Blakeney Point Seal Boat Trip, Morston Quay

Ever since we moved to the North Norfolk Coast of the UK, we have been wanting to go on a seal trip to see the seals at Blakeney Point and Scolt Head Island.  When we first arrived, we visited the baby seals at Horsey Beach in the winter – and then the next year we visited them again. Both times were great, but taking a boat out to see them on the Point was a bit different and new.  But I never wanted to do it in the winter months – too cold!

We took the Bean’s Boat out but there are two others which depart from Morston Quay too – Temples and Ptarmigan. Clearly the last one was not too warmly welcomed and is new competition as they passed us and waved at our crew – who didn’t wave back.


It was very windy and the seas were choppy so there were many splashes which came into the boat, but I was positioned in an okay spot with Maebh so we were mostly dry.   Soren had a head full of salt water from the start and being a huge water fan – he didn’t mind!

When we arrived out at the point, we came to small colony of common seals basking in the sun.  Normally in the winter there are hundreds upon hundreds of common and grey seals who come to have their babies. Naturally there were some very curious ones who flopped around a bit in the waves – a bit like a Labrador.


On the way back into shore, we spotted a guy water skiing – the kids got a kick out of him.

As it was Nils’ sister’s 33rd birthday, she treated us all of us which was extra special!   Afterwards we went back to celebrate with a cake and the rest who chose to skip the boat trip.
before-three-little-hands-candles blowing-out-candles2 blowing-out-candlse candle3s candles candles2 cousins cousins2 footbal96 footbal97 footbal99
I highly recommend this as a nice family adventure in beautiful, North Norfolk.    You could wait to see the weather and book but they recommend booking ahead of time – your choice!

North Norfolk Wizard Maze & Play

On Sunday, we had some rain/wind storms from the remnants of ex-hurricane Bertha, but in this area it was really not bad.   Parts of the UK were hit with bad flooding. But on Monday the weather was like a perfect fall day – sunny but a bit of wind to give you a cool breeze.  As the afternoon rolled in, a few light showers came but overall it was great weather to spend on a farm.

We took the kids to North Norfolk Wizard Maze & Play just down the road and had a great time.  It’s a tiny place with some animals, hay-bail pyramid, two giant bouncy pillows, ride on tractors and a corn-field maze with a trail inside, etc.  It’s no Davis Farmland (as that is a 1 in a million place) but could be compared to Russell Orchards and/or Smolak Farms but without the pick your own fruit aspect or pumpkin patches.    It’s only open from July 24 to early September to coincide with when the kids are out of school and as we didn’t go last year, we took advantage of the weather and headed there.

We heard that the corn maze could be tricky and some one wrote on their Facebook wall they had been inside the maze for 2 hours, so that as first up.  At first you think you know the way you have been but after a while all the paths start looking the same and you start questioning if you have already been down that path.   A few pieces of trash like a 7UP can left there or better yet which blew in during the storm helped give me a clue that I had not been there before.

After we found all the letters, we spelled out the pirate-related word and the kids got their prizes on the way out.  They each got three tattoos which they were excited to put on when we got home.  I offered to help them, but they insisted that they could do it alone.  Yep, off the went and moments later two crying kids returned with only one of the six tattoos affixed.

Once the maze was one, they were all about the bouncy pillow.  I even had a turn on it and was funny to bounce near Maebh as I could send her up very high.  We ran into a girl from the kids’ school, whom they played with for a bit.

Both kids love going on the ride-ons so spent some time doing that and of course, for Soren it was much easier and more fun.

Working together to solve the “porky” puzzle.

The four of us took the tractor ride which was a little loop through a corn fled then some circles – but both kids had loads of laughs.  While we waited, we took a few photos which ended in some photo bombs.


And OF COURSE, I had to take a few photos of the animals – especially the many chickens  Maebh kept asking why is that giant white one in there – the turkey! 🙂 

It was a nice few hours of family fun.   Next up Dinosaur Adventure Park.

Open Farm Sunday @ Holkham Estate & Fun at Wells-Nex-The-Sea

Open Farm Sunday

Today was such beautiful weather, we took the kids towards Wells-Next-The-Sea by way of Holkham Estate first. As today was part of Open Farm Sunday – the farming industry’s annual open day, which offers a fantastic chance for people to discover real farming first hand and see for themselves how their food is produced. It is also a great way for farmers to shine a light on what they deliver and why supporting British farming matters.  Many years ago, when in France, we visited and enjoyed all the local cheeses… but this time it was less food focused (or at least on this farm) but it was still a lot of fun for the kids.

The kids started off with a quiz which at the end they could win a “prize” which turned out to be tomatoes – and as many as we liked so we took eight!

Both kids did the obstacle course set up by the local Beaver/Scout group.  Only difference (despite speed) was that Soren jumped over the sticks and Maebh crawled under, but both did it and loved it.   A fun idea for something to do at the school’s summer fete.

I really liked the Border Collie who spent his entire time just watching the herd of sheep get sheared – sweet!

They had a Touch a Truck type set up with all the large farming equipment.  All kids were in heaven!

We then took the 20-minute BUMPY tractor ride around fields where they pointed out their various crops.

After we walked over to the new (well new to us) playground area.  While it was geared towards older kids 5+ Maebh managed on parts and they both LOVED it!


Wells-Next-The-Sea

After the open farm day, we headed towards Wells-Next-The-Sea.  Our plan was to do some crabbing at the quay but first had a picnic at the Pirate Ship Playground.  Instead of crabbing, we hopped on the little Wells Harbour Railway which leaves from Pinewoods Holiday Park and headed down towards the beach.  Return Fares: Adults £3.00, Children £2.00 


We first stopped at “Abraham’s Bosom” – an outdoor leisure area with a boating lake, trampolines & mini golf.  We spotted it several times while at the pine woods in Wells – the place with the boating lake and mini golf, but never entered thinking it was part of the Pinewoods Holiday Park there – which it is not.  Each kid had a session on the trampoline despite the warmth and we left to go to the beach.   Sadly, was not impressed and will not return.  While there was not a specific one reason, but I felt like it was a family’s garden in a caravan park and we were imposing in their personal space.   I like the Cromer boating lake much better.

So here we were at the beach without beach clothes, so the kids took off their clothes and paddled in the sea in their underwear.

Cromer Crab & Lobster Festival, Cromer, UK

Last year, we took the kids to the Crab & Lobster Festival in both Cromer & Sheringham. We all had a great time and so of course, we returned (but only to the Cromer portion) this time.

The kids started off getting their faces painted.  Maebh asked for a butterfly as she was one last year (her first time ever) but Soren asked to be a Dutch lion, which they couldn’t do so it quickly became a tiger, but he loved it!


The Punch & Judy show was happening in the same tent and just as we were finishing their faces it began – but Soren says he hated it and was quick to escape.  Maebh, however, asked to stay for a few to watch it.
While Soren and I walked around we came to the Bee guy who is at every event.  He loves spotting the “queen bee” which was conveniently marked and had a turn at rolling his own bee’s wax candle.

We spotted Sheila, Maebh’s teacher, so we did the Tombola table with her and between the two kids won THREE things – lucky us, more junk!

Part of the appeal of the Cromer portion of the festival is that the kids love to go on the rides including the trampolines, blow up slide, water walker ball and paddle boats/canoes.

 Soren tried the water walker last year and had a lot of fun, despite it being difficult.   Maebh even requested to go inside this year. I assumed she’d only last a couple seconds and want out and that was pretty much it. Once in, she realized how hard it really was, but as she had the confidence to go in and try it I didn’t want to spoil it for her.
And then the slide….

Next up was chips (french fries) from No. 1 Cromer outside by the seaside – very British!

And then onto the Cromer Pier where the kids “helped” crabbers with their catch.

As we were leaving the pier a Coast Guard helicopter flew over the town and circled back.  Was very neat to see…

It was a nice day for all.

Whale Watching in Cromer, UK

On Friday afternoon, a 25-foot Minke whale was found washed up on Cromer’s East Beach, not too far down from The Rocket Cafe.

Some specialists from the Sea Watch Foundation said they believe it was a young adult female and had been dead for one or two weeks.  While there has been porpoises washed up on that beach and about 20 years ago there was a dead basking shark on Sheringham Beach, a minke is a rare sight.  They speculated that the cause of death could possibly be ship strike because the whale’s upper jaw had a clean cut, but as it didn’t die on land, they would not investigate further.

These are a few photos and a video I found on the internet.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euO2oLwGU94

We took a trip over to the beach to see if we can see it too. But turns out that the NNDC took it away last night!

Even though we didn’t see the whale, the kids had fun on the beach, throwing rocks into the ocean and then running back.  Soren came so close many times and one time, he leg got wet.    Plus with a promise of a hot chocolate at the Red Lion, they had no troubles walking down.

 

 

I found a white rock with a perfectly round hole in it, which would be fun on the Christmas Tree.   Soren and I had a little fun with it while we walked towards Maebh & Nils who were farther ahead.

 

 

 

Speaking of whales, there has been a continued sighting of a humpback whale in the distance near Sea Paling and some fisherman have reported to see three of them.  Being from New England, I’ve been on many whale watch sightseeing trips.  In fact, the weeks before we moved from the US to UK, Soren, Nils & I went out on a Sunset Whale Watch from Newburyport.

Update:  Today, Monday, November 26th, another Minke whale was found dead.  It was in nearby Sea Palling Beach, which is about 1/2 south of Cromer.  That whale was a healthy, well-fed female and appears to have been stuck behind the reefs and couldn’t get back.  The same expert came to take a look and this time, they’ll do some tests.  Sad!

Seals at Horsey Mere & Horsey Wind Pump

Today we visited yet another National Trust property, but it is a little different than the normal stately house with amazing gardens and full of history.  But this time, it was Horsey Wind Pump!

It’s a five story, Grade II listed building built in 1912 to pump out water from the surrounding land so that it can be used for agriculture, until it was struck by lightning in 1943.  That is when the National Trust purchased it and renovated it.  What is cool is that you can go inside and climb the super steep steps to the top.  As it was a really windy day, I didn’t go out on the ledge, but I can imagine it is lovely on a warmer day.  As you’ll see in the first photo, the little boat pulled up and they came for a cup of tea.  He was struggling to turn the corner and get out.

The dyke leads to Horsey Mere, which is a broad only open to the public Spring to Autumn.  The guy was telling me on a busy day, they could have a dozen boats, which originated in the broads docking along the edge. I’ve included a photo from the web which shows all the boats.  Many people park at the lot and go bird watching and/or walk to see the seals.

The beach at Horsey is where the grey seals make home to give birth to their pups.  The first baby seal was born on the 31st of October, so we knew that we were not going to see too many, if any.  We did see a couple and loads of pregnant ones.  As a bonus, there was a rainbow over the water.  As we did last year, we parked at the Nelson Pub and walked down the pathway to the beach.

Unlike last year when we visited the baby seals in late December, we were so lucky to see so many cute babies so close.  I recently met a Seal Warden who old me that 40,000 people came to see the seals last Boxing Day!  We spent that day watching The Boxing Day Dip – aka – a bunch of crazies, jump into the freezing cold ocean.  Unless we go away after Christmas, we’ll probably go watch again.

On the way back, it looked like a storm was brewing in the distance, so we walked as quick as we could.

The cows which were out in the fields earlier were now by the fence, so I could resist getting closer.