Saturday, 25 June 2011

Langley Abbey: Anyone for polo?


I KNEW that Langley had hosted its first polo festival earlier this month. But until today I didn’t realise quite how large “the sport of kings” was looming down at the abbey. Indeed the very sign saying Langley Abbey has been taken down to be replaced by “Norfolk Polo Club”  across the door. The abbey, with its wonderful medieval history does of course remain open to visitors, but the friendly shop full of upmarket foods and souvenirs has been elbowed into the cafe next door. In its place is what looks like a posh gentlemen’s outfitters with pukka chukka shirts on rails and long leather boots selling at £125 a pair. Funnily enough I resisted the urge. I guess it’s all exciting, innovative and entrepreneurial but I can’t help wondering what the dozens of generations of farm labourers who have worked here over the centuries, would make of the place now.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

What next for the New Inn at Rockland

Rockland and Stuart H 001

WELL that didn’t last long. The New Inn at Rockland St Mary has shut its doors again – barely two months after its last closure. The picture shows the removal van outside today as Jim Ravenwolf and Sandy Jarvis (below) packed up for the last time. They say the pub might open again in a fortnight – but that would be with more temporary managers  via yet another holding company. So the recent history for this pub goes; closed November, opens mid-April, closes mid-June.

Rockland and hares 0511 030

Clearly this is no way to run a pub. The regulars have presumably defected  to other boozers – or the supermarket.  Wherryman’s Way walkers don’t have that option. One well-place source in the village today told  me that this size of pub is being crippled by a combination of high rates, high rents from the pub chain and a hefty increase in overheads like electricity. I used to think that location, location, location would mean that the  New Inn would always survive. Now I’m not so sure. What’s happening this summer feels like  the beginning of an unstoppable decline. It’s very sad.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Big camera + small canoe = great film

Buxton Mill

SO how on earth did they film that beautiful Youtube number on the tranquil upper reaches of the Bure which I mentioned on Saturday then? I’ve just found out, by stumbling across the Big Sky Production’s blog. It also reveals that Mr Big Sky isn’t a big fan of the water …not that you can tell. The film is here and the blog here. The photo – also from the blog – shows Buxton Mill.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Go find the Hedge Finders

swallows poem

IF YOU like your nature, you might want to follow the Hedge Finders blog set up by a Somerset artist called Duncan Cameron and Norfolk musician Adam Clark. They call it “a collection of writing, images and sounds inspired by natural history” which sums up their posts nicely.  A recent entry includes Swallows from “Poems on the Underground” which was new to me. Adam wrote: “The first time I saw this poem was on the tube at commuter time when the sight of swallows over fields in early summer seemed an impossible, bucolic dream. Now swallows attend my morning cycle to work, the world of the tube seems the unreal one. I still like the poem though.” 

“The swallows are italic again ….” what a great line that is from Owen Sheers.

* You can find Hedge Finders here.

Humpty Dumpty have cracked it.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Wherryman’s Web’s favourite brewery which celebrated a real ale milestone earlier this month. Reedham-based Humpty Dumpty brew cracking ales like Reedcutter and Little Sharpie. (They also do a mean Wherryman’s Way IPA which was launched at the same time as my book last summer.) Anyway they have now sold their 1,000,000 pint – it’s hiding somewhere within a firkin of Reedcutter which was delivered to the Blue Lion at North Pickenham recently (see picture). The brewery is run by four partners -  Craig & Mary Anne Fermoy and Stephen & Lesley George – who took over the business in September 2006. Head Brewer Craig said: “it’s been an amazing 5 years, and it’s great to see our beers being so well received and so much in demand.” Business Manager Lesley said: “it’s been exciting to see the sales grow. We have wonderful customers and have built a great team of staff to support the business.” Well done to the whole team. And don’t forget to do the Humpty Dumpty detour when you’re walking the Wherryman’s Way through Reedham.

* Picture shows Mick Lee, the landlord of the Blue Lion at North Pickenham receiving the Reedcutter cask from Humpty Dumpty driver driver, Jason Clark. 

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The upper Bure by canoe

PLANS to preserve the history and natural history of a picturesque stretch of the River Bure continue apace. You’ll remember that a group of people want to use the 100th anniversary of the end of the Aylsham Navigation as an excuse to “raise the profile of our beautiful river”. The navigation, dating back back to 1779, meant that Coltishall, Horstead, Hautbois, Oxnead, Burgh and Aylsham were all connected by river to Great Yarmouth. It was one of many man-made projects destroyed by the devastating floods of 1912 – hence the looming 100th anniversary. Now a charity has been formed and the new Bure Navigation Conservation Trust plans to work towards setting a riverside footpath – perhaps with signs and info boards along the lines of the Wherryman’s Way. (My original article is here, while there’s much more on this website as well as this blog. ) Anyway as well as charity status, there is now a video. What Stu Wilson calls a “five minute taster” of a trip between Coltishall and Buxton. It’s not a stretch of river I know, but this film certainly encapsulates the unique tranquillity of canoeing along the upper stretches of our Broads rivers. …Or what Surlingham naturalist Ted Ellis called the “utter peace of Broadland”.