diamond geezer

 Saturday, October 22, 2011

Norfolk postcard: Horsey Windpump
Horsey Windpump
It looks like a windmill, but this 100 year-old building is actually a windpump. It sits at the end of Horsey Mere, the easternmost of the Norfolk Broads, only a mile from the North Sea. The land round here is very low and very flat, and drainage is essential for keeping the area dry for housing and grazing. In February 1938 a particularly high tide breached the dunes and salt water swept in, flooding the village and leaving the land temporarily unsuitable for agriculture. If one pressure group get their way, this corner of Norfolk would be permanently surrendered to the sea, drowning six villages and 25 square miles of land in the face of global warming. For now, however, coastal defences are maintained and life goes on as normal behind a barrier of sand. Horsey's obsolete windpump is now owned by the National Trust, and opened to the public allowing interior access to five floors of creaking wood and rusting machinery. Climb the steep topmost ladder and you can step out onto a balcony beneath the fantail (no more than four persons at a time, please) for fine views of the mere, several drainage ditches and a nearby cluster of wind turbines. Or stay at ground level to enjoy the tiny (but well-stocked) gift shop, quick, before the place closes at the end of October until next spring. [photo]

Norfolk postcard: Horsey seals
Seals at Winterton Ness
Head from the windpump to the sea, past swans and horses and fields of cattle, and you'll eventually reach a long line of dunes along the coast. Beyond is a broad curving sandy beach, wholly cut off from all human activity, where waves crash onto the shore in low rolling curls. A series of rocky fingers stretch out into the water - artificial boulder-strewn breakwaters designed to minimise the erosive power of the sea. But one particular breakwater isn't quite what it seems from a distance, because those grey rocks are actually a colony of seals basking on the beach [wide shot]. The dunes provide a close-up yet private view, ideal for watching these delightful creatures whiling away a lazy afternoon. Some splash out into the sea for a swim, others wait in the breakers for the next incoming wave, but most rest in line on the foreshore for a yawn, a stretch and a flap. Occasionally some boisterous play results in general commotion, but most of the time the colony indulges in nothing more strenuous than the occasional flollop. I was expecting the noise from forty seals to be loud and raucous, but instead enjoyed a low chorus of muted yelps and contented barks. A treat to watch, and a privilege at such close quarters. [close-up]

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