family holiday in Norfolk
Having just come back from Norfolk where I spent a week with my daughter and husband for mid-term, I thought you might be interested to hear about our experience in organising a holiday in East Anglia as well as to get some tips about things to do, places to go, places to eat and stay. We found some great kids activities, lovely pubs, quaint little villages, and also rented a fantastic place from national trust, which are all worth recommending. My overarching advice would be to try and avoid going to Norfolk in Winter!! Just like we did... We had pretty challenging temperatures to say the least and that makes it harder to be as agile as you need to organise activities, plan days out etc. We still managed to do a great deal and the cold winter made the Norfolk atmosphere altogether more supernatural so I don't regret our week spent there.
But there are definitely some aspects we would have enjoyed more under more lenient skies. Like our walk along the beach in Wells-Next-The-Sea. It's a lovely seafront with colourful cabins. I would have loved to go for a longer stroll but the wind from the sea was excrutiating as you can see... Luckily, there is a small cafe, the Beach Cafe, just by the car park, where you can warm up with a nice boiling cup of tea (there are also basic food options like soups, salads and sandwiches available and a few tables indoors). They also sell a small range of Winter garments in case you were unconscious enough to wander there unequipped (which is what we did so I ended up buying stripy hats and gloves for my daughter there). And I suspect bathing suits etc. during the Summer Days.
If going to Wells-Next-The-Sea, it is worth stopping at Holkham Hall, which is a very vast estate with kids playground as well as great walks on the property. And there is also a lovely pub / hotel at the entrance, The Victoria Inn (more of a traditional kind than countryside type).
But for our stay, we had decided to book a cottage through the National Trust Holidays. They have plenty of quirky properties. Not just in Norfolk of course. And if we decide to try Cornwall or Scotland for example, I will definitely use their services again. The place we stayed at, 'The Tower' (near Aylsham), was very faithful to the pictures on their website, extremely clean and tidy, all sheets, towels etc had been provided of course, and the house was very well heated. And most importantly it looked amazing inside and outside, and was located on a National Trust property, Blickling Hall, so we were extremely well situated to go for beautiful walks straight from our doorstep. When my daughter saw the pictures of the 'cottage', she was overjoyed and excited. It looked like a mini castle so she was the princess and we were the queen and king...
As I mentioned, from The Tower, we did some wonderful walks on the estate, either leading to Blickling Hall itslef, or beyond, where every time we found some amazing pubs to take a well deserved break. Next to Blickling Hall, the Bucks Arms has a lovely, warm countryside atmosphere, with lots of food options (from traditional British pub cuisine to Asian inspired dishes) and plenty of choices for kids. The portions are massive so make sure you build an appetite before getting there! My favourite pub though was The Walpole Arms in Itteringham (a 60 minute walk from The Tower roughly). The food there is very refined (I had some scrambled eggs with truffle which were delightful). It obviously also had a kids menu. And it can be enjoyed both inside next to a hearty fire or outside in a pretty garden under the sun (when that's an option!).
My daughter also went for an encounter with seals on a fishing boat which, despite the cold, she really enjoyed... The seals did not seem to be doing much and honestly did not look particularly cute. But for kids, I think the whole boat trip adventure, the real life experience of animals in the 'wilderness' was more than enough to make her ecstatic! There are plenty of companies which offer seal trips, we used Beans Boat Trips (they all seem to offer similar services).
And on a rainy day, we tried the Norwich Castle Museum which had a special exhibit on dragons and vikings (based on Cressida Cowell's novel and its adaptation on screen as 'How to train your dragon') so my daughter obviously loved it. In normal times, there are permanent art works and history on Norfolk and its origins which are quite entertaining for kids so a possible option when walks or beaches are ruled out.
Et voila! A memorable trip for all of us. Hope this made you consider visiting Norfolk too!