Oh my word……July and August have been crazy!! We have had the best summer in a long while for sunshine, and of course, the knock on effect is being busy at work. We live in an area that is gradually changing, and those changes are sometimes quite subtle. It takes looking way back sometimes to appreciate just what has altered, and then the changes are remarkable.
I was born in Blakeney, and had an amazing childhood doing my own thing, going off for hours in a day with my sisters and friends, not even telling mum where we were heading. These jaunts often included being on the water, playing in the quay, gilly catching, going off to the watch house for the day (and often night, pitching a tent and hoping no-one from the Point would catch us), biking off to Glandford to swim in the ford, actually biking all over the place without ever thinking how far, or whether our legs would ache, and if we got caught doing something wrong we just had to face the music, and learn from our mistakes. It was idyllic and fun. We learnt fast how to keep out of trouble, and we knew how to respect other peoples property. One of our favourite things to do was drag any floatable object out to the watch house, and further, when the tide was out, just so we could sit on it to float back into Blakeney as the tide came in. Hot, fast flowing tide used to rush us in, with the golden rule, to get yourself out of the water before you got slammed into the ferry boats as they headed out on the first of the tide. We had a teenage youth that was second to none. I was of the generation that had the White Horse in Blakeney as our very own hang-out. Mick and Beryl ran that pub for the locals. It was our pub, and only those that were there will ever really appreciate how it was. I remember them introducing food, the Hungry Horse, burgers and chips type menu. It was still aimed at us locals. It was heaving all the time, and Mick looked after us all, supplying a tv room, sofas for those that shouldn’t drive home, go-cart races down the high street, barrel races across the quay, parties galore (often moving up to Brackleys Barn for live music), and still managed to have rooms upstairs that he booked for holidaymakers!! It was often wild, definitely fun, and all inclusive no matter your age.
So, very gradually, the local pubs and accommodation have crept up the ladder of standards. The expectation of a b&b nowadays is high. The small cottages in Blakeney are now pristine. They are all done up to such a degree that they are unaffordable to the local resident. (I actually went down the high street and looked in the windows for ideas when I was about to kit out our cottage and wasn’t sure what design to go for. I came home in shock, noting how ‘white’ everything was, walls, sofas, worktops, cupboards, all a shade of creamy white, beautiful, designer, and not a lived-in comfortable living room in sight! We definitely could not do the whites. Impossible in a working family environment. We ended up, quite naturally, with lived-in comfortable.) The pubs cater for the holiday maker. The food is exquisite, home cooked, expensive, incredibly tasty and unique. Lovely, but a treat rather than a convenience. Everything I have mentioned as a change is beautiful, so its very hard to find fault, and even harder to criticise as being a change for the worst, but looking back in time, all these changes have occurred gradually, virtually unnoticed.
So, how is it for my daughters growing up in this area compared to my upbringing? Well the first time my Elsie wanted to start venturing our on her own clashed with an abduction on the news of a young girl in a big white van. I used to sit in our caravan (my respite from the pub for a couple of hours in the afternoon) and watch white van after white van trundle down the quay, not knowing who was driving or where they had come from. It was hell thinking of letting her go. She was desperately wanting to go for a walk down the quay on her own. A small activity compared to what I did at her age. After many days of delaying a response, hoping the request would be forgotten, (it wasn’t!) Jim and I finally agreed to let Elsie go for a walk providing she had our Alsatian, Sam, with her. Sam was her protector, and they went everywhere together! Lily is now 16 (results for GCSE were 2 A*, 4 A, 2 B – amazing – so proud!!) and after seeing the film Mamma Mia in July she asked me to drop her at the White horse to meet up with some mates. I proceeded to enthuse about the times I had had in the very same pub at her age, all excited that she was following my ‘path’, and keen for her to have some great memories too. I dropped her off, positively disappointed there was no crowds of people hanging about outside enjoying the warm evening, how it would have been in my day, and went home. Within 20 minutes she rang for a lift home, the pub was dead and even the staff were going home!! Most pubs no longer seem to have customers past the hour of nine anymore. Its tragic for the young. Pubs are geared up for the food industry, and the holiday maker who can afford the extra cost because they are away from home having a special treat. Thank goodness we still have the Anchor pub here in Morston. Yes, its geared for the food (very good food too!!), and the standards are very high indeed, but we still get our local time. Call at the Anchor after the tide and all the workers, sailors, pleasure boat users, kayakers, fishermen and crew all call in for a pint or two (and quite a bit more if the tide is up in the evening!) to chat about the day, laugh, and enjoy the chance to just meet up with mates. We love it, and both my daughters can be found at the Anchor most days enjoying the people that hang out there.
Which brings me back to the beginning. We have had a crazy summer. There are more people in the area when the sun shines, more cars, (more reasons we don’t let our children run free as they did), more stress from families who don’t like waiting for the tide, more chaos trying to park, unhappy customers who don’t understand that they have to share a boat with all the other customers that want to go out to see the seals on a beautiful hot summers day (yes, truly shocked that the boat is full), and more chance for the phone to ring at 6 o’clock in the morning for a seal trip enquiry!! Crazy summer madness!!!