lifestyle thoughts and dreams

The Norfolk years

July 3, 2017

You know that familiar three-year tingle? Its a Kuijper thing… we just can’t seem to live in one place for more than three years. So I guess its time to move on, but this time I’m going solo. I have an apartment sorted in Aberdeen… and in a month I’ll be there.

In a way its hard to believe that its been three years since I started university, since I finished the IB in India, since we packed up in Belgium and crossed the Channel. Almost three years since Corton. That funny little house with the creaky stairs and tiny kitchen table which we’d all crowd around. When we used to stand by the railing with Prune and watch the waves of the North Sea fall, as seagulls dived and swooped in the distance.

We were out by the time the November rains washed in, and had moved into Fleggburgh on the North Norfolk coast. Ah, Norfolk. We thought it would be similar to Suffolk, seeing as the two counties are neighbours. Oh how wrong we were. Although we were shocked at the start, nothing surprises me here anymore. Not the farmers who drive into the middle of fields to fire their rifles at crows, not the dead pheasants and rabbits hanging in gardens before Christmas. Not the fact that every other car is a Range Rover with a personalised number plate. And it no longer surprises me that next door village Filby has won the Best Garden Award for the last two decades, and that from February till October they are out in all weather weeding flower beds and fussing over hanging baskets.

I suppose it makes for a picturesque village (the flowers, not the dead animals). And there’s no doubt that it is a charming slice of British countryside. Every season here, every month of the year has its own beauty. In the depths of January, the fallow fields are covered with a layer of frost like icing on a cupcake. The sun rises magenta over those fields and in the evenings the sky is tinged with pink, as if candy floss has been torn up and spread about. By late February and early March, pools of weak winter sunlight fall on the golden heads of daffodils, you can hear the bleat of winter lambs and trucks full of sugar beet ply the country lanes.

By April, spring has sprung. Longer days, but the air still fresh and sharp. Milkshake-pink blossom spills over the headstones of the church, rapeseed adds a flash of yellow to the landscape. Late May, early June- summer is a sigh on the breeze. Green dominates, every hedgerow, every tree now full of leaves. Rabbits hop across the lawn, the blackbird sits upon the garage roof and sings his sweet song. Evenings are long; I can sit outside till twilight, as the skies turn lavender, the sun never seeming to set. The fields are full of young wheat which ruffle in the wind, like a carpet of thick and downy feathers. By July that wheat has matured, the countryside now beige and green, the sky overhead bubbling with puffs of cotton-wool white clouds.

In the summer I love to lie on the just-mown grass, under the shade of the cherry tree. To listen to the choir of the birds all around, to feel little ants run up and down my arms. To see the daisies which dot the lawn up close and far overhead, the silvery trails of jets slicing the expanse of blue sky, a whisper of a cloud floating past. Late August, September and poppies pepper the landscape, plump hay rolls await collection. The ice-cream van’s familiar tune jingles on warm evenings, caravans chug by on the main road headed to the coast. By October, the nights draw in, leaves swirl through stormy skies settling in clumps on the sidewalks. November; mud and rain, the dogs’ coats take on a brown hue which lasts till spring.

In December, the trees are now devoid of leaves. Their skeletal frames cast long shadows as the sun sets early afternoon, robins perch on their branches. Christmas lights go up, their red and green glow reflecting in the puddles of rainwater on the dark streets. Pheasants seek refuge in our garden from the bullets of keen Christmas-lunch hunters. The night sky is covered in a blanket of silver, constellations like glinting needles in a velvet pin cushion. I could stand for hours staring up at them in awe, feeling small and insignificant, before the cold would force me back inside.

No matter what time of year it is, you can bet there’ll be birdsong, that deer will leap and run across our path, that tractors will push us off the road and leave our clothes cacked in mud. The bird feeder will always be rush-hour busy, I so often stand by the window and look out across the garden at the little birds who visit it. Pigeons will coo from the roof, the sky will be an ever changing tapestry of clouds and colour.

There have been both good days and bad days, I have lived and learned, just like in all the places I’ve been far. I’ve gotten my driving licence, learned how to sail on the Broads, became a favourite with the kids at the village primary school. Its been a rollercoaster three years, and in a way its not over since my holidays will be here.

In the mean time, like James Herriott said, I’ll be “taking big steps and little ‘uns”

Btw sorry for only having summer photos here, but ’tis that season after all! Enjoy the rest of it 🙂

All photos my own 

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6 Comments

  • Reply Bhama July 4, 2017 at 6:31 am

    I still treasure your little book you made about four seasons when you were seven years . This writing about Norfolk reminded me of that . Very interesting kind of experience all year around. Good luck and best wishes starting your new solo chapter in your life away from us.

    • Reply Layla July 4, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      thank you 🙂
      i need to take a look at that book next time i visit…

  • Reply Bert July 4, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Such a nice summary of the past 3 years in Norfolk, lots of nice memories. your description of the different seasons is similar to how I experienced it. Like the photos, the garden is well looked after!
    Good luck with the next big step!

    • Reply Layla July 4, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      thank you 🙂 thats thanks to mum that the lawn is so nice…

  • Reply maya July 4, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    beautiful words, as always. Norfolk will miss you too 🙂

    • Reply Layla July 5, 2017 at 5:11 am

      you’ll have to survive here without me 🙂

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