It is always a total delight!
Each year I am treated to a trip to England. Always I come back thinking: ‘That was the best holiday ever!’
This time was no exception. I saw wonderful sights. I visited magnificent stately homes. I gasped in awe at the beauty of cathedrals and churches. And I climbed to the top of a church tower. Blakeney Church. It sounds a relatively easy thing to do. Believe me, it’s not!
One morning, my best friend, B, said to me: “I think we should visit Blakeney today.”
“Blakeney? Who’s Blakeney? I haven’t heard you mention this person before?”
“It’s a place, you dweet! It’s a gorgeous little coastal town with a creek running through it. It will give us a beautiful walk.”
So we set off for Blakeney.
Blakeney was a commercial seaport until the early 20th century. The harbour has since silted up, and only small boats can now make their way out past Blakeney Point to the sea. The harbour and surrounding marshes are owned by the National Trust. It is a nature reserve and indeed that day we saw seals cavorting in the sea and basking on the shingle.
We got out of the car and I looked at the creek before us. It stretched as far as my eyes could see. We had timed it just right as the tide was out. The air tasted salty and fresh as we began to meander our way along the edge of the empty creek bed. The creek was filled with small boats impatiently waiting for the water to return them to the floatation they so enjoyed. Seagulls whirred above us. The air buffeted my cheeks to a rosy glow. I smiled at our walk because we had to dodge puddles of sea water left in the creek by the tide. I had no wish to drench my cherished Veldskoen in soggy puddles. Laughing happily we zig zagged our way up the almost empty creek bed.
What a charming little village Blakeney is. Cobbled streets and houses gazed contentedly back at us. Higher up the village, the Church of St Nicolas seemed to be waving it’s arms at me. Or should I say, the two towered church definitely seemed to beckon. I could almost see the towers giving little wiggles of invitation. It has two towers: the main tower is more than 100 ft (30 m) high and a well-known landmark for miles around; the smaller tower was built as a beacon to guide boats into Blakeney Harbour. At the time, I had no knowledge of how high the towers were. I was soon to find out!
Jesus says: “Whenever two or three people are gathered in my name, I am there also.”
I have been to a service in a little tin shack and God has been there too. But oh, how much more of an awesome thrill it is entering a beautiful church. I walked into the Church of St Nicolas which was constructed in the late 13th century and gave a sigh of satisfaction. The stained glass windows, the old tiled floor, the priest’s lectern shaped like an eagle, the specially crafted pews with a families crest embedded into the centuries old wood and the stupendous vaulted ceilings.
“Oh, B, the wonderful graveyard outside and this on the inside. I love St Nicolas’s Church!”
“Look here,” B said interrupting my rapture, “It says: ‘Tower Open’. Should we climb it?” she asked eagerly.
I looked at my right leg incased in its stern black brace and thought: ‘This brace makes me walk better. I’m sure I can manage a few stairs.’
“It will mean you going up slowly with me, but yes, why not?”
We opened the door and with me leading the way, we began the climb.
You couldn’t call them stairs. They weren’t big enough for that. Perches is what they were. Your foot perched on one before the next foot quickly moved up to the following perch. And they didn’t ever go straight. Oh, no, perish the thought of anything being that straightforward. No, your way was constantly curving round and round and, blast it, round. I felt like one of those pole dancers, her limbs constantly entwined around that ridiculous long shafted pole going up, up, and up. On my right was a rope which I grasped tightly the entire way. After having ascended a mass of curving steep perches, my eyes finally fell upon a door to my left.
“Thank the Pope, we’ve made it. Here’s the door!” I exclaimed.
“No, Gaynor, look the steps carry on.”
Being 40% blind, with no peripheral vision, my eyes had missed out on seeing the never ending curve to the right.
Flipping heck, B was correct! There were mountains of steps ascending to my right. My legs continued moving upwards.
“Oh, look, Gaye, we are as high as the second church tower.”
‘Look’, you must be joking! My eyes were on one thing and one thing only. Getting to the top of these damned, constantly pole dancing perches.
I had no idea it would be such an incredible mission. I had thought we were climbing the second smaller tower. ‘Pah’, inwardly I grunted in disdain, the smaller tower would have been easy! I continued my uphill struggle with sheer determination. No damned church tower was going to get the better of me. I came around the corner to be met by this large brown door.
“I think we have made the top!”
I heaved the big brown door open to be met by a roof surrounded by open blue sky and two old people!!! One of them was a very large man. How did he manage to get himself get round those small, tight, curving coils of corners? This is an unsolved mystery to me! They greeted us with friendly smiles and continued to talk amongst themselves. B and I moved to the tower wall and looked out at the beautiful country side spread before us. I looked at the smaller church tower that we had passed on the way up with a little self satisfied contempt. We could see miles and miles of green countryside that led to the creek and the sea. So beautiful I wanted to cry.
I also wanted to cry at the thought of going all that way down. I am always rather dicey at going down steps, never mind perches! B went ahead of me so that she could break my fall if it happened! I was determined to count the steps. I wanted to know just how many there were!
It took us an absolute age. I truly admired B. This is the kind of thing she does regularly in the mountains. Now, here she was going ever so slowly because of yours truly!
We finally came around the last curve, opened the door and were out.
We had coiled and twisted on three hundred and eighty steps.
Three hundred and eighty perches!!!
I could barely walk. I had used muscles that had happily been sleeping for years.
But I was so proud of myself.
I FaceTimed Mums and she gave a full, delighted laugh when I told her of my days expeditions.
“My goodness, I am thinking of the doctor who told me you would never walk again. Not only did you stroll over Blakeney marshes but you also climbed to the top of a church tower. How I wish that doctor could see you now. Well done, my Girl.”
I guess the thing to do is never to limit yourself. By limiting yourself, you are creating boundaries. I have a Mother that didn’t believe that I should lie in bed, facing the wall. Why shouldn’t Gaynor learn to ‘dance’ again???
I give so much thanks for that kind of thinking. Because of that thinking I am able to wander up a creek bed with my best friend.
I am able to experience the heady delight of standing at the top of a church tower!
Gaynor, you are amazing and such an inspiration to many!
Gaynor, what a wonderful blog today. Your trip up Blakeney tower sounds amazing. Michael did it some years ago but I could not having a new knee , not a good idea. Perhaps I should have tried !!!! We used to spend all our holidays at Blakeney and one evening we heard the nightingale near the Manor hotel when we stayed in the barn conversions on the corner near the creek.
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