Monday 5 April 2010

An Unlikely Travel Writer

Traveller? Me? I don't think so!

I can’t ride a bike. I tip over sideways. I think it’s got something to do with my centre of gravity.

Flying scares me so much that I’d really rather stay at home.

And I don’t do walking. I’m the one who’s always trailing at the back of a group of walkers thereby allowing them time to sit and rest while they wait for me to catch up... and then when I’ve caught up they start walking again... until I trail behind and they sit and rest and so it goes on until I end up in tears, have to be escorted home and vow never ever to go walking again.

I don’t much like car travel either. It’s not that I get car-sick. It’s more of a ‘car-ache’. Two hours is about the limit of my endurance which means that most of our holidays, until recently, have been spent in North Norfolk in a small village called Blakeney.

The first time we ever saw Blakeney it was getting dark, the tide was out, we had nowhere to stay and The Blakeney Hotel overlooking mudflats was as good a place as any. In the morning I drew back the bedroom curtains and was overwhelmed by the glittering scene. Yachts and dinghies dotted the sea. Gulls swooped across waving salt marsh grasses. Children sat on the quayside, legs dangling, nets scooping unsuspecting gilly crabs from the creek. A row of boards advertised boat trips to Blakeney Point to see the seals. People were sitting at an open-fronted caravan drinking mugs of tea and eating freshly prepared breakfast baps. I couldn’t wait to get out there.

Pedlars Way stretches along most of the North Norfolk coastline. It crosses the quay at Blakeney where it becomes a raised pathway leading out to Blakeney Point. I know I said I don’t do walking but Blakeney is exceptional. In Blakeney I walk. The path passes between the car park and the duck pond and I don’t just mean any old duck pond. This duck pond is home to wigeons, shovelers, teals, pintails, mallards and what’s more they sound exactly like laughing Donald Ducks. The car park soon becomes a boat park. Duck laughter is replaced with clinking masts and the screeches and calls from the gulls, terns and avocets. One winter we even saw a flock of Brent geese from Siberia swooping over our heads. Those big birds are impressive but personally I prefer the tiny reed buntings that hop and twitter around the marshes, hiding in the masses of samphire, known locally as ‘poor man’s asparagus’.

As for accommodation, The Kings Arms is the most dog-friendly pub I know. It’s a Grade II listed inn and Josh-the-dog has spent many happy holidays with us there. They cook a mean fish and chip supper, larger than any plate can ever contain. They serve locally smoked fish and there’s even a dog biscuit box behind the bar. The pub sits just off the quay within minutes of salt marshes and shingle walks, nature reserves and bird hides. What more could a travel-phobe like myself ask for?

...until we discovered Eurostar but that’s another blog-story.