In years to come I’d like to look back at this blog and remember the times in my life which have been inspiring, emotional or significant.
Coming back to Norfolk is one of those significant moments. In 1988 when I was 21 years old I left Norfolk and my hometown of King’s Lynn to work in Reading, Berkshire. I remember clearly how difficult this was and how homesick I was early on. Since then I have worked all over the country and lived in some beautiful places.
Over all that time, I came to appreciate what a special place Norfolk really was. I kept thinking that if I’d never left, then I would have taken it for granted and probably would never really have appreciated it.
Twenty six years on and my life changed forever with the death of my father. With an uncertain future through self-employment, and a stream of trips from the Midlands to Norfolk sorting out my dad’s affairs, I started to feel that maybe the time had come to move back to be closer to my family.
I began applying for Jobs in Norfolk, and in July 2014 I was offered a Job at a charity in Norwich. Finally I had the opportunity to move back to Norfolk, but this meant leaving behind my life in Loughborough and my girlfriend of five years, a heart breaking decision.
Mum helped me to find a cottage near Norwich, and when the time to move came, my brother came with a van to help me. He later told me that as we passed through Clenchwarton where our dad had lived on our way to my new house, that he talked to dad and told him that he was bringing me home, needless to say this brought a lump to my throat. My journey was equally emotional remembering all that I had left behind and thinking about the new life I had in front of me.
Slowly I settled in to my house, work and routine. I began to explore, and started with some of the places and people on my family tree. I was now living two miles from where my grandfather was born, Swanton Morley. For over twenty years I had pored over maps of the places my ancestors had lived trying to get a picture in my head of what it was like. Now I lived there, and each cycle ride took me through the villages and past the houses where my ancestors had lived, loved and died, I felt at home.
Although I was enjoying making lots of new discoveries on my family tree, I really missed not being able to share them with my dad, who would have been interested I’m sure.
One of my favourite things to do in Norfolk, has been to ride for hours down tiny country lanes, ending with visits to friends and family. The beautiful wildlife, endless beaches, big skies, picturesque villages and friendly locals always make for a memorable ride.
Many of my ancestors never left Norfolk, I’m starting to understand why …….
NB Featured picture is of the Gressenhall Workhouse gates, where another G G Grandfather Matthew Bowes lived and died.