Norwich, Rain and a change of plans: Shakespeare
Our original plan was to meet up with our local friends and have a relaxing time at the beaches of Norwich. I was under the impression that the location was within walking distance to the beach and there were lots of things to do, like castles and manor homes, etc. I should have researched it a bit more. This area is very popular for Londoners wanting to camp and beach, when the weather is nice. The weather was not nice.
Michael and Rachel opened their 3 bedroom home up to us; in return, we tested for them how well equipped it was for vacation weekenders. It was a very quaint home, aptly provided but I had no idea where I was, partly because my Sat Nav was not functioning properly (yes, user error) but, the roads are deeply trenched and the grasses high. Coupled with driving on the opposite side, I felt claustrophobic and stuffed-in with humid breathing and no views. When we arrived, I was lost and Michael came to find me; mind you, it'd been a very long 2 days of right-hand driving, I was tired and hungry. Instead of "checking-in" we were taken to visit their horses and high-bred Hungarian Vizslas. After a long walk, we finally head to dinner in Wells, 9pm, fresh fish'n'chips (really yummy, except the malt vinegar was watered-down).
The home was a part of a triplex near a pub. It's very sweet but no where near the ocean. I also did not realize that we were not staying with them, so I had not planned food. Michael brought over tea and milk and laundry detergent. The next day was a bank holiday and Michael informed me everything will be closed...Great...I have no idea where I was and had no food. I started to count in my head how many shortbread cookies we had left. "Ah, but the pub will sell bread and eggs in the morning." Michael belatedly informs me.
The following morning, I bravely walk over to the pub and ask for eggs and bread. They actually had a small shop with bangers and bacon and other sundries. Phew. Of course it was pissing rain and blowing wind, ya know, prefect North Atlantic beach weather. Good weather for laundry, terrible weather for air-drying your clothes. I am not sure why Europeans have an aversion to dryers but it really is a pain-in-the-ass. I had to crank the wall heaters and drape the clothes of 4 people all over, everywhere, rotating and turning the clothes over and over. Did I mention it was humid, cold and pissing rain?
We planned several days to spend with our friends but the weather was poor and most activities in this area were outdoor-based, we did see a wild asiatic deer...little tiny thing. But, it became quickly apparent that this was a waste of time for us. We had to spend an extra day for our clothes to dry (or it would get musty in our suitcase) and then decided to move on to an area less subject to the crap weather.
Instead of literally watching our clothes dry there was one place worth the visit: Sandringham Estate, owned and loved by Q.E.II. This estate is her "beach house" and the Royals enjoy this location as their family home. In fact, the area open to commoners even maintains a much more modern and lived-in feel. The Queen and her family close the estate to tours at Christmas thru New Years and a few other selective dates. When they are there the ballroom is set up for family movie night. Additionally, on-site, is an automobile museum and family timeline, history and collected photos.
Hindsight is 20/20, had I known about the poor weather, we would have spent another day in Scotland, but alas, we didn't. We decided to circumvent London, on our way to Portsmouth, and visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare. On a whim, I looked up the theater and Hamlet was playing, tickets still available and not outrageously priced. I did make all my kids watch a sparknotes video beforehand so they could somewhat follow the play (I am only slightly brilliant). Huge success and what was even more amazing was the modern, African-take with congo drums, stylized black handshakes, bongs, guns, and prose. I loved the kids seeing how transcendent Shakespeare can be. For me, the actors captured the madness that invades the thoughts when you lose a parent... Of course in Shakespeare it all goes tragic.
The next day we toured the Baird's homes and the Harvard house. All I can think is how much my children are learning and seeing and experiencing. Art, language, poetry, full-spectrum history, architecture, math (monetary conversion and metrics); all the sciences in practicum. I have tricked my children into 6 more weeks of school! Onward to take a Roman Bath.