252: Bacton

OS Explorer map 252, Norfolk Coast East: Cromer & North Walsham – I now own this map, but had not visited it before starting this blog. Visited for this post Friday 27th September 2019. This is the first of two posts about this trip to Norfolk.

I visited this map area (like West Lexham in March) on a retreat with Effective Altruism Cambridge – that is, the Cambridge local group of the effective altruism movement. That March trip had been our annual general community retreat, where 50 or so of us, once a year, go away together, for a few days of getting to know each other, keeping each other engaged, and of course learning and exchanging knowledge and ideas. This one was a little different, being a committee retreat – i.e. intended for those of us who help organise the group to plan for the coming year, as well as generally get to know one another and hopefully work together more effectively in the future.

The beach at Bacton

For this retreat, we were in a rented house in the village of Bacton, away on the North Norfolk coast. We assembled on a Friday evening, seven of us arriving in my car [1], while Vesper had arrived a few hours before to set up the house, and the final person turning up by train late that night. It was dark when we arrived, about 8pm, so we couldn’t see much, but Vesper welcomed us with some pasta and garlic bread, and things were soon very convivial as we ate dinner, and then settled down to a round of The Hat Game, whereby various objects and concepts and phrases are written down on little pieces of paper, which are then placed into a hat, and passed around, at first for people to describe without mentioning the words themselves, then for pictionary, then charades, and finally describing with only one word.

I cannot remember in the slightest what these pictionary drawings were meant to represent…

I left at around 11, to collect our final person from the station in North Walsham – we stopped for five minutes on the way back, just by the side of a tiny little road, to admire the stars; it was a beautifully clear night and the light pollution was minimal. North Walsham’s station is on the “Bittern line“, a nice little branch line from Norwich to Sheringham, which I’d like to come back and ride someday!

The next two days were pleasant and productive, as we ran through various elements of the group’s strategy, and had lots of 1-1 walks and meeting. With all that to do, I didn’t get much of a chance to explore Bacton, but we did go to the beach for a group photo!

Our group photo on the beach at Bacton!

On Saturday afternoon, I went off to North Walsham again, to drop off someone who had to leave early. After leaving him at the station, I took the chance to explore North Walsham for ten minutes, seeing the interesting church (from the outside only, alas), with a derelict tower.

The church in North Walsham

Before rejoining the others in the house, I also stopped for a couple of minutes nearby in Bacton, to try to get a glimpse of the ruins of Broomholm Priory – but alas, a glimpse was all I got, it being in private land with no convenient public rights of way nearby.

The ruins of Broomholm Priory

I soon met back up with the others, and had a somewhat quieter evening after dinner, as I felt a little peopled out, so sat in a bedroom and read a book – but that was pleasant too! I actually somehow managed to read the whole of the book in question, Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan, and really rather liked it.

We left Bacton late the next morning, after two nights there, to go to Norwich for lunch (and to do an escape room as a teambuilding exercise) before getting back to Cambridge. The story will continue in my next post!

[1] Well, my dad’s car, borrowed for this trip due to its 7 seats. This car is Margaret, well known to my probably non-existent regular readers from previous trips, such as the time when we gave her her name in Dunfermline.

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