Chapter 12 - Revisiting Norfolk & Suffolk

Thursday/Friday 4/5 September

Apart from taking Joyce for a drive to a very nice Garden Centre near Acle (about 12 miles) where we had a nice late morning tea that sufficed for lunch, we spent these couple of days working around the house and getting lots of the little (and some big) jobs done for Joyce. Joyce has a gardener that comes for and hour or two each fortnight and a cleaning lady that comes just to do the basics but there are lots of things that of course at 97 she just can't do, so it was very nice to be able to help with those things.

Saturday 6 September

Drove Joyce to Overstrand on the North coast of Norfolk to see cousin Libby and husband Peter. It was good to catch up with them again and we all had lunch at the Garden centre just nearby. Peter has been suffering for some time now with Parkinson's disease so finds walking and getting around very difficult and frustrating but is otherwise in good spirits.

The drive up the coast is full of interest and Joyce thoroughly enjoyed seeing her old haunts again and noting all the changes that have taken place. She and Alan had spent many happy times at the various seaside villages along the way so she was able to dig up many memories. We stopped briefly at the Horsey Drainage WindPump - now managed by The National Trust - and resolved to go back again to climb to the top to see the view.

Also called in at another seaside town (can't remember the name now) to photograph a Lighthouse which dominates the landscape.

Sunday 7 September

Made arrangements to meet up with Jane's second cousin Ian Francis and his wife Alice and toddler Reuben. They live at Norwich, not far away, and were coming to the Maritime Festival being held at Great Yarmouth so it was a good opportunity for us to meet with them. Spent an hour or so at the Festival with them and also met Alice's Mum & Dad. More very friendly people.

Monday 8 September

Rang Katie Carr-Tansey, the local history recorder at Benhall, and arranged to call on her later in the morning. She was able to give us lots of information about Benhall and was interested to see some of the old photos that we had of the Village. Katie escorted us on a walking tour around the village with a commentary about some of the houses and the people living in them. She introduced us to Mary Watson and George Saunders both of whom have lived in the village for many years and could remember Grandma Aslett.

After a quick visit to the Butcher at Saxmundham (very near Benhall) and photographing The
White Hart (mentioned in letters from home to George) we set off back to Caister via Bungay, to the Church where it was thought that Grandma's funeral was held. The gravestones at the Church were all far too old so we did not pursue the search for long.

Katie had also put us in touch with Church Warden, Peter Sampson, who arranged to meet us at St Marys Church at Benhall to show us the small table that Aunt Win had presented to the Church in memory of Grandma Aslett. It was kept in a locked room at the Church.

Tuesday 9 September

Joyce went off to the Hairdresser and we had a visit from Mike King, who rode his bike from Lowestoft (about 15 miles). It was great that he took the trouble to see us again, and we chatted the morning away.

After Mike left we set off again to Horsey to make the promised climb to the top of the Windpump tower. Very steep narrow stairs but worth the climb for the view. When we came down we were told there was a strong possibility that we would see seals at the beach nearby so we walked the mile across the fields - but to no avail.

We collected some pretty pebbles - there was some sand on the beach but it was mostly pebbles - and picked blackberries on the way back.

Took Joyce for a drive to Wroxham which has been called the capital of the Norfolk Broads because it is such a popular spot for boating holidays. It was rather late in the afternoon and the traffic in the town was quite congested so we didn't stop but Joyce enjoyed the drive and was pleased to see some of the developments that have taken place.

At Joyce's suggestion, we opened a bottle of wine for dinner as it would be our last night with her.

Wednesday 10 September

After sad farewells to Joyce we set off again calling at the Gt Yarmouth Markets to sample their famous 'chips'. They came very highly recommended and certainly were the best chips we'd ever eaten.

On to Benhall to meet with Peter Sampson, as arranged, and his Mother at the Benhall Church. He brought 'Granny's table' out of hiding for us so that we could photograph it and he had photocopies of a couple of other photos to give us. His family has been farming at Benhall for many years and his Mother remembered Granny.

After leaving the Sampsons we drove back in to Benhall to have a cup of tea and a chat with Mary Watson who also remembered members of the Aslett family, and then, a quick visit to Blaxhall to check for any Keer graves, and on to Felixstowe where Chris and Julie once again gave us a very warm welcome.

Thursday 11 September

Chris drove us in to the centre of Felixstowe - a very nice looking city with adequate shopping and very attractive seafront. We then went on to Dennington where we had enjoyed an excellent lunch on a previous occasion at the 'Queens Head' Hotel. Enjoyed this second occasion also. After lunch we went to Framlingham Church, one of the most impressive in Suffolk, and then for a walk around the delightful Framlingham shops. On the way back to Felixstowe we called briefly at Parham to check some details from the Keer gravestones there.

Friday 12 September

A wet day on this our last day in Suffolk so we sat around for the morning and chatted about Garrards and other families of old. Delivered our hire car back to Ipswich and Chris and Julie then dropped us at the bus station where we caught the National Express to the Holiday Inn at Heathrow. The sun came out again soon after leaving Ipswich and it was a very pleasant journey to Victoria Bus Station, but we were exhausted by the time we reached our Hotel after waiting an hour to join the Heathrow connection and then another wait at Heathrow to pick up the Hopper Bus to the Hotel.

The Holiday Inn was comfortable but like most of the big chains, meals are expensive and all but the very basic TV viewing comes at a cost, as does Internet connection. We decided we could do without the Internet for a couple of days although we had wanted to use it to help plan our movements over the next couple of days in London.