Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Cycle Norfolk

We are staying in rural Norfolk, having come here by train and bike today. There was over an hour between our supposed arrival into Paddington and our departure from King's Cross, ample time, I thought, to bike between the two along the Regent Canal towpath, our most tranquil route. But the Cheltenham train came in late, and it was slow going through the rain, so we ended up having to run the length of platform 11 to catch our connection. Then we had to squeeze our bikes in between the end carriage doors, there being zero other provision, this despite the service feeding Cambridge, Ely, King's Lynn, the most cycling-friendly part of England. (As Amanda tells Elyot,"Very flat, Norfolk.")

King's Lynn merits further exploration, but we much enjoyed what we had time to see of the old town, whizzing round the outsides of Clifton House (with its 18th Century barley sugar columns either side of the front door and extraordinary Tudor tower at the rear), the Guildhall, the Old Gaol, the Custom House and the so-called St Nicholas' Chapel (almost the size of a small cathedral). It was St Margaret's Minster that impressed me most though. Not just the Norman West front: the 13th/14th Century arcading and brasses too - but also the modern crucifix above the pulpit, altar frontal and stained glass in the large N-W window under the tower. A vibrant church!

We were glad to complete our 15 miles here before dark, and get out of the rain. This after only a minor detour - not bad considering I had no proper map. As my photograph shows, our kind hostess, a very old friend, has begun to look uncannily like Basil Hume. He was never, to my knowledge, a cat-lover: she gave us a cat as a wedding present.

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