Friday, 27 August 2010

Simple Pleasures

Wells-Next-The-Sea with just Alfie and Bonnie was to be our low-key get-away; crabbing, fish and chips, coastal paths, relax. But that doesn't mean lounging around in bed all day! I stabbed the map and held it under Alan's nose as he slept: ’Look! Picnic-spot here! Viewpoint there! Get up everyonewe’re on holiday!’ I’d planned a day soaking up the elements – shale underfoot, big skies overhead, blackberry hedgerows….the rest of the Youth Hostel residents had swallowed their All-Bran, donned sturdy walking boots and were half-way to Blakeney Quay already!

Alan turned over in bed. ‘Anyone for Bunjee?’ he said. ‘YES!’ Alfie and Bonnie both screamed, and leapt out of bed. ‘You’re the King of Guys, Daddy!’. And with that, my wholesome plans were wrecked. I stormed off to the kitchen to slap the sandwiches together, leaving Alan complaining about having to pass through a public space to have a wee wherever we went on holiday.

We’d started off with a bang the day before at The Old Gaol House of Kings Lynn, paying an entry fee so low we knew the Penal Traditions of North Norfolk would be of limited interest. Alfie ditched his audio-guide (‘too much talking’) to enhance my visit by shouting ‘WHAT’S THAT? WHAT’S THAT?’ over mine, so the stocks, pillory, and gibbet were all jumbled up in my head, but one of them fitted him well and got me a moment’s peace; he wasn’t having the best day, struck down by scenic-route-itis, which required a dose of apple bonbons every five minutes.

Continuing along our merry way towards Wells, I flashed the Youth Hostelling Association brochure around to build the excitement - ‘That’s where we’re staying!’ - but sarcasm was running high and it was ‘WOH! It’s got PARKING SPACE! A KETTLE! FAMILY ROOOOMS!!!! YEEEEHHHHH!!!’ They came good when we arrived though; Alfie carried his toothbrush up to our room in exchange for three apple bonbons, and Bonnie threw all the bedding on the floor to help make up the beds.

And here we were, first day, knocked sideways by the beauty of Holcombe Bay – and by the wind. I managed a veiled introduction to one walk along the Norfolk Coastal Path (‘look, there are loads of boats over there!’ (miles away), but as is often the case with nature walks, I find, we weren’t lucky enough to spot the Little Turn or the Common Lizard, 'abundant' according to the placard thing...

‘Imagine poor Josie and Maddy camping in the rain in Wales while we walk this lovely sunny trail!’ I exclaimed, trying to extort comments of wonder and joy at the scenery. ‘At least they can sit down’ was the response, so I had to introduce blackmail (‘if you moan there’s no ice-cream’) and the conversation proceeded along the lines: ‘How-far-is-it-I’m-not-moaning’ for quite a while until we caught cows mating which perked things up considerably, and we talked about where babies come from - ‘Out of a plum tree, silly!’ said Bonnie.

Crabbing was a mariner’s must-do, but despite offering those darned critters a menu more varied and nutritious than our own, would the little devils crawl into our net? Two days of all-weather waiting and we eventually ‘caught’ someone's discarded catch. 'Mummy you can choose your favourite crab for your tea,' said Bonnie, a twinkle in her eye 'It’s important to me.’ But I set them free when she wasn't looking and we discussed crustacean rights on the way back to the hostel.

Alfie’s bait was CHEAP BANGERS to which he awarded a Michelin Star and demanded daily, in earshot of the other hostel residents as they prepared their strictly organic evening meals. I shooshed him as best I could (CHEAP BANGERS! CHEAP BANGERS!) and hid the offending pink babies in brown bags in the hostel fridge. When Bonnie also shamed me by slurping a Pot Noodle 'I LOVE POT NOODLE!', I tried to salvage some eco-respect: ‘Fruit for pudding!’ I trilled, but I'd masterminded my own downfall: ‘YOU PROMISED US MALTESERS!!’

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