Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Is That The Hire Car, Or Is It A Shed?

Jim the Medic's text read:-
"How are you getting on in the Garden Shed?"

Well I can tell him, and as promised you at the same time. Pip & Alison Weston along with their lovely teenage children don't live in some sprawling property out in the stick, but own a nicely appointed semi-detached house in a quiet crescent, off the main road in the North Norfolk village of Blakeney. They have been enterprising enough to erect 3 wooden chalet style cabins in a fairly small garden, with one of them given over to a summer house for family use. The other 2 comprise a 'double' and a 'twin' Bed & Breakfast accommodation which, as far as that kind of thing goes, has to qualify as my find of the last decade. Having visited Norfolk off and on for the past 40 years I have enjoyed some fine hostelries including the White Horse at Brancaster Staithe, the Briarfield Hotel at Titchwell and the Ship Pub, but £ for £ this has been the best yet.

On the face of it they are luxury garden sheds, but behind the veil there is far more to them.

Well lite for access in the dark, en-suite, self contained and surprisingly spacious.

The insides are well appointed, with no detail overlooked. Complete with endless hot beverages, comprehensive information packs and fliers, alarm radio, multi channel TV, hair drier etc, etc even down to small items such as a nail brush. Most importantly they are clean and warm., with 2 high power heaters (you only need one) and excellent hot shower. I believe the Weston's base their business on hard work plus 'nothing being too much trouble' and while my needs have been limited, they have allowed me the used of the house to access the Internet, made me cold drinks and are willing to make sandwiches 'to go' when I leave early on Friday morning.

The garden is also well cared for with an excellent, well stocked, ornamental fish pond,

and a palm tree or two and add to this the call of distant Curlew and a seeming never ending stream of Pink-footed & Greylag Geese overflying it is a magical springboard for anyone particularly 'birders'. All of this comes with the biggest breakfast you can imagine (10 items on my plate this morning which doesn't include toast, coffee and juice) and an option to request locally caught and smoked (at Cley) Kippers or Haddock. The price? You won't believe, it's £35 per night as a single occupant or £28.50 per person for a twin or double. My suggestion is you decide on NORFOLK (already well inside my 'top 5') and contact as below, you won't regret it!

Mr & Mrs Pip & Alison Weston

Tel: 01263 741168
Mobile: 07738 297877

4 Queens Close
NR25 7PQ

So, ever onward. After a blustery night and the threat of rain from the radio as I munched my way through the breakfast described above, I braved the stiff breeze and made first for

just a few miles up the road, but more importantly the long overlooked

Binham Abbey. It had often been my intent to visit this historic ruin, but just as I set course for the village someone went and found a 'rare bird'. In brief, St Mary's, as it is known, is a ruined Benedictine priory founded in the late 11th century, as a dependent house of St Albans Abbey, by Peter de Valognes and his wife Albreda. Peter was a nephew of William the Conqueror, and after the Norman Conquest was assigned lands in west and north Norfolk.

Like many an ancient building, there is often a fable attached and here there is said to be a Ley tunnel which runs from the buildings to an unknown destination. Many years ago a fiddler decided to explore these passages; he could be heard for some distance before suddenly ceasing., after which he was never seen again.

The neighbouring village to the west is Hindringham where I came across this substantially built Village Hall. With its row of buttresses, and castellated pitched roof it could almost have been built as a fortification, but doubt its very old? In the distant right you may be able to see an early Jacobean hire car!

and on yesterday's subject of 'sugar beet', this is the picture in just about every field gateway hereabouts. The raw product awaiting transportation.

Managing to drag myself away from the architecture, I continued with my plan to visit the Sculthorpe Nature Reserve just a couple of miles west of Fakenham. My first visit, probably a decade ago, was just as the area had been least and work was about to begin on rejuvenating it. Over those years I have seen the management team turn this into a fine reserve which, it is hoped, should continue to hold a its small colony of Willow Tits. A colour-ringing programme, involving both Willow and Marsh Tits, has been underway for a couple of years now and while during that time numbers have fluctuated, at present there seem to be 2 individuals unmarked, hopefully increasing the population. I have never failed to see these birds here, and in addition there is a Golden Pheasant, view that as you may, (never seen by me) and more Tits than I have ever seen on such a small tract of land - I thought of my own visit today, another one won't hurt!

Visiting the feeders were dozens of common birds including

Coal Tit



and a dozen Long-tailed Tits, unfortunately the maximum number to visit the table together was 9.

All lined up for dinner.

A Long-tailed Tit and what looks like a 'Short'-tailed Tit?

At noon I made tracks for Holme Next the Sea back on the north coast in pursuit of Snow Bunting and Long-tailed Ducks, which my Weymouth informants had kept me posted on. This can be, and was today, a cold place but to make matters worse, just as I reached the low water mark the promised rain started. Light at first, allowing me time to reach the sanctuary of the Jacobean Jaguar, but in quick time it got heavier and persistent - it was time to give up! I did try for a look at Holkham Hall and the surrounding park land, but it was shut to vehicular traffic, so quickly across the road to Lady Anne Drive and down towards the Gap.

In hope of getting some close ups of Pink-footed Geese through the car window, I was disappointed as again they were at some distance. Time to get back to the Potting Shed and prick in those onion sets. So, it's good-night from Bill, and it's good-night from Ben! Weeeeeed!

My new mates down the garden, Bill, Little Weed and Ben