Classic Norfolk broads scenery in the sun

Day 19

I left the B and B at 7, realising that there was going to be no bending of the rules to access early breakfasts in this establishment! However the morning sun over the sea name the amazing scenery across the broads as I walked out for Great Yarmouth along the river.  Apart from the occasional boat chugging passed at a stately pace I walked on my own in the glorious sunshine, breeze blowing, eating the bag of English cherries I bought at the fruit stall.

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I was reminded of the complexity of unspoken social rules that crop up unexpectedly. The cherries brought back powerful memories of mealtimes in boarding school. The house mistress, Mrs S had an alarmingly thorough set of rules such as you must wait to be offered food, salt, bread etc., at the table it was rude to ask someone to pass it to you and ones napkins had to be rolled not folded before insertion into a napkin ring.

I was amazed at how many of these rules I broke simply because I had no idea they existed. Within weeks of arrival I had established a reputation for being naughty and I never shook it off. The cherry eating phenomenon was one that enhanced my reputation no end, I grew up in a family where cherry stones were taken out of your mouth pincer grip between thumb and forefinger and placed on the edge of your plate. If cherries were eaten out of doors you were allowed to fired them into the distance. Mrs S’s rules were that you were to form a gently clasped fist with your dominant hand into which the stone was blown and then scraped onto the side of your plate.

Oh the games that could be played with is one, noisy hacking and spitting, pretend inhalation,and mad flapping of hands and fingers to get the stone off or obsessive neatness in lining up the stands at the edge of the plate. Mrs S was never quite sure if she was being undermined until it was too late as the game had to be played dead pan. Memory is an amazing thing and I found myself laughing out loud as I walked. I must have been an infuriating child but I was lucky enough to be raised in a family that laughed a lot and that does help you cope!

day1519dI encountered sheep and cows on the path but they moved so the way was easy. There were large swathes of thistles that are incredibly well designed to attach themselves to socks but don’t work their way in like grasses.

I crossed the river on Reedham ferry fascinated by the chains and mechanism that hauled this simple but effective device from side to side.  The ferryman was a cheerful chap gently bemoaning the skill level of some of the holiday makers boat navigation having had a boat crashed into the ferry that morning.

He explained how sometimes people forget about the powerful tidal action in the river combined with the wind when turning. He used to work in the Lotus factory but had become increasingly disgruntled so holidayed working the ferry to cover for a friend and 18 months later he was still there and loving it.  There is something incredibly appealing about people with a passion for their work. He worked calmly and cheerfully with a quiet skill, I felt like royalty as I was conveyed without complaint even though I was the only person on board

day1519bI walked on, and with one phone call from my daughter realised It was soon time to return to the practicalities of a broken boiler and the realities of every day life. It is a huge privilege to have to have the time and opportunity to walk, meet people and hear their stories but more than that to have the time to think and try and work out ways of improving my work.

At 5 o’clock arrived at the Surlingham ferry pub to be met by Mel who heads the Norwich Portage team. In wonderful Portage style I was greeted with a massive hug, huge smile, bag of almonds and an energy boosting smoothie.

We sat in her garden and I met her daughter and of course more talk about services, intervention and speech and language therapy. We ate a delicious cake, drank tea and I felt very emotional as I recalled the many acts of kindness and generosity that have brought joy on this walking adventure.

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I have 2 more days seeing families and colleagues but now the walking for this year finishes.

Finally I arrived in Norwich and here this year’s journey comes to an end.

My Mum was waiting for me,  oh how fabulous.

It was a very special moment.

It is a wonderful thing to be loved.

 

Fire alarms and shared food

Day 18

It was a relief to get up this morning, the four poster was definitely not all it cracked up to be and I had thoughts of the tale of the princess and the pea!  Ah I thought a spot of breakfast before I go so availed myself of the self-catering facilities and made toast promptly setting of the fire alarm. They are so loud it scrambles your brain, it was minutes before I had assembled a fork, my glasses and a chair and managed to switch it off.  That was everyone in the entire building wide awake then, I left very swiftly!

I waited patiently at the bus stop thinking about how quickly unexpected stress wipes your brain of the ability to plan even though I had experience to call on and flexible thinking skills. This must be so hard for children on the spectrum.

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I waited in the morning sun for the bus that would make this morning’s travel arrangements viable.  I was still shaky after the alarm and realised I was now nervous about whether I could read a bus time table. I was supposed to be standing opposite the library, but it no longer existed!  Was a bus stop with a label saying this stop is opposite the ‘library’ good enough? Oh how anxiety transfers and sticks to anything once it has you in its grip!

The bus rolled up on time, the driver was chatty, intrigued by timetables, and keen to tell me how he had been a bus driver in south London for years before chucking it all in and landing in Norfolk.  He applied to the bus company on a Thursday and started his new job on the following Monday and was delighted with his career and new home.

day1518b6 miles in I stepped off the bus having had all the seats to myself and was waved off with ceremony.  I walked along the river admiring how people convert riverside sheds into personal statements and how varied small boats can be. It was a fabulous walk.

I walked on to the coast and then along the dunes 4 hours later arriving in Caister on Sea where I was met by Jill and her husband. I was introduced to the staff and children on the play scheme at John Grant School. The atmosphere was easy-going, the staff interaction with the children was cheerful and well informed.

The care these young people took was obvious in every interaction. The children were being offered a good experience and the families have some support in the long summer holiday. I wonder why more play schemes are not available?

We played some ‘Lycra games’ with the group led by Jill and these engaging games pulled in even the tricky children in her group. I loved the one called popcorn where we stretched the Lycra sitting round in a circle them bounced a dozen coloured bath scrubs up and down as we sang finally bouncing them right off as we shouted popcorn!

I was lucky enough to meet 5 parents and we had an hour for questions. The head of the school welcomed the parents and ensured a young sibling was happily occupied. The questions ranged from how we could redirect pushing when frustrated into communication that was less physical, typing messages playfully to encourage spontaneous expression for a child that was interested in words and how to put together a collection of things a child can chew rather than leaves. It is fascinating to work with parents in this way, tweaking professional advice to try and find practical solutions that are doable for families at home. I am not sure we succeeded but we gave it a good shot and in real life strategies need trying out with the child and these parents are determined.

day1518cJill and I walked in to Great Yarmouth talking of course but the route was simple which helped. The B and B was in a row of small hotels. I was instructed to press the 2 doorbells at once and wait. I complied and was given entry and introduced to each free sample in the single room and access to a bath robe. Odd social skills and detail in curious quantity!

Jill and her family welcomed me to share a meal with them. Conversation flowed fast and free as we ate delicious food in the garden.

Thank you for making me feel a part of the family, such generosity and friendship made me feel very special. I couldn’t have hoped for a better ‘last evening’ before the final walk in to Norwich tomorrow.