with Cate Macfarlane and Daphne Atkinson
Norfolk seemed in jubilant mood as we gathered the day after the royal wedding in Blakeney for the start of our week together. Our home was a restored 17th century farmhouse on the site of a former Franciscan Friary. The place seemed to exude peace and tranquillity. Not a straight wall in sight and the views over Blakeney Harbour towards Cley marshes from the two kitchen windows, meant there were always plenty of volunteers.
We were here to see wide skies and broad marshes and were not to be disappointed.
We soon settled and at our first prayer gathering we were each given a bookmark of Psalm 23. We returned to this psalm each day, shared thoughts and reflections and times of meditation; we were after all sharing a stage on the journey during our week together.
Sunday started early for some with a pre-breakfast walk. Following breakfast, some of us attended the Catholic Church, others walked along the coast path to Morston. Following a leisurely lunch, we stretched our legs further and walked across windswept marshes to Cley passing the windmill and laughing at the aerobatics of the lapwing. We were soon to learn this corner of England is steeped in prayer from the past with a long and varied history of monastic remains from Carmelite, Augustinian, Franciscan and Benedictine traditions.
For the first of many occasions during the week, we watched the sun set from our vantage point just outside on the raised mound.
The following day we visited Bingham Priory, now a Parish Church and venue for many classical musical events (the Monks once sang here), and wandered in the monastic ruins before walking in open, undulating countryside, exclaiming when we saw not one but several hares. During the early evening we took a boat trip to Blakeney Point where we saw seals basking in the evening sun, the more energetic (seals, not us) cavorting alongside the boat. We were fortunate to be able to land and walk to the old lighthouse ….a relaxing finish to an enjoyable day.
Warm sun enfolded our day at Walsingham, a place of Pilgrimage in respect of Our Lady.
We were joined by friends and local residents, Caroline and Ken, as we visited places of significance around the pilgrimage village starting with the Augustinian Priory ruins and gardens. We took part in ‘a sprinkling service’ at The Anglican Shrine, reminding us of the unifying properties of water…. and enjoyed times of silence. At the old railway sidings we learnt that a community initiative is underway in development of a prayer garden, offering more opportunities for faith sharing and a reminder that God works in the depths of the earth too.
We enjoyed time at RSPB Titchwell reserve where hides were full of serious bird lovers loaded with binoculars and tripods intent on seeing their first cuckoo of the year…no room for amateurs here. We saw many avocets and the sights and haunting sounds of marshlands and incessant twittering in the reed beds are truly memorable. That same afternoon, we walked in the Burnhams and visited the Church where Lord Nelson worshipped when home from the sea. He so missed the sea when on land, he fashioned a ship in a lake of the Rectory garden; we believe we saw the lake shape....
We walked through pine woods and soft sand between Wells and Holkham and a big, stone beach all the way to Weybourne; most people will understand why we caught the bus home! One amongst us occupied herself en route doing a beach clean and collected the equivalent of a black sack of plastic bottles, by way of distraction.
We saw sun rise and sun set and the cacophony of bird song from Blakeney marshes will live on in our ears and minds for some time to come.
Compiled by Cate Macfarlane with grateful thanks for guest contributions.