Sylvia Saxon reports back on the New Meridian Association’s familiarisation trip and AGM, held in Norfolk from Sunday 14th - Wednesday 18th October.

New Meridian Association

We greeted members in the reception at the Knights Hotel, on the outskirts of Kings Lynn, with a welcome pack and a drink, everyone was smiling. Gin and tonic seemed to be the choice of the day. After lots of hugs and greetings it was time to board our Sunshine Coach, from Sunbeam Luxury Coaches to Sandringham House and Gardens, the Norfolk Retreat of the Queen. 

It is the last of the royal residences for me to visit and I wasn’t disappointed. The information the guides gave us was second to none; it was a strange feeling to be standing in the dining room where the Royal Family enjoy their Christmas dinner. We also managed to see the gardens, visit the famous church, the museum and grab a cup of tea before heading back to the hotel for our meeting followed by dinner. 

The skies were grey on Monday which was unfortunate as we were off to the Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve for a spot of bird-watching. Binoculars at the ready, it has to be said some were more enthusiastic than others. The rain started to fall halfway through, most of us returning to the dry cafeteria for a cuppa. Some hearty souls stayed out for the full tour, but most of us returned and watched the video. It really was lovely, and I definitely plan to return, hopefully when the weather is better. 

Pictured: The New Meridian AGM.

We headed to The Sands Restaurant for fish and chips which was one of the nicest fish meals I have had for a long time, plus the staff had opened especially for us, as they usually close on a Monday. Many thanks to Cara Green and all her team. 

It was then off to Holkham Hall, the family home to the Earl of Leicester, this was our first ‘wow’ factor – what an amazing place. I cannot do it justice, we all loved it and promised to return. The Field to Folk exhibition was great fun and seeing our Marian driving a tractor (simulator) was interesting!

On Tuesday we made our merry way to Discover Newmarket, a behind the scenes tour, starting with the Newmarket Gallops, followed by a guided tour of the National Heritage Centre. You don’t need to be a racing fan to enjoy it. Another ‘wow’ moment was watching Tim Fleming (Arena Travel) on yet another simulator, riding a racehorse at full gallop, a vision that will remain with us for a long time. Tony (Success Tours) however seemed more of a natural and looked, shall we say, more in control. Tim survived the experience I should add, and the laughter continued much longer than Tim’s ride. 

On to another breathtaking moment - Snettisham Deer Park. We had not expected to see so many deer and at such close quarters. The commentary had us in hysterics, what a fun place for the whole family, one I would certainly recommend. In the evening we had our Gala Dinner with entertainment once again provided by the very talented Di James. 

Thanks to Robert and Janet for putting the Norfolk/Travel quiz together; our quizzes are always hard fought and very competitive, well done to Deb Ruse and her winning team.

Pictured: New Meridian members about to board the North Norfolk Railway.

Our final day was spent on a Blakeney Point Seal Cruise in which the weather was perfect for. We got so close to the seals, taking lots of photos, another experience ticked off my wish list. 

After some free time we headed to Sheringham to our reserved carriage on the Steam Train (North Norfolk Railway) to Holt. We reflected during our journey on what a beautiful place Norfolk is and how many hidden gems it has – perfect for a short break with lots to offer.

My thanks go to our very generous sponsors: Glen of Travelsphere, Tony of Success, Ellie at Fred. Olsen, Tim and Janet of Arena Travel and Ellen of Travel Editions. I cannot finish without a very special thanks to Janet Fielding, who worked so hard in putting the fam trip together, without her none of it would have been possible. 

The New Meridian Association is for active group organisers who travel.