In Reedham you waken in Kerstin’s loft room to the sound of pigeons cooing. It is one of the most comforting sounds on God’s earth and it takes you back to your Lota childhood.
Overlaid on that sound is the occasional – very occasional – swish of a car’s tyres, and voices as some people, a man and a woman, walk past on the narrow village road. Then the sound of the train takes over, and echoes through the crystal-clear air to remind you that life is happening out there, people are being carried towards their day’s obligations and duties while you, lucky you, are lying listening and savouring the smell of fresh clear English air wafting through the open window.
There are other bird sounds, but always the doves. The other birds are busy getting the early worm. The doves you feel, are just sitting cooing, perhaps waiting for a lady dove to go past so they can do the manly thing and make the morning worthwhile.
Suddenly you realise there’s a slow rhythmic tap tap tapping happening and you think with some excitement, “Oh my God, there’s a WOODPECKER woodpecking! This is sensational!” But it turns out to be Basil Fawlty sending an email on his android.
On the first day we go to Norwich on the train, the 4 of us, and explore this amazing city on foot for many hours. Overseen by a Norman castle and an ancient cathedral and a fabulous church at every turn (there are 52 of them), we trudge over cobblestones and down winding narrow streets with our hearts bursting and our eyes saturated with wonder.
There is a pub in Norwich for every day of the year. The one where we have lunch was built in 1249. It’s called the Adam and Eve and it has a rakish, tumbledown look about it which belies its apparent sturdy construction in stone and brick with huge timber beams. It is festooned with a plethora of flowers, hanging from hanging baskets, growing up from subtle garden beds, hanging over adjacent walls.
It was built for shorter people. The food is fabulous.
The Norwich cathedral took about 200 years to build. It was started about a thousand years ago. A thousand years. The mind boggles. Who has passed through this place? What words have been spoken from the beautifully carved pulpit? How many people have listened, rapt or terrified? What lovely songs have been sung from the magnificent choir stalls, in what harmony, what combination of voices offering glory to God and underpinned by the music of the enormous ancient organ whose pipes dominate an entire wall?
We collect our car and, under Kerstin’s watchful eye, I drive us all the half hour to Reedham for a Kerstin-cooked supper, more table talk and much, much too much wine and duty-free whiskey.
It’s wonderful to have all our legs under the same table once again.