Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, where we’ve lived now for 12 years, is remote.
Anyone arriving in Norfolk at say King’s Lynn might be lulled into thinking “we’ve arrived” when really it’s possibly a further 90 minutes to drive.
I like the remoteness now though. I like the distinct geographical separation it’s engendered from my past; a past I left behind in 2008 when we relocated to here.
And yet, whenever we drive to Norwich or Bury St Edmunds or Cambridge, road signs remind us that London, our capital shitty, is just 119 miles from home, a smidgeon further than Amsterdam across the grey forbidding stretch of the North Sea.
Not far at all.
In any normal place, with normal roads, you’d think we’ll go every other weekend. It’s only 2 and half hours to travel by train or car and yet, London has been visited by us as a family, just twice, in the 12 years of being marooned in the east.
To be perfectly honest, London has never really held much appeal for me – hence the disparaging capital shitty remark.
Last year though, our daughter requested a birthday weekend there for her 13th and we reluctantly obliged, pushing the boat well and truly out with a weekend in a Premier Grim in Stratford.
I expected the three days there to be unfriendly, expensive and dull but how wrong I was.
London wowed us all.
Now the bar has been set low, admittedly, after Norfolk for friendliness where a cheery ‘good morning’ on a daily dog walk to someone you meet is greeted, at best, with suspicion, at worst, with hostility.
It’s that type of place Norfolk.
A bit insular and cold.
The weather is warmer, even in winter, than the natives and I’m a sociable, gregarious type so I don’t think it’s me giving off fuck off vibes.
I’ve been googling, as a latest OCD passion, camper vans and I’m renowned for my Paul Young wanderlust of calling home wherever I lay my hat (I don’t wear one, by the way). I’m too old for a SnapBack in public and not enough of a Peaky Blinders twat for a flat cap.
This weekend though, as I won two huge website deals for clients from organic Google search, I launched the boat out and booked London for two nights in the height of a global pandemic.
I wanted to travel by train, like last July, but the return leg between Ipswich and Norwich was a bus service and I’ve never been a bus wanker since I was about 30.
We set off instead to drive and I expected the 119 mile journey to take forever when it actually took 2 hours and 25 minutes from home to Stratford.
Now why am I chronicling this when there’s clearly little of merit in this for SEO?
I love writing and sharing stories
This time though, without son in tow, who is back with his peers at Cardiff University, we decided to hit Covent Garden, one place I do remember fondly from visits 27 years ago and then Oxford Street and Camden.
So what was London like in the midst of a global pandemic?
Even Oxford Street was relatively calm.
Camden was probably the highlight as it felt like a microcosm of earth, albeit a bit seedy. The market was eclectic and a far cry from markets in most places that specialise in 4 plug extension cables, chips, and fruit and veg.
Vintage clothes, art, vinyl, and every cuisine on earth seemed to be present with some twists – like Yorkshire Burritos.
I must confess too to enjoying navigating the labyrinth of the underground. It was relatively quiet too compared with last year’s visit.
We hopped from Stratford to Covent Garden to Oxford Circus and Embankment yet still covered 9 miles on foot on Saturday according to my Apple Watch.
We ate Japanese food on Friday on arrival, same at lunch the next day and superb plant based pizzas for dinner in Camden.
After the monoculture of Norfolk, it was great to hear different languages, see varied races and observe daily life in this gigantic melting pot of cultures and creeds.
I know that locally 22 languages are reputedly spoken here in Great Yarmouth – with Portuguese and Lithuanian dominating, but London outdid this. I do think that multiculturalism creates greater tolerance – surely it’s no surprise that the least diverse part of the UK – the east is the most insular, parochial and Brexit.
Boston and Southend are epicentres of Brexit, but I don’t think Yarmouth and the towns around the north east are far behind. Yet places like Liverpool and Manchester, in the north west, are places that largely voted to Remain.
But could I live in London?
Not because it doesn’t appeal – far from it, or day to day life is too expensive.
It’s because to buy a property in London, in some nice central area, is vastly unaffordable.
I could see myself as a web design London company but prices would have to triple.
Driving back, in just 2 hours 20 minutes today, made me realise that we don’t need to actually move there. We have it within fairly easy reach and you could easily drive there and back in a day.
I do though believe that London is better than most cities we’ve visited. I was always smitten by Paris, and Madrid held appeal, but London, on the last two visits, has made us realise that it is probably better than both the French and Spanish capital.
I think too that pitching myself as a freelance web designer in London would reap dividends. I know that Norwich web design agencies charge far more than me with some companies locally levying fees of £200 + VAT per hour (a friend was invoiced for £800 + VAT to fix a contact form).
London web designers and developers probably charge more.
So here’s the CTA.
If you’re a business, a freelancer, a SME, based within the M25 radius, look outside to Get Pro Copy Ltd in Norfolk and check out my portfolio here.
You will find service to be better with costs significantly lower.
Should you Google, “web design prices in London” note the results and look north and east to Norfolk.
We may not have your diversity, your public transport network, your roads, your restaurants and fantastic shops, but we do have strong WiFi, a 4G network and access to Zoom and Skype so you can outsource to here without a single worry that you’re compromising quality.
You’ll pay less and get a better product from this Norfolk Freelance Web Designer of the Year 2020.
You can trust me.