Cromer, Norfolk UK: Racing Boats, Planes & Rafts – North Lodge Boating Lake & Henry Blogg Museum

Yesterday the kids & I went up to Cromer to take part in the Children’s Week activities on the North Lodge boating lake.   Just a couple days before, we ran into Sheila, Maebh’s nursery teacher whose sister runs the Children’s Week stuff with her husband. She gave the kids some cute spotted teddies and suggested we go to this event and the ducks on the pier & disco events on Friday (but I had a Dr. appt in Norwich during the events on Friday – so we’d have to miss that day.)

We got there just in time to get the directions on how to build a paper boat – which was so fast I have already forgotten.  The kids were to put them into the water and the first one to blow over to Libby wins. Trouble was that there was no wind so it took much longer than hoped.   And as you expected, some overly competitive parents splashing the water and anything to assist their kids boat to win.

Next up was the task of building a raft with sticks, paper, four cups and tape.  I admit having never done it before it was pure rubbish, I now know for next time we have to build a raft – lol.

Next up was the planes… like the other things a quick demonstration on how to fold it and then the kids got into age groups to fly.  First up was under 5 girls.  Clearly mothers pictured here did the throwing of the planes so their kids would win or place.  This carried on for all age groups and if you asked me it was really bad.

The Greek photographer (and I think chef) who is always smiling & very well-know in Cromer was suddenly on the ground taking photos so I had a big chuckle at that until his big camera scraped across the ground as he was getting up – yikes!

When we had enough, we spent some time in the Henry Blogg Museum where the kids love to spell CROMER with the flags, then upstairs for some Fire Brigade bad design which Soren drew the Colorado forest fires – I’ll take a photo and post – it was awesome and 100% his idea!   I’ve been here so many times and each time you learn something new.

On the way out, Maebh says – “Hey mom, such a beautiful view, don’t ya think?”  One of my favorites!!

RNLI Cromer Life Boat Open Day & Overstrand Beach

Today was the RNLI Cromer Life Boat Day.  Having missed it last year due to work, this year I really wanted to attend.  While we were there before 11 am, I underestimated the number of people on the end of the pier and inside so it was impossible to view it from the end.  Nils had Soren on his shoulders and got a great view, while Maebh and I went towards the East side and had a great view of the demonstrations once the boat launched.

They started off by demonstrated the inshore lifeboat. First a lifeguard swam from the end of the pier (where the lifeboat launches) and swam quite a distance towards two men in a dingy. She pretended to be a swimmer needing help and they launched the inshore boat.  It was only about 20 seconds from when the engine started until they were at the swimmer – very impressive.

They then followed on with several other demonstrations – all were neat to see. We watched some from the pier and some from the shore.

We finally ran into Lise & her kids – so they all took a ride on the teacups!  We had to ask the guy to stop spinning them as he was going a bit fast.  lol

We watched how the boat is put back into the station.

On the way back, we stopped and watched the Yow Yow’s play a bit before having a stroll on the pier where Soren showed the other kids how to pick up crabs and then on to the Henry Blogg Museum.

After the day in Cromer, it was approaching low tide, so just our family set off for Overstrand Beach to swim and have an afternoon at the sea and play on all the open sands.  Such a great beach at low tide – not many people, plenty of space to spread out and play bocci ball & run, run, run!

Amazona Zoo, Cromer

Maebh and I have been to the Amazona Zoo in Cromer a few times since getting our season pass. But as Soren is in school full time, he has yet to join us and is often quite jealous (with some tears) when I tell him we were at the Zoo.  So with it being the May Half Term break, Soren was finally able to enjoy it too.  He was also  pretty psyched to be meeting up with Harvey – who luckily live right across the street from the zoo.

With it being a beautiful, sunny day & a Bank Holiday Monday, the zoo was much busier than normal, with probably two dozen cars in the lot.  To give you an idea there were about 30 people watching the Otters being fed, compared to times when it has been only five or six of us present.

The kids went around viewing the animals first.

Then we headed over to the playground for some climbing and snacks. Soren enjoyed all the climbing features, but to me it is not the best for the younger kids, but she’s a huge fan of the seesaw and could stay on it for a long time.

Soren thought the caimans were pretty neat and oddly, he said really liked the heat inside!  I had hoped they’d be feeding them today but turns out only on Monday & Wednesdays – so will try and go back so he can see them move while eating the baby chicks.

After, the kids & I headed back to the zoo to see the jaguar feed, but first the kids had an ice cream of their choice and both kids chose a Lion Bar. After the jaguar ate his bunny for dinner, we watched back up to the playground for a few more minutes.  There saw the zoo staff walking by with a large wheeler with buckets of food – so we stuck with them and watched some additional animals feed.  The Coatis, Prey Birds, Owls.  We even watched the Otters get fed again, but this time they had fish.

As expected, Soren thought Amazona Zoo was pretty cool and wants to go back again really soon!  Lucky to have this tiny, local zoo so close to our house!

Cromer Pier Crabbing with friends

This morning we headed over to the Cromer Pier for our try at crabbing with the group for a couple hours.  It was a little slow at first with yesterday’s bacon, but once we bought and put on some new bacon, we ended up catching THREE crabs of our own.  Then a nearby fisherman donated two to us!  Soren was the only one willing to reach his hand in the water to hold up the crab and even got a little pinch.

It was a lot of fun – and we’ll definitely do it again.  But I just wish they would put up wire mesh fencing along the entire edge, as it’s really high and with little ones, I’m always afraid one will go over the edge.

 

 

 

On the way out, we stopped at the rides on the promenade.  They were a little run down and the baby in the booth was very sad but the kids did have fun!  The three boys rode the Helter Skelter a couple times and then they all took a ride on the double-decker bus before heading home.  

Note baby in the window!!

 

And keeping with the crabbing theme, Jana quickly popped up the hill and picked up a four dressed Cromer Crabs to eat back home.   As Nils is not a fan, Soren ate his crab!  I think both Jana & Phillip agreed, the white part is the best and the delicacy of the darker portion has a very strong taste and not their favorite part.

Amazona Zoo, Cromer, UK

We’ve already justified our season ticket purchase, as today Maebh and I visited the Amazona Zoo for a second day in a row! It was a great day with perfect weather – though just a few degrees warmer would have been even better.

As Soren participates in multi-sports after school on Thursdays, we didn’t have to pick him up until 4 pm, so we have extra time and could stay to see the Jaguars being fed at 3:00 pm.  We were lucky as we got to see a bonus feeding of the caimans (alligators), in addition to the three scheduled feedings – American Otters, Spider Monkeys and Jaguars.

The Spider Monkeys were really cool – they each had a different personality.  Lucky for us, we were given the private explanation as the zookeeper feed them in front of ONLY Maebh & I.  He explained little details about the monkeys like the name, age, gender and some interesting facts.  Ulysses, is the patriarchal male in the group and quite an old boy at nearly 30 (I think).  Each of the girls had a pecking order and many times, they had their food stolen from Ulysses.  A few fights and territorial squawks and swipes, each one ate some pellets, fruit and peanuts.  The last thing they ate are the carrots.  There are two blonde ones who looked similar, Anna & Itz, but one has blue eyes and one has brown.  From far away you’d not be able to see the difference, but as he put some food on the outside of the fence, they had to reach their arms and even tails through to reach it and so I got a few close up shots.  Really cute & fun to watch.

 
 
 
There were like three other types of monkeys at the zoo.  These tiny guys were so cute and played peek-a-boo with Maebh.  She had a laugh when she saw herself in the window glass after finding the little guy inside.
 
 
What was pretty cool is that we were the ONLY ones there for the caiman (alligator) feeding, as we were in the right place at the right time.  We went inside the building seeing what was going on and they were just coming in with the bucket-o-chicks.  Therefore, we got lots and lots of one-on-one explanations and watched as they threw the dead chicks and fish heads strategically to ensure all 10 or so were fed.  All I have to say is thankfully the chicks were not still alive as watching them try to escape would probably be a little too much, even though I know that is natural.
 
As a friend posted on my facebook posting, this zoo is not a good place to be a chicken! He told me that the bucket-o-chicken which he had for the caimans, was baby male chickens from a local hatchery and the females are kept to lay eggs.
 
 

More chicks to eat but this time larger ones with more meat were fed to the American Otters.  The first thing they do, is rip the head off to ensure their prey didn’t get a chance to get away.  These guys were also amazing – within minutes they finished up their meals and disappeared.  Probably off to take a nap.

The chicken hand hanging out reminds me of the Dim Sum meal we had in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  We ordered chicken fingers and out came literally a hand with fingers and I swear painted nails.

I took 940 photos, yet I did have lots of non-camera time with Maebh too.  After our picnic lunch, she enjoyed the play area (though it really is better for the bigger kids) and fun with bubbles.

Having a little trouble, as these are not the blow ones, but rather swing through the air type.

She likes the animals, but she really could careless about a  jaguar searching around his den looking for the chickens which the zoo keeper went in and hid for him.  Me on the other hand was so excited. In fact, just as it was about to start, she started yelling at me that she had to poop and now.  I whispered for her to shhh and if she could hold it for a few minutes – back and forth – then she really yelled poopie now.  So we had to leave the jaguars area and head to the nearby (and not so happy about the only) bathroom where she peed and did NOT poop.  So I did miss about 10 minutes of the feed, but thankfully there was only one Jaguar eating so we were able to watch 3 chickens found and devoured.  The Mama Jaguar took all the food yesterday so she was separated today and the guy put her up above in a cage until the son ate all today’s food.

 
 

There were a few groups of baby ducklings running around, all in the close watch of their Mom and Dad.  They were all cute, but something about the all yellow ones.  I think they were so much cuter than the others.  Perhaps because they were different or stood out from the rest. The mama ducks were pretty protective of the babies and did a great job in actually chasing and scaring away a rather large duck who came too close.

Speaking of ducks, the large one who was sitting on her two eggs yesterday was still there, protecting them from predators – no babies yet.

We enjoyed the other small animals like the small monkeys, two different types of owls and other birds.   This large owl, could turn his head around completely.

 
 
 
There is something about flamingos which I love too, but they can smell if kept in small spaces.  They are pretty and do unique things like yoga poses, eat with their heads upside down filtering their food and never look at you.
 
Well over 10 years ago, we visited them in the wild in the Carmargue, France.  Such a beautiful bird!  I wish I had a digital camera back then.  For now, you can see what we saw here.

Then there is this bird, which I say is an emu but I think it had a different name.  He was funny to look at and did strange things with his neck and head.  He sort of reminded me of the Scientist on Back To The Future.

 
 
 
 

Then there were tapirs who loved the mud. I normally wouldn’t even look at these guys for more than two minutes, but they were somewhat clean and then suddenly jumped in the mud and were having a blast.  Perhaps it was a mating thing, as one really muddy one stood very still while two others came over, smelled his or her butt area (uh huh) and then they too went wild in the mud.  Thought it may be a camouflage thing, from a distance it would be hard to see.

 

And to end a great day, we went over to the cafe for an ice cream.  I got a chocolate one and she chose a Lion Bar ice cream, which when Soren saw he was nearly in tears.  He loves Lion Bars and was jealous she visited the zoo – twice!! I explained that I’d take him soon and that he goes to school and she can’t yet.

 

After all these photos and many of them with the fences, the private after-hours, photo tour is looking really good right now, but still a bit too pricey!

Cromer Pier & Henry Blogg Museum Visit

Once again, we took the kids up the hill behind our house, past the Cromer Light House, and down the steps to the lovely beach, which we have slowly named our own beach.   It was a bit rainy, so there were loads of fog and mist, so I didn’t take that many photos.  I really like how the colorful beach huts add a little happiness to even this dreary, chilly spring day!

Click for a map of the path so you can visualize it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the kids walked along with Nils, I meander along in search of sea glass. Our beach here doesn’t have many shells and is more a rocky, fossil beach.  So far I have a nice collection started of green glass with a few unique shells mixed in.   I have yet to find amber or blues, but I will continue to search on.  Funny, how relaxing it is to walk along looking at the millions of little pebbles below for a color to pop out, all the while the waves of the ocean pound on the surf when they crash.   We’re heading back today around 1 or so today as at 2:30 will be low-tide, and I can do some more glass hunting while the kids play with their buckets and spades.

 

As we walked along the beach towards Cromer, we came across a fishing boat being towed into the sea with a tractor.  We stopped to watch is as the tractor goes into the water rather deep.   While I realize the fisherman was probably not going too far and even probably just checking their nearby traps for local Cromer crabs, I am surprised to see him go out alone.    Not sure if it’s an overly-safe, American thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stopped for a visit to the Hentry Blogg Museum -which tells the courageous history of saving lives at sea in Cromer.  The museum celebrates the life and achievements of Coxwain Henry Blogg (1876-1954), the RNLI’s most decorated lifeboat man during his 53 years of service.  With the assistance of his crew, he launched some 387 times and help to save 873 lives around the Cromer coast. Like so many things in the North Norfolk coast, it’s a very family-friendly place where the kids can take part in hands-on activities.  We tried on real equipment like life jackets and hats, learned how to write their names in Morse Code, learned how to measure crabs to ensure they are large enough and we even had a small puppet show put on my Maebh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we walked across the promenade to the Cromer Pier where we met a few families crabbing.  They explained the right techniques to catching crabs including tying a Mackerel head and stones to the net to weigh it down.  They showed us the bottom of two crabs showing the triangle markings which is a male and a rounder type triangle on the belly.  Interesting and helpful as we’ll be doing it this too once it’s a little warmer.  In August during Carnival week there is a competition for kids on the pier.

 

 

 

 

At the end of the Cromer Pier is the very active and very important Cromer Lifeboat Station which also has free admission and have volunteers on hand to give some history and explanations.   Here you can see a cool launch of the lifeboat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdLtWZJWhvE

 

 

 

 

Maebh also did amazingly well and kept her underwear dry for the entire walk!  So many times, I thought she’d pee hearing the water next to her, but she’s didn’t!  But as usual the long walk tires her out and she falls asleep on Nils’ shoulders for the walk back.  Soren complains as we continue on for the mile or so walk uphill and finally when home, our legs are so tired, but it was fun and we’ll do it again the next sunny day!