Yesterday was a public holiday in the UK. Traditionally a time for trips to the beach, outdoor eating, or catching up with garden jobs before autumn arrives. Resorts are generally overcrowded, parking a real issue, and any pleasure gained from going out is often diminished by the frustration of traffic jams. Over the last few years, Julie and I have just given up on venturing anywhere on days like these, content to have a relaxing day at home.
But yesterday was different. Roland, one of my oldest and most cherished friends, was visiting Norfolk, from his home in London. He was accompanied by his girlfriend, Christine, and the chance to find them so close to Beetley was too good to miss. He had sensibly let me know a few days before, and I had booked a table in a coastal restaurant for an evening meal, to guarantee we would not be disappointed. Once arrangements were made, the doubts and concerns began to surface. We had never been to this restaurant. It looked good on the Internet, but what if it turned out to be awful? The coast road on holidays is notoriously congested. Perhaps traffic delays would mean we would arrive late? Then there was the weather to consider. It is all very well eating inside, but heavy rain or a gloomy day can contrive to ruin the atmosphere. When you haven’t had the chance to catch up for two years, you naturally want it to be in the best circumstances.
I took Ollie out a little earlier, and gave him his dinner early too. We were both ready to leave here at 4 pm, allowing a good hour to drive the twenty-odd miles. They were coming from further east, but had a similar journey. The afternoon weather was glorious. Blue skies, fluffy clouds, and temperatures that were just right too. The back route that I had planned, taking small country lanes across to our destination, worked out perfectly. We saw hardly any traffic, and enjoyed a pleasant drive through attractive villages on the way. We got there at least twenty minutes early, parked easily in the car park, and found a table on the terrace overlooking the coastal marshes. Small boats were sailing all around, and lots of people were enjoying the chance to relax with a drink in the sun.
Then our friends arrived, having also had a stress-free journey, and looking happy and well. We reunited over a drink on the terrace, before retiring inside to go to our arranged table. The staff were attentive, the menu offered good choices, and when the food arrived, it was delicious. Our table was near a window offering panoramic views across to the coast, and the whole experience was simply marvellous. When it came time to leave, we all wanted to stay longer, so we did. Watching the sunset over the marshes was a delight, and following a short walk on the nearby path, we went back into the bar for a farewell drink. During that time, we received the great news that they are getting married next year, and we could not have been happier for them. That was the icing on the cake of a great day out.
Even the trip home was completely trouble-free, and Ollie was obviously very pleased to see us.
Don’t you just love it, when it all comes together like that?
(I will add this link to the place where we went for dinner. If you are ever in North Norfolk, it is highly recommended.)