Tag Archives: norfolk

Finishing the weekend back in Norfolk by the river

denver4This post is just to round off my lovely birthday celebrations at the weekend, and to be honest it is just an excuse to post some of the lovely pictures I have from Sunday’s sunny afternoon. We drove back fairly early on Sunday after waking up early and realising how hot it was going to be, we figured it was more of a day to be spent in the lush greenness of Norfolk, sunbathing in the garden or by the sea. I was looking forward to a chilled out afternoon of sunbathing with the tortoise and getting some blogging done, but as always, Mark went swanning in and sabotaged my plans with more ideas about eating. We were less than a hour from home when he suggested popping to Denver, to The Jenyns Arms for a pub lunch by the river, and I just couldn’t resist. The thought of sitting by the river in the sunshine while dragonflies danced by on the breeze sounded just too perfect for words.denver1I’ve been to the pub a few times, and am always overwhelmed by how beautiful the location is and how charming the pub itself is. Some might say it looks outdated, but in my opinion that really adds to the charm and makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Strolling around the side entrance, we saw the garden was already busy with others who had shared the same idea, but after ordering drinks and food, we only sat for a second before snagging a perfect waterfront table. We were less than a metre from the water, where ducks were swimming by accompanied by a duckling who seemed pretty excited that he was swimming and kept quacking at us for attention. It was such a beautiful day, the sun was beaming down on us as we watched the longboats glide gently past, while the rushes and willow trees rustled in the breeze. Further along the river, we could see swans swimming gracefully in the distance and cabin cruisers parked up along the shore.denver2Of course, quite rightly, you’ll have realised by now that this weekend was all about food and it seemed only right to finish it on a high. I ordered the salmon on a bed of asparagus with rocket, salad and new potatoes, it was supposed to come with hollandaise sauce but I didn’t really fancy that part. The dish was lovely, perfectly cooked salmon and the potatoes were gorgeous with some melted butter on top. It was a perfect Sunday lunch for such a hot day. Boyfriend ordered the steak and ale pie with roast potatoes and peas, this too was gorgeous. A completely home-made pie with delicious pastry – and for me pastry makes a pie – which crumbled and melted in your mouth. The whole dish looked tasty and he really enjoyed it, I’m sure I would have too if I had been hungrier. They had loads of delicious dishes on the menu including a variety of roast dinners, and I will definitely be going back to try another.denver3After lunch, we decided to go for a stroll along the river to look at the boats and dip our feet in the waters after our hot, stuffy drive back from the Big Smoke. We wandered along the riverbank, found a huge house with hardens full of chickens and an empty dock where we sat and sunbathed for a while, dunk our feet in the cool, refreshing waters. A friendly duck came over to say hi and see what we were up to and I found some stale bread on the dock to feed her with. More boats floated past with the passengers waving hello, it was such a peaceful and calm day – really the epitome of what Norfolk is about and why I love it so much. I felt like I had stepped back in time, into a Famous Five novel. It was a shame we had already had lunch or I would have insisted on a picnic basket filled with lashings of ginger beer, hard boiled eggs and a screw of salt to season them with. We should have been jumping in the river and swimming all afternoon with Timmy the dog… Ha I’m getting carried away now! My point is, it was lovely and as we carried on along the riverbank, we found a perfect sunbathing spot where we lay out for hours before finally making our way home to Lynn.

What is your favourite pub in Norfolk? Or just your favourite spot?

Review: My stomach ached from laughing at Jimmy Carr

article-1340548093969-13bb9319000005dc-33928_466x310Sorry guys, this review is a bit late, but I’m sure you will have seen there have been lots of important topics to blog on this week and I wanted time to do this review justice. I’ll start by holding my hands up and admitting – I WAS WRONG! Last week I wrote a preview of Jimmy Carr’s upcoming show at Lynn’s Corn Exchange, and to say the least I was a little unsure of what to expect. I love comedians and I love seeing them live – they are sarcastic, bitter, light-hearted and scathing all at the same time and I love this. But I’ll be honest, with Jimmy Carr, having only seen him as a presenter and never performing stand-up, I didn’t have high expectations. In fact, I half expected to hate his show and to dislike him even more. I’m not sure why exactly I disliked him before, I guess it is because he does go so close to the knuckle and perhaps in panels shows it is difficult to find this as funny because it just comes across as unnecessarily nasty.

Actually I’m quite glad to have completely lowered my expectations because I think it made the night even more hilarious by the end. We were seeing the late show, which I’m glad of because I think it gave everyone a chance to really warm up, the audience was a little drunk and the comedian was ready for action after a hilarious earlier show by all accounts. We popped in a nearby restaurant for dessert and wine as we watched the crowds leaving the theatre from the earlier show. We found ourselves laughing at the 18-year-olds who were tarted up to the nines (and I swear to God I actually saw a girl wearing a crop top and knickers for a night out) staggering into the pub nearby. Dead on 10pm we walked over and found our seats, which were amazing by the way! We were sitting up on the side balconies, first time, and we loved it! We had a fantastic view, we had plenty of space, and it was a heck of a lot cooler up there than it is sitting up at the back.

When we arrived, Jimmy had a notice up on the screen with a phone number, and he was asking for people to text it with comments, feedback and heckles, so obviously we were all getting involved! He came bouncing on stage and launched straight into his act. Now I’m not giving away any spoilers or any of the jokes, because it will only ruin it for you. But I was crying with laughter from the start. It was a fantastic show and it was refreshing to see a comedian who is halfway between the storytellers like Michael Mcintyre and the one-liners like Milton Jones and Stuart Francis. Jimmy’s short and snappy jokes gave you just enough time to recover between bouts of laughter and each joke was on point. I think it was the first time I have seen a comedian and genuinely laughed my head off at every single joke. Normally I, and most others I have asked, have those lulls where they are getting almost bored of laughing, but this never once happened during the two hours.

I was also incredibly impressed that he had successfully mocked and made jokes about the Norfolk and King’s Lynn people, bringing up the webbed feet, the fact that no-one ever leaves and the incest but in fresh new ways and completely unexpectedly. I have seen a lot of comedians in Lynn and Norwich and yet have never seen another comedian do this with such ease, they normally stumble across this part and walk into jokes that the audience makes. This impressed me because he has clearly remembered things from the earlier show, from previous performances and just does his research. He didn’t seem to treat the Lynn gigs like they were just a warm-up for his larger venues, this was clearly a top notch show and he was giving us his best material. A couple of highlights for me have to be the use of two words that are most definitely wheedling their way into my vocabulary – “cunt-grunt” and “twinkle-cave”. The second half certainly was a lot ruder, but we didn’t go there for a PG-13 performance and it was exactly what the audience were after.

If you ever get a chance to see Jimmy Carr live, whether you think you like him or not, snap it up. Trust me, you may well change your mind like I did. He was most definitely the best comedian I have seen live and I have no doubt you would enjoy his stuff too. Have you seen Jimmy Carr live, or did you catch him in King’s Lynn? What do you think of his material?

A weekend of sunshine and skydiving in Norfolk

10259791_10152052007567617_3291112992051207503_nLast weekend, I headed out to UK Parachuting over at Beccles Airfield to watch a group of grown men fling themselves out of a plane and scream like little girls. What a way to spend a sunny day! It was such a random decision for all the boys to do a skydive, but after someone suggested it, they all decided they were up for it. Before we knew it, they were booked on it and a few weeks later, here we were!  It was a gorgeous summers day – the hottest we had seen yet in Norfolk – and everyone was out in the sunshine eating ice creams as they waited to be called up. I had firmly decided I wasn’t going to be taking my feet off the ground, but was more than happy to offer moral support and to video the boys (pictured above).

10371988_10152052008092617_4004815505940194698_nAfter they all signed in, we had to wait until their groups were called up. It was a busy day at the airfield, so we expected to be there a while. I just wished that I had been more prepared – others had brought chairs and picnics to enjoy, but we just hadn’t thought of that at all.

10363877_10152052008027617_3748810895108617275_n We made up for it with an ice cream and a sit on the benches, one of the boy had brought a Nerfball, luckily that was over quickly after one managed to hit me in the head with it (not amused). Thankfully, someone had a box of beers in the car to keep us entertained once the group had a brief safety session.

10345543_10152052007717617_724608603554442552_nDespite being told no-one would be called up for an hour and a half, someone soon came over and started yelling at us all (after only about 20 minutes) because we were all bring called. We headed back over to the hangar and the boys started suiting up. They had to put on these amazing jumpsuits – so flattering (not!). They did seem to suit some of them, but the others looked ridiculous and I took a lot of enjoyment out of this, especially the wonderful little hats as you can see in the above pictures. They were all harnessed up and strapped in – obviously this cued much groping of their “man-parts” which apparently were rather uncomfortable.10348316_10152052007797617_2935174272223610823_n

After this, there was a lot more waiting around, for which I was glad to be in a summer dress rather than these hot, sweaty little suits.While waiting, I’d clocked several charity groups, including The Matthew Project who had a vicar taking to the skies!

10313974_10152052007912617_6581314115251572621_nFinally, it was time, the first group of boys were called up to their plane after a brief safety session and they scooted in with their tandem divers. One of these skydivers had done over 10,000 jumps in his time! After a brief flight up, swooping over the airfield and looping round as they climbed higher and higher, the cage was slipped open. Those on the ground were all craning our necks and squinting into the sun to spot them as the first skydivers jumped out of the plane. It was an amazing sight to see these tiny dots grow larger and larger until their parachutes burst open. Some were allowed the grab the reins and you could see them swinging from side-to-side and doing loop-the-loops. They floated faster and faster towards the ground and swooped down, being told to raise their legs at the last minute as they bumped down on their bums – a funny old sight once you could see their facial expressions. Two planes later and they were all on the ground raving about it.

It really did sound like an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience – to get that incredible thrill would be just amazing and I definitely plan to do it in my lifetime. They all said I should have done it then, but I just didn’t want to spend £180 on it now when I could do it in New Zealand or somewhere next year instead. But it really did sound incredible and just what an amazing experience to fling yourself out of a plane and to float to the ground like that. The ultimate thrill. They were all so glad they had done it, with some even hoping to do the course to learn how to do it on your own! I know I didn’t do it myself, but if I were you, after seeing their reactions, I would definitely give it a go! I certainly plan to!

Have you been skydiving? What was it like for you?

Girls On Tour Glamping: Pretty wellies, cupcakes and champers

65613_10151373002012617_1224910358_nThe girls and I are busy making plans for one of my friends’ 24th birthday later this month and although this year the plan is to have the celebrations in London, with plenty of pink fizz and dancing, I will always remember the way we spent her birthday last year. My beautiful friend had a bit of  tough year and so reaching 23 and being happy was quite a milestone – we decided to do something special and with a free trip I organised for a feature for work, we headed off for a weekend of glamping!

72187_10151372999922617_1464347419_nWe stayed at Pigeon Wood Hideaway in Sedgeford, which is owned by Wild Luxury, and this really was glamorous camping. Although I love camping, trust me, with my friends, glamping was the only option. Especially when I had a call from the birthday girl as she was packing to ask “do I need to pack my straighteners or are you taking yours?” – No there definitely was no electricity. But we were all really excited to do something different and have a relaxing weekend where we didn’t have to go very far beyond beautiful Norfolk and yet felt completely separate from home.

27152_10151373011172617_206622633_nThe site was amazing, one my car had bumped and groaned through the fields to get there – we had to leave the road and rough it the rest of the way to the camp site. It was quite an adventure! We arrived and started unloading the car of all our treats and birthday goodies. The site was lovely, literally felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, all you could see was endless fields and woods – not a road in sight! It was so peaceful and the sun was shining – perfect! In front of the huge glamping tent there was a metal fire for us to burn logs in, at the end of the field there was a log shed to top it up. There were also some enclosures at the end where rescue chickens, ducks and goats were kept, with opportunities for us to collect fresh eggs and to feed the animals.

422040_10151373018057617_1078796804_nThe goats were so nervous because they had been so maltreated at their previous home, they were very skittish to start with, but soon their curiosity overwhelmed them and I actually managed to stroke one and feed them from my hands! They were so cute and the chickens were so cheeky.11915_10151373014837617_270426597_nWe made sure to stock up on burgers and sausages from the local farm shop so we could have lots of barbecues – I was given the role of head chef and fire attendant which suited me fine! The girls kept me topped up with bubbly and snacks while I was cooking and it certainly made the food taste even more amazing because it was all local, fresh and cooked outside. We also kept ourselves entertained with lots of silly games, endless gossip and lots of laughs. Outside the tent there was a bat & ball set which had us all getting a bit competitive – bloody tiring I tell you! And we also couldn’t resist getting some bubbles from the shop to play with – just like kids.943499_10151373010962617_989183961_n 3559_10151373039982617_2045018005_nWe had such a lovely weekend and the actual tent was amazingly well-equipped – we had our own warm, power shower and loo, a gorgeous stove that kept the inside warm all night long, a fabulous little kitchen that had everything we could have needed and the cosiest, comfiest beds. It actually slept six so we had loads of room to spread out and really enjoy it. I would really recommend trying out glamping if you fancy doing something a little different, and Norfolk really is the perfect place to do it. It’s really fun getting outside and getting back to basics, plus a hangover is a lot more fun when you’re sitting round the fire with a fry-up the next day. As I said, Norfolk also has so much more just around the corner with gorgeous beaches and coastal towns, plus the woods nearby.

72893_10151373018412617_284052745_n 65631_10151373024387617_3690052_nWe had lots of fun exploring places nearby and acting like tourists in the sunshine – of course, not complete without fish & chips at the seaside and huge luxury ice creams. I loved being on holiday somewhere so close to home because it meant we knew where all the good stuff was and we knew the great places to go for food. We also discovered lots of lovely pubs along the way! Definitely a brilliant way to spend the weekend, and a birthday. Let’s hope this year’s celebrations are just as amazing!

Have you tried glamping – what did you think? And have you holidayed at home?



The beauty of Norfolk in the sunshine

hunny 1For those who have been reading AbsolutelyLucy for a little while, you may remember a post I wrote back in January about the difficulties of high-school students and graduates living in small towns vs. cities – I looked at both the good and the bad points and came to a mixed conclusion. Check it out here. But I wanted to make sure that my readers understood quite how much I really do love Norfolk and how I actually think that growing up and living here has really helped me, both personally and career-wise.

I’m not going to go into loads of detail because I would be repeating much of the previous post. I just wanted to share some of the things I really love about this area because with the sun showing its face the last few weekends, I have really rediscovered the beauty of this wonderful county.

hunny 2 hunny 4If you’ve ever read my About page, you’ll have spotted the picture of my gorgeous little beach hut and will have read about how much I love it. With it comes a huge love of the beach, particularly, Old Hunstanton, which I believe is one of the most beautiful I have found in Norfolk. I know, I know, Holkham this and that, but as beautiful as it is, Holkham is a stunning landscape. It is not a beautiful beach with rolling sand dunes, miles of rock pools and beach huts scattered across the hills. That is my kind of beach – one that as a kid you could run about in all day and not run out of things to discover.

Have you got a favourite beach in Norfolk?

hunny 3If the beach is not for you, we’ve also got acres and acres of beautiful, rolling countryside and wide open spaces. Endless fields and beautiful villages filled with stone cottages and thatched roofs. There’s a castle just a few minute’s drive from my house and animals of all kinds filling the fields around us. Tell me that is not any child’s dream when growing up? I certainly loved growing up here and even now, although I love the cities as well, I couldn’t cope living too far away from Norfolk or somewhere similar. I made a few friends at the weekend when walking in the fields nearby my home.

rising 2 rising 1It’s just so beautiful here and you really do feel so free – I understand those who love the buzz of the city, but I prefer a little of both worlds. And I always find myself craving fresh air and plenty of space.

What’s your favourite part of Norfolk? Are you more of a a city-lover or country-retreat kind of person?

Review: Forget three – two is the perfect number!

Event TwoOn Friday, I headed to one of my favourites of the local theatres, Westacre Theatre, for their latest production of Two. Written by award-winning playwright, Jim Cartwright, who is also the author of Road, Bed, Red and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, the play has just two actors playing the multiple characters woven into the story. As soon as I heard about this unusual type of play, I just had to make sure I went along to see what it was all about, particularly knowing from previous productions the very high standard the team work at. I had high expectations and was not disappointed. For a bit of background to the story, here’s the synopsis:

An evening in a pub somewhere in the North of England, presided over by the Landlord and Landlady trying to keep their marriage and the business afloat, visited by an assortment of characters and oddballs who pass through the doors and allow us a short glimpse of their fractured lives. But out hosts themselves are nursing a private grief that will finally bubble to the surface in an eruption of molten anguish.

Wow. The play was just amazing – despite being seriously sleep-deprived and not in the mood to sit in the theatre all evening, it had me gripped from the opening scene and waiting to find out the full story. The characters are a fantastic mix of locals and staff at the pub – all of whom we would instantly recognise from our own locals. But it was the incredibly acting from the two very talented cast members that blew me, and the audience, away. The pair took each scene in their stride, casually and easily slipping between characters with an effortless ease that amazed us each time they walked on stage in another guise.

I absolutely loved the play, which was so different to any other I have seen at the theatre and really showed the cast in yet another light and proving how genuinely talented they are. The two actors had a fantastic chemistry which made their performance as the landlord and landlady even more believable as they move from utter despair and repulsion for each other to a place of understanding and eventually love. It is a touching story and well told as the pair took us on a journey through the characters’ lives and experiences. I was particularly amazed to see how the actor who played the landlord managed to switch between playing a tortured barman, a wife-beater and a little boy, and all within a few scenes.

If you ever get an opportunity to see this play, I would really recommend it. But I would make it a priority to make sure you see at least one performance at Westacre Theatre – you will not be disappointed!



Review: Something Special in the Madness when Five Ska come to town

Last Saturday, I headed to one of King’s Lynn’s best local music venues to watch what is without doubt, my favourite band ever to play the town – Five Ska. I was so excited, after seeing them play Bar Red once before and loving their set that I was thrilled to see they were returning. I dragged along a group of friends who really weren’t expecting to like the band even though I was raving about them, but they soon changed their tune!

The band are a group of experienced musicians who formed in 2010 with a set list that includes all those mazing songs from Bad Manners, Madness, The Specials (One of my faves!), The Dead 60s and many more.

Here I am with the man himself! Amazing singer and definitely knows how to get the crowd up and dancing..

I have always loved ska music, in fact anything lively that you can dance to is usually on my radar, but it was particularly while at Boomtown Fair in the summer that I really started to love this type of music and the freedom that comes with it. Especially after seeing Neville Staple Band give a surprise performance, along with several other amazing acts. I love the way this music gets people of all ages up dancing and it certainly has that effect every time I see the band play – what starts as an empty bar soon packs out with people in their 60’s dancing next to 18-year-olds – it’s a great combination and creates a good atmosphere.

The band play a tight set and the crowd aren’t shy in singing along to all their favourites – Town Called Malice always gets everyone singing and dancing along and is one that I’m always waiting for. My sister and friend both came along with me, more for the drinks than the band, but they were straight up the front dancing away and singing along with a group of guys who had turned up in their braces and were dancing like crazy.

Leanne, myself and my sister, Laura

Five Ska are a refreshing change from the rock and acoustic-heavy music scene in West Norfolk and the packed out bar/huge queue waiting outside just shows you how good this band really are. For those who aren’t much about the heavy metal or heavier music and just want something lively and fun on a Saturday night, this is the band for you and this is certainly the venue. We had a great night and it was brilliant to go up to the band and chat in the interval, they even recognised me from last time!

They are a bunch of awesome guys playing fantastic music and I am very pleased to have heard they will be playing Bar Red four times next year so I’ll have lots more chances to see them. Looking forward to it already!

Hanging with the Royals on Christmas Day

Kate and Wills at Sandringham, minus baby George who apparently was busy playing with wrapping paper at home..

A Christmas tradition for many of the people of Norfolk, and especially King’s Lynn, has now broadened to people from all over the world – watching the Royal family head in and out of the church at Sandringham, Norfolk, is now the choice of activity for people who has traveled from all over America and even Asia.

This can be annoying for those who live in the immediate area and struggle to get a place in the crowd of waiting Yanks who had set up camp hours beforehand, but I love it. It just adds to the festive atmosphere! My family and I have been going to this event not every, but most Christmases since I was a little girl and I always love it. I love listening to the service through the speakers, I love seeing the Queen clamber gracefully out of her car, watching the Duke of Edinburgh stroll up the drive and of course, dribbling over Harry as he saunters past looking hungover. It is something that just signifies Christmas for me and I love how everyone in the grounds is bustling with excitement and Christmas spirit. A pilot had even chosen to fly over the grounds leaving vapour trails in the form of a smiley face! It was great!

Last year we managed to get to see both the Hunstanton charity swimmers and the Royals, but this year we only attempted one with my Grandad in tow. We were glad we only tried for one because record crowds had gathered at the church gates on the Royal Estate at Sandringham by the time we arrived at just after 10am and found cars parked the length of the road. We managed to find a spot and strolled up to the grounds, we entered the gates and managed to find a spot in the crowd where we could wait for the Royals to appear. Normally each year the family go into church at 10am and emerge from it around 11am, but shortly after we arrived they went into the church so perhaps they were running late. This gave us a good view of the Queen emerging from her car and the others strolling up the path. (The Queen was wearing a glamorous terracotta number with a fur hat – looking amazing as ever!)

It also meant that those around us who had been waiting longer were more inclined to stroll about as they tried to keep warm so it meant we managed to get right to the front of the crowd and gave us a perfect view! We couldn’t believe how close we were, and that we actually had the best view of the family to date, considering the crowds. It was fantastic, as they were in the service, my mum and I sang along to the carols and the crowd chatted among themselves. Then, they finally started to exit the building where two huge queues, with the most children I have ever seen brandishing bouquets of flowers to give to the Queen and to the family.

The size of the queues meant the children were lined up in front of us with the Royals moving along the lines which brought them right in front of us! We couldn’t believe how close the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to us as they collected flowers and chatted to the children. Kate Middleton looked fantastic as ever in her gorgeous tartan coat and black boots – I particularly loved her choice of black hat) Countess Sophie joined them with her daughter.

And of course… My favourite member of the Royal Family, Prince Harry strolled along the path helping with bouquets and looking rather bashful and scruffy. His cheeky smile, beard and general hungover appearance only made me love him more. I actually couldn’t believe quite how close he was to me, even talking to the people around us – it was amazing to see all of them in the flesh and so close, it really made you feel patriotic, especially surrounded by all the Yanks who had traveled so far just to witness this fantastic part of British culture and tradition.

I particularly love this last picture, which looks like a type of Christmas card and really shows off Kate’s fantastic outfit. She just looks so elegant and graceful – everything that a princess should be.

I am so very lucky to live where I do and to have this amazing opportunity to take part in this tradition each Christmas, my family love the visit and so many others do as well. It is something I would really recommend to anyone who lives in the area, or further afield, who hasn’t been before.


Forget the Hare and the Bear – Mr T is heading into hibernation

About halfway through the summer of 2012, I arrived home from a holiday in Malta with my boyfriend to find that my parents had spotted a news bulletin about something called the Norfolk Tortoise Club. The report said that the charity had a serious influx of tortoises needing homes and that they needed people to come forward to take home a tortoise and care for it.

Now a bit of background about my family, in years gone by we have had a cat and a rabbit as pets while growing up. But my dad was never a fan of either, growing up in Mauritius he understood animals as food, as a way of making a living, or useless. Mauritians didn’t tend to keep pets because with so many poor families it was silly to try to feed another mouth. As a result of never being around animals throughout the majority of his life, he was always rather unsure around them, particularly if it was dogs or cats that would rub against you or jump up. So imagine my surprise when they started talking about getting a tortoise!

Meet Mr T. I made contact with the charity and they put me directly in contact with a woman who covered the West Norfolk area, Donna Stocking. We chatted over email and she explained the criteria for the animals’ living space, the equipment needed and what type of care the creature would need. I emailed her pictures of our living space and garden where the tortoise would be kept and she emailed back with some suggestions and mentioned that she was overrun with tortoises needing homes at that point. She asked to fast-track our particular case because she had one that needed a home and one-on-one care because he had been mistreated and fed the wrong foods.

Our hearts instantly melted and we were invited to come and see him, and several others to decide whether we wanted to take on a tortoise that might need more care, or a slightly more normal one. We were very excited to see him, and couldn’t believe it when we popped out to her house in the middle of nowhere, where more than a 100 tortoises of all shapes and sizes – from newborns to massive shells – were roaming around her garden. It was an incredible sight and we could barely believe our eyes. She had an amazing set-up having built every enclosure with her husband’s help and creating unique homes for them all that suited their individual needs. The ladies roamed around one area where they were munching on fruit in groups and would come up to see the nail polish on your toes, thinking they were flower petals. The males were split up to stop them fighting, but they were keen to try and escape and explore.

The minute we saw our little tortoise, with his ridged and bumpy shell (caused by being fed the wrong foods) and his bent and out-of-shape tail, we fell in love. He was adorable and we just couldn’t refuse. Donna was thrilled and instantly set us up with calcium, vitamins, bedding and reams of advice about diet, heating and enclosures. She asked us to call her if we had any problems and insisted she would be making a home visit within weeks to check up on him and make sure he was being cared for correctly, and to advise us on any changes. He was ours! We took him home that day and all sat out in the garden – it was the hottest day of the summer and Mr T was loving it. He was racing around the garden in the glorious sunshine and we were in fits of laughter watching him. It was a brilliant day and you could tell Mr T was really enjoying checking out his new home.

We chose the name Mr T, originally as a joke, but it soon stuck. Especially when we realised that this little tortoise had a bit of an attitude problem and liked to barge his way through anything, a lot like Mr T in his tank. After a few months of feeding him up, it was time to put him into hibernation so a bit nervously we did. But after attending one of the hibernation talks held by the charity, we felt a bit more confident and set up his box with shredded paper and layers of newspaper. We made all the preparations and packed him up for three months, but made sure to check and weight him every week. He did start to lose weight towards the end so I made a snap decision to take him out, but he stayed in for a full three months which was great for what was possibly his first hibernation.

This summer, we built him an amazing run outside where he can explore, trundle about and eat all his favourite foods – he particularly likes the weeds we have planted, strawberries plants and the leaves from runner bean plants. We let him out in the rest of the garden as well, but this is a safe place where we can leave him outside all day while we are out. We’ve been working on feeding him up with all the right things to help build his strength ready for hibernation. We put him away today, and this is the start of a long three months until we can get him out in the spring. Of course, we will still check him every week, but it’s not the same as having him out. I’m already looking forward to those hazy summer days of sunbathing with him once more.

The beauty of the Norfolk Tortoise Club is that they still own Mr T and we just foster him. That way, with tortoises living as long as they do, there is always a back-up plan in case the owners become ill or are forced to move. Instead of being dumped, or turfed out on the street, the tortoise can always be given back to the charity and given a brand new home. Fostering Mr T is one of the best things we have ever done and it is so rewarding to care for him, particularly after knowing that he was rescued after not being cared for correctly. I would seriously recommend it to anyone who seriously thinks they have the space and the time to care for what is a very undemanding pet.

The tough side of being a journalist..

A few days ago, the mother of an old friend and ex-boyfriend posted this picture on his Facebook page. Another tribute paid to a fantastic young man who was still finding his way in the world, when a horrific and shocking accident struck him down in his prime. I was one of the first to hear the news when he had tripped while camping fallen on a huge knife used for cutting wood, and while in the woods, with his brother, he bled to death.

It was horrible and I’m getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it. Even now, more than half a year on, the thought still sends a wave of nausea over my body and the news hits me all over again. With family and friends scattered across the UK and Canada, it was difficult to pass the news on to others who, like myself, had grown up with him. While his body remained in Canada, his mother attending the funeral, we held a memorial service in his home town where old friends, family and school chums all came together and spoke of memories we shared of that crazy boy, before releasing purple balloons.

It was a very emotional day and really tough to see so many tear-stained faces there. His mother gave a beautiful speech about him and others spoke of their time with our dear friend. Despite losing others in years gone by, this was easily the most poignant loss, partly because this was the first time I was old enough to really register the loss, and because it was such a shock to us all.

There was another reason why – because this was the first time I had to report on a death that touched my life so much. As a journalist, I am used to dealing with death, horror stories and shocking news on a daily basis (as well as all the more feel-good stuff – it does balance out). I have been dealing with horrible accidents and death knocks almost since I first started and remember clearly reporting on the case of a three-year-old child that ran out into the road while at the town’s annual Mart (fair) and was hit by a car and died shortly after. I saw the accident happen and it was devastating to watch the family’s reaction, then a passer-by holding the little’ boy’s hand as he took his last breath. It was horrifying and I was in total shock, but the next day, I took a deep breath and headed into the office to report on the ‘story’. It was one of the hardest days at work that we have had for a long time, and I was reporting on it with a woman who has a little boy the same age.

It was definitely one of the worst stories I have ever had to write, but it was easily trumped when I had to write a tribute to a boy who used to be one of my best friends, and who was a huge part of my teen years. Having to chase up with the Canadian authorities the details of what happened to him and how the accident came about was hard. It was tough to hear them talk about him as a case rather than as my friend, but I battled through it. Being a journalist is difficult because once you release that part of your mind, you are constantly looking for the story in everything. When you are trying to comfort the family and friends of the deceased, it is tough not to listen out for the quotes and the introduction to your story. It is not heartless, just amazing training coming into play. But the last thing you want in this situation.

It became easier after the memorial service, when I saw his mother alone to put together a tribute piece to him. It was a tearful afternoon but was filled with laughter at lovely memories and it really helped me. It helped me to come to terms with the fact that my friend was really gone, but also to know that he would never just disappear as long as we all remember him. It also helped me to write a fantastic tribute that really did justice to the type of person he was, and I hope that all of his friends agreed.

This is the first time I have managed to speak about this in so much detail since it happened and I hope that I have used my friend as a way of illustrating that journalists actually do a very hard job – particularly if they live in the patch they cover and have to report on loved ones in terrible situations. Not all journalists are heartless, many, like myself, become completely involved in their area and genuinely love it. We live each moment of pride and failure for our town and form strong bonds with the people who live there. Journalism is not just a trade, or a job, it is a lifestyle and a decision to become a huge part of your local community.