Even though we have we have been living here for two years now, we still consider ourselves extremely lucky to be living in this gorgeous county, and when we are able to get a day 'off' it is a real treat to be able to go out and about. Saturday was no exception.
One thing in particular we have noticed here is that when it comes to Christmas, Norfolk does it particularly well with its array of fayres, concerts, pantomimes, plays, fireworks, shopping nights and many other festivities - and of course the famous Thursford Concert, if you can manage to get a ticket. Well it is mid November, so things have started to happen, and as we try to support the Hillside Animal Sanctuary whenever we can - who incidentally do tremendous work in rescuing and looking after a large variety of animals, we planned to go to their Christmas Open Weekend.
By now I think it is fairly obvious that all events have to be planned around our two mutts - Poppy and Henny. Weekends always involve a reasonably long walk for them - and so for us, so for once I did a little planning, and decided we could go to West Runton with the doggies in the car, go to the beach - have a long walk along the beach - wear them out there - well try to, and then hopefully have a short look round Hillside whilst they had a snooze in the car after their walk.
We set off in the car on our expedition, armed with the usual equipment - dog bowls, water, towels - the dogs have far more 'stuff' than we do, and headed for West Runton. The sun was shining amazingly, it was a lovely day. We decided to let the dogs run around the field going up the cliff to start with. They hadn't been here before and they seem to know when it is somewhere new. They looked at each other excitedly and rushed about all over the field - even bumping into each other at one point. Jeff followed with his trusty poop a scoop bags - I always let him have the nice jobs! Then we went onto the beach and they loved it. The sea was right in so there wasn't much sand, but the tide had turned so we were OK, and would not get cut off further down the beach. All four of us had a lovely walk.
Having returned to the car, given the dogs water to drink, and settled them down, we then went to the Hillside sanctuary, just up the road. Things were already in full swing and the car park was quite full. We found a shady spot for the car and hoped that it would be peaceful so as not to disturb the doggies post walk snooze. We left the windows down a little to allow air to circulate and crept off. We then hid behind some cars (if people were watching goodness knows what they thought) to make sure all was quiet - not a peep. We weren't going to leave them long, but wanted to make sure they were happy. Off we went - first stop the Nativity Scene. Hillside do a real stable with animals at the nativity - it is lovely, and I think has so much more meaning for the children (and big children like us) than most nativity scenes. I love it.
Hillside run several stalls as money raisers including a tombola. Unusually, I won something last year. Now when I say something - when I win I do it in style - it was the most enormous teddy bear - a real giant one. This I proceeded to give to my then 2 year old niece, although I am not sure her parents (My brother and his wife) liked it quite as much as she and I did! Between us he was christened Billy - as in 'Billy no Mates' as we told her he didn't have any friends because he had been a naughty boy, and he needed her to look after him and make him into a good boy. Since then he has developed a 'Phil Mitchell' (with apologies to Eastenders) type voice, and gets up to all sorts of pranks. I told the family gleefully that I was going back to Hillside this year and would try to win Billy's brother Bobby - I saw the look of dread on my brother's face as he suggested if I did win it, wouldn't it be better going to a hospital? Sure enough - there was another large bear in the Tombola - but try though I might, I couldn't get it, although I did win some other bits on the way. So, much to my brothers relief I'm sure, my niece will be getting a small white polar bear, but not another huge bear to add to her collection.
Our Trip to Hillside was cut short as Jeff went back to the car to check if the dogs were OK, to find them 'singing' or in reality howling beautifully. There were people around making noise and instead of sleeping they decided they would try to get attention, so despite the fact we had only been missing for 10 minutes, they were not to be placated and Jeff had to stay in the car with them whilst I went to the shop and get some Christmas presents and of course have a quick look at the books, where I actually got some for me to read. I also patted some horses, had a quick chat to some cows, some donkeys, and the occasional person. We then moved on, gave the dogs another walk to make up for leaving them for such a long time! and went home, via Binham craft fair as planned - where I bought a couple of Christmas decorations.
Having done a little work in the afternoon - well you have to, don't you, we then went to Docking Quiz night in the evening with friends who live in Docking. This did mean taping Strictly Come Dancing, but it was a very good evening. We don't partake in quiz nights very often, our general knowledge being a bit on the thin side - and with my memory getting worse on a daily basis, but if it's just for fun, well that's OK. (Are these things ever just for fun?). I must admit though there is something amusing sitting in a room of generally middle aged people all sitting mumbling to themselves, reciting away, trying to recall things in the back of their mind - all these facts that we know somewhere, that elude us, but given a week or 2 would suddenly pop into our minds. Mind you the alcohol consumed on the night probably doesn't help. Anyhow our team came a respectable 3rd - no thanks to me - and then it was off home, and of course we couldn't go to bed, as we had to entertain the doggies who had had the evening to sleep and become recharged. So we watched the dancing at Wembley - and what a spectacular that was, chatted to the dogs about the evening, and thought what a nice life we are leading in Norfolk!