Before I was pregnant we hardly ever thought about spending a whole week of our hard earned holiday staying in England, making sure we took full advantage of our precious time off to jet straight to sunnier climes. However, now we have a little one we are really keen to explore more of the beautiful country we live in. Not only is it easier (no nail biting about “will they, won’t they” cry on the plane) but I also have such fond memories of English holidays from when I was a child. Eating sandy sandwiches in the back of the car wrapped in a towel after a dip in the sea. Now this might not sound idyllic to some of you but for me this was such a huge part of my childhood and I’m keen to emulate these best bits for my baby.
Anyway, I digress…so having explored lots of the South West and the Cotswolds the good hubby and I decided we might venture a little North. Now, steady on, not that North but it had been such a long time since either of us had visited Norfolk or Suffolk so we decided on a split holiday between the two places. This post will cover our first few days of holiday in Norfolk.
With the drive to Norfolk being at least 3 hours we decided to pack a picnic supper and start out at the little man’s bedtime on a Friday night to try to make it as easy as possible for everyone. And I’m pleased to say it worked – after about 10 minutes he fell asleep and pretty much stayed that way for the whole journey. Success! I would definitely do that again and recommend it to anyone whose baby has already got into a little bedtime “routine” and tends to sleep for a few hours straight. Arriving a little before midnight on the Friday night we got ourselves and our bags inside, got the little man to sleep and promptly ourselves too.
We hadn’t really planned an itinerary for our stay but there were lots of places I wanted to visit (especially thanks to instagram). So, over coffee, on our first morning we started grouping things together to put together some sort of plan. However, as anyone who have ever spent time with a baby will tell you, never plan anything too seriously as babies rule the roost! We woke up to glorious blue skies so knew we had to head to the beach and make the most of it. But first we wanted to have a quick look around the village we were staying in and make a visit to the park.
Although it was an absolutely glorious morning there was a crispness in the air and that feeling that Autumn wasn’t too far around the corner…
We headed to Wells-next-the-sea, parking near the harbour. You can park closer to the beach at the beach cafe (although make sure you arrive early, especially in the Summer) but we fancied the walk down past all the little boats on our way. There is also a miniature railway you can get from the harbour to the beach which I think costs £1.50 per person one way. I’d definitely do that with kiddies as they loved waving up at people walking down.
The walk is probably a leisurely 30 minutes and when we arrived at the beach I was surprised as how lovely and soft the sand was. We both agreed it felt like the sand in the Maldives. If I’d been blindfolded and taken here I would have struggled to believe that I was in England. Sometimes we do really forget what’s on our doorstep. The sand alone has made me stop and take notice!
Beach hut heaven! As we were wandering along the beach, gazing up at all the pretty pastel beach huts I was desperately trying to persuade my husband that we need to buy a beach hut. Obviously we’d get loads of use out of it living 3 hours away… Needless to say he was less than convinced. I think I need to work on my argument…
The beach huts were some of the nicest I’ve seen. Lots of pretty pastels and a lovely rustic charm.
There’s also a really cute Joules shop up next to the cafe which had some really nice pieces. I managed to resist the urge to purchase anything (I know, impressive!) but with a grumpy baby that needed feeding my mind wasn’t exactly in shopping mode! Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area as it seemed to have some bits I hadn’t seen online or in London.
After a spot of lunch we headed down to the road to Holkam beach. Now I know you can walk there from Wells, which I would love to do another time, but we didn’t want to get stuck on the beach with a grumpy/tired/hungry/over heating baby so opted for the drive.
Holkam beach was absolutely gorgeous and, again, just didn’t feel like being in England. There was something about it (probably the walk down the boardwalk through the trees) that made me feel like it was almost American. It’s a lovely walk down to the beach, especially when accompanied by an ice cream on a hot sunny day. And then suddenly the view opens up and you’re down at this massive expanse of sand, barely able to see the sea. The beach is so wide. We perched ourselves by the sand dunes and walked down to the water. It was a glorious end-of-summer type day with the bluest sky and the softest sand.
Of course, after a day at the seaside there’s nothing better than a spot of fish and chips. We’d heard such fantastic things about Eric’s fish and chips in Thornham and just had to check it out. It was early evening by the time we arrived and there was such a warm glow across everything. We spotted these lovely apples out the front which again gave us such an Autumnal feeling.
There’s plenty of space inside to eat at Eric’s and a few picnic benches and deck chairs out the front too if the weather is nice. We had a sleeping baby in the car so opted to eat ours on our laps in the car. Definitely bringing back memories of my childhood! The hubby made us keep the doors open so we wouldn’t stink out the new car! I went for some chips (with plenty of vinegar – mmm) and some amazing gruyere and spinach arancini balls. Oh. My. Goodness. they were incredible. I now understand all the hype, it’s definitely worth a visit (or two!) if you’re in the area.
After we finished our food we headed back to our cottage as the sun was dipping in the sky, casting a gorgeous warmth over the fields. It was at that moment I felt myself starting to fall in love with this part of the world. I always thought I’d been a south west girl but it’s pretty beautiful round here…
Our second full day didn’t quite go to plan. Someone (I’m looking at you baby) decided they didn’t want to have their morning nap which meant we were all out of kilter then, as soon as we planned to leave the house, wham nap time started. We never worry too much when plans don’t go to, well, plan as the slow days are often what you need.
Anyway, after a little nap time for the baby and the hubby and some instagramming for me, we were on our way. We spotted this row of pretty pink cottages yesterday but didn’t see them until we’d gone past and no way to turn around. So today my husband remembered where they were and pulled in. Completely unprompted! I’ve taught him well! Lots of the properties in this area are painted this salmon pink, which is especially lovely in the sunshine against blue skies.
When were were planning this trip I’d kept a keen eye on instagram for places to go. As any keen instagrammer will tell you, it’s a great source of information when planning a trip as you get to find out about hidden gems as well as the main must sees. Stiffkey (pronounced “stewkey”) stores was one of those gems. It’s this incredible local “post office” but is so much more than that. It sells beautiful stationery (hello Rifle Paper Co), amazing homemade cakes, Monmouth coffee, fresh flowers and rustic homewares, all under one (ish) roof. Pretty much the dream establishment! We stopped here for some much needed coffee and cake.
I can’t ever resist a good looking brownie, and the hubby feels the same about carrot cake. Check out these cute cups for the coffee.
After Stiffkey we headed on to Wiveton Hall which is a pick your own farm with a farm shop and lovely cafe. We really fancied picking some fruit but we were a little too late in the season so had to opt for a couple of punnets of lovely strawberries and some organic vegetables to go with the steak we’d picked up earlier in the day in Thornham for our supper. The cafe looked lovely (and was fully booked) so make sure you book ahead if you fancy eating here.
It also has some camping facilities on site in these lovely bell tents surrounded by gorgeous sunflowers. I can imagine it would be really fun to stay here with a group of friends.
Our final stop for the day was to Wells town centre. We’d visited Bringing the Outside In in Holkam the day before but I’d heard that the one in Wells had different stock and was definitely worth checking out. It’s a plethora of amazing homewares, including some salvaged pieces. We bought one of these letters for our little one’s bedroom door. I love picking up little pieces like that from our travels, it’s so nice to see them in your home and think back to all those lovely memories. We loved everything in the shop – how could you not with this kind of display?
We had a little potter around the streets of Wells but with it being a Sunday afternoon lots of things were closing for the day so we ended up wandering around some residential streets with pretty cottages everywhere you looked.
The next day was our final morning in Norfolk before we headed off for the second part of our trip to Suffolk. We started the day with these seriously yummy strawberries from Wiveton Hall, and it was the first time our little one had tried strawberries. I’m pleased to say he absolutely loved them, so he’s definitely my child!
We couldn’t leave Norfolk without stopping off at the beautiful Burnham Market, or Chelsea-on-sea as it’s apparently known. It certainly had a lot of cute houses like Chelsea, with none better than the rather aptly named “Pink Cottage”. My favourite, obviously #ihavethisthingwithpink #guiltyascharged
There are lots of great independent shops and delis along the high street, including some great interiors finds. We couldn’t resist popping into the wonderful pink sweet shop. They had every kind of sweet you could think of displayed in old fashioned jars on the shelves. I treated myself to a little bag of jazzies – my favourite – and I really loved the cute pink stripey bag they came in.
We made one final stop before starting the journey to Suffolk, and that was to Thornham. We didn’t want to leave Norfolk without checking out Eric’s again, just to double check it was as good as we thought a couple of days earlier. This time we ate inside – it has such a cool, retro vibe. And our memories were correct, it was amazing. We will definitely be back, if only to try the battered mars bar!
As you can no doubt tell, we fell in love with the North Norfolk coast. It wasn’t somewhere I’d thought about visiting before and we only really made the trip as a tag on to the Suffolk leg of our holiday. But wow, it’s just stunning. It had so many great ticks on the holiday list: wonderful beaches, countryside air, great food, beautiful scenery, quaint villages, good shopping, great interiors and really friendly and welcoming people. We will definitely be back, and I doubt it will be long until we are…