This natural treasure is right on our doorsteps

Sunsets at Stokesby and Thurne this week snapped by Nigel Pickover.

Sunsets at Stokesby and Thurne this week snapped by Nigel Pickover. - Credit: Archant

I've spent a few days on those magical waterways which often define the name Norfolk to people across the world.

On both sunny and dull days, I was captivated, almost bewildered, by the all-encompassing beauty and peace of the marshes, broads, rivers and pasture lands. Gliding through this sceptered landscape, for mile after blissful mile on a boat, I felt wrapped in an adult comfort blanket. And deep in my heart I was reminded, as I am every day I have the honour to be editor of The Eastern Daily Press, what a very special area we live in. In this column last week I promised to write about my boating adventures on the glistening, timeless necklace linking Norfolk and Suffolk. Little did I know I'd need a small book to detail all my thoughts.

I had to break holiday on a couple of occasions, to nip into the office (a boat, mooring, taxi logistics task in itself) for important operational reasons. That gave me two interesting perspectives. First was just how close the broads are to Norwich – capital and major population centre for Norfolk. On both trips I was dropped off at the office and returned to riverside – in 35 minutes or so. I pondered on how many people know just what they have on their doorsteps. This isn't just another holiday destination, it is a unique life experience. Second thought was that I felt the broads – as a beguiling presence – forgave the transgressions of my two dashes away – and welcomed me as a friend as soon as I returned to waterside. This place, carved by both man and Mother Nature hands, astonished me with its beauty and balm. You might see greedy otters looking for the next fish to catch or egg to nick. Or spy birds of all shapes and sizes, maybe even a swallowtail butterfly. All of this at an unhurried pace; if you go much over 6mph you might get zapped by a river police radar gun!

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The broads, the coast, the marshlands and fens, our river estuaries, our history which lives, make our region a place worth fighting for. In Norfolk, there has been a different kind of fight going on, a political one. Our county council (please be reminded the authority ISN'T the county) has been dogged by stalemate. We have to watch the new coalition is up to the job of looking after county services, some of which have been heavily criticised in recent months. We are all responsible for the county's wellbeing and The EDP will forever fight for Norfolk – a long tradition started by editors way back in to the 19th century. Your newspaper and its wordsmiths will be looking down all the corridors of power in coming weeks, months and years. We'll be a watchdog, yes, but in tandem be a vocal supporter of one of the greatest places I have had the privilege to live and work in. Take a day trip on the waters of Barton Broad, along the River Ant, drive to How Hill and jump on the Electric Eel for a softly-softly journey in to the inner reed beds, and you'll know why the fight for Norfolk is so important.

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Next week: The hurly-burly of the office and an overnight dash to Norway.

First published Saturday June 1, 2013

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