With abject apologies to those who followed the link earlier and reached a dead end – we are still trying to work out who to blame. This is the Pete Sixsmith travelogue-cum-match preview. Lots about Norfolk, and a little about football, as Pete attempts to make all working people envious of his mixture of football, travel, culture and, um, the Barron Knights in a prelude to Sunderland’s return tonight to Premier League action …
Maybe I have already mentioned this, but I am no longer “at work”.
Forgive me for repeating it, but it does give ample opportunity for watching football, including tonight’s clash at Carrow Road.
Not for me a whole day on a coach, arriving back bleary-eyed and dry-mouthed and off to work a couple of hours later. Instead, I set off on Saturday for a short break in a county that I thoroughly enjoyed on my last visit two years ago and which seems to improve with time.
A pleasant drive down on Saturday took me to Great Yarmouth for an FA Vase game with their fellow Eastern Counties League side Felixstowe and Watton United.
The Bloaters ( a nickname that makes The Black Cats sound positively classy) play on a ground just off the seafront that boasts the oldest stand in the UK, built in 1892 and still in use.
It’s a lovely construction on a ground that has an athletics track running round it. The quality of the stand was far, far greater than the quality of the football as the visitors ran out 5-0 winners, the hosts were well and truly kippered.
Felixstowe wore red and white striped shirts and my joy was complete when I won £20 on the Golden Gamble even if I then had some difficulty in finding the stressed club chairman to pay out.
I spent the night in Great Yarmouth, a place that has seen better days as a resort. But the Tudors Guest House was excellent, and part of the winnings was invested in seeing Jane Eyre at a nearby cinema. It wasn’t a barrel of laughs, as the eponymous heroine struggled through life and the Irish actor playing Mr Rochester struggled with a Yorkshire accent.
On Sunday I moved up the coast and spent a most enjoyable day in Sheringham, Holt and Cromer, from where (courtesey of North Norfolk Council) I am writing this. Sheringham is a traditional seaside resort and I enjoyed a stroll around before taking a steam train to Holt.
The loco was an old tank engine from the Welsh Valleys and it pulled a busy train of 1950s BR carriages through the lovely countryside – coast on one side, country on the other.
The trip was enlivened by a Dusty Springfield lookalike telling the people in the next seat about her wedding reception that had been held on the train earlier in the year, and how disappointed she had been to hear that her trip from London to York to Settle to Carlisle had been cancelled “because the bloody boiler on the Gresley A4 has a crack in it”.
Holt was a town for which the word sleepy might have been invented. It has a pleasant selection of Georgian houses, an Adnams shop (alas closed on Sunday – as was everything else) and a huge private school called Greshams which boasted the man with the most creased face in history, W H Auden, as an old boy.
Back to Cromer and the Grove Guest House and then a hoof into the town and the Pavilion Theatre to see the Barron Knights – these days, sadly, without Duke D’Mond, who cashed in his chips 2009.
For men in their early 70s they were remarkably sprightly and put on a good show. They did a medley of their spoof hits of the 60s (Call Up The Groups, Pop Go The Workers) and kept an ageing audience happy with some fairly deecnt harmony singing. The show finished at 9.30pm, presumably because the home in Leighton Buzzard, where they live, clocks the door at midnight.
Today, I take the train into Norwich on the Bittern Line. And I and am hoping for a very positive result tonight.
Win this one and we go eighth. and I am sure the Brucester will then expect the hysteria to be over until January.
In the meantime, enjoy your work.