It’s August bank holiday time again, which means one thing in Notting Hill: Carnival (see post from August 31, 2010.) As our quiet neighborhood braces itself for one of the largest street festivals in the world, the locals can be found packing their bags and getting the hell out of dodge. We loaded up the boot of our favorite Zipcar and did the same. This time we went to north Norfolk (pronounced “Nor-fuk”).
We continue to love our weekend escapes to the English countryside. Especially now that we have a dog, who so obviously enjoys our outdoor adventures. The first night in Norfolk we stayed in the coastal village of Blakeney at the Blakeney Hotel. The hotel is charmingly situated on the quay, and all the little boats were stuck in the sand when we arrived. From the hotel terrace we sat and had a drink, admiring the views across the estuary as the sun went down. Our four-legged friend didn’t find the new environment as relaxing, and she howled her sweet little head off when we tried to leave her for dinner. Suffice it to say, we ended up enjoying a lovely meal on the lawn outside our room where she could keep an eye on us. By the end of dinner, the tide had come in and the water level must have risen 30 feet. We were all the more surprised when we awoke the next morning and the tide had risen even further, flooding the small (but primary) road through town.
After Blakeney, we spent the rest of the weekend in a beautifully renovated barn at a property called White Horse Farm. From the start, the owners made us feel so welcome – with homemade lemon-drizzle cake, bread fresh from the oven, homemade cookies, supplies for the next day’s breakfast, freshly cut flowers in all the rooms and even some doggie-biscuits for Dashy. We were very pleased with the place. The grounds were gorgeous. It even had a grass tennis court!
It was the perfect setting for relaxation, which we did lots of. But we also enjoyed visiting the nearby beaches and coastal villages, farm shops and pubs. We were especially impressed with Holkam, a beach that is so vast that at low tide you may have to walk a mile before you get to the water. We really liked Cley Next The Sea with its pretty windmill (pronounced “Cly”) and Wells Next The Sea. We liked the designation “Next The Sea” for preventing confused with the other Cley and Wells in England, and we thought it was funny how the “to” got dropped. One day we did a hike through Bayfield Manor, where Dash was taunted by thousands of free ranging grouse, and Katie had the pleasure of visiting a funky shell museum.
We ate well as always, enjoying fresh local seafood like crab and crayfish. But the highlight must have been a three-course meal that our hostess prepared for us on the last night of our stay. We felt so spoiled when they came in to heat our plates in the oven and proceeded to lay out before us a meal of parmesan and herb crusted scallops with roasted pancetta (served in a scallop shell), baked Cromer crab au gratin, slow roasted shoulder of Norfolk spring lamb, new potatoes, au gratin cauliflower, roasted carrots and shallots, green beans from the garden outside our window and all the various colored jellies and sauces you could imagine. Dessert was panna cotta with coulis, seasonal fruit and ice cream for her and lemon posset with fresh raspberries, pouring cream and shortbread for him. Even though we had a huge lunch that day (hugely bad planning), we ate till our sides hurt. We ate from the land and the sea of Norfolk and we loved every bit of it.