Wensum, by Jim Harding, September 13, 2016

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The day before we left for America, schools reopened for business after the long summer break.

Once again the early morning view along Norwich Road was transformed as cars squeezed into whatever spaces they could find and youngsters with an adult in hand bounced their way along to the Infants’ entrance. Plenty of slightly older ones continued ahead en route to the Juniors in Queens Road.

Whatever the age, smart uniforms were definitely on show. Picking up where she left off in late July was Infant lollipop lady Alice who’s surely some sort of record holder with over thirty years’ service in this role to her name. Her status may have been threatened as part of local government cuts this past year but I reckon there would be a mass demonstration if anyone tried to take her lollipop away. Long may she continue to patrol this busy crossing point both mornings and afternoons. At this time there can obviously be challenges for all concerned. I think secondary education. They have been accustomed to a place where they know everyone and everyone knows them. Plus finding your away around has been a doddle. In contrast, Fakenham Academy is very different. I know from experience that it takes some discovering. So many classrooms, corridors, upstairs and downstairs, not to mention the hundreds of students and the dozens of teachers. Initially it can be a bit overwhelming. But within a matter of days the vast majority will have sussed out their timetables, mastered the geography and have made firm friendships. Good luck to them all.

As I mentioned last week, we are visiting America for a couple of weeks and have now arrived safely at my brother’s home in Princeton, New Jersey. It’s early days yet but already there’s been grateful indulgence in the ‘back yard’ swimming pool as the temperatures hover around 30 degrees. A walk to the nearby supermarket opened my eyes to the fact that there are no pavements here. Front lawns tend to sweep right down to the road side. Walking would appear to be a minority sport. As for the supermarket I was blown away by the sheer abundance and the care, almost bordering on artistry, with which items such as fruit and vegetables were displayed. I’ve not yet fully come to terms with ‘the dollar’ and its relative value but that will come soon enough. As a university town, roughly comparable in size to Lynn, Princeton offers us plenty of choices and we’ll be looking to make the most of our stay. Plus visiting Washington DC and a family member who just happens to live among the celebrities in the Hamptons on Long Island.

I’ll keep you posted.