Who’s that blogger you follow, or that comments on your blog? Is it a real person, or just someone trying to sell you something? And would you ever want to meet the real person behind that blog in person?
For the first time, I’ve actually met someone in person whom I did not know before we encountered each other in our respective blogs. Crispina Kemp, who blogs as crimsonprose, has been a longtime follower of my blogs, and I hers. But the chances of our meeting seemed slim, as she lives in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England . . . which is a long way from New England, where I live. However, along with my partner E.J. Barnes, who blogs at Shunpike, I was going to be visiting Paris this summer. And the trains to Great Yarmouth take only a few hours. I asked Crispina if she would like a visit. She allowed that if U.K. border control didn’t bar me as an undesirable, she’d be willing to see both of us, and so we laid our plans.
Great Yarmouth is not a likely destination from Paris. Just ask U.K. Passport Control for the Chunnel train from Paris, which asked me point-blank, “Why would you want to visit Great Yarmouth?” Facetious answers came to mind: I want to see where the dragon Skimaskall rests under the windmill farm; I have a hankering for seaside resorts of the Victorian Era; I left my terrorist gear there.
But I settled on saying a friend lived there. This earned a raised eyebrow, but it also earned me a visa stamp, so I was happy.
Traveling from Paris to Great Yarmouth is a mixed bag. The Chunnel train is rapid, topping out at near 300 km/hr, or about 186 mph, and Eurostar is so proud of this that the trains have on-board displays that tell you just how fast the train is going. So, great. But then you have minutes to master how to buy a London Underground subway ticket to get to the station for the next leg of the trip, a local train to Norwich. And then you walk a few feet to another platform for the train to Great Yarmouth. After the Chunnel train, these could not help but seem less impressive. Still, they were clean, they were on time, more or less, and we got to see the countryside.
Crispina met us at the station. No, the Earth did not wobble on its axis at this momentous meeting. Instead, there were smiles all around as we all complimented each other on looking better than our photographs (see above).
After helping us check our bags with the bed-and-breakfast where we’d be staying, Crispina took us for a walk along Breydon Water. Those of you who follow her blog (for example, her piece on, yep, Breydon Water) know how much she’s attuned to the landscape. But that didn’t stop us from simultaneously having a conversation about ourselves, what we’d been up to, and comparisons with other places. This kept up the whole time we were together; none of us are shy about talking with friends. And, to be fair, we had a lot to talk about. For example, we did get to see where the dragon Skimaskall (featured in the crimsonprose story Neve) is buried, at least in an alternate reality.
After a tour of some of the remaining walls of Great Yarmouth, we settled down to drinks and dinner. We were in England, and in a seaside resort town, so it wouldn’t do but to have authentic English fish and chips now, would it? And we’d got properly prepared by having some fruity hard cider or English bitter beforehand.
By that point, E.J. and I were tuckered out, and adjourned to our room at the bed-and-breakfast. Said breakfast the next morning offered us more options than either of us could eat, but I got in my serving of black pudding (sausage).
Then the three of us were off on the local bus to Norfolk. Yesterday had primarily been a nature walk, so today was a history walk. We explored the old walls and various ancient structures, all the while keeping up a steady conversation. E.J. had a hankering to see the cell where Julian of Norwich, a famed mystic and anchoress, lived and prayed, so that was included among our stops.
At the end, we sat down at a local restaurant by the river for lunch. Chicken and kidney pie for me, such a change after days of French food, and another local beer. And then, too soon, we had to say our good-byes, and depart on the London train, leaving Crispina behind.
So was it worth it? If you haven’t figured it out already from the amount I’ve written here, the answer is “yes.” Crispina and I could talk as friends, after so many years of just interacting over the Internet. We had plenty to talk about, from each other’s writings, which took up a surprisingly small amount of our time, to our own histories, to local history, to observing and commenting on the sights of Norfolk. And E.J. is good at making friends, so she quickly found her place in these conversations, too.
And now I need to figure out how to visit Judy, the photographer who blogs at Janthina Images. She’s sent me books to read, so I’m not going to let a paltry 1000 miles or so stop me, not when I went over 5000 to see Crispina!
Interesting! Today I have just posted about my second ‘blogger meet up’. I’m from the UK and have now had the pleasure to meet two lovely bloggers from NYC and Finland!
Oh, no, someone beat me to the idea! (chuckle)
Really, congratulations on your successes in doing so. I’m glad others have had the idea and opportunity. And I envy a warm evening on the Finnish coast, which I’ve never been to. On the other hand,we definitely visited some of the same places in Estonia.
Greetings from Norwich 😀
I can totally understand the confusion from people when you tell them you’re visiting anywhere in Norfolk. Little do they know that we have lots of wonderful things in here. Glad to know you enjoyed the visit 🙂 x
Thank you. Wish I’d had more time, to explore the castle if nothing else. But Crispina was a good guide (and she’s got other posts on walking trips she’s taken in Norfolk on her blog), so I have some good idea of what we missed.
And, after taking a look through your blog, I can add that summer has broken for fall here (Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A.), too, after a very hot and dry summer. I’m relieved.
It is surprising how little town like ours has so many hidden gems in every corner, you definitely need to come back again one day 🙂
Enjoy your autumn 🙂 x
I imagine I’ll be back some day. And have you ever been to my part of the world, New England?
Unfortunately I have never gone that far 😦 But I hope one day I will be able to wander to the other side of the pond on an adventure 🙂 x
Great Post! And, you know I call it ‘Breaking the Cyber Barrier’ when we WordPress friends can meet face to face or touch in some tangible way such as sending books back and forth!!! So far I have met one WordPress friend in person and that was by accident. I knew we frequented the same rookery and one day there she was. I gave her a big hug but I think at first she wasn’t sure who I was. And, I am generally much more reserved. We’d e-mailed a lot but HER photo was way more recent than MY photo….sooo recognized her right away. She only lived about 45 minutes away but unfortunately moved to another state. But we had a lovely afternoon together wandering around not taking pictures of birds because we were talking so much! Her blog is Serenity Spell at
Serenityspell.com and she has some wonderful nature posts to read.
Hi, Judy! Wow, things I didn’t know, and I’m happy to hear about it. I’ve edited your comment to put in the hyperlink in to the blog you mention.
Funny: you’re reserved, Crispina is reserved, I still think of myself as reserved, though many events in my life have forcibly extroverted me, so to speak. 😉
And there will be a few other posts on this vacation trip, never fear!
Hey, and what about us out West? We’re only 3,200 miles away… and you don’t even need a visa! 🙂
What? The California Republic has no border controls? Build a wall!
Seriously, point taken. Maybe I’ll have to recreate my 1992 vacation, which ran from Seattle to L.A., just as E.J. got to recreate her earlier trip to Paris (which for me was all new).
There’s even an Amtrak train that goes that route exactly. Did you take it back in 1992? No stop in Santa Cruz, but we can easily pick you up from San Jose or Salinas.
In 1992, I was still primarily a driver, so I rented a car to come down the coast. Best benefits were my visits to Crater Lake and the California redwoods.
Speaking as a Californian, I don’t blame you for that lack of trust. I love my state, but sometimes we do seem to be off on our own adventure.
It’s also just me having some gentle fun with Dana, who’s only recently moved to California. Besides, I live in what is often called by its detractors the “People’s Republic of Massachusetts,” and there are certainly people in adjacent states who’d love to put up a wall against us (though New Hampshire’s would have to allow us across on liquor runs, that state’s state-run liquor monopoly being one of their great revenue producers).
I guessed at the joke – didn’t know the whole thing, but decided to try to play along. It’s funny how each state has its own identity.
And I was clueless. Or you Californians really are weird. 😉
If you ever visit certain areas of San Francisco or Hollywood and Highland in LA – where Gramen’s Chinese Theater is, our weirdness will be confirmed.
Reading Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice,” as I mentioned on one of your posts, is yet another was I’m “appreciating” California weirdness! 🙂
Despite being away (walking the wilds of Norfolk) when you posted this, I did manage to read it on Friday (while enjoying a coffee). If only we’d had more time, I lament. There was so much more I could have shown you. But it was great to meet you and EJ. Though now I’m no longer [officially] a recluse.
I hope you enjoyed it, even if it did bring up the regret (which is mutual) that we didn’t have more time. Sigh.
By the way, it has been one of my more popular posts, judged by visits and comments.
Maybe your followers are trying to tell you it’s time you started posting again. I look forward to reading of the remainder of your European hopscotch.
“Death of a Hat” is next.
Like, I say. Then must ask if this is the promised ‘tale’ starring a certain two female followers?
No, this one’s from the trip. The tale is still being written, but it, too, will appear shortly. 🙂
Yippee doo! But, more seriously, your tales have been missed, and I’m sure by more than just me.
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