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The tameless Ocean--Caister Castle-Ormesby-Martham-A grand Old Church-The Land of the Broads-A new Holiday Ground--National Parks-The Cash Value of Scenery-An Old SignStalham-A Water Expedition - Norfolk Wherries - Puzzling Inscriptions-An Ancient Hamlet-A desolate-looking CountryNorth Walsham-The Silver Key-An Ancient Market CrossAntingham-Gunton Park-Picturesque Roadside England.
OUR room at Yarmouth faced the sea. Waking early in the morning we glanced out of our window to learn how the weather promised for the day. We were especially anxious that it should be fine, as we were about to explore the Land of the Broads, to us a new and strange country, and, though a portion of our loved England, as strange and fresh as though we had to cross the Channel to see it.
A glorious, bracing, breezy morning it proved to be, and we looked forth upon a cheerful, inspiriting prospect. Though early, the sun had already risen some time, and was shining down from a blue sky across which were drifting careless summer clouds, changing in colour from tender white and pale amber to a wonderful pearly grey. How different these delicate morning tints from the glowing golds and burning reds of a stormy sunset! A grand expanse of tossing waters was before us, the foam-flecked waves were dancing and sparkling in the glad
morning light; far away a long line of gleaming silver was upon the horizon, and nearer at hand were many busy fishing craft, whose sails were bulging in the freshening wind, and whose wet sides. glistened ever and again as they rose and fell, reflecting the tints of sea and sky. From the distant gleam of silvery radiance to the green crested waves breaking upon the sandy shore, all was brightness, movement, and light. It was a day of days for the country, and we determined to start betimes so as to make the most of it.
However formally laid out, esplanaded, terraced, and artificial a watering-place may be, and generally is, it has ever the unspoilt sea before it; man fortunately cannot mar the tameless ocean by his mean. structures and speculative buildings. Kingdoms wax and wane, the old order changes unceasingly, but the sea is now as it ever was, and as it will be for generations still to come. The fashions of the ships that plough its waters truly vary age by age ; but these come and go and leave no mark behind, it is as though they never had been. The majestic old three-decker has given place to the ungainly ironclad, and the graceful sailing-packet to the stately but matter-of-fact swift voyaging ocean steamer, but these leviathans of the deep keep wisely well away from land and are only seen in the dim distance by the visitors to seaside resorts. With the humble fishing craft, however, the reverse obtains, and fortunately time has done little or nothing to improve their delightful picturesqueness away. They are still with us, their red-tanned sails and rich brown
SEA-TROUT AND BLOATERS.
hulls are as charming to look upon as ever; a picture when afloat as well as when hauled up on the shore with their nets and other belongings gathered about them, in-to an artist at any rateattractive disorder.
For breakfast we had plump sea-trout, just caught, so the landlord informed us, at the mouth of the harbour, and a more tasty or a daintier dish. there could not be. The famous Yarmouth bloaters too, fresh from the curious curing houses, seemed to us to possess a wholly different flavour here from those we have breakfasted upon in town; the close packing and transit do not improve this delicacy, for a delicacy they are, though not an expensive one.
As we drove out of Yarmouth we noticed the inevitable coast-guard with his telescope vainly sweeping the sea for the never coming smuggler. He bade us a 'good morning' as we passed by, and in reply we asked jokingly if there were any smugglers in sight. 'Lor' a bless you no, sir, as long as we bees here they won't be up to any of their tricks!' and we felt satisfied that at Yarmouth, at any rate, Her Majesty's Customs will not be defrauded by the landing of contraband goods.
We had a level sandy road at first, with a glimmering sea on one hand and a flat stretch of desolatelooking country on the other. A wind-swept land this, for there is nothing to restrain the breezes, come they from what quarter they will. The air was most exhilarating, we felt almost hungry again already, and the horses enjoyed the freshness of the morning too, for they pranced about in a playful
manner, as though they had been in their stables. resting for a week, instead of having come all the way from London, doing on the average twenty miles a day. Here I may remark that we took our horses back home, not only none the worse for the journey, but verily, I believe, in better condition than when they started; the change of air seemed to benefit them as much as it did ourselves.
A few miles of uninteresting road brought us to Caister, a small village. Here across some fields we saw a ruined ivy-grown church, apparently now a portion of a farmhouse, and beyond again the ruins of an old castle backed by woods. An ordinary tourist would of course have at once tramped over the meadows to inspect the ruins, but for some reason we did not feel in the mood for castle-seeing just then, so we remained where we were and contented ourselves with the distant view, which was most charming. Anyhow, from the peep we had we took away with us a delightfully romantic impression of Caister Castle, which impression possibly a closer inspection might have robbed us of; the reality sometimes destroys the poetic ideal that we picture to ourselves. Yes, it is wise not always to insist upon seeing everything.
A pleasant uneventful stage took us to Ormesby, a pretty straggling village set in the midst of woods; then we crossed the pretty Ormesby Broad at a point where it narrows and looks more like a river than a lake. Here we noticed an old-fashioned inn that we should have much liked to rest at, but we saw no stabling attached, so reluctantly proceeded on
THE LAND OF THE BROADS.
our way. This Broad district is eminently a land of water (if I may be allowed the expression), in which there is more and better accommodation for yachts and boats than for horses and carriages. Not knowing where we might be able to bait, we glanced at our map, and seeing the village of Martham marked upon it in large letters, we decided to trace our way thither, in the hope that the inn there. might have accommodation for man and beast.' Rollesby was the next village we came to, and a very picturesque hamlet it is, its cottage gardens being gay and sweet with every homely English flower. Another mile brought us to Martham, as ugly a village as Rollesby is picturesque; the church here, however, is large and very interesting, possessing as it does a beautifully carved open roof and a good doorway; the tower too is very fine, and decorated with elaborate flint panel masonry. There is also some curious ancient stained glass in one window.
Leaving Martham we passed through a pretty country; a pastoral land of soft green meadows and sleepy winding rivers, dotted here and there with restful-looking homes. At Bastwick we noticed what appeared to be in the distance another ruined church. I have now quite lost count of the many ruined churches we saw in Norfolk; they seem to be quite a usual feature in the landscape, and to us a very striking one.
Shortly after Bastwick we crossed a river by the side of which a new inn was being built, evidently for the benefit of boating men and anglers. It is a