I’m a regular at our local Bannatyne’s gym, usually visiting for a couple of hours between 0630 hrs. and 0930 hrs. – a lot of members going before they start work. The remainder are oldies who begin early simply because they sleep badly and an early start isn’t a penance. Half a dozen of us end their visit chatting in the Jacuzzi or stopping off in the café for a cup of tea and a chat.
It was during such an adjournment that a ‘Jolly Boys’ outing to North Norfolk was planned. All early risers and a reasonable weather forecast we set off last Monday at 0600 hrs. in pouring rain, four old reprobates decided that there is no such thing as the wrong weather just wrong clothing. There should have five of us but he was a Scotsman and therefore unused to rain – he had looked out of his window, saw the weather and decided that he had to visit a friend who had been admitted to hospital.
It took us a couple of hours driving through heavy rain until we made our first planned stop for breakfast. All four grumpy old men had fallen out with the too refined lady in my Satnav and then had begun to blame me for refusing to follow her directions to turn into a field or follow a bridle path. Suddenly the coast appeared, it stopped raining and even a watery sun appeared.
By the time we had found the Deepdale Café at Burnham Deepdale and had partaken of their recommended (by me) big breakfast all of us were in a good mood. It may have been the good food or just the improvement in the weather but by the time we continued our journey everything had brightened. Of course it might have been that I had switched off the Satnav. Anyhow, next stop was Morston Creek where we boarded one of Temple’s boats for a trip out to Blakeney Point to where the colonies of seals were nurturing recently born pups. The skipper told us that there had been just over 1,500 pups born on the Point in the last six weeks and the recent coastal surge that had devastated most of the North Norfolk coast had spared all but around 50 of the new-born.
The youngsters had now weaned and were now having great time fishing for themselves. We could see two enormous Bull Seals sprawled on the beach like Eastern potentates overseeing their harems. The Point is also home to the Sandwich Terns recently migrated from West Africa. They were nesting in large flocks on the beaches, posing like the seals for a great photo opportunity.
After the boat trip we discovered why the area has acquired the soubriquet of ‘Chelsea on Sea’ with its trendy expensive shops – we stopped at Cley Next the Sea the scene of a recent US Helicopter crash on the salt marshes. First stop was a fantastic delicatessen and specialist food shop, Picnic Fayre. 50 yards further on we found the Cley Smokehouse where we were spoilt for choice with more exotic in-house smoked fare than Harrods Food Hall or Borough Market – Chelsea on Sea, indeed.
For lunch we made for the much vaunted No.1 Cromer, the new fish and chip restaurant opened last year by Michelin starred chef Galton Blackiston whose hotel and restaurant is at Morston, with a couple of partners one of whom is a potato farmer. Lunch more than lived up to our expectations and four well fed septuagenarians made our way back along the coast road via Blakeney, Wells next the Sea and stopping for a cup of tea at Brancaster Staithe with a few whelks and cockles. We cruised back home all agreeing it had been an enjoyable day and promising to make it a regular day out.
It was still dry and we played a selection of CDs. A perfect day out until someone asked the name of the tenor singing a well known aria. I said “You know, the big guy in the Three Tenors – not Domingo, not Carreras, oh dear what’s his name?” Lol said “It’s on the tip of my tongue, you know he was a goalkeeper before he became a famous singer”. Billy said “Big fat guy, married a younger woman!” Lee said “Italian name, think of an Italian name!”
We went through a long list of Italian names – Mussolini – Carluccio – Berlusconi –Rossi (No daft bugger he’s in Status Quo, no he isn’t he’s a motor cycle champion Valentino Rossi). The discussion must have gone on for 50 miles and had descended into the. – Cappuccino – Mozzarella – Gordon Zola – Cup a Coffee. Suddenly Billy shouted “I know! It’s Pavarroti!” We all cheered in relief. We aren’t going senile; it was on the tip of my tongue all the while.
A few miles further on all in smug silence except for the CD playing until I said “Pavarotti, what was his Christian name?” – Silence – I think if I hadn’t been driving I would have been assaulted; the bad language that filled the car was quite shocking. No-one came up with an answer. Just “You bastard, why didn’t you just leave it?” Further silence until we were nearly home. Then a sudden flash of inspiration I shouted “I’ve got it, it’s Luciano” sighs of relief from all. Lol said “I knew it wasn’t Cupacoffee.”
Quite a memorable day out but when we repeat it, don’t mention memory. It’s no country for old men!”