Perched on the edge of the North Sea, Norfolk was a hunting ground for Viking invaders. But if you are trying to approach it by car, instead of long-ship, be warned that is one of the few counties in England without a major motorway.
Much of England divides itself into a north/south paradigm, but Norfolk really doesn't fit into either category. It is exactly halfway between the two, and far to the east, and possesses its own sub-culture -- like most isolated places. "Normal for Norfolk" is either pejorative, or said with pride, depending on the speaker.
One night we ate dinner at The Lord Nelson -- which was named for the hometown boy made good, following his decisive victory at The Battle of the Nile in 1798. As an adult, Nelson rarely returned to Norfolk unless he needed to recuperate from one of his injuries. I don't know if Norfolk was a place to sail, or just a place to sail away from . . .
While visiting the nearby Burnham Overy Staithe, we dropped into the village fête. Of course I couldn't resist the used-books stall, and I came away with several biographies with local interest -- including England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton and The Wilder Shores of Love. Lady Hamilton and Lord Nelson were the ultimate celebrity couple of their time, and Hamilton's life story truly proved the maxim that truth is stranger than fiction. I haven't read about the wilder shores yet, but it features four 19th century women whose lives were just as adventurous as Emma Hamilton's. One of them, Jane Digby, grew up at the local Holkham Hall. She later travelled with a Bedouin tribe, as the mistress of a Sheik. Norfok must have given her a taste for wind and sand and wide open spaces.
The estate of Holkham claims, with some justification I think, to have "the best beach in England."
A picture cannot begin to capture the seemingly limitless panaroma. There is so much sky there, and such a vast expanse of white sand, that even on a Bank Holiday weekend the beachgoing hordes seem about as significant as ants.
We came to Norfolk in August, but when we left, it was already September. So now the sun sets on summer . . .