Wensum, by Jim Harding, February 21, 2017

Fakenham - the River Wensum.
Fakenham - the River Wensum.
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Wensum has been enjoying a riverside walk along the waterway after which this column is christened.

Just around the corner comes the annual Fakenham Gin and Beerfest at the community centre, already established as a popular hit with both residents and visitors. Apart from the variety of drinks available, live music is a big attraction during this long weekend from March 24-26. After the success of last year’s Easter Sunday Funday, the town centre will again be closed off to traffic on April 16 to host a series of bike races, a UK Athletics 5k run and a 1k fun run with Easter goody bags for child participants.

Food and other stalls will fill the market place. The Get Active in Fakenham extravaganza will run from August 19 -27 with some 50 activities spread around the town though mainly concentrated on the market area.

The final Sunday will feature multiple bike rides ranging in distances from 15 miles to 100 miles around the minor roads of north Norfolk. Last year over 300 riders of all ages took part in this increasingly popular jamboree. And looking still further ahead, the Christmas lights switch-on is scheduled for December 2.

For further details contact Richard Crook on 07887803091 or Lisa Mallett on 01328 855172.

My riverside walks these past weeks have been fairly freezing. The paths have either crunched under foot or churned into mud, whilst I’m wrapped up from head to toe. Happily, I’ve noticed increasing signs of spring just lately. This manifests itself in all sorts of small but charming ways.

There are catkins shining yellow in the sun, robins singing to each other, chiffchaffs doing the same from the tops of trees and mobs of long tailed tits flitting about.

Mallards are pairing up and moorhens skittering through the water’s edge.

One particular favourite is the heron who likes to tease me by hiding in a tree or poised statue-like in the shallows. These days I feel fortunate to encounter increasing numbers of little egrets, once a rarity but now very much at home on the Wensum.

On a more serious note it was surprising, to say the least, to spot a pup tent pitched in a field just back from the river on its approaches to town.

Hardly the season for camping but on mentioning it to my wife she said it could have been loaned to a homeless man who had been in touch with local churches seeking help.

This turned out to be true and I later met the young man in our parish church where he has often sought refuge and support.

He had been in Lynn for a short period but seems to have taken a liking to our town, finding bits of kindness and generosity which somehow keep him going.

It was a reminder that homelessness remains a problem in this relatively affluent society of ours and that there are plenty of unfortunates out there obliged, for whatever reasons, to sleep rough and struggle to survive.

Fortunately for them, not everyone walks by on the other side.