A shaggy dog story to start your week

A shaggy dog story to start your week

So, we went to the coast this weekend, with two of our oldest friends (the Bridesmaid and the Best Man actually, although that was thirty-plus years ago). Bear with me, the story gets funnier. We girls (I reserve the right to calls us girls, despite having given away the fact that, if I married thirty-plus years ago, I’m actually anything but) went potter-shopping. You know,  the sort that men hate, when we wander in to every shop, not intending to purchase, and end up with quite a lot of shit which we didn’t really want. The Bridesmaid got a new handbag, and some decoupage paper. I bought two, very luxurious, beds for my ancient dogs, and a clingy top (which I made unclingy by buying two sizes too large). It’s nice, I’m wearing it now. And the dogs have managed to find their new beds, without too much confusion. So, all in all, a surprisingly good result for a potter-shopping trip. My apologies to the charity shop (although I doubt they’ll have to wait donkey’s years to get their hands on those pet beds…)

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Anyway, let me back up a bit. We sent the boys (ditto, above) off to find their own fun, and they decided to hunt the coast for old military defences. (I’m not making this up, and you’ll get no comment from me, because at least their choice was less costly than potter-shopping was. Venus and Mars and all that…)

They had a successful trip; after a bit of a drive and a bit of a hike, they managed to track down a WWII Emergency Coastal Battery (I only know it’s called that because ‘we’ Googled it later.) Here’s some blurb that I’ve lifted from the Norfolk Heritage Explorer (link here, for those of you [men] who might be interested).

A World War Two emergency coast defence battery survives largely intact together with two ancillary structures on the cliff top … It  is also visible on aerial photographs; the latter indicate that it was constructed between 30 July 1941 and 4 January 1943.  It consists of two gun emplacements which held ex-Naval 6-inch guns, projecting off an integral, semi-subterranean accommodation and storage block. Three ancillary buildings (two of which survive, one as a garden shed) 

Phew! (I do like the bit about the shed though) here’s a pic:

Mundesley bunker

Very…symmetrical, isn’t it. Alas, you can’t get inside. Our boys peered through the teeny-tiny gap in the structure (if you look at the picture closely, you can see the mini spy-hole by the corner on the left-hand wall). Too dark inside to see anything, though. Undaunted, The Farmer and the Best Man took a snap through the hole.

Now, I really enjoyed my potter-shop, but I’d have laughed until I peed if I’d witnessed their reactions when they looked at the picture they’d taken:

Scroll down and take a peek if you dare

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Priceless.

Internet downtime and getting in touch with spring

Internet downtime and getting in touch with spring

There is a reason the British spend so much time obsessing about the weather. We have so much of it, after all, in rapid cycles. It rarely appears in the anticipated order.

The clocks changed on Sunday, to British Summer Time. April is around the corner. But the farm remains doggedly cloaked in winter shades of brown and fawn and dull grey-green. These islands and their inhabitants are growing impatient. We are holding our breath in nervous conviction that we will get a spring, and that it will be followed by a heady summer. Neither is guaranteed in the fickle British Isles, but our bodies yearn for warm and our eyes crave the dazzle of sunlit colours.

The Farmer and I took a trip to the Norfolk Coast this weekend past. Despite the threat of cold, high wind and rain. All was serene when we arrived at dusk, in time to catch a glimpse of the grey North Sea in tranquil mood, softly slapping the sand with that beautiful whooshing sound that I for one could listen to forever. The waves played their music as our view slowly faded. On Sunday morning we strode out and eagerly watched some crab boats being hauled on to land. The first drops of splintery rain caught us returning from our walk. From the windows of our cosy cottage we saw the spit become a soft downpour. The Church bells jangled joyously. The brave and the hardy passed our window with hoods knotted around their heads and bright umbrellas held aloft. The young and the old alike were noisily invigorated by the adventure of forging on through our changeable March weather. We watched a sturdy toddler in a pink anorak pause in fascination to observe the crystal water gushing from a cast iron drain pipe. She was right to pause. The spouting rainwater chortled out and splattered onto the kerb before streaming to join the small river on the road and rushing downhill to the land drains which pour back to the sea.

On our journey home, we ploughed through endless torrential rain that the windscreen wipers could not cope with. The wind slammed the sides of the car ferociously. We eyed high sided vehicles nervously. March is said to “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb” but it seems the reverse is true this year. A fallen tree blocked the opposite carriageway, and a couple of miles from home we passed a ‘For Sale’ sign at the exact moment when the wind lifted it out of the ground and sent it spiralling into a field.

Power was off at the farm, not an infrequent occurrence when the wind gets up. Our dustbins had gone to visit the neighbours (this is quite a lengthy journey where we live). But roughly an hour later I was out walking the dogs in weak but welcome sunshine.

I am reading “The Summer Book” by Tove Jansson at the moment. A beautiful, simple, evocative tale which is reminding me to notice the details. Just like that sturdy toddler in her pink anorak. We had no internet connection in Norfolk, and limited mobile signal. I lost track of what my book was doing. I didn’t tweet I couldn’t check in with Facebook. I failed to post my weekly blog. I have to admit I could get used to being out of touch. I can see the small, tightly clenched buds on the trees from my window.  I heard the strident bark of a restless dog fox last night. I could smell that dog fox this morning. As I type rain is cracking on the corrugated roof of the lean-to, but I can feel the promise of spring in my bones. My waters tell me it is going to be an absolute beauty.