Friday, 29 January 2010

Crab, pork and car crashes

With thanks to my North Norfolk and Central Eurasian correspondents, I can bring you crazy Cromer crab, perky porkie prozac and crazy car crash calling.
We know in Norfolk there is nothing better than a fresh Comer crab, especially during the Crab Festival in May, whereas the normally beef eating Argentinians are trying to promote pork, present president pushes pleasing procreation performance.
'Direct Line - I 've been involved in an accident', sometimes a telephone call can wait.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Pacific Poisson, Prince Picker, Pecker Parody and Pay Packet Pruriency

Not sure that we will be seeing this little beauty in our fish and chip shops.The Blobfish, Psychrolutes Marcidus, inhabits the deep waters off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania. Not sure even celebrated Morston Hall or Neptune Inn at Old Hunstanton would want to tackle this gelatinous mass, even with their 2010 Michelin stars.

Prince Philip in litter lout lurch, must be a slow news day if Phil The Greek picking up strewn rubbish outside Sandringham church is worth some column inches. Unusually, no foot in mouth this time.

I'm sure he would find something inappropriately fruity to say about this new arrival at Chester zoo.

The little cutie is called a Dik Dik and they originate from East Africa.

Dik Dik, or something similar, came to mind today at the news that Goldman Sachs are to limit pay and bonuses for UK partners to £1million, a year after accepting £6.2 of the £430 billion US government TARP bank bail out. Even though the company is listed at half its prebust market price, chief financial officer, David Viniar, said: "We're not blind to the economic environment and the pain and suffering going on around the world, and we're not deaf to calls for restraint. We've heard them." 

There is a difference between hearing and listening or, come to that, not seeing your own blatant corporate greed.
They just don't get it, do they.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Blocked all Fiveways

With another (un)timely accident closing the A11 this evening, on the only single carriageway section between Barton Mills and Thetford, the final stage of the enquiry into duelling restarts again tomorrow. With the inevitable knock on effects of its closure to all roads in and out of this part of East Anglia, the nearest thing we will have to a motorway can't come too soon. If passed, the £147million 15km section could be open by 2013. Most objections to the scheme, after the RSPB withdrew their opposition to the widening of the road after the Highways Agency agreed to create an area of suitable habitats for nesting stone curlew, are concerning the ability for the Fiveways roundabout, at Barton Mills, to cope with the traffic through flow. When it's not blocked by an accident, of course.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

In a spin

In this media savvy society, we must all get used to the fact that news may be factual but often designed to lead us down a certain path.
Norfolk Coast's unbiased report on the Tories' pledge to ditch the Unitary Authority for Norfolk, should they come to nationwide government, defies those in more direct control who want a single authority, as reported in the EDP.
Turbine tormented townsfolk, such as those in Beccles, may have lost their biggest allies since it seems that the stealth turbine blade experiments at NP were a success, belying the objections from the Ministry of Defence that all blades interfere with military radar. The Pickenhams' broadly welcomed our eight turbines, so it was reported.
Maybe you could use your vote to make the difference. Worries that stopping the traditional overnight poll counting may aid vote rigging was reported yesterday, how many of you will miss those returning officer allnighter thrillers?

Friday, 22 January 2010

Salty Sea Shandys

The sun did a detour bypassing North Pickenham completely today. Lazy leaden skies and persistent petty pluie, that even never ending Norfolk skies can't escape, brought on rose tinted remembrance of crisp snow and sapphire heavens. Norfolk Coast found some beauty in the greyness with the familiar bulk bands of washed up razor shells.

Why we don't eat this abundant resource is a mystery, they are harvested widely across the world. They would surely be a contender for Sarah Pettegree's shopping basket as she endeavours to 'eat local' throughout February. This will include her Brays Cottage pork pies from Letheringsett, well done girl - PRtastic! Worthy sentiment living in a food centric part of the world and no one producer is better known than Bernard Matthews, whose turkey sheds now adorn Pickenham airfield, who will stand down as chairman on his 80th birthday this Sunday. Mick and Caron at the Blue Lion are all too aware of food miles, well beer kilometres anyway, serving a local Norfolk ale amongst more regular stalwarts. Everything in moderation, of course. Norfolk is Wells known for fish and chips, my favourite are from Plattens eaten by the harbour wall.

No one thinks this English delicacy is a health food, but nanny Britain has endeavoured to help you despite yourself. Not only will cutting down on the holes in the chippy salt shakers help your heart, think of the muscle workout you're getting sprinkling the sensationally savoury sodium condiment.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

New Norfolk Virtual Reality Resource

Heads up, and Norfolk Arms, to the new EDP/NCC VR museum highlighting this wonderful county. People and places, past and present, are presented in a peculiar preteen propitious passion.
Back to reality with toilets and time past tyrannies.
Two terrifying terms certain to curdle any council constituent's confidence are 'working group' and 'wider consultation'. Still, that's what was decided at the special meeting held in Swaffham to solve the toilet overspend. They will stay open in the meantime until a solution can be flushed out. Don't pan my puns, you're just pulling my chain.
Dragged up deposing Duma dictator's detailed drawings in the EDP today. An opportunity to rake up the past today as secret cold war Soviet maps of Norfolk are revealed from the Cambridge University Library. Norfolk has long been seen as a prime invasion point, remember The Eagle Has Landed? The village used in the film was actually Mapledurham in Oxfordshire.

Oh no, I've mention the war again. Sorry.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Don't mention the war! 2

I pleaded with my fellow nationals not to mention the minor disagreement before the middle of the last century, 'Don't mention the war' was a clue. But my friends at Norfolk Coast insist on dragging up the earlier unmentionables, keep those derigibles away from the privvy!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Here come the planes again

Welcome home to Marham based 31 squadron and the best of luck to IX (B) squadron who are replacing them overseas.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Normal For Norfolk 3

Sadly, this Holkham Gap NFN moment has disappeared with a revamp of the fencing towards Holkham Bay from the Hall's Lady Anne Drive.

But wait, we can always rely on those crazy foreigners to keep the signage laughter coming. We are laughing with them and not at them, right?

Choice Coastal Site Sights

I was reminded this week of fondant UK holidays, before and after the move to East Anglia, by a Tweeted Twitpic of a sledging slope from bracing Cromer by journo edpmary.

Pictured, the cliff top walk is between Cromer and another Victorian favourite Overstrand, affectionately known as Poppyland. I have stayed at the rather grand Sea Marge hotel but equally enjoyed a step back in time home cooked meal at the dog friendly, and aptly named, Cliff Top Cafe. I have such fond memories of this tea and cake emporium, I have a print by Brian Lewis on my wall with a view from the cafe, across the crab pots, out to sea.

As of yet, there is nothing concrete, or metal come to that, on the horizon. But, by 2011, 88 turbines should be up and running each of which producing twice as much energy as the land locked Enertrag windmills at North Pickenham.

Sheringham  Shoal, to be sited 10 miles off the coast, should produce over 1TWh of energy annually, enough to power a quarter of a million houses, assuming the wind keep blowing. With steady sales of windbreaks on the Norfolk coast, there is every chance of that.

Should be enough juice to power the historic octagonal Cromer lighthouse, built in 1833 and now unmanned since 1990, for some time to come. No such local energy available for the beacons on the Northern Sea Route, also known as the North East Passage, joining Western Europe to the Barents Strait and beyond via the Arctic Circle. In Soviet times the route, which dramatically reduced the distance travelled compared to the trip via the Suez Canal, pinpointed peril points with nuclear powered lighthouses. The radioisotope thermoelectric generators are less potent than regular nuclear power plants and were also used in soviet satellites.

Now redundant, relinquished and rather rumpled, the decaying monoliths, still with their nuclear hearts intact, are free for the foolhardy to photograph or pilfer precious plate. Photographed on a clement day belies the dangers hidden during perpetual darkness and heavy storms. This one is on Sakhalin, Russia's largest island off the east coast just north of Japan, one of many lighthouses that surround the island, whose seas occasionally ice over.

Talk of cliffs and icing brings back those holiday memories at Overstrand. The delicious cakes were more in the Victoria Sponge, Dundee and Lemon Drizzle variety rather than this collection of cup cakes. 101 cakes, with icing in the form of games of one sort or another, to celebrate the new year. Crazy creative cookery colouring.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Put a stamp on Swanton Morley sleeve maker

The attractive village of Swanton Morley, just the other side of Dereham, is perhaps best known locally as the home to the army's Light Dragoons and their Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance tracked transport, of which signs warn locals.

The village was also the base, however, of a graphic designer whose work any 40 something rocker, cross dresser or not, would recognise. Terry Pastor colourised an original photograph, taken near to the studio of photographer Brian Ward in London, to create the cover of Bowie's 'Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars'. Terry's work has been chosen to celebrate the late lamented foot square art for a range of Royal Mail stamps. Terry is now self exiled in Suffolk, a sin I'm sure we can forgive him after producing such iconic art for the masses.

Brotherly love 2

Damp squib from the Chilterns, no prize for a tenth of an inch of slush!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Brecklands Green to remain green

A planning application to build nine houses on Brecklands Green, opposite St Andrew's School in North Pickenham, has been rejected. The adjudication can be viewed here but most of the reasons were supported by development policies within rural areas and loss of existing green space.

Turbine Green Light

A thousand plus new turbines have been sanctioned today, by the Crown Estate, off the east coast of Norfolk. Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Ed Milliband, is enthusiastic for Great Britain to gain a strategic role, and therefore commercial prominence, in offshore wind energy to promote research & development and jobs in this sector. Mr Milliband is keen to reverse the missed chances surrounding onshore production with only small farms like the turbines at North Pickenham coming to fruition.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

More snow and unwelcome biting wind

Although Pickenham broke free from zero at lunchtime today, gusting winds up to 30mph made it feel rather raw. Over a couple of inches of powdery snow covered the compacted icy stuff which made Bertie very frisky indeed!
© J Reed

Don't mention the war!

The Second World War and toilets are British obsessions and we don't need to be hit over the head with a frying pan, a la Basil Fawlty, to insult the neighbours.

After smoothing over an international incident with the Russians yesterday, I was dismayed at the Watton & Swaffham Times headline 'D-Day looms for Swaffham's toilets'. In the past this would have remained a local indiscretion but now, with the Wonderfully Wired up World, our bodily function European meltdown fixations can be viewed around the globe instantaneously. Sorry to our German cousins, especially the more royal ones, we'll try not to mention it again (or the World Cup in '66, after all that was 44 years ago).
Serious subject locally, though. Next Wednesday sees the final meeting to decide whether or not to close the only public toilets in the bustling market town of Swaffham, as detailed in last October's EDP. After taking over the running of the facilities from Breckland Council in 2007, Swaffham Town Council spent £105,000 of the £245,000 golden handshake on refurbishments. They reopened in March 2008 with the remaining funds meant for running costs for the next 10 years. After only a year, over £23,000 has been spent repairing vandalism and paying unexpectedly high water/rates/cleaning costs. Plans are afoot to close the inconveniences to tourniquet the hemorrhaging. So, no rest stop next to the bus stop and no latrine for those soldiering on their market stalls each and every Saturday. I'm not sure that this news is any relief to those business premises being asked to take the strain, I'll surely be heading down to swanky Strattons for my ablutions should they sign up to the scheme.

As the sign says, use a WC (if you can find one). Lots more toilet humour here.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Hijacked by the Russians

I've been Soviet blogged, well livejournalled, from a picture I sent to Telegraph on line yesterday.  You saw it here first. Small world.

Yeah, I know the Soviet Union has gone - old man shorthand.

Brotherly love

Without wishing to light the fuse of sibling rivalry within you, my older gene gender go-getter bro has long returned to the ancestral pile where the ex king of family entertainment Sir Eric West Common Morecambe settled. No not in the North West but commuter belt Harpenden.

And now I can see whether Marham, in the Norfolk corner, is colder than the woosy Hertfordshire Rothamsted with a daily update from the Met Office. There are also bihourly updates so you can see just how cold it officially is. He was colder in the last 24 hours but Marham didn't get above freezing all day! This morning the recently quiet airforce base reached -10C.

Strangely, the road salt lorry arrived in the village again today and topped up the bins they half filled yesterday. I'm sure it makes good sense to someone. We know where our bins are so they have been constructed from half round fence posts, which tend to blend into the background a little better than their dayglo cousins. 

Normal for Norfolk 2

My spies have informed me that there is an organisation already encouraging more outsiders. Come on, if we band together we can stop World Class. Normal for Norfolk!

Thanks to agent Leila for the intelligence, no I don't think she is the one eyed mutant from Futurama.

Is it wrong to fancy a cartoon character?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The world isn't flat, nor is Norfolk

It's a fallacy that everybody pre Columbus thought the world was flat, 6th century BC Grecians already believed heavenly bodies were spherical. Just so the myth that all of Norfolk is flat. This part of Breckland may be no Lake District but there remains a pleasant undulation in the tilth. True the Lincolnshire/Cambridge borders can be a little sparse and The Broads are rightly not called The Heights but, as any cyclist or walker will tell you, the Peddars Way passing through this region certainly isn't puff free.
© J Reed

Another urban myth persists that my journey up the A11 was to relieve my worsening vertigo. Fear of heights is acrophobia whereas my affliction is a random dizziness. This can range from a light headed 'couple of beers' sensation to the necessity to sit down, even if you are half way up a viewing tower at the National Trust's Sherringham Park. Strangely flying isn't a problem but is part of the problem. Some of the condition for me is the feeling that you want to jump, a sensation I've had since walking over the canal footbridge from Shelton to Stoke in my polytechnic days. I am presently in remission, but a picture in todays Telegraph of a balancing artiste in Norway had my head wobbling like a nodding dog in the back of a 1970's Cortina.

Shelter from the salt, snow and slush

What's this, has North Pickenham Parish Council run out of funds to repair the rendering on the bus shelter or is this a new starter home initiative?
As you can see The Street is fairly clear with the gritted loop around the village with access to the A47 mainly just slushy but icy snow free. The pavements, though, give a clue to the state of the rest of our roads which today have a fresh sprinkle of snow on the compressed stuff, very slippery for man or machine.
All photos © J Reed

The council did kindly half fill our six or so salt bins today, which have been empty since before Christmas. Reminds me of Johnny Mathis singing with Denise Williams "Too much, too little, too late" for snow, salt and  time.

Not Norfolk Nonsense

Blimey, non British Blagging Balderdash. Sensodyne use pretty bods on TV ads to sell us toothpaste, but the latest advert is fronted by an Ideation Director - your guess is as good as mine. If you need help with finding an NHS dentist you can contact enquiries: 0800 587 4132.

But then I saw clarity, thanks to The Job Box ad:

'Responsibilities: Leads in the driving of new product ideas with demonstrated consumer heartbeat to EPDBs for the GSK Consumer Healthcare product brand. Ultimate owner of EPDB productivity (number of heartbeat validated ideas progressing to PDBs) 3. Evaluates new heartbeat methodologies, including owning I3 (Ideation) meetings for the category. Finds cost effective means to connect with global brand consumers on a regular basis for insight, ideation and product idea validation purposes. Oversees commercial input to Research & Development (Scientific) progression of EPDB. Prepares and delivers a near-final PDB (with most inputs completed including qualitative and quantitative research data) to Innovation Director, who finishes and submits for approval. Measured by the number of Approvable PDBs delivered and the strength of those PDBs as defined by consumer qualitative and quantitative research data. Establishes appropriate and robust market research techniques enabling a reliable and timely evaluation of opportunities.'

That's clear, then.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Normal for Norfolk

Insult or endearing acronymic idiom of our isolated idyll, NFN certainly doesn't sum up a whole county. Heads up then to bf1systems of Diss who, along with doing clever stuff for Formula 1 teams, now make a bespoke bicycle sold at Harrods with a price tag in the region of £25K!

Also, local employer STG Aerospace, an ever expanding Swaffham based firm, produce photoluminescent materials used to guide us to safety during aircraft electrical failure. Just goes to show there are brains in Norfolk outside the Big Canary City. But don't shout too loud, wouldn't want to start a stampede of businesses wanting talented staff who would like to live near stunning countryside like this. Shush, don't mention the stinging easterly wind or the mini icebergs in the sea!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Sex, booze and fags

Awaking the new year in bright sunshine, amplified by a sprinkling of frost hardened snow, the hangover of a weeks excess came with the news that all our revelry is making us fat and bankrupting the NHS. The health police have now set their sights on merry fat people now their prime suspects are a hardcore willing to wheeze alfresco in all weathers.

Of course there is always the argument that, like tobacco sales, with the £16bn odd raised in alcohol taxes, the £3bn deficit should be well catered for! At least other NHS initiatives are more fun, how about losing some of those mince pie pounds with sexercise? Safely, of course. You might be less likely to be disturbed with plans to turn 27.000 Norfolk street lights out for certain parts of darkness, but I'm with the residents of Langham who like the stars to do the illuminating. When first coming up here I was amazed at how many more stars were visible, even with our local light pollution perpetrators, with none of the endless procession of orange glows on the horizon marking the next large conurbation. Wonder how many stars you would see at the observatory in Kielder Forest, officially the darkest place in England?