I have to confess I was a bit tired and frazzled before half term - nothing major, just the usual feeling that there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done - and was really looking forward to a week off school and work. We all needed to slow down and spend some quiet family time together, and so I was very much looking forward to our week in Norfolk, somewhere we'd never been before. It didn't disappoint, and was as relaxing, enjoyable and restorative a break as you'd hope for.
We stayed here with Norfolk Country Cottages. The cottage - which I think was some kind of converted outbuilding or barn - was charming and cosy, and the exposed flint pebble walls were a beautiful feature throughout. I was quite taken with them.
The living space was open plan, just big enough for the four of us and the wood burning stove and exposed beams gave a warm, rustic feel. We hardly lit the stove, actually, as the cottage was so warm and the weather is still so mild.
There was plenty of room in the grounds for Bella and Angus to roam and play and they made good use of the heated swimming pool, which is shared with the owners who live on the same site. John and I managed to forget our swimming things. Can you believe it? I was really cross.
After a visit to the supermarket to stock up on essentials, our first destination was Cromer, a traditional seaside town on the coast about fifteen minutes away. I liked it a lot; it hasn't been as gentrified as some other towns in the area but has a faded charm about it, and is rich in fishing and maritime history. The kids loved the RNLI Museum and I very much liked the cafe above the museum, with excellent cake and coffee and sweeping views of the sea.
We stumbled upon a gem of a second hand bookshop and spent a long time browsing. Bella and Angus were delighted to find books they'd been looking for for some time - the fifth Mallory Towers book for Bella and Famous Five for Angus - so they were happy.
We spent a couple of hours wandering around Cromer until the light started to fade and we all felt cold. Something about the light in the photo below reminded me of winter; the clocks are about to change and we are already moving towards late autumn.
One place that many people had recommend we visit was the town of Holt, and particularly Byfords. We whiled away a morning browsing the pretty shops and streets of the town before heading to Byfords for lunch. We were early, but already it was busy. The queues are long but it's worth the wait as the food and service are excellent. I love that photo of Bella and Angus inside the cafe below. Not posing or smiling, just being silly and getting along with each other.
That afternoon we decided to take a train from Sheringham to Weybourne on the North Norfolk Railway.
The station platform was lovingly maintained and dressed with piles of vintage suitcases dotted about here and there and old enamel signs.
Incidentally, something about old fashioned train stations like these reminds me of the opening sequence of The Box of Delights, a 1980's BBC dramatisation of John Masefield's novel which I adore and says Christmas to me like nothing else. I'm sure I've droned on about it here before. But last week it was all dressed for Halloween.
Anyway, we got off the train at Weybourne, wondering why no-one else was, and found ourselves at the top of a lane, quite a way from the village centre. In the middle of no-where, as Bella said. We had no real idea of what we'd find, but just thought we'd follow our noses and so ended up walking down through the village to the beach, bribing the children with promises of hot chocolate as we went.
The beach at Weybourne was just breathtaking. A world away from the pier and seagulls of Cromer, it was wild and a bit scary.
Heavy grey clouds were low on the horizon and the surf was powerful and noisy.
Angus wanted to paddle. Paddle! I said no, fearing he'd either get exposure or swept out to sea, and he was content to throw stones at the water and chase the waves. That boy loves the beach as much as I do and it makes me so happy. We just have to say we're going to a beach - any beach - and his face lights up straight away.
The weather and scenery couldn't have been more different the next day when we visited Wells Next The Sea; calm seas, blue skies, warm sun. I'll tempt you with a picture of the gorgeous beach huts that line the beach there, and tell you more about the rest of our trip in another post in a couple of days. I have many more photos to sort through!
Our accommodation in Norfolk was provided by Norfolk Country Cottages. All words, photos and thoughts about the beautiful area are my own. :-)
They have a reader offer below for anyone who might fancy a seasonal break:
Stay with Norfolk Country Cottages in November or December and pay no booking fee – saving you £30. Quote THH2016 on booking.
Terms and conditions: Offer valid for holidays of 3 nights or more with a start date between 4 November 2016 and 31 December 2016. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. No cash alternative. We reserve the right to withdraw or amend this offer at any time, without prior notice.