There is a little frisson of excitement chez nous as I type this, quietly toasting in our dessicated garden. For after almost four years of making their lives abroad, the son and heir and his significant other are coming back to these shores.
It seems like yesterday that the present Mrs Castle and I, sniffling slightly, waved these two young people off one dark morning at Norwich station as they began a journey which took them to Australia, Indonesia and China. They have had a hoot but two and a half years of living in China has been a stern challenge, and No1 Son has admitted that they are looking forward to a few days under Norfolk’s quiet skies to ease the pace of life down a little.
So we have been thinking what we can do to aid their recovery from Sino-sitis. The first bit is easy; food.
Now we enjoy a Chinese meal – or at least the westernised version of it – as much as the next laowai, but your actual on-the-ground everyday dining in China is another matter. They’re not huge on provenance and if you see a red tractor it probably belonged to Chairman Mao. They’re also fond of using every morsel of beast or fowl, which is commendable, but somehow a deep-fried duck head or chicken foot seems a bit much.
So some fine Norfolk fare is in order; good local bacon and sausages to start the day, with eggs from Marian’s chickens down the road. A light lunch with a bit of Binham Blue maybe, or perhaps something from the many options at Norwich Market.
There will be dinners out, at our local pub and, if we’re feeling generous, we might take them to somewhere fancy with white napery and lots of cutlery, a challenge to people used to eating with sticks and fingers.
For entertainment we’ll take them to Pensthorpe, perhaps to Castle Rising, or maybe Thetford Forest. But we’ll certainly be taking them to the coast.
Going to the beach with the dogs will refresh and revitalise souls wearied by the merciless cacophony and round-the-clock activity of a sweaty, stifling, huge, anonymous city. A good lungful or two of briny air, the feel of cool damp sand between the toes, the soft caress of a summer breeze under our famous big skies will be a great restorative. A big plate of fish and chips and a pint of ale will complete the job.
And then they’ll be ready for the next stage in their lives, in the handsome surroundings of Durham, a jolly sight easier to get to than Fuzhou, trust me.
We had a lot of fun with this coastal-themed issue, not least in picking the photos for the ‘dogs on the beach’ feature. We’ve filled six pages; we could have filled 60, so great was the response, and if you sent your hound’s snap in and it didn’t make it we’re sorry. They’re still all absolutely adorable.
Cat-lovers; maybe one day we’ll do a moggies of Norfolk special to redress the balance. We don’t want anyone feline they’ve been left out.
Editor, EDP Norfolk Magazine 01603 772758/07725 201153, dominic.cas[email protected]
Great place to get over the hurly-burly of life in China