Last Saturday I Was In Sheringham

It’s a town on the north Norfolk coast, and rather a nice place to be on a sunny Saturday. Somebody once told me that it has the longest lived population in the country, which suggests it’s a place a lot of healthy old people retire to.

I hadn’t visited for quite some time and was surprised at some of the changes. The old boarded up Woollies had reopened as a Sainsbury’s and further up there was a WHS, though I can’t recall what that used to be. Down on the front a new museum had opened though I didn’t have time to visit. It was the Crab and Lobster Festival, and the high street was closed to traffic and filled with lots of tiny craft stalls doing brisk business, while here and there were the odd man size lobsters standing about minding their own business. Down on the front schoolkids had built crab and lobster formations out of coloured rocks. A Guy N. Smith fan would have felt right at home.

The old toilets on the east end of the promenade – basically two pillboxes standing one on top of the other – which had been closed for years, now had a ‘For Sale By Auction’ sign up. Personally I couldn’t imagine who’d want to live or work in disused toilets, no matter how good the view (and it was/is rather splendid), but one guy thought they’d go for £20k, and if you spent another £15k on them could sell for £50k. In the event they sold for £104k, some guy getting a 30th wedding anniversary present for his wife, because nothing says I love you like former public toilets (and up close I’d say they look nowhere near as attractive as in the picture I linked to). I think I’d always be thinking about their past, imagining the smell of urine and faeces in the atmosphere, which is maybe the perfect idea for a horror story, though possibly Charlotte Perkins Gilman already got it covered.

Time to leave Sheringham and set out on a five mile hike along the cliffs and beach to Cromer, all of which is pretty easy going even for a man in my condition, except for the steep climb up the Beeston Regis Hill with which the trek begins. By way of consolation you get some marvellous views, of the town on one side and the coast/sea on the other. I remember sitting on a bench here one year, and some woman in a house below shouting at me – ‘I can see you!’ She seemed to think that she knew me, though I have no idea who she was, albeit I do know people in Sheringham. I’m always getting accosted by people who think they know me, so much so that I suspect there may be a doppelganger out there. In Yarmouth a woman started up a conversation with me in a cafe, and when I finally convinced her I wasn’t who she thought I was, the woman warned me that I ought to be careful, because this other guy wasn’t very popular in Yarmouth and I was likely to get my lights punched out. Yeah, well.

On along the cliff path, which used to be part of the Peddar’s Way (and still is, I suppose) and is the stomping ground of Black Shuck, though I’m happy to say we’ve never met. The path had been moved back a bit in some places since I last came this way, with warning signs about cliff erosion. There are several caravan parks/camping sites on the landward side, and some work had been done on these over the winter break – in particular, one wooden stairway that led down to the beach and used to end in mid-air had now been repaired. I quite liked the old arrangement, with stairs that led nowhere.

At Runton I went down onto the beach and walked along the sand the rest of the way to Cromer, where I spent what remained of the afternoon, stuffing my face with over-priced chips from a stall on the front, and venturing up into town for a visit to what used to be ‘the best cake shop in Norfolk’, but is now merely the one that sells the stodgiest cakes (which works too, but on a different level), for a house brick masquerading as a slice of toffee bakewell.

Last Saturday I was in Sheringham and it was an idyllic summer day.

This Saturday it’s raining and I’m in Purgatory, with so much stuff to do and so little time to do it in, a situation exacerbated by a computer that’s coasting along in third when it can be bothered to shift itself at all.

I’d say swings and roundabouts, except that doesn’t really capture the feel of it, as both those things were pretty cool, or at least they were when I was ten.

I wonder where I’ll be next Saturday.

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