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Well 2020 is fun!!!!

So how’s everyone been? Are we all having a great 2020?!

So it’s evident that I am not good at writing regular blogs so I’m not even going to apologise for it. Well this year has been different hasn’t it, who saw a pandemic coming and full on lockdown? I was furloughed at the end of March and went back to work a few weeks ago and reopened on the 1st June.

Furlough flew by for me, I read my body weight in books, did a few IGTV’s which I’ve never done before, did an online Excel course and walked 100 miles on a virtual walk around Cornwall – all from my home in on the Norfolk / Suffolk border. Keeping myself occupied and being productive was definitely the best way for me to deal with lockdown as it still felt like I was doing stuff rather than sitting and eating all the time. Having wonderful weather during furlough was also a massive blessing and having a garden to sit outside and enjoy the sun.

Going back to work has been great. I enjoyed my time off but going back has been lovely. Seeing people again and being able to talk to customers and colleagues – as humans we really do need contact and conversation. I can see by the customers I have seen so far that the freedom to come out, shop and talk to people has the ability to really lift the spirits.

I also kept busy with my Etsy shop Feather and Fauna. I set this up last August selling vintage prints of birds and animals and it’s built up very nicely. I always wanted a project that was mine, so having my own small business is an absolute joy allowing me to have a creative outlet and earn some extra money.

Starting this shop has given me such a buzz and I thoroughly enjoy collecting the prints and then doing the photography for them. Lockdown has been good for business seeing plenty of orders coming in and some of them going off to the US and Netherlands.

Yesterday afternoon we went to the beach for the first time in months, it was SO lovely to see and hear the sea again and breathe in that sea air, feel the sand squish between my toes and let any tension just wash out with the tide. The first real sense of freedom had returned and I look forward to getting to visit some of our other favourites places soon.

I’m lucky that my friends and family have all been well during this uncertain time and have had the wonderful news that I will be an Auntie again in October. I hope you and your families are well, I’ll try and make it less than a year before I post again but who knows lol!

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A Scottish getaway

Hubby and I have always holidayed in Scotland, our first holiday together was after 6 months or so of dating when we went up to Oban and continued to visit the West Coast on a number of occasions as it’s so majestic in its scenery. However when my sister in law moved up to Scotland to move in with her Scottish boyfriend and now husband, she moved more on the East side so we have visited there ever since.

We haven’t always managed to get up there every year as we tend to only have one proper holiday a year and Cornwall is always calling me in a different direction. However, now we have a niece on the scene, she’s about 18 months old and as cute as a button – the pull to go to Scotland again is strong. Our holiday there last year was amazing and we stayed in a cute traditional little bothy and this year we did self catering again and stayed at Cornescrorn Cottages and ours was called The Byre and from the second we walked in, we could have moved in – it was gorgeous. Like a home from home, nothing not to like, loved the decor, loved the layout, loved the atmosphere and location. Positioned about 2 miles up a very bumpy road (ideally a 4×4 would have been handy) but heading off to somewhere so remote was quite exciting. Two cottages positioned together, no one staying in the other one while we were there so other than the occasional visit from the farmer to tend the sheep, we were on our own and my god – it was heaven.

We were so lucky with the weather, beautiful sunshine most days and light that streamed into the Byre was gorgeous. Chicken soup for the soul to be able to sit in the living area, looking out of the window at rabbits, cows, sheep, pheasants with mountains as the perfect backdrop. It really was exactly what I needed. I have had a lot of anxiety lately which I’ll cover in another blog when I feel ready, but I needed this break and I needed this level of serenity.

We spent a lot of time with sis in law and little’n which was so nice to have such quality time together. Jason’s parents had just moved up there from North Norfolk, literally about a week before we arrived so we got to see their new home and feel satisfied that they were going to be really settled and happy there.

Mid week we had a trip to Dundee where we visited the V&A and also went on the Discovery ship which was of course built for Scotts expedition to the Antarctic which was amazing to not only see but to go on and imagine the history of it. My favourite part was the dining hall and the cabins where they all slept, they were cute little rooms and beautifully preserved. Such an amazing piece of history to be able to visit.

Jason’s sister is an artist and has launched her business Lou Campbell Art so we went to Peel Farm which is one of the places she sells her artwork and we also helped her get some new shots together for her to use on social media so that was a lot of fun. She’s very talented and her products are available to purchase online so check her out and give her a follow on Instagram.

Louise took me to The House of Bruar as she said she’d take me shopping for the day and we’d have lunch and I was bit sceptical that we could be at one place all day but we were there quite a while. The best way I can think to describe it to someone from Norfolk is, think about Roys of Wroxham on steroids and by that I mean Harrods standards!!! It’s amazing! I mean I have high standards being in retail myself but this place is beyond immaculately presented and such a wide selection of products from interiors and art to clothing to the food hall. If I was ever to move to Scotland, I would need to work here although I’m not sure I’d rock the uniform – a mid shin length tartan pleated skirt!!

I think this was the first holiday we’ve had where we were more than happy to head back to our accommodation in the afternoon and literally just stay there and sit and enjoy the sun, open a beer for hubby and a bottle of wine for me, I would sit there and read and Jason was doing some whittling and both be utterly happy and content. Quick mention, my holiday reading was The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. A book about walking the South West Coast which may be odd when I was as far from it as I could be, but what a beautiful book. I seriously recommend it. It’s not often I get through a whole book in a few days but I literally struggled to put it down.

I think we both learnt with this holiday that sometimes it’s ok not to do much. Sometimes you need to just sit down and take time out. It’s important to allow yourself time to recharge and rejuvenate in order to be able to go back to your normal life, and carry on with renewed vigour. You have to learn to listen to your body and your mind and go – you know what – I need a rest, and that’s ok. It’s something we don’t always do enough of but it makes a difference.

 

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Show me the coffee!

Coffee is a pretty vital part of many peoples lives but to me, I’ve never really been in to hot drinks. Fizzy drinks, squash, juice – I’d live off them, cold good hot bad. The occasional hot chocolate if I was really cold but I would never touch coffee with a barge pole. I’m not even sure how or when it changed exactly. I think it was last summer having sweet iced drinks from Costa and having a shot in them and it just developed from there.

Since then I’ve had nothing but caramel lattes as I like the sweetness and how mellow and easy it is to drink. It’s been nice actually feeling like a grown up finally and being able to have a coffee when asked rather than saying ‘no I’m fine’ or ‘can I have a Diet Coke’ and feeling like a child in the company of adults.

It just feels more sociable and it’s so nice to be able to enjoy the many coffee shops that are prevalent everywhere. Norwich is my local city, I work there, I shop there so it’s still a bit of a novelty to now be able to enjoy going into proper independent coffee shops and have a grown up drink. the big chain stores are all very well, they are quick, easy and convenient but there is something different about going into a small independent and supporting local.

Norwich, or rather the people of Norwich are lucky to have some great choices like Strangers, Artel, Alchemista and the newest one I visited yesterday is Fika.

Fika is located on Wensum Street which is not far down from The Maids Head Hotel and it’s run by Mark and only opened a week or so ago but we popped in yesterday and Jason had his normal Americano which he devoured and I had my latte which was so smooth! I am weaning myself off caramel shots, I only ever have them at home or if I go to Costa. I don’t think proper coffee drinkers would dream of putting a shot of anything in their coffee other than – another shot of coffee!

My tastes are definitely developing, even this morning instead of having my normal instant coffee I have done myself a filter coffee with a blend from Strangers and I’m really enjoying it. I can’t see me getting to a stage where I’m drinking black Americanos but you never know.

Along with our delicious Fika coffee we each had a vegan chocolate knot pastry which are freshly made each day and were rather delicious. It’s a small coffee shop but it oozes style, there are quirks and colour and character in addition to just being a great place to sit and have a chat or get your coffee to go.

You’re never far from a coffee shop these days but it does make a difference if you can get to an independent. Retail in any form is tough these days, I should know, I manage a furniture showroom so every customer counts. Supporting what is on your high street counts. If big chains feel the pinch just imagine how hard it is for smaller stores to compete and survive. It take guts to set up a new business these days so I urge you, wherever possible, to support your shops. We need the help and if you’re going to get a great cup of coffee and help a small business in the process – well surely that’s a no brainier.

Blog, featured, life, Norfolk, Norwich, Out and about, Reviews, Reviews

The Cosy Club

Last. night I visited The Cosy Club in Norwich for the second time and had great night. It’s quite new to Norwich and is just up the street from The Ivy on London Street in the old Nat West Bank which closed back in 2017. Cosy Club is part of a chain with 20 restaurants across the country with this one being the latest. It’s a listed building and when you go inside you can see why. It’s stunning setting with loads of the traditional bank character still there (you can fo downstairs and see the vaults), lots of Art Deco aspects but has been designed to be a bit of everything. there are vintage touches and the whole place screams opulence with more chandeliers than you can shake a stick at.

I’d say it’s a bit more affordable than The Ivy and you don’t feel like you have to be too dressed up to go in there so if The Ivy intimidates you, The Cosy Club would be perfect.

The menu is really good, all normal food like steaks, curry, burgers etc. Last night I had The Major General Burger which was delicious.- first time I’ve had a burger with Mac and cheese in it – omg a revelation! I tucked into so quickly I had Eno photo to show you, you’ll just have to take my word for it lol. Food is served all day so you can go in from 9am for brekkie all the way through to 10pm for dinner. I must recommend the drinks menu – I love a tipple!! Cocktails galore and last night as I was driving I chose from the mocktail menu and chose the Blood Orange Mojito which was amazing.

Dessert I chose the mini cinnamon donuts which came with chocolate and toffee sauce and were naughty but oh my god nice.

I would 100% recommend giving The Cosy Club a visit for any occasion, pop in for coffee or get a table booked for a special occasion. I will definitely be going back.

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Bungay – a unique little town

This week I have a well earned week off and so far it seems I’ve picked a good week as it’s crisp out there but lovely and bright and blue skies have shone through and it certainly doesn’t look like December.

Yesterday was such a beautuful day I decided I should get my backside out of the house and head into Bungay for a walk. It’s only about a mile but it’s a really nice walk over Ditchingham Dam and then heading up Bridge Street which is renowned for it’s colourful houses. 

Bungay has loads of lovely little independent shops especially on Earsham Street where all my favourites are. My first port of call was Aurina who sell some gorgeous home interior and gift items and in addition to a bespoke service where they can make you curtains, cushions etc in any of their unique fabrics. They have 2 stores, Bungay and Burnham Market and it’s nigh on impossible to not buy something when you’re in there even if it’s the rather cool notebook I got myself yesterday!

Bungay is lucky enough to have a tradtional greengrocers called Giddens & Thompson plus a fresh fish shop where we sometimes treat ourselves to fresh crab. It’s lovely that we have these shops in town as so many of these more traditional stores have gone by the wayside so it’s important to be able to support local whenever you can. 

Down the far end of Earsham Street is where you’ll find Earsham Street Delicatessen and Bells of Suffolk. The deli is my favorite shop in town, Michelle stocks some wonderful food items and pays such attention to detail in her visual merchandising. There is a made to order sandwich and coffee counter (without doubt the best coffee I’ve had) I could do with her delivering one to me each morning to set me up for the day.

It’s such a good place to go for gifts particularly at this time of year as you can make up your own hamper of goodies and will be utterly spoilt for choice as to what you put in. Plus there’s always something yummy by the counter tempting you such a the tiny mince pies shown below. Panettones,  mulled wine, cheese and biscuits – the deli won’t let you down.

Bells of Suffolk sell some great  home interior items and do some gorgeous Christmas decorations which is what I was looking for yesterday and treated myself and my Christmas tree to a few new decs. 

The Art Trading Company will fill all your budding artist needs for Christmas presents be it for the novice artist or those who are more accomplished than myself plus they provide a framing service for those pieces you wish to gift or put up on your walls at home.

The Little Green Wholefood Shop is your go to place if you are trying to live healthier and more environmentally friendly. If  you want to be Gluten, sugar, dairy free they will be able to help you buy some great ingredients. 

From fresh fruit and veg to beers and spirits to shampoo and washing powder, this little shop has the lot and is a gem of a store.

Crocks is a Bungay institution as it has been there forever, they always have the best window displays and sell some great gift items if you want some thing that little bit different.

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The Ivy

Last week Splendid_chap and I visited the newly opened Ivy Norwich.

There was quite a lot of pre opening hype and then all the cool Norwich bloggers were invited for the pre opening ( I’m not a cool Norwich blogger by the way ) I’m one of the uncool ones feeling jealous of the cool ones gettting a free invite and a free meal.

I booked online and chose an early afternoon reservation as it just suited our plans for the day, hubby had a lunchtime hair appointment so we had a very late lunch and a very early dinner.

We were welcomed at the door and seated upstairs and like all the photos we’ve all seen in Instagram, it has been beautifully decorated. There are references to Norwich within the decor such as the Castle, the Cathedral and yellow canaries to represent the football team. It’s a nice touch that it’s not just a generic decor scheme.

Our waiter Lee was fantastic and really looked after us with a great sense of humour and professionalism.

The menu is pretty big. I, as always, have my priorities straight and concentrated on the cocktail menu first and chose a rhubarb and raspberry crumble cocktail which was huge and delicious!

The food menu has loads of choice, almost too much choice but I opted for smoked salmon and crab to start as I thought it would be quite light and it was. Absolutely delicious, plenty of salmon, some yummy crab and rye bread on the side, just what I fancied and made a reallly lovely starter.

I follwed this up with The Ivy Shepherd’s Pie as I wanted something warming after a cold starter. It was so rich and umptious with a little gravy boat on the side and a healthy portion of French beans and peas. It was sublime. You know when you get a meal and every single mouthful gets you making yummy noises – this was one of those meals.

I couldn’t manage a dessert so had a coffee but couldn’t resist a taste of hubby’s cappuccino cake with milk foam which was unbelievably rich but still light at the same time. He’s lucky I didn’t demolish it for him, it was so good.

I really can’t fault the experience that we had at The Ivy, I know others that have not been impressed and I know others that have been back a few times already. My personal experience was it is a beautiful restaurant and the food, staff and service were without fault. It wasn’t cheap, but I didn’t expect it to be. We did have a 3 course meal with a cocktail so I was almost surprised the bill was not higher.

This is a great place for a special occasion meal but you can just go in for a coffee or breakfast and lunch. If you’re thinking of going, go, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Norwich just got that little bit better.

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Goodies Food Hall

Splendid_chap and I had Thursday off together this week, I managed to have a lie in which always makes me very happy and it was a nice, leisurely start to the day. We were heading into Norwich at lunchtime as we were meeting up with his parents for lunch but as we’d had no brekkie, we decided to head out mid morning and visit  Goodies Food Hall in Pulham and get ourselves a coffee and possibly a snack to keep us going until lunch.

We’ve been here a few times after having it recommended to us by my folks and this week a friend had told us they served the best coffee he’d had anywhere so we thought, well why not go back. We’ve never been in the cafe before so it seemed ideal to go in and grab a cup of char to start the day off. I hasn’t realised the cafe was so big and that they serve more than just tea and cakes. There’s quite a menu and it all sounded delicious.

My eyes zoomed in the cheese scones pretty quickly and Splendid_chap had a sausage roll and a fruit scone. Along with a latte for me and an Americano for him, we took a seat and tucked in and it was possibly the best cheese scone I’ve ever had!! I’d definitely go back there again for a proper lunch because there is a lovely selection and you can tell it’s all freshly prepared. I have to say some of the cakes were huge, the Bakewell slice looked amazing but could have fed an army.

 

The shop itself is fantastic, such a vast selection of produce from pickles and jams to meat and fish to chinaware and kitchen accessories.

There is great selection of drinks if your alcohol minded like myself so I must admit the selection of gins caught my attention pretty quickly especially as they all local ones and I’m a firm believer that if you can support local, then you should.

My rather lovely husband treated me to a Black Shuck gift box which was a bottle of the gin along with a huge glass which I’m looking forward to filling later this evening! I haven’t yet tried the Norfolk Gin but I’m in love with the packaging.

The butchery section is to die for, so much choice. A tray of Chinese spare ribs caught my eye but I had to resist, I need to be losing weight not putting more on. There is also some lovely fresh produce in the grocery secrion as you walk in which just makes you realise how well you can eat if you can buy this sort of quality product rather than plastic packaged stuff that the supermarkets are full of.

I’d definitely recommend visiting the cafe or if you need gift ideas for someone then Goodies can put a hamper together for you. It’s a little gem of a place and it serves a damn fine cup of coffee.

Blog, featured, life, Norfolk, Norwich, Out and about

One proud wife

Yesterday I had a very rare Sunday off work which in the world of retail is a rarity but I had it booked off for a very good reason, my husband SplendidChap was running his first 10k race. This year was the 4th annual Run Norwich 10k race organised by Norwich City FC Community Sports Foundation which takes place in the city centre starting on Gentlemans Walk and taking runners past some of the city’s best sights such as the museum and cathedral to end up at the finish line directly outside City Hall.

Jason ( SplendidChap ) has been running for a year now, having lost a staggering 6 stone in weight he began running with the 5k Pro Runner app and having achieved not being able to run anywhere, to doing 5k with no problem, he signed himself up to do the 10k.

Having done plenty of training and doing a 10k run around where we live not 3 days prior, I had no doubt he would smash it.

Adrenaline kicked in and he was pretty nervous Sunday morning as running on your own is one thing, running with approx 5000 other people is a bit different but he turned those nerves into determination and from the second he set off, he loved it.

Now it has to be said that it was bloody hot in Norwich on Sunday, as it is every day at the moment in this heatwave so it wasn’t ideal running conditions for anyone but you can’t control the weather so they all just got on with it and sweated their bits off!

The runners were split into 5 different groups determined by their running experience and they start at 3 minute intervals. Jason was in the last group but I was adamant I wanted to be at the start line to see him off so once he went through to the runners enclosure, I set off to Gents Walk which meant cutting through to the Forum where it seemed like most of Norfolk had gathered!

I’m not that good in crowds, I get a bit panicky so I made my way through as quickly as I could hoping not everywhere would be so busy and luckily I got to the starting point and barely anyone was there so I grabbed my place right at the start line like a tourist grabbing a sun lounger on holiday. I found my place and I wasn’t shifting for anyone.

As the runners were moved down in their groups toward the start line the atmosphere grew, such a buzz of excitement from runners and spectators it was amazing. The master of ceremonies advising us all on his microphone how long there was to wait along with some great music playing. I knew when the Star Wars theme tune came on that Jason would be uber excited.

Each group were counted down from 10 and then they were off. After Jason’s group set off and I spotted him crossing the start line I headed off to Castle Meadow and managed to see him there too. Spotting one person out of 5000 takes some doing I can tell you, you can’t lose concentration or you miss them.

Then I headed to the finish line thinking that I’d try to get ahead before the rest of the city descended to the same place so I hightailed off and managed to get right on the finish line. I missed the first and second place runners finish who flew round and did it in about 35 minutes! I stayed put and at 1 hour 9 minutes I saw my man looking jubilant as he crossed the line and in a great time, 4 minutes faster than he’d done a few days beforehand.

All credit to the organisers and the volunteers, this really was such a great event and I’m so glad I took the day off work to go to it and support Jason. He’ll definitely be signing up to do it again next year and if you get a chance, I’d recommend going to it. Norwich did itself proud, it really is a wonderful city and so lovely when you see the kind of support this kind of event attracts. I’m one very proud wife.

 

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Fur and Feather

So today is Norfolk day and happens to be our day off which is handy although the heatwave is still in full swing  and is getting a bit beyond everyone’s comfort level now. I love sun, I love good weather but when it hits 30 degrees and beyond and your air con in the car doesn’t work – the novelty starts to wear thin.

Being that it is Norfolk Day we had to head upwards a bit as we needed to pop into Norwich anyway so we carried onto to Woodbastwick which is near Wroxham and went to the Fur and Feather for a nice cooling drink.

We’ve been here a few times before for family meals but never really just stopped off just the two of us for a drink. It has a really good sized beer garden and it’s a beautiful looking pub as you can see.

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Norfolk Day was getting in full swing here too as Archers Butchers had set up and burgers and sausages were starting to sizzle plus this is a Woodfordes Brewery so always a good pint to be had here.

Given the heat we just went for a lime and soda each as you need something cold and refreshing in this weather but it was so lovely to sit in the beer garden and we chose a table right near one of the county hares from GoGo Hares . His name is Hareatio Nelson and he’s the first county hare I’ve seen so far and very nice he was too.

IMG_3848

The pub has a lovely Woodfordes shop behind it with loads of lovely goodies to tempt you into purchasing. I’m not really a beer drinker so I always make a beeline for the gin section and the Black Shuck gin range. There’s no bad gin in my opinion.

SplendidChap met up with his friend Adam who works there a small a graphic designer and who came up with the fantastic new Nelson logo for the company which was pretty cool to see his work on all the products.

It’s a really lovely place to visit either for a quick lunch if that’s all you have time for but more for a chilled out long lunch or a great catch up with friends over an evening meal. It’s not a place you feel rushed or want to be rushed away from so if you have a special occasion coming up, or like ,e, you don’t need an excuse for a great meal, then I’d recommend visiting the Fur And Feather, Woodbastwick.

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Wake me up before you GoGo

No, this isn’t a post about Wham or George Michael although I could quite happily chat about him until the cows come home. This is about the wonderful city of Norwich, the place where I work, being home to GoGo Hares.In case you haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about Break Charity have teamed up with Wild In Art to create a large scale art sculpture trail. This involves 50 pretty big sculptures of hares around 5ft tall, all the same design, but individually painted by different artists to create a unique trail in the city. The hares are positioned all around Norwich and set up as a trail and numbered so you can explore the city and collect all the hares.IMG_3296This concept follows on from GoGo Gorillas back in 2013 and then GoGo Dragons in 2015.  In addition to the city hares there are also 18 county hares dotted further out which are a different design and if this wasn’t enough there are 150 baby leveret hares that can be found in any variety of different shops and restaurants that form part of a learning programme called GoGoCreate which are all painted by children.The hares are on display from 24th June to 8th September and there are GoGo Hare leaflets available from places like the  Forum which contain a trail map to follow so you know where in the city the hares are located. There is also a really good app you can download where you can log the hares you’ve found by entering a unique 4 digit number. This then tells you how many you have found and you can unlock rewards and it just adds to the fun of it.

Now it may sound like you have to have kids to enjoy this but my husband and I have no kids, we’re in our early 40’s and we really enjoyed spending a day in the city looking for hares. It’s gets you to visit some parts of the city you may not normally go to. Now don’t get me wrong, you’re unlikely to do all of them in one day, I like clocking up my steps but it’s a lot of walking so I’d recommend if you’re going to do this as a family activity, possibly break it down into 2 or 3 different sessions.Because the hares are all painted by different artists, they vary a great deal. Some are based on Norwich and depict scenes from the city and some are based on history and even films. This is part of what makes it such fun that there is such a variety of styles and subjects. Here are a few of my favourites.

I’ve still got 7 city hares to find and haven’t seen any county ones yet.All 50 hares will be auctioned off to raise money for Break on Thursday 11th by auction house TW Gaze.  is a registered charity and works tirelessly to make life better for vulnerable children, young people and families.It really is a great idea and a fantastic addition to an already wonderful city and I’d wholeheartedly recommend spending a day on the hare trail.