Is your Norfolk the same as my Norfolk?
PUBLISHED: 07:19 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:49 28 July 2018
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Great people, lots to do, lovely landscapes and the biggest skies ever, but how do you explain Norfolk to a seven year old?
Thetford Forest is top of my list, closely followed by Norwich, the coast and the very gently undulating countryside views.
That’s Norfolk to me, and as we’re celebrating all we’re proud of about our county in the first Norfolk Day today, I’m feeling rather fond of it.
I’m expecting the family to come up with a similar list of what Norfolk means to them, maybe with the Broads, great cycling, sports, friendly people and big skies thrown in there.
Actually, I expect gorgeous man Rob to mention our useless rural Internet, which has given up completely for the past few days with our service provider helpdesk suggesting it’s too hot for it. Or maybe he’ll mutter about the huge tractors, the very early dawn chorus, how as a former townie from down south he didn’t expect Norfolk country life to mean living next door to a very vocal peacock, and that he had no idea some farmers work, noisily, around the clock.
But he’s in Scotland, with no phone or Internet signal, so I don’t get a reply to my ‘what does Norfolk mean to you’ question.
“What’s Norfolk?” asks Thalia, and I try to explain to our seven-year-old that we don’t just live in our house, we live in the Norfolk countryside and it’s the best county in Great Britain - even if we have managed to be a year behind Suffolk in awarding ourselves a day to celebrate our county.
“I like our garden,” she says, adding, “and my guinea pigs, and painting the grass.”
Perhaps I need to take her out more. But we have seen some of the best sides of Norfolk, from carnivals and fetes to circuses, air shows, pantomimes, ballets, live bands, festivals, the Tour de Broads and beaches, so maybe she doesn’t realise that’s all part of Norfolk.
But in her world too she sees Daddy having to leave Norfolk to work and me complaining about how difficult it is to get through endless roadworks to work. She has to get in the car if anyone wants to go anywhere as she’s too little to leave home alone when I’m Taxi Mum, so no wonder she likes the garden.
Number one ignores my question, but she’s at a festival in Plymouth probably without any phone signal, but probably she would mention her appreciation of Norwich; its shops, the school she loved and the good places to eat. She knows of far more excellent places to meet friends than me, so I’m sure she likes it.
Our reliable ten-year-old saves the day, as usual, Norfolk is, she says: “lots of festivals, and when you always meet someone you know when you go shopping.”………
Apart from the festivals, which would have been fetes when I was little, the county hasn’t changed that much has it?
Scorching summers, power cuts, quite a lot of rain and mud and getting cut off by snow in the winter is how I remember my rural Norfolk childhood.
I had to get on my bike, or pony, or ask Mum or Dad for a lift if I wanted to see anything other than fields and sheep or anyone other than they and my brother. Even when I was older we didn’t live close enough to the village to hang out with the other teenagers at the war memorial, and as I hadn’t grown up seeing the older kids gathered there, I’d not actually longed for the day when I would be old enough to stand on that triangle of grass.
I’m pretty sure our three girls will look back on their rural Norfolk childhood’s in a very similar way, but adding rubbish internet, even fewer buses taking even more random routes and enormous tractors in our country lanes to the memory.
I’m not sure where the teenagers gather around here, as, once again, my family is nowhere near village-central.
But, like me, they’ll cope with a rural upbringing. Who knows if, like me and many many others, they’ll leave Norfolk at the first opportunity convinced that life is far more exciting and they’ll be far more valued elsewhere.
I wonder if then, a few years later, they’ll head back because they miss our fine county and they to will discover that apart from even more road works, it hasn’t changed that much.
Love it, or sometimes feel frustrated with it – that’s our Norfolk.