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The delights of Thursford got me thinking about levelling up here



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When driving to Thursford recently, in a line of cars and coaches, it reminded me of the 1989 fantasy movie entitled Field of Dreams.

It was the story of a farmer, played by Kevin Costner, who created a baseball pitch in one of his fields.

The farm was situated miles from anywhere, but the story had a happy, if unlikely, ending, when streams of traffic converged on the baseball pitch to watch teams of ‘ghosts’ recreating all the attributes that made them famous in their heyday.

Thursford's Enchanted Journey of Light (53356214)
Thursford's Enchanted Journey of Light (53356214)

The comparison is easy to make.

Thursford is certainly well away from highly populated areas, and it is an unlikely setting for the highly acclaimed Christmas Spectacular, yet Thursford attracts visitors from far and wide.

Having been blown away by John Cushing’s Christmas Spectacular’, I returned to Thursford three days later to follow the “Enchanted Journey of Light”.

The trail begins amongst one of the world’s most important collections of steam engines and organs, assembled by John’s father, George Cushing (1904- 2003).

At this time of the year they contribute to a colourful and brightly illuminated backdrop for a multitude a mechanical toys and furry animals, many of which appear larger than life size, and all of them displaying life like expressions and characteristics.

(It is worth noting that steam engines and organs come into their own when the steam museum reopens for the summer season on May 1st 2022)

The Christmas and winter theme of the indoor trail is continued outside, with the added attraction of colourful fairground rides, including a big wheel and a ‘penny on the mat’. Internally illuminated snowmen and reindeer are among the exhibits, along with Santa on his sleigh.

However, the enchantment does not end with polar bears and icebergs at the North Pole.

There is an array of creatures from across the globe, including those found in jungles and within the world’s vast oceans.

Adding to this awe inspiring visual experience there is also a fitting soundtrack, which conjured up a sense (in me) of just how vital it is to protect wildlife habitat in the interests of perpetuating biodiversity.

To complete the whole magical experience, nature signed off with an illumination of its own, in the form of a prolonged crimson sunset.

This prompts me to make a comparison between John Cushing’s spectacular success at Thursford and my own dismal failure to inspire others to attempt something similar with the natural assets of my home town.

I am not referring to visitor numbers.

Traffic congestion on the A149 is bad enough as it is, but the empty words of decision makers should be challenged.

All too often they get away with saying they want to make Hunstanton a better place in which to live and work, as well as to visit, but then do precious little about it.

In my lifetime there has been a marked decline in the number of jobs that are likely to induce young people to stay in the area upon completion of their formal education.

Reconnecting Hunstanton to the national rail network would make commuting easier for them and make the town more attractive to new businesses.

If local or national politicians have got any better ideas for ‘levelling up’ prospects for young people in this town I would like to hear them.



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