Monday, 21 November 2016

A weekend at the oldest hotel in the UK

Following on from my previous blog, Alice Does Cooking, our annual family weekend reunion also involves finding a suitable place to stay for 20 or so people. The pressure was on to show the best of the fine city of Norwich this year to those traveling from far and wide so I approached the lovely folk at The Maids Head Hotel to see what they could offer. Located on Tombland between the majestic cathedral and historic Elm Hill, the hotel offers great access to lots of local activities and adventures - perfect for our reunion weekend. A tailored package was soon crafted with the group bookings team and the addition of a couple of extra people for dinner on the Saturday night wasn't any trouble at all.

The Maids Head is actually the oldest hotel in the UK, over 800 years old and still looking fabulous. Queen Elizabeth I was once a guest and the recent refurbishment of the foyer has made the hotel look really smart, but still very welcoming and all in fitting with the architecture. The staff were brilliant in sorting out the 2 nights for our group, with all the rooms we booked having great views of Norwich Cathedral. Our stay included breakfast both days and dinner from the Wine Press A la Carte menu on the Saturday night. It all offered excellent value, and with the Wine Press recently being awarded a second AA rosette, dinner on the Saturday evening was a delight too. We were given a whole section of the restaurant on one gigantic table, perfect for catching up with each other and just a small totter to the atmospheric hotel bar when needed. There was a slight mix up in the evening at the restaurant but this was more than made up for by the restaurant manager, who went above and beyond anything I expected.

The staff were really friendly and accommodating over the weekend and nothing was too much trouble. Everyone in our group was really impressed with the food service in the Wine Press, and how we were looked after over the weekend in the hotel lounge too. Umbrellas were even handed out on loan on the rainy Saturday which was thoroughly welcomed.

If you're looking for somewhere lovely to stay in Norwich, or live in the city and have friends coming to visit, I can recommend a stay here.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Alice does cooking...

Last weekend, 20 members of my family met for the traditional annual get together. This year the location for the occasion was Norwich, and plans were afoot for a lovely time for those who had traveled from across the UK and Europe. The weekend was a great success and it wouldn't have been nearly so good without a special evening hosted by Alice does Cooking in the wonderful setting of Olive's.

You may have seen my previous blogs about Olive's Supper Club. The popular Supper Club now takes place monthly, and Alys who runs it is diversifying following growing demand for her wonderful food. For this rather special event I therefore turned to the new and exciting venture that is Alice Does Cooking. A specially created best of Norfolk Supper Club was the order of the evening for my dear family at the beautiful, intimate venue of Olives. After a few discussions about requirements in advance, this menu was promptly suggested and was just right - supporting local food and business and showing some of the best Norwich and Norfolk has to offer.

On the menu to start -
Norfolk Tapas (Sharing platters for the table) consisting of
*Marsh Pig chorizo with chickpeas and Banham cider
*Norfolk Black Turkey empanadas
*Celeriac and brown butter purée
*Beetroot and walnut hummus
*Home-made focaccia

Main dishes –
*Confit gressingham duck leg and venison sausage cassoulet served with creamy mashed potato and braised chard
*Thai style Cromer crab cakes served with an Asian style seafood, watercress and rice noodle chowder
*Mr's Temple's cheese and Colman's mustard rarebit tart served with a warm salad of pickled red cabbage and roasted squash

Puddings –
*Norfolk treacle tart with Lakenham creamery ice cream
*Honey and lemon posset with lavender shortbread
*Apple and Norfolk dumpling cobbler with proper custard

Everyone loved the food and the atmosphere on the night, and if I'm putting on an event again where I need something a little special, then I'll be heading straight over to Alice Does Cooking... a welcoming, friendly response leading to tasty food, tailored menus AND all at an affordable budget.

To find out more visit

Saturday, 3 September 2016

North Norfolk Coast: Heacham

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of glorious days on the beautiful North Norfolk coast. I haven't been on a beach in 18 months, and the beach at Heacham was just perfect. The skies were a bold blue, the sea breeze exuberant, the sea itself warm and very pleasant. A lovely time away from the bustle of the city.

Here are some landscapes I took whilst away.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Cars of the past - the Reliant Robin

There are some beautiful villages in Norfolk, and the Buckenhams New and Old are two of them. New Buckenham boasts not only the remains of a castle, but also was home to the wonderful Castle Hill garage.

This garage was special not only because it had an amazing font on the sign, but also for an amazing collection of Reliant Robins and Rialtos. Castle Hill garage is a specialist dealer of used parts for these little beasts, made famous by Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses. So I've found out, the garage has now moved south of the border in to Suffolk.

It stopped me dead in my tracks a good while back, and when I was in the area I often took a little detour to see what was on the forecourt.

To see the full set on Flickr click here.

To visit the Castle Hill Garage website, selling parts and the like, visit here.

Monday, 4 July 2016

An allotment friend...

Over the last few weeks, there has been a constant companion on the allotment. A little blackbird - hunting all sorts of bugs and beasts to feed to a clearly growing family. I've enjoyed the company, as I turn the soil and evacuate the creatures from their burrows and holes, this little chap stands by and flits in and out to get all the nutritious bits for the brood. Moult has started, and some thin patches of feather are now evident. What a fantastic example to us all though, forever on the go and doing the best it can.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A retro exploration of Norfolk

I'm not ashamed to admit it, I'm a little bit of a camera geek. So in my gear bag is normally one of THE best cameras ever made, the point and shoot Olympus Trip 35 as championed by David Bailey. It's a little camera and is a brilliant and fun to use. I have two of these little gems, and normally keep one loaded with colour film and the other with black and white. It has a fixed focus lens, so it means to focus you move either closer or further away from your subject matter.

My Olympus Trip 35 has accompanied me on many trips around Norwich and Norfolk. Here are a few of my favourites, with a lovely retro effect that only comes with using out of date film.


Fishermen's Rest, Winterton on Sea
Mid Norfolk Railway, East Dereham

East Somerton church

Maltings, East Dereham

Potter Heigham

Huts, Winterton on Sea

Cromer beach


Pill Box, Happisburgh beach
Church Rooms, Swaffham

The Guildhall, Norwich
Anglia Square, Norwich

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

41 All Saints Green

At 41 All Saints Green, Norwich, stands a grand grade II listed, late 18th Century Merchant's House. Three storeys tall, it is actually the little side building that caught my attention. With blue doors, and looking very weathered of late, it is strikingly different to nearby neighbour John Lewis,. It has also clearly taken a beating at some time, with substantial brick repairs evident. The yoga room behind is now closed, and taking a look at Norwich City Council's website, planning permission has been granted to convert the building into 2 commercial units and 7 residential dwellings.

Interested to find out more of the history of this place.