One of the goals we like to accomplish in traveling is Going To The End Of The Road. In the case of this England trip, the End of the Road was the Lifeguard, symbol of Lowestoft most Easterly part of England, the little town of Lowestoft.
We started off through the Norfolk Broads, then turned South into fen (marsh and swamp) country till we reached Lowestoft. Riding the train through the Broads, we saw a sailboat floating along through the reeds, and there were the expected Dutch-type windmills. The fens resemble dry-land meadows but with many little streams and ponds.
Near the Lowestoft train station, we found a broad plaza with a lovely modern fountain and attached to it was a broad promenade along the shore. The shore itself was almost deserted on this clammy, drippy morning, with choppy waves. The only visitors besides ourselves were several fishermen leaning their rods against the seawall. Out in the surf, a single small trawler pulled its nets up and down the coast.
The Lifesaving Service has a major presence here. The museum was closed but a well-built and well-equipped lifesaving boat was docked close A small trawler... enough for us to get a good look.
In the Visitors Center, we were intrigued by an exhibit, apparently part of a larger display which had taken place throughout Lowestoft, of the Dockside Dandies. In the early 1960s, a fashion craze had swept the town. Fisherboys from the fishing boats, with pay to burn after time at sea, would order custom-made suits in bright colors or patterns, or with special trim. Although they were bright and exquisitely made, with details more often found in women's couture, these were a badge of masculinity, because only those who did the difficult and dangerous work of ocean fishing could wear them. You can find more information on the web here.
Observing the preponderance of modern commercial buildings as we strolled along the Promenade back toward the center of town, we guessed that ...and a ready lifeboat Lowestoft, too, had been badly bombed during World War II. But the town is attractive, with public art here and there and a busy retail area. We had decided to look for Thai food, but that was a bit of a stretch here; in fact, for several blocks we could find no restaurants at all. Finally we spotted a sign for The Pantry, a small but busy upstairs cafe advertising "Roast of the Day" -- either beef or pork with potatoes and vegetables.
We have been on some small trains, but our return to Norwich was the one trip we made in a single-car train. When we returned to hotel, BBC television was broadcasting the rescue of a fishing trawler by a lifesaving boat off the Suffolk coast. We might have seen the cast of characters (or at least the vessels) before the play began.
The next day we left Norwich for Heathrow, and the day after that we flew home. We had done what we love to do when we travel: visit new A one-car train places, plan our own itinerary, and take day trips out from a city. England is well suited for that. We're looking forward to our next adventure.
We have admitted to being Anglophiles; it's difficult for Americans to appreciate the hardships England suffered 70 years ago, but that suffering has a great deal to do with the English character. The need and the wish to rebuild after the war, together with awareness of England's wonderful heritage - from Roman, Saxon, Norman, Tudor, Jacobite, Georgian, and Victorian times - has resulted in a greater appreciation of the old in England than in the United States, where we rarely build to last forever. This care for the past made each of the English cities we visited a vibrant, happy place, filled with civic boosters. And in the last analysis, a country is made up of its cities.