Twixmas is an awful word, I think we can all agree, but it is does neatly describe the time of year that myself and a few pals like to escape London for a couple of days. Our latest jaunt took us to Norfolk, specifically to the wonderful Colt’s Lodge near Norwich. It’s a charming property, complete with an aga, a piano and rowdy house cats – enough to keep anyone entertained. It’s also great launch pad for exploring the countryside.
Admittedly, we spent most of our time inside the cottage – playing board games; guzzling wine, whisky and tea; and extending the Christmas gluttony period. But we did venture out occasionally in search of photogenic spots and good food. Our first outing took us to Blickling Estate, an impressive Jacobean mansion with a magnificent garden, right by a historic park in the beautiful Bure meadows. We only had a short time to explore this National Trust property, but I’d definitely recommend it.
From there, we drove on to The Gunton Arms, a highly-rated hotel, restaurant and pub run by Stuart and Simone Tattersall (Mark Hix alumni). The pub sits all alone by a thousand acre deer park, four miles from the coast, and the views are quite something, especially when the morning fog rolls in or a sunset puts on a show. The seasonal, hearty food does not disappoint – the local Gunton venison stew with herb baked dumplings is probably the place to start. Contemporary art fans are also catered for as the pub has works by Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Lucian Freud amongst others, and the surrounding park has sculptures by the likes of Sol Le Witt, Dan Graham, and Mona Hatoum. Book ahead for a leisurely lunch, and grab some rooms for the night whilst you are at it.
The following day, a few of us took off in our lovely Land Rover in search of the sea. The north Norfolk coast is a thing of beauty, well worth the 45 minute drive from Norwich. We headed straight for Cromer, a fishing town that’s famous for the eponymous Cromer crab. We parked the car, and made a beeline for the beach. Over two hours or so, we wandered up and down the small stretch between Cromer Pier and East Runton, taking photos of the reflective sand, hoarding colourful rocks, and breathing in the fresh seaside air. It was a fabulous Christmas hangover cure, and something I need to do more often.
That was all we had time for on this trip, but I’m sure we’ll be back soon for more rambles along the north coast, some deep seal-searching, and a pilgrimage to Adnams in Southwold. If there’s anything you recommend I check out next time I’m over that way, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! Here’s a few useful links from the spots that we visited:
Blickling Estate – www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling-estate
The Gunton Arms – www.theguntonarms.co.uk
Cromer – www.visitnorthnorfolk.com/places/cromer.aspx
Colt’s Lodge – www.sykescottages.co.uk