A Love Story

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A Love Story

Postby Paul » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:29 pm

For a number of years now I have had the thought that I should like to write down my reminiscences of a lifetimes holidays spent in Norfolk, on and around the Broads, a place which I came to love very much. So here goes. It has not escaped my notice that this site is, to all effects dead, that nobody might ever read this, perhaps the odd cyberspace traveler might happen upon it by accident. If you are one such, hello, and welcome. It really doesn't matter much who reads it. In truth, if there were a thousand active members looking in every day I doubt anyone would bother with it past the first couple of posts. It's the writing of it that counts, and so this is perhaps the perfect place for it. I don't know how long this lasts, nor how long it might take. This is not a holiday tale, nor is it a diary of events. Nothing more than the inane ramblings of a grumpy old git.

It is hard to believe that those halcyon days of endless summer where my tale begins are now the best part of a lifetime ago. I might have reached that point where I sometimes struggle to remember what I had for lunch yesterday or what I need from the supermarket tomorrow but I can still close my eyes and recall those days as if they were just yesterday. I can hardly remember the names of some of the people I work with, yet the names and faces from those times long past burn as brightly now as they did then. Growing up in the East Midlands of England meant that the East Coast was our closest holiday destination and whilst many of my friends headed off to Skegness for their summer holidays for our family it was always Oulton Broad. Father was a keen fisherman, coarse fishing that is, in the days before the king carp became the catch of choice. He was only ever really happy sat on the river bank, rod by his side testing his wits against what to me were just dumb animals doing there best to avoid his bait. I never shared his love for angling though I tried, and that was a great disappointment to him. Holidays in those days for a working class family such as ours were always taken in the "factory fortnight", an institution which died years ago with the factories they served. The works would close down completely for two weeks each year and in our area that was the first two weeks of July.

Going on holiday in those days was quite a major undertaking. In late sixties and early seventies Britain's working class people did not own motor cars and Beeching had closed many of the local railway lines including that which served our town. So a car was borrowed or hired and that in itself was a real treat. Neither was getting from A to B the simple job it is today. There might have been less traffic on the roads then, but the roads the traffic was on were noting like we enjoy today. Much is still made of the lack of motorways in Norfolk but back then the only road east from Leicester was the A47 whose single carriageway wound it's way through every town and village between here and there as well as up and down the series of hills which lay between the Soar Valley in Leicestershire and the Vale of Catmose in Rutland. It was because of this that our journey invariably began on a Friday evening, it was home from the last day of school term and straight into the back of the car along with my two sisters, rather large dog and that luggage which would not fit into the boot of the likes of an Austin 1100 or Mark 1 Ford Escort. Father's fishing tackle was strapped to the roof via a vintage roof rack which had been in the family since arriving in Britain in the early days of the "common era" strapped I'm sure to the back of a Roman chariot. Still, it did the job, and was a godsend in more than one way, more of which later.

And so it would be, with the car I have no doubt well overloaded and challenging the fifty or so horse power of the 1100 engine we set out, firstly for Leicester. Our route took us along what was then the A50 which, prior to the opening of the M1 was a major route from London to the North West because of which it enjoyed one of the countries earliest bypasses, around the small village of Groby meaning a few short miles of dual carriageway Ironically, so close to the beginning of our journey this would be the best road we would travel along. Leicester has never been an easy city to drive through, it wasn't then and it isn't now. Still it was the location of the first landmark along our route which suggested holiday to us, the the Humberstone Road roundabout which led us on to the A47 Humberstone Road, then Uppingham Road. We only ever came this way once a year, on the way to Norfolk and so sighting the typical sixties metal sculptures which adorned the roundabout was always cause for excitement. Leaving Leicester heading east the next point of note on our route was the infamous Wardley Hill......
If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill
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Re: A Love Story

Postby roya » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:27 am

Hi Paul,

nice tale,i also remember when hiring a car to travel was an adventure in its self {blimey}

keep it coming mate.
just old and knackered.


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Re: A Love Story

Postby SteveO » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:14 am

Just seen this as I was sifting through the ashes of a once great forum. What a wonderful read. Maybe there are legs in the old forum yet!
Please keep this coming.

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Steve
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Re: A Love Story

Postby Paul » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:43 pm

So I left you approaching Wardley Hill. We have left Leicester behind us, passed through the village of Houghton-on-the-Hill, crossed the River Sence which rises about a mile from our childhood home and was always known to us as "The Brook" and through Billesden, which would wait for it's bypass until 1986 as part of the same improvement works which bought relief from the misery of Wardley. Through Skeffington, Tugby and East Norton, bypassed in 1990. We are soon met by the county boundary sign announcing passage over the Eye Brook and into Rutland. My father would have told you he was Rutland born and bred, in truth he was born in Leicester but raised in Morcott, this is his home territory, where he learned to fish as a lad and his love for England's smallest county was obvious. Rutland. At this time, Rutland was not really a county in it's own right, at least not self governing. Something called the East Midlands General review in the 1960's had recommended the abolition of the county, with the eastern part becoming part of Lincolnshire and Oakham and the west joining Leicestershire. A battle as bitter as any of the civil war ensued and finally it was decided that Rutland would retain a unified identity but as a part of Leicestershire and it was absorbed by it's larger neighbour on April Fool's Day, 1974. County boundary signs were removed, only to be replaced by residents determined that Rutland would one day be reinstated as a county in it's own right. Approaching the county from the east a real battle ensured, with locals replacing the traditional cast iron Rutland County signs only for Leicestershire County Council to erect huge plate steel signs a few inches in front of them! Rutlandians would eventually win the day, and Rutland became a unitary authority twenty three years to the day after it's temporary annexation. Sadly my father did not live to see that day, taken from us ahead of time.

And so we arrive at Wardley Hill, since it's 1987 improvement a stretch of road welcome to anyone following a slow lorry, or being pursued by Ayrton Mansell in his road going race car. A mile and a half of steady incline, straight, wide and with a crawler lane. In the 1970's it was two miles of serpentine, narrow single carriageway with sharp bends and one in five inclines which reduced lorries to walking pace, at best. It could easily take half an hour to climb up it. The reward was the delightful market town of Uppingham, home to the famous public school and the country's first registered workhouse. I wonder if that is just coincidence? Like most of the towns and villages which lie along the A47, during the time of this tale you drove through, the bypass here earlier than most, opened in 1982. After Uppingham we come to Glaston, a village not bypassed by the 1980's improvements although it's active parish council continues the fight. From Glaston the road drops into the valley of the River Welland which forms the boundary between Rutland and Northamptonshire. Today we cross the river on the Duddington bypass, the concrete bridge affording a brief glimpse of the village but there was no such luxury "back when". The road travelled through the village, narrow and winding over the old stone bridge and past the water mill immortalized by Stanley Badmin in his 1940's watercolour for the "Recording Britain" series. Crossing the river we pass out of Rutland and into Northamptonshire.

In the days before all these bypasses weare already a number of hours into our journey, still, every mile traveled is one nearer to the Broads,
If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill
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Re: A Love Story

Postby ranworthbreeze » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:18 pm

Hi Paul,

Well that is three of us that has read your your post, well done mate.

Regards

Alan
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www.ranworthbreeze.co.uk
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Re: A Love Story

Postby SteveO » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:46 pm

A great tale! More!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cheers

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