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Wensum: Trek to our church tower was worth it for news hounds

Not required to obey the clock and get to work on time any more, these snow-filled days have been an absolute pleasure.

For starters, the riverside walk has been magical. The way down to the Wensum after a particularly heavy fall had me scrambling on all fours to escape the snow-laden boughs with the branches laced with ice in the dawn sunshine looking particularly fine.

The wildlife seemed to be hiding up somewhere apart from some familiar birds in the undergrowth and a cormorant skimming overhead. I reckon the snow at its deepest might have been six inches, as we say in old money.

Was Fakenham exceptionally blanketed? I don’t know but certainly the BBC thought it a worthy target for news coverage. I was in church for the funeral of a friend and was advised that a cameraman and his colleague wanted to scale the tower to record an item for that evening’s Look East bulletin. So when the place had emptied I climbed the steps up to the trap door at the top – 115 feet in all – and surveyed the snowy scene.

Back at ground level I met the news hounds with their tripod, camera and extras. It was quite a feat just to manhandle this lot to the summit – but they both agreed the spectacle awaiting them was worth every step of the way.

We stayed up there putting the piece together for about 20 minutes before making the tricky descent. I have no great head for heights but on reflection, this unexpected interlude in what had been up till then a sombre day was a treat.

Time to raise a glass in memory of Flo Wadlow who has died just a month after reaching her 100th birthday. I got to know her well over the past year or so, mainly through our Sunday morning trips to and from the parish church.

Flo had a very lively mind, a good memory and was able to talk about her many experiences with enthusiasm. Blickling Hall, where she worked as a cook in the late 1930s, was a favourite topic. She was no name-dropper but I did hear mention of some famous visitors who dined on her cuisine including Queen Mary and the then prime minister Stanley Baldwin.

When I called to collect her from her Hayes Lane bungalow, Flo would invariably be sitting in her favourite chair by the window, engrossed in that morning’s crossword. She liked puzzles which were a test of general knowledge and always had a pile of reference books to one side.

She took a fairly dim view of popular television dramas like Downton Abbey which, she reckoned, romanticised the way things were in the upstairs downstairs world.

Our church put on a special Sunday celebration for Flo a few days after her birthday and her eyes were as bright as ever amongst the company of family and friends. What an amazing lady.

 

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