An Education

April 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Posted in Anne, Aunt Fanny, Fashion, George, Travel, Uncle Quentin | Leave a comment
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A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in a beautiful old schoolhouse in Cley (rhymes with ‘eye’), a village on the North Norfolk coast. Although Norfolk is rather outside the purview of Miss Blyton – in my experience of her ouevre at least – the weekend did actually have quite a bit of Famous Five style. Firstly, the school itself could be similar to the local educational establishment George attends before the Famous Five series opens (thereafter she joins Anne at the charmingly named Gaylands boarding school). The Cley Schoolhouse has now been converted in three separate houses but it still retains much of its scholastic charm. The garden wall is still marked out for games of Fives, the outside of the building still proudly proclaims itself as a ‘British School’, and inside there is a grand old hand bell (which we duly rang to summon everyone to dinner) and loads of shelves of old books – no textbooks or copybooks but a fantastically esoteric selection ranging from the diaries of David Lloyd George to Discovering English Customs, to a plentiful supply of Blytons (Famous Fives, Secret Sevens, Barney ‘R’ Mysteries, Six Cousins and so on) plus other excellent children’s authors like Joan Aiken, Arthur Ransome, Eleanor Graham and E Nesbit.

My bedroom was under the roof and reminded me of the room George and Anne share at Kirrin Cottage: ‘When Anne awoke she couldn’t at first think where she was. She lay in her little bed and looked up at the slanting ceiling’ (Five on a Treasure Island). George and Anne’s windows look out across the moors with a small side window with a view of the sea. I couldn’t see the sea from my room at all -the sea is a lot further away at Cley, across a stretch of salt marshes, and the flat North Norfolk landscape is very different to that of Blyton country. The Cley marshes are very good for birds so would appeal to Jack and Philip of the Adventure series though. See here for BirdingWorld photos of Stone Chats, Shore Larks and Little Auks spotted nearby.

Cley has a great smokehouse, plus a good deli that sells local honey, jams, fresh bread and hot sausages(!). For more practical goods (newspapers, toilet paper etc) it’s best to visit the local market town of Holt which is also home to Old Town – an excellent place for Fanny to treat herself to a nice ‘Bungalow’ housedress or to buy some braces and a new twill jacket for Uncle Quentin.

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