Stay-cay In A Norfolk Cottage!

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Stay-cay In A Norfolk Cottage!

If I’m asked why I left the bright lights of London to come home and roost where I grew up in Norwich, my answer is pretty straightforward… Norfolk is the place Londoners go on holiday choosing little stay-cations in a county of calm to take them away from their city life stresses. To live in that place is like being on holiday all the time. I mean don’t get me wrong, there’s the drudge of everyday life of course but if I want to see the sea I can jump in my car and be foot on sand in half an hour, when I fancy a country pub lunch I have so many good venues to choose from that I don’t know where to start and if I want really good shopping with great eateries, fantastic independent stores and aesthetically pleasing streets then I head straight into the city of Norwich. Which, FYI, is less than two hours by train to London… It’s no wonder more and more people are moving here padding out the commuter belt because basically… Norfolk has it all!

So… If you haven’t been I have to urge you to make the trip. There really is so much to do in Norfolk from hiring a boat on the Norfolk broads to taking surf lessons or simply soaking up the relaxed vibe with a countryside walk. And if it’s countryside that you’re craving I think a Norfolk cottage for the weekend might be just up your street! With summer right around the corner many of the large estate houses in our country open up their gates to welcome visitors into their grounds and gardens. We love to do this so as to have a nosy at how the other half live!

A drive around the stunning Norfolk countryside will show you signs directing to huge estate properties who often open their gardens for visitors to walk in the woods and see the beauty! This was us in May walking in the bluebell woods of privately owned Intwood Hall which has vast grounds despite being just a ten minute drive from Norwich city centre!

The Norfolk countryside has the rep of being completely flat but I do rather think this is people being muddled between us and the fens. Our hills might not be rolling but they are present and the vista is beyond attractive just about wherever you are within the county. I prefer to be nearer to north Norfolk when visiting the seaside but south Norfolk has plenty to offer with country pubs and walks. A really lovely village for walking over the hilly landscape is Stoke Holy Cross where rivers meet sunshine under dappled trees and two of the best eateries in the county can be found, Stoke Mill for a fine dining experience inside the old water mill over the river Tas or The Wildebeest for equal luxury in a more modest setting which welcomes families.

And if you tire of the country drives and walking don’t forget the Norfolk Broads are another wonderful way to explore the countryside. Wroxham, a village on the way towards Norfolk beaches such as Cromer, Sheringham and Overstrand is perhaps the most famous starting point for hiring a day tripper boat and becoming the captain of your own ship for a few hours. This inexpensive fun is open to all and can be a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon in Norfolk. It’s a fantastic way to explore nature, feed the ducks and grab yourself some fish and chips from the corner right by the boat yards all before enjoying a spot of retail therapy in the famous Roys of Wroxham department store which spans both sides of the road on the main street through the town (and is great in every way)!

Fish and chips in Wroxham is a pure joy!

Days can be filled with clean air as you enjoy Norfolk (and our charms) and then cosying up in your cottage for the evening is the ideal way to spend quiet evenings where all the stars are on display. The first time one of our London friends visited us in Norfolk her breath was taken away by the clear night skies and smog free atmosphere – she told me it’s the perfect place to holiday and I have to say I’m inclined to agree!

Little Barn in Upton on the Norfolk Broads is a picture perfect cottage that can be rented through Norfolk Cottages!

We really do have such a wealth in our countryside here in Norfolk and that’s wealth in the healthy sense of the word. But find yourself longing for some sea air after hiring a boat on the broads and you can drive for around 10 minutes to my favourite beach of all time, Cromer!

Cromer pier is in the middle of two stretches of glorious pebble and sand beach!

Cromer is beautiful, gentrified to some extent but still very much in keeping with how it always has been. It’s quiet and unassuming with brilliant museums (the lifeboat museum, local fisherman Henry Blogg has his own dedicated space for interest and Norfolk Museum’s fisherman’s house, Cromer Museum right next to the church in the centre of town), lovely places to eat (Mary Jane’s for fish and chips or The Rocket House Cafe would be my top tips) and just wonderfully pretty streets to peruse with gorgeous nooks like an old fashioned second hand bookshop which all the locals love! Days on the beach are enjoyed by my family here come rain or shine and my children adore taking surf lessons at Glide Surf School situated on the front.

Florence surfing in Cromer – one of her favourite hobbies!
Don’t forget to try some local ice cream when in Cromer – it’s amazing!

And of course it’s always worth a trip into the city of Norwich for that retail therapy and a perusal of the heritage we are so proud of here in Norfolk. Norwich is famous for having a pub for every day of the year (faves of mine in the centre are The Murderers and The Adam and Eve), our football club (N.C.F.C are going into the premiership next season), having two cathedrals, a very castle-y looking castle and our glorious market (which has an abundance of amazing street food) amongst many other things! And our famous resident celebrities include Delia Smith and Stephen Fry who are often spotted out and about (in Jarrolds independent department store seems to be a hot spot for Stephen)! We have all the big brand shopping you could ask for mixed with fantastic independent retailers all nestled in the Norwich Lanes – a must see is The Bear Shop on Elm Hill, you will love it! Oh and we also have our own gin distillery which makes TRULY delicious gin… Have I sold you on a little Norfolk stay-cay yet?!

How’s about something to eat on Norwich market followed by a tour of Bullards Spirits who distill Norwich Gin!

There’s as much or as little to do here as you’d like. You could have a weekend packed to the rafters for fun (see my days out with kids tab for family friendly activities too) or you could simply soak up the calm and return to the rush of the everyday after a much needed cottage break in Norfolk!

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