Wardley Hill as I doubt we could have gone much quicker if they were not there! The first point of note on the journey, for me at least was Peterborough. Dad's parents came from Rutland and he had family across the county and through Northamptonshire and so we visited those places quite regularly. Mum would borrow her sister's Mk I Cortina to take dad fishing with a visit to his parents afterwards. Many a Saturday afternoon was spent at the tea table in Nana's dining room watching the Wrestling on World Of Sport on their second, yes second TV. The one in the lounge was even colour! Peterborough was different though. We never came this far other than this one time each year when we were going on holiday. This was the start of foreign territory. Exotic began here. The next place of interest was the small village of Thorney and fish and chips for supper. Well a bag of chips between the three of us kids anyway, I told you times were hard. A bottle of Corona Limeade washed them down, that being dad's favourite. We would wait until the pop was gone so dad could return the bottle and get the thruppence back on the empty before resuming our travels eastward. The reason for our Friday departure was the content of the roof rack, the fishing tackle. Dad would never pass a river, lake, pond or even muddy ditch without wondering what he could catch from it. He was a keen angler, more than keen even. He was an international match angler, fishing alongside the likes of Ivan Marks and Roy Marlow in an era when the top anglers didn't need make up, lights or sound engineers. One of the many clubs or associations he belonged to held fishing rights on the Rivers Welland and Great Ouse and the drains of the Middle Level so once we reached Wisbech we turned off the A47 and followed the A1101 through the pretty village of Outwell and to our destination for the night, Salter's Lode. Dad's aim was always to be set up and ready to fish before darkness fell and would fish through the night with the aid of his faithful “tilley” lamp. I was a great disappointment to my father. After two daughters he was delighted to finally have a son to share his passion for fishing and shooting but that wasn't the way I was wired. He would drag me along the bank and show me how he was setting up, how he was going to fish and what, hopefully, he was going to catch. I watched with feigned interest but mercifully was considered too young to spend all night on the river bank and so for me it was back to the car to bed down for what sleep we might manage. Mother would have the thermos out and tea made, all the good things in life seemed to be accompanied by a thermos flask. Meanwhile my sisters would walk the dog along the riverbank allowing for his night time ablutions. And so to “bed” dear reader. My eldest sister would claim the passenger seat due to the hierarchy of age leaving me and “middle sister” to fight over the rear bench seat. We always had pillows and blankets in the car so we could get reasonably comfortable. We watched the deepening black of the sky as sleep came slowly to us. And then the dog farted.
  6. It's hard to believe that those halcyon days of endless summer spent on the Norfolk Broads are the best part of a lifetime ago. I sit in my armchair and gaze into the garden, rain making patterns on the French windows, grey clouds scurrying across the distant horizon. I have reached an age where I need a list to remind me to buy milk and bread when I go shopping. A small device in my pocket the likes of which once seemed beyond science fiction reminds me of the correct day to visit the Doctor and renew my various prescriptions and once in a while allows a family no longer nearby to check up on me. A call to see if it's worth spending a stamp on a Christmas Card or whether it's more prudent to invest in dry cleaning their funeral outfits. For all my great age and frailty I can still close my eyes and recall the names and faces of those days in Norfolk, recall them as if they were only yesterday. The man on the radio plays a tune, it's “Tracks Of My Years” time, I like that. It reminds me it's time to think about lunch. The intro sounds familiar and as the band begin playing I recognise the song we danced to so many times on those sultry evenings on Pakefield Beach, dancing, swimming and sitting around the driftwood fire, it's flames glowing blue green as the salt coloured them. They were carefree days, days of wonder and enlightenment. Everything was possible, everything an adventure, but I let that adventure die before I realised how magical it really was. Summer holidays were the one luxury our family enjoyed. Every year the money was scraped together somehow for our two weeks in Norfolk and Suffolk. Times were hard back then. We didn't think of ourselves as poor, in fact both my parents worked and we were better off than many in our local community but still there was “not much to spare” as my mother often said. She worked in the hosiery factory at the top of the street, my father was a carpenter. They paid the mortgage, sometimes with the aid of ten bob from a helpful grandparent, put food on the table and provided us with clothes, which sometimes fitted. We had no car, in fact in our whole street their was only one car, the scary man at the top of the road who worked at the bank. The street was for playing football and cricket, undisturbed by traffic. We did however have a television, and that too was one of very few in the street. Father's brother was a television engineer, remember them? Try explaining to the youth of today that when your TV broke down a man came and fixed it, or occasionally took it away in the back of his van if the repair was too involved, for it's return to be eagerly awaited like the delivery of a new baby in the family. Our TV was one which it's previous owner had given up having repaired but which Uncle Bill had pulled back from the brink of oblivion. It was black and white, of course, and it had buttons to switch between 405 and 625 lines depending on which channel you wanted to watch. There were three, can you imagine finding something worth watching with just three channels? To change the channel you had to twist the dial, little pieces of stamp paper marking the approximate location of each station. I was the remote control.... “lad, put BBC2 on” my father would say. During school holidays kids were left at home. That was the way. There would be somebody “on duty”, somewhere in the street. A non working mother maybe, or an older sibling. “If you need anything knock at Mrs Morris's” mum would say on her way out to work. I don't think it was ever said, but it was understood that you only disturbed mum at work if it was really serious. In truth we were not really “home alone” as we would be out playing all day. It seems almost unimaginable today, but kids played together outdoors back in those days. Half the things we got up to would probably have snowflakes from Social Services banging at the door nowadays. We climbed trees, built dens, made fires to bake potatoes on and if someone had got a ball we spent the afternoon in the park. Children of different ages played together, can you believe that, but there was a pecking order. The older kids decided what to do and the younger ones were allowed to tag along. Of course the school holiday we all awaited most eagerly was Summer. Nine weeks of freedom. Almost long enough to forget your teacher's name. Being factory workers my parents both had set holidays, when the works would stop and most of the county boarded a bus (our railway line having fallen victim to Dr. Beeching's axe) for Skegness. But for us, it was a car, hired, borrowed but never quite stolen and the A47 eastward East to Oulton Broad ……. to be continued …..
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

For details of our Guidelines, please take a look at the Terms of Use here.