Day 75 Tues 24 May: Apologies for the over-long titles in Norfolk. There’s clearly a policy of throwing in a good mix of extra vowels & consonants. Whoy waste ’em? Perhaps it’s a sign of prosperity to have a longer place name. But that would make Cromer and Cley the poor cousins to Happisburgh (pronounced ‘Haysbru’ of course). The shortest of visits to these places would blow that theory right out of the water.
Thank you Clive (DLA) at Sheringham ILB Station, for turning out to sign the increasingly dog-eared, well worn chart and the effervescent Maggie (RNLI Shop Volunteer) for the souvenir pin badge and much appreciated enthusiasm and words of encouragement. Seeing your Atlantic B Class launching into today’s Northerly assisted crashing surf on the heavy going shingle beach would have been quite dramatic. Thankfully, a launch wasn’t necessary.
The short ride to neighbouring Cromer serves as a reminder that Norfolk is not, as many mistakenly believe, flat. It’s not exactly the North York Moors, nor the Exmoor or Pembrokeshire Coast. It’s just beautifully, gently undulating and winding. Lush, green and teaming with wildlife. A twitchers’ paradise. This coast is the host to more telephoto lenses than a 1997 paparazzi convention in Paris.
Cromer’s ALB Station is big, modern and unmissable. Situated at the end of the pier, it can be seen from almost anywhere for miles around. Very similar in style to those way back in Wales, like Mumbles, Tenby, Porthdinllaen and Moelfre. Is this another Clive Moore design? I must check. How are you Clive? Are you still out there? I’ve just looked back at Day 14, back in October and began to feel nostalgic – about part of something I haven’t even finished yet! Keep cycling my friend.
Meanwhile, back in present day Norfolk, thanks Richard, for the contacts and Paul, for the welcome at Cromer. Tempted to stuff a couple of fresh crabs in my bags before leaving, but not sure how well they’d travel over the remaining 50 miles of Norfolk & Suffolk lanes to Lowestoft this afternoon.
A glorious ride to today’s next stop, Happisburgh. Parts of the coastline over the last few miles are now much closer to the road than they once were. Coastal erosion is still a major concern. But Happisburgh ILB Station seems pretty secure behind the tall, reinforced dunes. Thank you Cedric(LOM) and Bob (Retained Mech & Tractor Driver) for everything, including the sound advice on choice of routes to the next LBStn. Was it cruel of me to buy my grandson, who is learning to read, a gift which has the very unphonetic name of this place embroidered boldly across the front?
The fourth and final Lifeboat Station of the day held a bit of a surprise in store for me today, again casting my mind back, this time to Day 1 in St Ives, Cornwall. The Cox’n who opened the door to me at Great Yarmouth & Gorleston ALBStn was not a new face. Francie Morgan, a Fleet Staff Coxswain (or RNLI Gypsy, as he calls himself) is here to cover for the full time regular Cox’n who is away on holiday. Having also been doing the same in St Ives when I passed through on Day 1, Francie has the honour of being the only person to have signed my chart twice. And, being regularly on duty in his Irish homeland, there’s every chance I could meet him again one day before this adventure is over. It was great to catch up with you Francie and hear some more of your tales of yore.
So, from the more industrial, busy harbour setting of Great Yarmouth, it’s just a few more miles to Lowestoft, the home of my late mother in law, Linda, the catalyst for this whole RNLI Fundraising adventure. The Lifeboat Station visit can wait a day or two. Time for a few days off here in Lowestoft, the most easterly point of Britain, with Linda’s two lovely daughters, my dear wife Claire and sister in law Jane, on this, the third anniversary of their mum’s passing.