I've just ordered a book off of Amazon called in Search of England by HV Morton. Morton is a travel writer who started in the 1920's and went through to the 60's, In Search of England was one of his earlier books. I picked up the book after seeing him featured in a TV programme where celebrities followed the routes of travellers from previous eras. I found the idea of reading a Morton book interesting because his world is one I can to a degree touch. His world was that of my parents and grandparents.
So anyway if you don't mind I'm going to lament, probably for the 173rd time, the loss of a simpler quieter time.
What provokes me to write on this again? Well I've learnt that Sheringham on the Norfolk coast has rejected the building of a Tesco's there. Now I ought to add that I don't dislike Tesco's per se, living as I do a gentle 5 minutes stroll from one it does make my life so much easier, but the Tescoisation, or if you prefer the turning of Britain's Town into a series of clones does make travel more boring.
When I was a lad Travel was exciting, a new town would promise a shopping centre different to the one I was in. There would be a whole raft of independent shops and the product ranges even in bookshops would be different. Today virtually any town in Britain will have the same identikit shopping centre. A Supermarket possibly two, a Boots, a Smiths, a Dixons, a Marks & Spencer etc etc. Oh and a wapping great warehouse village of do it yourselfs stores. Some towns have adapted these shops in to the townscape better than others but still there is nothing different. The magic of exploration has gone. When you arrive at a town, and there are some, that excitement returns.
So I applaud Sheringham. I have spent a lot of time along the North Norfolk Coast. Travelling along the old A149 is like a time tunnel, I'm pretty sure you could stick me down 30 years ago and I'd feel right at home. There would be changes no doubt but those changes would be more subtle than they have been in many parts of the country. The only place I notice real change is at Hunstanton where the small parade of shops feels denuded. Is it a coincidence that Hunstanton has a Tesco? Sheringham has a whole raft of small independent shops including a rather good bookshop. I hope it maintains this tradition.