Notes from a newcomer
Marion describes the distractions summer pose for column.
Instead of 'Jeffery Bernard is unwell' (the excuse for the non-appearance of copy from a more famous columnist) I am often tempted to write'Marion Clarke has nothing interesting to say this month'. But I couldn't do that to poor Ray, could I?
The problem is it's 'summertime and the living is easy', not at all conducive to sitting in front of a computer, trying to conjure up column inches from thin air. Without venturing far from home, there are a whole range of
pleasurable ways to spend a sunny day or warm evening: an impromptu barbecue or simply enjoying a drink in the pub garden, chatting with friends until the moon rises
and silent bats take over from screeching swifts.
Recent summers have seen more and more of our neighbouring villages holding garden open days. What could be nicer on a weekend afternoon than to stroll around beautiful back gardens normally hidden from view behind high walls, then
indulge in a cream tea and perhaps buy a few plants. More my style, I admit, than the many village Fun Days on offer although I'm sure they provide a great day out for anyone with children or grandchildren to entertain during the
holidays. It is no doubt a sign of my age that my heart sinks at the thought of organised fun.
A less organised form of fun is paddling or in the shallows of the River Nar - an old-fashioned pleasure that children delight in while their parents relax under the trees and listen to the band on West Acre's Jazz Sundays. Taking a picnic to enjoy with friends has become one my summer rituals. 'Fish are jumping and the cotton is high...'
However, I won't be tempted again by the open-air Shakespeare plays held in the grounds of Oxburgh Hall. I've learned my lesson the hard way - one too many evenings huddled under a blanket, straining to hear an indifferent production of As You Like It or Romeo and Juliet (by the end of the play, I'm ready to join the doomed pair and swig some poison to end it all).
So it's good news that Stoke Ferry's first Music Festival is to be held indoors under the protective roof of All Saints Church. Whether September brings floods or an Indian summer, we can sit in comfort to enjoy what promises to be a rare treat for Norfolk music lovers. (The festival runs from 9th to 15th September and tickets are available at Whittington garage or Lewkes in Downham.)
When this issue of The Pump lands on your doormat, I shall be busily involved in another of my summer rituals, helping to run the annual art exhibition to raise funds for Oxborough church. Several local artists are represented so if you are free one afternoon between 29th July and 5th August, why not call in and take a look?