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.
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!
I 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
I 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.
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.