We have just returned from a long weekend in Norfolk, a place which will be forever remembered ( by me at least) as “no signs Norfolk”. I don’t think I have ever driven so many miles without seeing signs to tell me either, how far to my destination, or even if I was going in the right direction after negotiating a T junction bereft of a sign to inform me if I should turn left or right.
The signlessness ( is that a word)? began when I turned off the A11 just north east of Newmarket onto the A1065 heading for Swaffham and at that point there is indeed a sign to indicate that I was travelling in the right direction but no clue as to the distance. Now in these days of the “sat nav” I still rely on my road map and therefore had a rough idea that it was about 25 miles. However, as I live in a fairly signfull ( I don’t think that’s a word either ) part of the country I would expect that over that sort of distance there would be 4 or 5 signs counting down the mileage to my destination, for example when I leave my home to go the Chichester the first sign I see tells me that it is 18 miles away and over that distance I am informed that it is now 15 miles then 10 miles then 5 miles etc; but on that 25 mile stretch of the A1065 there wasn’t a single sign to tell me how far I had to travel. This you may think ( that’s if anyone is reading this ) is purely accademic because if I carried on along the road I would eventually reach Swaffham which indeed I did, but by the time I got there I was starting to doubt my erstwhile super honed sense of direction. From Swaffham I then wanted the A47 to Dereham a route which according to my afore-mentioned map I was to join at that point. Except there was no sign, and it wasn’t until I had travelled 3 miles in the direction of Kings Lynn that I realised I was going the wrong way.
Eventually we arrived at our destination, booked into our small but comfortable hotel and settled in for the next three nights. At this point it’s worth revealing that the reason for the trip was a christening and family get together in the tiny village of Great Dunham ( don’t ask why it was held there, it would take far too long to explain ) and very happy occasion it was too. The little church in the village was built circa 1000 AD but on our recce to find the village we couldn’t be sure if it was the right church because ( you’ve guessed it ) there was no sign and it looked derelict which is hardly surprising after 1011 years however a friendly villager assured us that as it was the only church so we were home and dry.
After the christening and buffet lunch everyone went their separate ways and we returned to our hotel in Dereham which I found quite easily because we’d been crafty and done the recce. The following day we went to Norwich and the signs to get there were surprisingly comprehensive but once there trying to get out was a different matter, there were signs for Gt Yarmouth,Cromer, Lowestoft and even Ipswich, there were signs hidden by tree branches and walls but not a single sign for Dereham and I couldn’t simply retrace my steps because of the one way system. So after what seemed lile a global circumnavigation I decided to take the “wimps” way out and ask for directions. The kindly person who helped me wasn’t a Norfolkian or a Norwichian, he was in fact from the sub continent and having visited India a couple of times myself I can well imagine him feeling quite at home in a place with a serious lack of signs.