Cromer? I much prefer Aylsham carnival

YOU'RE big enough - quite literally - to take this Cromer: I much prefer a walking carnival procession, like the one Aylsham will be having on Sunday.There's something more charming, timeless and immediate about costumed adults and kids walking and waving, pushing decorated prams, barrows and bikes, banging drums and blowing whistles.

YOU'RE big enough - quite literally - to take this Cromer: I much prefer a walking carnival procession, like the one Aylsham will be having on Sunday.

There's something more charming, timeless and immediate about costumed adults and kids walking and waving, pushing decorated prams, barrows and bikes, banging drums and blowing whistles.

I've never been a fan of flat-backed lorries with a dozen or so tinies perched on top, often sitting high up and with their backs to me.

Walking processions aren't troubled by the delays which seem to plague motorised parades. Watchers aren't subjected to dull views through lorry cab windows and an endless succession of hub caps, and they don't have to breathe in diesel fumes as vehicles lumber past.


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I don't think that little gripe will lose Cromer's excellent carnival one single spectator later this summer - but it just might persuade a few more people to line the streets of Aylsham ready for this Sunday's 2pm circus-themed procession from the Bure Valley Railway car park, up Norwich Road to the Market Place, and along Burgh Road into the Recreation Ground for an afternoon of fun activities.

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CATCHING up with an old friend last week I was shocked to hear that an alcoholic work colleague from 15 years ago had suffered a paralysing stroke in February and would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

I can think of at least three other people among my even-closer acquaintance who are dependent on alcohol. I have also had good friends over the years who have battled addictions to other drugs with varying degrees of success. All these people have suffered health problems or family crises as a result - often both.

I'll bet most of you could also name people you know with similar addiction problems.

As a reporter who covered the courts in the past I've sat through countless cases where people committed a crime because they needed money for drugs or were affected by drugs and alcohol.

Misuse of drugs - alcohol in particular - is why many of our town and city centres are no-go areas on Friday and Saturday nights.

All-in-all, drug abuse is a disaster, individually and nationally. Which is why I'm still reeling in shock that no-one stepped in to rescue the Diana Princess of Wales Centre in Mundesley which treated addiction problems.

I'm particularly amazed that government at national and local level apparently did nothing to prevent the closure of this rare and much-needed facility.

Is there such a 'them and us' divide between the private and public sector in this vital field that the NHS, social services, probation service etc saw no role for themselves in trying to save all that expertise and all those specialist resources?

The Mundesley centre had a long and honourable history of caring for those with intractable conditions, dating back to 1899 when it first opened as a hospital for tuberculosis patients.

Government found the cash to step in earlier this year when greed and mismanagement led to some of our financial institutions going belly-up.

What a crying, short-sighted, shame that it has apparently completely ignored this deserving cause.

THE irony of listening to the broad Welsh lilt of Bob White championing the crafts and

virtues of north Norfolk was not lost on me.

Newport-born Bob is probably the only thing in his new Showcase Gallery shop that doesn't qualify for a 'Made in Norfolk' sticker on the bottom.

Bob's a retailer through and through. And if his instinct is that, even in credit-crunch Britain, there's an untapped opportunity in North Walsham to sell locally-produced gifts, who am I to gainsay his expert opinion?

He's undoubtedly right about the wealth of doorstep talent out there. No one who has done my job for any length of time could fail to notice that the area is heaving with artists and craftspeople.

And he's equally right when he says the town has great tourism potential - the Broads and coast are nearby, and it has its own rich heritage.

With continuing business closures in the town centre, it's heartening to see one gap being plugged by what I know many people think of as a 'proper shop', as opposed to more banks, building societies and charity outlets.

And if anyone can fix it, I'll bet Bob can.

When you pop into his new shop for a stick of North Walsham rock or an original watercolour, ask him to tell you how he came to get Tom Jones's signature on his O-level results card. Anyone who, as a teenager, can blag their way past the crowds into a star's dressing room has probably got what it takes to ride out this recession.

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