…..and yet another month has passed us by without us knowing where it has gone! The sun has been shining and there have definately been at least two good spells of amazing weather where we have happily been out and about without jackets – I just wonder what havoc this weather is going to play on the crops in the long term as the fields are so dry. We aren’t going to complain though as it has made life more pleasant for walking and exploring further afield.
We have been venturing out a little more enjoying food cooked by others rather than just ourselves and were particularly spoilt by trying another amazing restaurant in London courtesy (well we did pay…but it had added benefits) of American Express… Fallow. An incredible tasting menu that introduced us to new flavours and combinations, locally sourced and sustainable…. It was a bit of sharing plates menu – although made more complicated by Keith eating meat and me not – so consisted of the following…. Corn ribs with lime, Pork Croquette, Mushroom Croquette, Tunworth Cheese and Caramalised Onion Flatbread and Black Garlic and Blue Cheese Flatbread, Mushroom Parfait, Cornish Crudo Pork with Turnip, Confit Leeks, Dairy Cow Fillet of Beef with Boulangere potatoes, Chelsea Tart with Caramalised Whey and finally Guiness and Dark Chocolate Soft Serve… not bad at all. The favourites of the evening were weirdly the corn ribs and probably the Black Garlic and Blue Cheese Flatbread – just really unusual, although quite rich!
With a new trip on the horizon and excited about exploring a new area and trying out some of the local produce – most specifically Cromer Crab – we headed off on the long haul up to Cromer the Tuesday after Easter, only to come to a halt after an hour or so just before Waltham Abbey on the M25… a spot that we now know pretty well considering we then didn’t move for 7.5 hours!
After alot of consideration – it’s certainly not our favourite location – views were mostly made up of cars and trucks with the odd police car or fire engine going past, i’d definately say that we would pass on the opportunity next time if given the chance! It doesn’t sound like anyone was hurt but apparently a vehicle collided with a food oil tanker which then spread its load across all carriageways on our side. If the sunflower oil shortage wasn’t bad enough beforehand… it’s certainly got worse in the last couple of weeks!
Our afternoon was lit up however by a tap on the drivers window after a couple of hours – it is quite high up so the walking stick was necessary – by a 92 year old lady, who needed the toilet…. our good deed was done…we were just grateful that there weren’t hundreds of people to follow suite! She obviously quite liked the motorhome as she came back a second time too!!
Joking aside though, the lovely lady was well and we did check that she had ample food and water to keep her (and her 72 year old daughter) going and we were all pleased when we were finally able to get moving a couple of hours earlier than expected as the travel news had said it would be after 9pm, instead it was only 6:30pm.
As it was late in the day and we still had a good 3+ hours ahead of us to get to our planned destination for the night, I had called around to try and find somewhere more local to stay and thankfully the Theobalds Park (£32.10 per night), Camping and Caravan Club site manager at Waltham Abbey came to the rescue. The site was tranquil and actually quite pretty despite being literally a stones throw from the M25 and where we were parked up just ten minutes beforehand!
So… after a morning run – the M25 was still shut – we headed on our way up the M11 and into Norfolk…. a lovely, easy journey arriving at Antonia Villa CL (£14 inc) in Cromer at lunchtime. A lovely little CL despite being grass only and mostly quite slopey – so you definately wouldn’t want to be here if it was very wet – we found a nice flattish spot to park up on and relax in the sunshine, eating our lunch and listening to the birdsong around us.
We had booked ourselves in for three nights but obviously with our little delay on the M25, missed the first night and although we had kept the owners updated and had said that we were happy to pay for the night missed, they were having none of it – very kind…. we rounded up the two nights and bought some of their duck and hen eggs though to help support the local producers – although would have done that anyway!!
Cromer was a lovely little town from what we managed to see of it with a good selection of boutique type shops, master bakers, butchers, wine-makers (not candlestick makers!!) and deli’s. The beach went on for miles and was lined with rusty old tractors ready to pull the fishing/crabbing boats in and out of the water each day… most definately an area to explore some more.
We walked up into Overstrand and back along the beach into Cromer and were suprised by the quantity of award winning foodie type places – pubs and restaurants galore with ‘AA Rosettes’ and ‘Michelin recommended’… so as we had passed The Grove on the first day, we thought it rude not to try it and were blown away by the sustainability and ‘local-ness’ of all things served from Gin, wine and beer to squid ink, fish and asparagus… it is a lovely elegant family run hotel and restaurant but not as good as the next one we tried – it just whet the appetite for a return visit to the area!!
Leaving Cromer keen to return, we moved all of 10 miles along the coast to Blakeney where we had booked to stay at Villeroche CL (£22 per night inc.). Another lovely site just on the edge of open fields as you enter into Blakeney, looking out onto the nature reserve and sea in the distance…..to say it was exposed was an understatement – the high winds certainly helped freshen things up in the morning!!
We were really impressed by Blakeney and the area around it and although we only had three nights there we managed to get a good taster by walking in different directions to explore. On the first afternoon we walked – or should I say were blown – along the path through the nature reserve and along to ‘Cley next the Sea’ where there is an amazing delicatessen stocking all things local from wine, gin, cider and beer through to cheese and home made pies and pastries… somewhere not to visit when you are hungry!!
Then on the second day we did a short walk through the nature reserve in the opposite direction along the coast in the morning, then headed over to a farm shop to stock up in the afternoon. Although the Courgette and Lime cake was delicious we were actually less impressed by the cafe and shops’ support for local producers… they prioritised Organic over local. It was a lovely walk though.
The third day was the biggest success though as after a lovely walk in the morning through Wiveton, Newgate and the other part of Cley next the Sea, we had lunch at the Wiverton Bell…. a truly spectacular feast!
We both had cod cheaks with curry sauce for starters, Keith had a full Roast with Pork Belly for main, I fell back to my favourite of Haddock and Chips, all followed by Ginger and Stout Pudding with Clotted Cream Ice Cream…. The whole area is stunningly beautiful – we will be back but to be fair would have returned for the food and drink alone!
Blown away by the food… not just the wind, we had unfortunately booked to move on again on the Monday otherwise we would have gone back to the pub…..ah well guess it will have to be another time!
We made the last hop of the trip down to The Old Sun Inn CS, Bungay (£16 without elec.) which is right on the border between Norfolk and Suffolk. Another lovely site, although this one takes more people there were still only 4 of us for 3 nights and then 5 for the last night… not exactly busy!
We had booked for 4 nights as Bungay is a market town and with Thursday being market day I got excited by the prospect of a nice local food market…. unfortunately the market was made up of 1 fruit and veg stall, some local preserves and a hot dog stand…. thankfully they had a lovely deli and greengrocers to make up for it otherwise I would have felt very sorry for the locals.
We had time to explore the area though and find a local farm shop that had goats and two of the nanny goats had just given birth… one to twins and one to triplets – very, very cute….although it appeared that two of the triplets were thicker than theives and the other was a bit of a mummies boy as the three didn’t seem to play together!! We sat and watched them cause huge amounts of mishief whilst we ate our sandwiches and put the world to rights…. not bad really!
Despite being very different to the North coast of Norfolk, there was alot of walking through forests and fields. The area is full of rape seed and obviously at this time of year it is just coming into its own, so as we were exploring we managed to benefit from some of the natural outstanding beauty…
Despite the eating out, there has still been lots of cooking and a reasonable amount of experimenting over the last month… and you know how much we love our food!
Kimchi – taking less time than saurkraut to ferment, looks very authentic and tastes great!
Dhansak – courtesy of Stevie B with a few vegetarian adaptions!
Pea Hummus – looks a bit odd – i.e. very green – but tastes great
Orange Chocolate and Pistachio Brioche Buns – amazingly delicious breakfast treat. Not too sweet and perfectly light
Brioche Aubergine and Halloumi Burgers with Harissa Relish – delicious combination of flavours and so quick and simple
Sourdough Pittas – first try at using Fergie on pittas and it worked brilliantly with our roasted spicy cauliflower and romesca sauce.