Wednesday, 22 April 2009
BlogNor09 - Border Crossing
It's 'Blogging For Norfolk' day, and I'm awake unfeasibly early. I've been up most of the night.
Yesterday I crossed the border; from sleepy, rural, coastal Suffolk market town, to the Fine City, Norfolk's county capital, the metropolis.
Living in an East Anglian border town, I find myself crossing the geographical demarcation line at least two or three times a month. I have to. If we 'Broads Folk' need supplies, then the big city is our obvious point-of-call. We grow our own produce and frequent our own pubs, but if we need luxury items such as flat-pack furniture, Starbucks coffee or drugs, we have to venture across the River Waveney, and into what my house-rabbits refer to as 'Babylon'.
Yesterday I crossed the border. It was my regular Wednesday evening sauna.
Now, to the uninitiated, sauna may sound a little poncey. A bit middle-class gym membership. A bit "Glastonbury rocks!" A bit "we're taking the kids to Lapland this Christmas". Let me assure you, it is not. My German freund has built a sauna in his backyard, just off the Dereham Rd. He assembled it from an old shed, a Finnish wood-burner and a Canadian chimney. It takes four people at a squeeze, and is the hottest and most intense experience I have ever had (and I should know, because I went to Gran Canaria once in the late 80's, and that was pretty exciting).
Mein freund is not exclusive in whom he allows sauna access to, but he insists that we abide by continental European etiquette, such as putting our naked bums on towels, closing the door quickly, ensuring the aufgus is administered by the saunameister etc. (We also rub honey & rock salt into our sweaty pores, but I'm not sure if this is etiquette, or just one of his eccentricities).
The overall therapeutic & health benefits of sauna are much documented. My arthritis, psoriasis and general mental state are religiously soothed, warmed, enhanced & detoxified. The purification through sweating, and the ice-cold shower afterward (in this case, a garden hose) leave me with a heightened sense of self, verging on euphoria.
The down side is that I cannot sleep.
I tried the usual methods of obtaining at least 38winks, by listening to the World Service and its repetitious RP bulletins, but by 5am, I was handed over to Evan Davis on R4, with the confirmation that today was 'indeed, St.George's Day' and 'quite possibly Shakespeare's birthday'.
This got me thinking about the date, and it came to my sleep-deprived attention that today is also the birthday of three Norfolk luminaries. Somewhere in the deepest recesses of my mind, I remembered that the chef/barmaid at Norwich City FC's unofficial pre- & post-match pub, The Coach & Horses, has a birthday today. It's also the birthday of the lady who owns the hairdressing salon in Norwich's new 'Greenwich Village' aka Magdalen St. And one half of UEA's Livewire D&B/Breaks/Beats DJs, 'Shadow Cabinet' from the early noughties, will also be another year older today.
At this point, the prescription sleeping tablets are beyond any use.
The dawn chorus is in full voice, the kitten wants to eat the perpetrators, the houserabbits are binkying like they're on steroids, and my head is full of useless information, desperate to be released, but with nowhere to go.
I take my mind back over the border.
And as I cruise down the A146, past the Shell garage, around Loddon, past the car dealerships & sewage works, I veer off the main carriageway, way before I hit the Norwich 'orbital', and the relentless signpostings for Great Yarmouth, Cromer & Swaffham.
And, at this point, this journey becomes a pleasure trip, not a break for the border, a skirmish, and a snatch & grab for essentials.
I'm transported through the pretty green villages of Bergh Apton and The Framinghams, onto the wealth and sumptuousness of Stoke Holy Cross, past the naturist camp and "the pub where BBC Look East all go" and into the Roman splendour of Caistor St. Edmund.
And, despite my desire to live in the rival county of Suffolk, I'm happy to live so near to such a beautiful place as Norfolk.
(And with a smile on my face, and with the alarm clock reading 8-20am, my eyelids begin to droop, and sleep now seems a distinct possibility.......)
Happy 'Blogging For Norfolk' Day!