I have a very clear memory from when I was 13 or 14 of thinking that if I actually lived to the grand old age of 25, I would kill myself. The idea of living beyond that seemed horrific – anyone older than that was, well, really old – ick! I know that this is a shocking thing to say, unless you, dear reader, are 13 or 14 yourself, and then you will understand 🙂
As it turned out, I didn't progress my teenage plan and felt slightly horrified when I became 50 years old on 27th February. I decided to make the best of things and told him indoors that I wanted a quiet birthday, doing the stuff we love to do. So, after opening my rather lovely gifts and imagining the horrified cries of my 14 year old self at the very idea, we set off for the day with our National Trust membership cards.
The weather was absolutely lovely – a bit chilly but sunny and bright with gorgeous blue skies, just how I like it. There aren't a lot of places open in Februrary, but we found one place in Norfolk and decided to head there first and follow our noses towards the coast thereafter.
Oxburgh Hall is a 15th century moated manor house originally built by the Bedingfield family. It was remodelled in the 18th and 19th centuries and almost torn down to make way for a housing estate in 1950, when it was saved by three female family members, who sold their own houses to buy it back from the developer:
We enjoyed looking round the house and although I can't say the interior particularly caught my fancy, the architecture is lovely:
There were a number of interesting pieces to see indoors as well, including Mary Queen of Scots' needlework scissors:
You can see also see the 'Marian Hangings', stitched by Mary and Bess of Hardwick. Mary worked on these while imprisoned in England by her cousin Elizabeth I:
There are some lovely wooden doors on the bedrooms floor and the painted wallpaper is amazing, although it is understandably kept a little dark, so not so easy to see. Mark managed to get a lovely picture of a section of it over one of the doors though – I love the colours:
In one of the bedrooms, there were some costumes on display but sadly, they were behind very reflective glass, so it was difficult to get a decent shot, but Mark managed to capture most of this day dress:
Strangely, the piece that I found myself most taken with was a carved study of a collection of fish that was oddly displayed in a room that is set as a bedroom (the Gatehouse Chambers):
Can't say I was in love with the pink artex on the wall behind the fish…
We headed north towards the coast next and driving towards Cromer we spotted a heritage sign for a castle and priory at a village called Castle Acre. Although the priory was closed, the castle turned out to be a gigantic motte and bailey Norman affair from the 11th century:
Walking up and down all those hills and stairs after walking up and down little spiral stairways in the turrets at Oxburgh Hall, made my legs stiff the next day, but it was well worth it – the size of the place is quite impressive:
Cromer was our next and final stop and I was really glad we decided to go. Although it was late in the day and very early in the year, there were some people around and even a couple of surfers, although they seemed to spend more time under the waves than on them. We really only had time for a walk up the pier and down the beach, but agreed we'll definitely go back to explore the town properly later in the year as there seems to be lots to see. For the time being though, I was happy to see the sea and pick up some lovely blue pebbles from the beach:
It was a very enjoyable day and, on balance, I'd say that being 50 is preferable to being dead 😉
(All pictures are by Him Indoors)