Wensum by Jim Harding, January 26, 2016

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Add in the occasional pair of swans,a gaggle of geese and some ducks against the attractive backdrop of the converted mill and you have an enviable landscape. I’m almost surprised not to see artists with their easels lining up to paint their version of the scene.

Turn the corner over the bridge, however, and the outlook is far less appealing. The flats set back from the road have had some money spent on them by Victory Housing but the so-called green out the front is a disgrace. I remember it in good condition and more or less well looked after but in recent times it’s become something of a parking lot with the grass churned up by cars. It’s predominantly mud-coloured and a poor advertisement for the town. Too often such eye-sores go on being just that but happily it seems that Victory, who own the land, will be stepping in to take action. Councillors were told this month that it will be landscaped in one way or another. The impression I got when some workmen arrived on site was that the ‘green’ will be sealed with tarmac or its equivalent. Not the most appealing outcome, perhaps, but in maintenance terms probably the most appropriate in the long run. A low-level wooden barrier fence has been installed around the whole area which will at least ensure this becomes a car-free zone in future.

I was reminded of my teaching days with the announcement of the death of Mike Rowson. There used to be a time-worn circuit of schools across this region who competed against each other on a regular basis. Many were the Saturday mornings or after-school kick-offs against the likes of Sheringham, Cromer, Neatherd, Wells and Reepham. Of all the sports, cricket was Mike’s first love and he travelled well beyond home ground as player, coach, umpire and mentor to some outstanding talent. But my memories of him are almost entirely related to football. He ran the show at Reepham High as head of P.E. there and the rivalry with Fakenham was always very keen. We shared the refereeing responsibilities and maybe things were somewhat different back in the 1980s. It was all a bit casual and the kit sometimes not quite matching but games were played in excellent spirit. Mike’s attitude contributed much to this and if I have an abiding memory it is of someone sharing his great enthusiasm, invariably with a smile on his face.

As many householders will know, structural changes to the home can be challenging. We opted for a new front door and signed up with a go-ahead company – not from this town –to carry out the work. There then followed a catalogue of let-downs. They failed to show on the appointed day. We agreed an alternative just a week prior to Christmas but again no-one appeared. On making contact with the office we were told that the fitters had picked up the wrong paperwork – they would not now be with us until the early afternoon. No encouragement there. Work finally started after 2pm but it was obvious that it was a big ask with the fitters having to work hurriedly well into the evening’s darkness. The end product fell far short of the top quality claimed with a number of downsides, including a section of plywood as a temporary filling for glass above the door itself. We were assured this would be remedied ‘before Christmas’ but it never was. Early in the new year a company boss turned up to finish the door but the glass he had brought with him failed to fit. When he thoroughly checked the workmanship in response to our criticism he agreed that we had been badly treated and that the only remedy was to refit completely. This is due to take place today[Jan 26]so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.