Purrr-fect sounds to soothe the soul

You have to admit it makes for an appealing scenario.After a hard day's work you pour a glass of wine and slump into the sofa with the cat gently slumbering on your lap.

You have to admit it makes for an appealing scenario.

After a hard day's work you pour a glass of wine and slump into the sofa with the cat gently slumbering on your lap.

Sounds like heaven? Well, actually these are two of the top three sounds us Brits like to hear, the glug and splash of the wine and the hypnotic rumbling of a cat's purr.

The survey, conducted by Siemens' Hearing Instruments, also found that we love the sound of rain falling, laughter, and the comforting crackle of an open fire.

How about the crunch of footsteps through fresh snow or the chime of church bells in the distance? Not surprisingly all rate highly.

But as Siemens conducted the survey to coincide with the launch of a new trainable hearing aid with a sound suppression system to reduce irritating sounds, they also quizzed 3,000 respondents over their least favourite.

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Screaming children came out top, ahead of nails on a chalk board and a dentist's drill.

But we are not just a nation of child-haters because our most memorable sound was also found to be hearing our children's first words.

Other cringe-making sounds in the top 20 are mobile phone ring tones, a dripping tap and someone learning the violin while our personal habits also come in for serious slating because we hate the sounds of someone talking with their mouth full, grinding their teeth, biting their nails or blowing their nose.

But what about here in Norfolk? Surely you could not fail to find sounds that lift the spirits in this county?

In a spot survey of Norfolk-dwellers there was one sound that came out easily on top - waves lashing against our shores, perhaps accompanied by the call of swooping seagulls and the clanking masts of boats in the harbour.

But equally it could be the most dreaded sound too - spare a thought for residents of crumbling coastal villages like Happisburgh who must feel a permanent sense of impending doom at the sound of the waves eating away at their shorelines.

An afternoon at Carrow Road watching Norwich City can provide a plethora of sounds, not all pleasant, but we rated the roars and celebrations when the Canaries score against a rival as one of our favourites.

But on a more leisurely note a trip on one of the county's celebrated steam railways, think Bure Valley or North Norfolk, brings up another popular sound with their melodic chuffing through the countryside.

One distinctive sound that could have been loved and hated in equal measure but is no longer a feature of Norfolk life is the Jaguar jets taking off or landing at RAF Coltishall. No doubt the same could be said for the Canberras from RAF Marham.

A reassuring sound for ornithologists must be the call of one of the UK's most secretive and threatened species, the bittern. Like a distant foghorn, the male's booming call is most likely to be heard in Norfolk and Suffolk wetlands in the spring.

But while it is no surprise to learn that our favourite sounds are all associated with fun and pleasure or peace and reassurance it is also the simplest sounds that mean the most to us.

Who could argue with this respondent? He told the EDP his favourite sound was brass bands. A slightly unusual choice you might think but then he explained: "I was cycling by Garvestone Primary School the other morning, it was hot and sunny, but all the children were sat outside, under the shade of a tree and an awning, listening to a brass band from another Norfolk school entertaining them.

"It seemed such a great way to round off the summer term with the big kids on their trumpets entertaining the smaller children. It was perfect sounds in a perfect setting on a perfect day."

Enough said.