Just beyond Lands End is a layby with a bus shelter and toilets, and a steeply sloping path leading down to the beach - it was this path that I took, and once on the beach I headed back in the direction of the site. The tide had recently turned and was on its way out, leaving smooth shining wet sand and pebbles glistening in the sunlight. There's something about 'new' sand which evokes the child within me - just like being the first to walk in fresh snow I take great delight in being the first to walk on the sand after the sea has retreated. After walking a couple of hundred yards I stopped and looked back - the sun was warming up nicely, seagulls were wheeling and swooping overhead and the white-capped waves were tumbling over onto the beach. I felt a bit Robinson Crusoe-ish, standing there alone while nature happened around me, but where Crusoe's footprints were accompanied by Friday's, mine were accompanied by two sets of paw prints.
A short distance from there was a large patch of shingle and pebbles not far from the water's edge. As I walked past a slight movement caught my eye - at first I couldn't see anything, but looking closely I noticed a small bird with a long beak sitting amongst the stones. Its feathers were almost the same colour as the stones surrounding it, and had it not moved I would have been totally oblivious to its presence. I didn't want to get too close and risk scaring it off - the dogs were some way down the beach, exploring the rocks at the base of the cliff - so I used my camera zoom to observe it in close-up and managed to get a couple of good shots of it.
By that time the fresh sea air had given me an appetite, so calling the dogs from their rock exploration I headed off down the beach to the next cliff path which would take me back to the site. Once back at the van it was bread in the toaster, kettle on, and cereal in the bowl, and when everything was ready I set out my chair and coffee table in the sun outside the awning and breakfasted at leisure while reading a magazine and planning my day. As it was my first full day I decided to stick with my own personal tradition and make a trip to Latham's at Potter Heigham, with a visit to Hemsby on the way there.
Hemsby is only a mile or so up the coast from California and is what I long ago nick-named a mini-Blackpool, but the only possible resemblance to Blackpool is in the many arcades, gift shops and cafes which line both sides of the narrow road leading down to the beach - other than that it's nothing like Blackpool at all. I've been to Hemsby many times over the years and nothing much changes, but I wanted to have a look round the Sunday market. And I was glad I went, as I managed to get a folding camping chair in red (to match the decor of the van and awning) for only a fiver. It was the only red one on the stall so I was well pleased with that.
So on to Potter Heigham and Lathams, where I bought a dvd and a couple of books about Norfolk and the Broads, and went in the cafe for coffee and cake. When I went in there in June I had the most delicious Belgian bun so I opted for the same this time, but for some reason it just didn't seem to be as nice and I was rather disappointed. Then I remembered - the one I had in June had fresh cream in it but this was just a plain bun. How could I have forgotten something which had tasted so divine?? I had to rectify the matter before I left the cafe, so in the interests of 'quality control' and 'customer satisfaction' I returned to the counter and bought one with cream in - and who cared if it contained a million-and-one calories, I was walking the dogs after so the exercise would cancel it out. Well, that was my excuse and I was sticking to it!
After the 'cream cake cock-up' I took my purchases back to the van, collected the dogs and my camera and headed off towards the riverside footpath. Potter Heigham always fascinates me and even though I've photographed various bits of it many times I still can't resist taking another few shots, so I lingered for a while by the boat moorings and watched the comings and goings of the various river craft. There were boats of all sizes, from the small daily hire craft right up to floating palaces which would need the proceeds of a lottery win to finance a week's a holiday aboard one.
The sign on the bridge reads "Keep off deck, Lower windscreen, Sound horn". The river is tidal and hire craft have to use the services of a bridge pilot - I've been under that bridge several times in previous years on a friend's boat and there isn't a lot of headroom. I've heard there's more than one boat got stuck under there, or had its windscreen smashed on its way through.
By the time I'd finished doing my David Bailey impersonation the sky was beginning to cloud over a bit so I thought I'd better get on with my walk. The riverside footpath is part of the Weaver's Way, and to walk 6 miles in one direction will take you to Horsey. I didn't intend to go so far though, just far enough to give the dogs a decent walk. Eventually I reached an old windmill set back from the river, with a derelict cottage at its base, both standing in a garden overgrown with long grass and rampant nettles. I love windmills and rather hoped I would be able to find a sneaky way in to have a quick look, but any means of access was thoroughly boarded up so I had to give up on that one. By then the blue sky and sunshine had all but disappeared and grey clouds were starting to gather overhead - not wanting to get caught in a possible downpour I decided to head back to the van, which I'd left in Lathams car park, and go from there back to the site. It turned out to be a wise decision, as no sooner had I arrived back 'home' than it started to rain. It didn't last long, but by then the best of the day had gone, so I made a brew and a sandwich and settled in for the evening. Once I'd fed the dogs I got out my laptop, plugged in my PAYG dongle, and spent the rest of my time catching up with the posts on UKCS. It just proves how addictive that website is, even when I'm on holiday I can't keep away from it!