For those wishing to visit us here, in Norfolk.
Much has been made over the years that Norfolk is somewhat of a special county, both beautiful and, dare I say it, backward. There are many stereotypes, most of which are in some degree true, and most of which, however negative, are in some degree celebrated by us locals.
The county motto is “Do Different” and the parallel expression “Normal for Norfolk” is also quoted widely, even to the extent that there is now a BBC programme with this exact title following the life of one such eccentric Local, Desmon MacCarthy who owns and runs Wiveton Hall Farm. The irony is that although the programme has gone down well in our county, the people I have spoken to about it seem to think that Desmond doesn’t come across that eccentric at all, but as… normal.
Stephen Fry once wrote: ‘You either get Norfolk, with its wild roughness and uncultivated oddities, or you don’t. It’s not all soft and lovely. It doesn’t ask to be loved.’ This does appear to be the general view, and if you take out the wild roughness part, you might well say the same about Stephen Fry.
But there is something magical about the county, having the reputation of being a little behind the times and slow does give us an excuse to relish in it a bit. A friend of mine from as far away as Cambrigeshire was driving along the coast road near Cley-Next-The-Sea the other week and was waved at with an up and down motion in what is without doubt the internationally recognised wave of “slow down”. It was a fairly straight road with a 40 mile per hour speed limit. He checked his speedometer and was doing 20 mph. However, he may have missed the sign saying “slow you down, boy”.
I can’t bring myself to write anything about the Norfolk character without mentioning one who was a key person at The Grove. For about 35 years from the mid 70s, Terry Bain cut the grass, fed the chickens and tinkered with tractors for us for all of his adult life. He was a true Norfolk man, born and bred in Cromer, and never went very far from home. He did once travel to Southwold, but rarely made it any further than his bike would carry him, which wasn’t very far. He would often start conversations with such like “you know her that knows him”. After having coffee with our family at 10:30 every day for about 30 of those years, he announced that he would like to have tea, please, as he had never liked coffee but didn’t want to be rude.
To end with, I’ve found a few quotes that sum up the Norfolk character.
“The prevailing wind in Norfolk is onshore; this explains why Norfolkmen invariably speak with their mouths closed”
“You can always tell a Norfolk man, but you can’t tell him much.”
“I have lived in Norfolk all my life. It inspires me, the sea, the limitless skies, the mud and the burning sunsets and the freedom of a place where more than 50% of the neighbours are fish.”
For more quotes about Norfolk you can visit this website:
or you can visit us here and find your own:
The Grove Cromer, Norfolk, England.