Club Event Photos 2017

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The East Anglia Tour - 7th - 12th May 2017


East Anglia is a part of the UK you don't drive through to get to anywhere else (unless you happen to live there!) so perhaps for that reason it isn't as well known as it ought to be. It is a little remote and all the better for it. I see it as the land of Clara Peggotty and Barkis from David Copperfield - somewhat isolated and the coasts bleak and windswept. We had ten cars on the trip: Phil and Sally's elegant Mercedes, John and Sue's splendid Austin Healey, Bob and June's rare Scimitar soft-top and a bevy of Limas and Kallistas.

Our first hotel on Puddingmoor in Beccles was delightful, being situated on the river Waveney. It dated back to 1590 and was an amalgamation of various buildings. Beccles church tower is a campanile, i.e. it's a detached church bell tower. The usual place for a tower is at the western end of a church (or over the crossing if the church is big enough to have one) but here the west end of the church was too close to a cliff edge and hence the detached nature of the bell tower - common enough in Italy but rare in this country. On Monday 8th May we motored on to Lavenham, one of East Anglia's famous "wool towns", and enjoyed a lunch break in the Guildhall, which was properly lime-washed in white. It was the Victorians who stripped off the paint to our timber framed buildings to reveal the natural wood underneath, hence the term "black and white" architecture, but this isn't how they are meant to look. Next we drove on to Southwold, a very up-market seaside resort. We had a splendid tour of Adnams Brewery given by a very erudite guide. I told her that on our way to East Anglia we had called in at one of the seven pubs in the UK not to have a bar (the Cock Inn at Broom near Biggleswade) and she said, "Yes, we have another of the seven not far from here -  it's the Low House at Laxfield, Suffolk".  I was well impressed - she certainly knew her stuff!

On Tuesday 9th May we drove through various delightful villages to Reedham Ferry. This chain car ferry can only take three (only two if large) cars at a time but you couldn't wait your turn in a more delightful spot. I should imagine that the delay in the summer season must be considerably longer. Then we drove on to Wroxham and parked for a boat tour of this part of the Broads. I knew that the Norfolk Broads were a man made phenomenon in that the peat was dug out for fuel and that the watery ways were just an outcome of these diggings, but the scale of the excavations is mind boggling. There was a lot of wildlife to be seen and an excellent accompanying onboard commentary. The classy waterside properties are quite delightful, but how these will fare with rising sea levels remains to be seen. Of course, you could adopt a Donald Trump stance and insist that it's all a fabrication, but ninety nine per cent of climate experts would disagree with you. We carried on to West Runton, just past Cromer for a cafe stop. Then we drove on to The White Horse in Blakeney to our accommodation. This place had a superb renovation a couple of years ago and was very pleasant. Blakeney had a very busy port at one time, but the harbour silted up which put paid to that.

Wednesday 10th May saw us motoring on to Wells-next-the-Sea, another classy resort. From there we went to Burnham Overy Staithe for a photo opportunity and a chance to collect some sand to take home as a souvenir (!), then on to Burnham Market for coffee. As every pub-quizzer knows, Nelson was born nearby at Burnham Thorpe. Then on to Sandringham, a delightful experience, both the house and gardens. Lots of gifts from suitably grateful colonial peoples, exhibited in cabinets (the gifts I mean, not the peoples). The carriage collection was surprisingly good. Sandringham church, if anything, exceeds expectations with its altar, reredos and pulpit all in silver and all given by Rodman Wanamaker, an American department store owner. Very sumptuous for a parish church, but then I suppose this is no ordinary parish church. We drove on to Stamford and our hotel, the William Cecil. Cecil was 1st Baron Burghley and chief minister of Elizabeth the First. He built Burghley House, one of Britain's finest Elizabethan mansions which closely adjoins Stamford, and two of our prime ministers were descendants of his. I think the Blackadder character Lord Melchett  (played by Stephen Fry) was based on Cecil.  Sadly I knew we were not going to have enough time to visit Burghley since it's the sort of place that demands at least half a day to properly do it justice. Oh well, every reason to return another time!

Thursday 11th May: we went by train to Ely. I had been to the cathedral before and it is certainly an eye opener - a largely Norman building very heavily built with big round arches, magnificent painted ceilings, a beautiful Lady Chapel, albeit rather more beautiful before the iconoclasts got their hands on it. Indeed, Ely Cathedral has had a hard time over the years - I couldn't spot any medieval glass remaining at all, mostly just 19th century replacements of those destroyed by the iconoclasts. The most famous part is the lantern tower. The previous central tower collapsed and it was decided to rebuild it in wood instead of stone to decrease the stresses involved. The result is unique, and I read that it couldn't be replicated since there are no longer any trees left that are big enough! Before he died Fred Dibnah did a fine TV programme on how the lantern tower was built and erected. From the sublime to the ridiculous - we called into an excellent micro pub in Ely, the Drayman's Son, which was very pleasant. The landlord's father had been a drayman but died when his son was only six, so it's named in his memory. Back to Stamford where our pangs of hunger were suitably assuaged at Mr. Pang's Chinese Restaurant. A splendid dinner, lazy Susan style.

Friday 12th May: Stamford is a very handsome town and needed more than the couple of hours we could give it. In 2013 it was voted the best place to live by the Sunday Times, and I'm not about to take issue with that! Five medieval parish churches show that it was a place of some importance. Our hosts John and Sue invited us all for lunch at their place and a private viewing of the Lincolnshire Classic Car Collection.  Almost as good as the Schlumpf Collection at Mulhouse!

What else did we discover? We were to find that June Clare does an excellent impersonation of the Queen, although had we known it earlier we might have secured better discounts on our Sandringham admissions, if not actually entered "on the nod".  Too late now! We were delighted to toast Sally and Phil on their twenty-sixth wedding anniversary. May they enjoy many more!

All in all, John and Sue did us proud and we were grateful for the hard work they put into the tour. Particularily so bearing in mind that the trip covered quite a large area and the running around to secure admissions, find out times of entry, etc. must have been prodigious.

David Bath


Here are the pictures:

Please, click on the photo to see them in larger size.


East Anglia Tour 7-12 May 2017 East Anglia Tour 7-12 May 2017 East Anglia Tour 7-12 May 2017 East Anglia Tour 7-12 May 2017
East Anglia Tour 7-12 May 2017 East Anglia Tour 7-12 May 2017 East Anglia Tour 7-12 May 2017 East Anglia Tour 7-12 May 2017







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