It’s a sunny day today and one of our train days. For breakfast, we tried AMT on the station concourse as they at least have tables and chairs.
Norwich station is light and airy and the AMT cafe is glass fronted, giving a good view of the comings and goings of travellers. Our train is not until 9:45 so we have time to sit and watch the world go by.
Our train left on time, so let’s hope that today transport will run according to plan. The train goes to Sheringham but we will be getting out at Cromer. We have previously visited both places and while I disliked Sheringham, I was impressed by Cromer with its magnificent and historically interesting Hotel de Paris, and I hope a return visit will not disappoint.
There were no trees on the line today and no other untoward incidents. Our train reached Cromer as advertised, and we set out to explore.
We paid a visit to the museum which occupies a row of old cottages altered to accommodate the displays.
The exhibits are mainly about Cromer and its history, with a section on the early autochrome colour photographer, Olive Edis, who I think should be better known for her work which is artistically excellent and throws valuable light on the life of her day.
As you can see, photography is allowed in Cromer Museum, for which the management deserves due credit.
The Jarrold name pops up all over Norfolk. They’re quite good shops, too.
From there we progressed to the seafront and had lunch in the Lifeboat Cafe overlooking the beach and pier.
An autumn sun shone strongly from a blue sky merely streaked with white and we enjoyed it for a while, sitting on the pier.
Sited at the end of Cromer pier, is the very important Cromer lifeboat station which you can visit. As well as the hi-tech modern lifeboat itself, the station contains memorabilia, historical items and films about the service.
One of the notable features of Cromer is the Hotel de Paris. There have been several guesthouses and hotels on the site and the present building, a quirky individual design by George Skipper, was built in 1895-6. Last time we came to Cromer, we visited this hotel and took coffee in the lobby. We thought we would do so again.
The hotel now belongs to a chain but although it has been modernized, something of its original elegance and charm remains. Maybe we will manage to stay here for a few days or a weekend.
A bit later we dropped into the Buttercup Tearooms next door for an excellent cream tea, one of the best I’ve had in recent times.
Casting around for somewhere to go to finish the day, we took a bus to Sheringham. I was not keen on the idea because when I went there before I hated it. I went along with the idea, however, thinking that this time I might receive a better impression of the place. I did not.
Sheringham is a victim of its own success and as so often happens, the influx of tourists to a popular resort destroys the very qualities that made it attractive to start with and reduces it to the lowest common denominator – pointless "gift shops", garish games arcades, fast food outlets infecting the atmosphere with the stink of rancid cooking oil and a general feeling of tackiness.
One feels that under the scabs, a pretty seaside town is struggling to get out. Will it ever reappear? No, I don’t think so either. If I were a citizen of Sheringham, I would feel badly let down by the town planners who allow this degradation to occur.
There is one feature that slightly redeems the place and that is the steam railway with its period station, lovingly restored by enthusiasts, and vintage trains that run on its track. For railway fans, amateurs of British history or simply those who love to spice their holidays with a tingle of nostalgia, this is somewhere to visit and sample the delights on offer.
There are two railway stations at Sheringham, the old steam railway station and the modern nondescript one. As you can see from the photo, they are separated only by a narrow road. We noticed that the tracks in the old and modern stations have been joined, raising the possibility that one day steam trains could again run on the main line.
We took the (modern) train out of Sheringham and returned to Norwich. For supper we took a light repast at Frankie and Bennie’s and then retired to the hotel.
In any other part of the UK, I wouldn’t bother to mention that both the trains and the buses turned up as advertised and ran on time, but as that is by no mean usual in Norfolk, I have made a point of it. For the first time since arriving here, we enjoyed a day without frustrations caused by shortcomings of public transport.
I don’t claim that the above photo is a good one. It was taken on the river bank beside the hotel, in darkness, without flash, and with only incidental lights. In the circumstances, it was surely a good try!