Julie had to go and visit someone briefly today, to the North of Norwich. As it was such a sunny morning, and reasonably mild, at 10 degrees, she suggested that we could take Ollie along, and then go on to somewhere on the East Coast, an area we don’t often get to see. This seemed like a good suggestion to me. After weeks of rain and high winds, the prospect of a beach walk, in better weather, certainly appealed. It is also nice to go somewhere different with Ollie; though he doesn’t mind going to the same place every day, I sometimes find it tedious.
Once you are in that part of the city, it is easy to get out on the ring road, and head for the coast, particularly at this time of the year, when there are no holidaymakers around. I suggested Caister-on-Sea, somewhere that neither of us had been to, for many years. It is a small place, situated just above Great Yarmouth, and obviously less built up than its near neighbour, and a lot less commercial. The main attraction is the beach, which is long and wide, and stretches up to Hemsby, over two miles away. In West Caister, there is also a ruined castle, and a motor museum, but they would not be open this early in the year. Heading out from Norwich, on the Acle road, you turn off towards Caister and Hemsby, and pass through some nice areas of Broadland, crossing over one broad, and driving alongside another. Despite the recent heavy rains, the roads were good, and though some fields showed signs of being waterlogged, the journey was without incident.
Arriving at the town, it is remarkable how little it has changed. Popular with British holidaymakers taking caravan and holiday camp holidays in the summer, it is a small place, with a long heritage. There is a Roman archaeological site there, an old fort, built in 200AD, giving some indication of how long the town has been a settlement. Following the sign to the beach car park, we find it almost empty, and also free of charge, at least until April. Next to it is the large modern RNLI Lifeboat Station, which has a busy life, on this part of the North Sea coast. Ollie was pleased to be out of the car, in an unfamiliar place, full of fresh smells, and things to discover. On the way to the beach, he investigated the sand dunes, and ran around excitedly.
Once on the wide beach, you immediately notice a large offshore wind turbine installation, a short distance from the coast. This is called Scroby Sands, and boasts thirty large turbines, on what is known here as a ‘wind farm’. The beach had not been spared the damage caused by the winter storms. Stones and bricks littered parts of the area, and the former beach-side cafe has disappeared completely, consumed by the high seas in December. We carried on along the sands, and walked down to the water, to get our wellingtons wet. Ollie was wary of the waves, but followed me in anyway. The fair weather had brought out a reasonable amount of people, so we were far from alone on our wanderings. Ollie searched high and low for a dog to play with, but those he spotted were either indifferent, or on a lead, close to their owners. Twenty minutes later, we saw an old World War Two pillbox, part of the wartime coastal defences. It has been almost demolished by the encroaching seas, and has toppled forward into the sand. It looks as if it will not be long, before the sea reclaims it for good.
Further down the beach, and Ollie found a potential playmate. Alfie the Labrador bounded over to see us, and gave every indication that he was ready for a romp. His owner came over to chat. A local lady, she told us that the storms had caused much more devastation than was evident today, but the local Council, and some of the community, had managed to clear most of it away, returning the town and beach to some normality. The loss of some dunes, and the previously mentioned cafe, were irreparable, but Caister had fared much better than nearby Hemsby, where coastal homes had literally fallen into the sea. We walked with this lady, and her dog Alfie, for some time, before turning to retrace our steps. We had walked for well over an hour from the car park, so we knew that we had at least that long to get back, and we wanted to go and get a cup of tea somewhere.
After his play, Ollie was satisfied, and we gave him a drink of water, from his own bowl, that we had brought from home. There was a sign indicating a cafe that was open, at the end of one of the streets leading down to the beach. We set off to find it, and were surprised to discover that it was almost completely full, and doing a roaring trade. Luckily, not only did they have a spare table, they also allowed dogs, so we were all able to go in. As they were so busy, our order of tea for two, and some cake to share, took an unusually long time to arrive. We didn’t mind though, as everyone inside, and the owners, were friendly, and it was nice to sit for a while, after our long walk in the sand. After enjoying our tea, and Ollie being made a fuss of by all the other patrons, we headed for home, into the bright sunset.
It may not sound like much, but I can assure you, it was a really good afternoon out.