Preface - Norfolk 'n Good - CycleBlaze


Got to get out on a sunny bank holiday

I am a bit of a demon for over-planning my trips. Usually I have a few good weeks' gap between deciding to go somewhere and actually setting off, and pleasant and endless rumination about the tour can turn into prying into every last detail. I have been known to spend hours poring over street view, looking for the exact gap in the hedge on a minor road in a forest in Sweden that I'll need to take.

And it's not like this doesn't sometimes pay off. But a little spontaneity never goes amiss. After all, I've gotten pretty good at dealing with all the usual things that can go awry. What's the worst that can happen?

So last weekend I really had no plans at all. It hadn't been a great few weeks: work, the house, dealing with bank, all of these had been frustrating - and not for any substantial reasons, just an accumulation of admin and bureaucracy that was inevitably nobody's fault, wasted everybody's time and seemed to lead nowhere. 

The one good thing that had happened was getting a covid vaccination just a few days after the official letter. We were in and out of the small village doctor's surgery in half an hour, where the charming Italian pharmacist was so smooth and quick we didn't feel anything at all. The only downside was I then had two days of (minor) side-effects. The enhanced inflammatory response seems to affect people in different ways: given it's always my stomach that causes me trouble, it wasn't too surprising that I was one of the 1-in-10 to report "nausea".

So I was feeling pretty sick and listless sitting in the garden on Saturday. I had three days break over the public holiday weekend, three days of absolutely perfect blue skies weather. What with this and the trials of the week I had no plans at all. I felt I should go out, but didn't know where to go, if I'd be up for a ride, and felt a bit guilty about leaving Caroline at home while I swanned off.

As the day wore on and the sickness wore off an idea slowly came together. I should at least try to get out and camp somewhere. And then: better than trying to struggle back on the trains, which would be slow and crowded and difficult, Caroline could meet me somewhere picturesque, we could make a day of it, go for a walk and a pint and a meal (first time in 8 months). 

Where to go? I'd scooted across the flat fenland corner of Norfolk many times, but had never got right into the county. Thetford forest, a huge plantation in a sparsely populated area, would be a perfect place to camp up overnight. Then I could work my way into the broads, the marshy waterways around the ancient county town of Norwich, which would be good for a day out and a meal.

I still wasn't sure if I'd feel ready for this ride, but prepared some pizza and dropped the camping equipment in the pannier. Then we went down the pub - I'd play the next couple of days by ear.

It's somehow easier to set off on a whim when I force myself to take less stuff
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