Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My holiday in Norfolk.

I was due to go away on holiday to Egypt but unfortuneately I was poorly and was admitted to hospital. The cost of the Egyptian holiday will be reclaimed from our travel insurance and having booked my time off work I hoped to still be able to go away. Gail and I had a brain storming session and decided to have a holiday in Britain. We knew what sort of holiday experience we were looking for and it was just a case of choosing a region of our lovely island. We decided on Norfolk and a quick look on the internet gave us 3 good value hotels to stay in. We chose the Travelodge at Norwich Cringleford, the Premier Inn at Lowestoft and the Swan Inn at Horning. Okay, we all know that Lowestoft is in Suffolk but it is close to the Norfolk boundary and the price at the Premier Inn is right.

 A Travelodge is basic accomodation, you just pay for the room, no breakfast or dinner. The price is per room whether you are on your own or are a married man. We paid just £99.50 to stay 3 nights at the Travelodge Norwich Cringleford which is just off the A11/A47 junction adjacent to the Park and Ride. This is an out of town location with good main road access. For our money it gave us just what we wanted and gave us the freedom to eat out anywhere at any time.

Our first night was Sunday and we went out for a drive around the area. We ended up having a meal in the centre of Norwich, along the river near the railway station. It was a pub chain we had not come across before and I doubt they have any outlets in south Wales. The pub was called the Compleat Angler and is a branch of the Original Pub Company. The menu offered good value regular meals and the style was similar to Wetherspoons.

On Monday we went for a long drive and had breakfast at Tesco in Thetford. We parked in the bus station and surveyed the damaged wall on the exit where a coach from the nationwide company had crashed into a while ago. We also had a lovely stroll along the river as far as Nuns Bridges. Then we drove through Thetford forest and all the way to Downham Market. A couple of miles north along the A10 was the reason for this long drive. We fancied Church Farm at Stow Bardolph, a hands on rare breed centre. Admission is £7.20 each and is well worth a visit for all townies who enjoy eating meat! The work they do at Church Farm is to be praised because these are not commercial farm animals bred purely to enter the food chain and maximise profit but breeds of chicken, goats, pigs and sheep that would disappear as their yield is low. It is both educational and fun for all the family. From Church Farm I continued up the A10 to Garage Lane in Setchey, where there is a shop selling a range of over 1600 beers. Beers of Europe claims to be Britain's biggest beer shop and I have never seen anything like it before. The range of beers is simply amazing and I always like to try beers that I have never heard of before. I was spoilt for choice, which was great and I chose beers from brewers who I had never heard of. Gail liked the look of a particular cider and put it in the trolley. Where was this cider produced? Llantwit Fardre of all places, talk about taking coals to Newcastle. We had a nice drive back over the marshes and the Welney Wildlife Trust. We bought our evening meal at the Castle Carvery, in a building called the Clocktower, at Bowthorpe in Norwich.

On Tuesday we had an all you can eat breakfast for £8.25 each at the Oaks Brewers Fayre, near Norwich Airport. This is a very good deal, just help yourself to unlimited cold and hot buffet breakfasts plus fruit juices, tea and coffee. Then we drove up the A140 to Cromer and along the A149 to the Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary on Sandy Lane at West Runton. Normally admission is £5.95 an Adult but sadly due to the recent heavy rain and localised flooding the general public is not allowed onto the grass areas in case they slip and try to put in a claim against the sanctuary. Rather than close the sanctuary to the public, they have allowed visitors to look around for free provided they do not go over the farm gate and onto the grass. We had a lovely look around the concrete paddocks and saw some chickens, deer, goats, horses, lambs and rabbits. But there is more to see as there is a very interesting museum of carts, wagons, caravans and farm
machinery. I could not get over a horse drawn "wagon" that was a very early Public Service Vehicle. This very basic bus had solid tyres, leaf spring suspension and a very rudimentary rod operated braking system. They also had a good display of really old farm tractors. After our visit we had a look at West Runton beach before moving onto Cromer. The beach at Cromer is not dog friendly at this time of year and dogs are not allowed near the pier. Further along owners can walk their dogs but under the local Dog Leads Order of 2007 they must at all times be on a lead of less than 1.8 metres (6 foot) or risk a fixed penalty fine of £80. As we enjoyed our breakfast so much at the Oaks Brewers Fayre, we returned for a good value evening meal. Before 18.30 you can have 2 main course dinners for £10 and 2 deserts for £2.

On Wednesday we checked out of the Travelodge and had a breakfast at a Morrisons along the A146 at Beccles. We continued along the A146 and drove to Kessingland beach. After our picnic lunch we moved to Parkfield Cliffs which is a headland and beach to the south of Lowestoft. Our next hotel for 4 nights was the Premier Inn at Lowestoft where we had paid £282 for a room plus £22 each per day for their meal deal of a breakfast and a 3 course evening meal.This breakfast is an all-you-can-eat-and-drink affair so that the diner leaves the restaurant with full stomach and a full bladder, ready to enjoy their day. The 3 course evening meal gives you a choice of a prawn cocktail, a soup, breaded mushrooms, potato skins or chicken liver pate as a starter. The main courses are gammon and pineapple, chicken breast, beef burger, salmon fillet, chicken and bacon salad, chilli con carne, pepper and creme fraiche tart, rump steak or a vegetable risotto. The deserts are apple crumble pie, profiteroles, chocolate fudge brownie, lemon sundae or banoffee sundae. The drinks are a bottle of J20, large pepsi or lemonade, pint of Carling, pint of Tetley's or a glass of red or white wine.  All in all this is very good value for our £458.

On Thursday after our all-you-can-eat breakfast we spent a lot of time at Gorleston Cliffs and the south beach at Gorleston on Sea. Later in the afternoon we drove into Great Yarmouth and parked at the far north end of the beach, shown as North Denes on the map.

On Friday we went to the Redwings Horse Sanctuary at Fritton. It is a very good charity that saves horses and educates the public. I learned a lot about horses by reading the information boards and strolling around the paddocks and stables. In the afternoon we spent some time at the North Denes picnic area and park at Great Yarmouth which runs alongside the River Bure.

On Saturday we spent the morning at the North Beach in Lowestoft before moving onto the Parkfield Cliffs to the south of Lowestoft in the afternoon.

On Sunday we went to Winterton-on-Sea beach and nature reserve. Later in the afternoon we moved onto our next hotel, which was an Inn Keepers Lodge called the Swan Inn at Horning. We paid £187 for 3 nights accomodation and this included an all-you-can-eat-and-drink continental breakfast. The Swan Inn is part of the Vintage Inns group and as such their menu is rather pricey for what food is on your plate. Therefore we had the complimentary continental breakfast at the Swan Inn but bought our main meal elsewhere. Later that afternoon we had a lovely carvery at the Lodge in Salhouse. The Lodge is a privately run free house and their food is simply top rate, traditional British cooking at it's best.

On Monday we had a drive around the Norfolk broads, the weather was poor with the odd shower, so we did not go on a boat trip. In the evening we had dinner at the Bridge Inn in Burgh St. Michael near Arcle.

On Tuesday we returned to the North Beach at Lowestoft which we enjoyed so much on Saturday. The other reason we went to Lowestoft was because I was buying a new toy that was being delivered to a store in the town. After picking up my new gadget we drove to the Captain Manby at Great Yarmouth for a carvery meal. The Captain Manby is a Toby Carvery, so you know exactly what you are getting for your money before you walk in.

On Wednesday we left the Swan Inn at Horning and drove back home.

All in all it was a good holiday and we made the most of our time away. The best accomodation was the Premier Inn at Lowestoft but we could not have afforded 10 nights there. I was surprised at how much pub meals cost in the sticks compared to urban areas. It was a refreshing break but was not as refreshing as a holiday in Egypt would have been had I not been admitted into hospital 2 days before we were due to fly out.
What was the new toy?

A Samsung Galaxy 7" Tablet computer. I may post about it when I become fluent in it's operation.
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