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Normal for Norfolk

The term 'Normal for Norfolk' (or N4N for short) was allegedly devised by doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to categorise some of their more 'intellectually challenged' patients.

Caravanning in Norfolk

Caravanning in Norfolk

To some it's a derogatory term, while to others it's a term of endearment - encapsulating something of the eccentricity of the county. In her introduction to the Shell Guide to Norfolk - the editor Wilhelmine Harrod (a Norfolk girl herself) declared that 'its natives value its oddness' and this is undoubtedly true. Today there is still something different about Norfolk - something quirky and understated which many people who live here recognise and appreciate. At a time when the spread of technology and consumerism has rendered many places all too similar - Norfolk still retains a distinctive way of talking and a distinctive way of going about  things. Not surprisingly, the county's motto is: 'du diffrunt'.

Nowhere Lane

Nowhere Lane (somewhere near Great Witchingham)

An area of the county which particularly exemplifies 'Normal for Norfolk' is the strip of coastal bungalows which run from Doggett's Lane at Happisburgh down through Cart Gap and the Bush Estate to Sea Palling. Tucked behind the sand dunes - these chalets, bungalows, beach houses and shacks were mainly built before the Second World War when planning regulations were less strict and many exhibit a wonderfully quirky approach to design. Constructed from a mixture of wood, brick and corrugated iron they are quite literally 'out on the edge' - with only the North Sea as a neighbour.

Holiday Bungalow at Happisburgh

Romany: Doggett's Lane Happisburgh

Norfolk also has a rather unique sense of humour - which may explain why it's happy to embrace a double-edged concept like 'Normal for Norfolk' in the first place. At first glance it may seem like Norfolk offers itself up for ridicule - but take a closer look and there is often a shrewder intelligence at work. One of our celebrated comedians was the great Sidney Grapes from Potter Heigham - a garage owner by day and an entertainer by night. On stage he sported a traditional Norfolk smock, wropper and chummy hat - (as worn by farm workers) and chewed a blade of grass - but he was a consummate comedian and famously said: 'Yew can always tell a Norfolk man, but yew can't tell him much!'

Rusty Norfolk Tractor

That hent got no front wheels, that hent.

Wiveton Traffic Sign

Wiveton Traffic Sign

Happisburgh TV

Happisburgh TV (always a cliff-hanger)

More recently the term 'Normal for Norfolk' has become synonymous with the work of The Nimmo Twins - a duo comprising Karl Minns and Owen Evans - whose occasional (sold out) shows in Norwich cast a satirical eye over the county's shenanigans.

Normal for Norfolk

The Nimmo Twins: Karl Minns (left) and Owen Evans (right)

On a more serious note, 'Normal for Norfolk' is also history and heritage; deserted beaches; huge skies; an unrivalled collection of medieval churches and a surprising sense of wilderness and isolation. Maybe it's this sense of cultural expansiveness which also explains why so many writers choose to live here.


More Normal for Norfolk Photographs





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