EVEN under a leaden sky on a December day, the vast flatness of the Norfolk countryside is inescapable.
The distinctive Norfolk dialect is a language encapsulated in its landscape, with long vowels and wide horizons, summing up the county and its people.
Norfolk is familiar to us during the summer months, with its endless skies and fantastic light so beloved by painters, who are as numerous as the wild fowl in the coastal wetlands.
With the sunshine on your back and from the unbroken vista of fields and pastures of the hinterland, to the long sandy beaches and marshland of the coastal regions, there is an other-worldly feel to this lovely eastern county.
But what could possibly entice someone here on a bleak winter’s day?
Seven miles north of the town of Fakenham and almost without warning to the unwary, we turn into a narrow country lane, indicating Thursford village. With barely room for two vehicles to pass and with no street lighting, this would appear to be heading into uncharted territory.
The only clue to the uninitiated that something interesting lays ahead is the procession of car tail lights and a discernible glow in the sky that increases in intensity as we progress.
Then after a bare half mile and quite suddenly, we enter a massive floodlit car park where fluorescently clad stewards are busily directing the flow of cars and coaches.
Enter the magical world of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular.
To most people, the name Thursford will elicit looks of incomprehension.
In the summer months it is home to one of the most important steam collections in the world, but during November and December it is totally converted and given a Christmas theme; with almost 130 thousand people attendingand like us, many returning year on year.
It is perhaps Christmas’ best kept secret and yet paradoxically, the biggest and most breathtaking of all Christmas shows.
It would take much more space to adequately describe this event, and even then I could not hope to do it justice. The ambience is sheer enchantment and it simply has to be experienced firsthand.
The content is a combination of traditional Christmas and variety, but the genius of John Cushing, Thursford’s producer and director, is to tie the whole package together with a loving festive ribbon and deliver a memorable Christmas extravaganza.
This Yuletide masterpiece is a must-have addition to everyone’s bucket list.
But do it soon, some of you are looking peaky.