Ready for a holiday
If city life is a bit too much hustle and bustle for you, then try a break in the countryside
Review by David Wakefield
Fancy the kind of break that takes you into the heart of the rural countryside – peaceful, quiet, the ultimate “getting away from it all” holiday? Well, even in this day and and age that is possible. You can do it in the Norfolk countryside, on a farm, no less; but you won’t be roughing it. And, it gets even better. Rural peace is yours for the asking; but, 15 minutes drive away, is one of Britain’s finest cities, steeped in history, with great shopping and exceptional restaurants. All this can be found at Fielding Cottage, at Honingham, Norfolk.
This a venture of diversification by young farmer/entrepreneur Sam Steggles, who not only has his own farm at 36, but has developed the holiday accommodation alongside a successful goat cheese processing set-up and a goat skin care business. The goats cheese connection was (and pardon the mixed metaphor) the icing on the cake for me. I adore goat’s cheese; I love the smell, the texture and the unique taste. And, just to demonstrate that my taste is good, Sam’s cheeses can be found on the shelves at Waitrose, as well as local farmers’ markets.
My wife and I enjoyed a short stay at The Nest, which sleeps two – one of the units in Fieldings Cottage (there are also two units that sleep up to four). Superbly equipped and finished it comprises a double bedroom, a large ensuite bathroom with shower, a well-equipped kitchen, and a cosy lounge area with television. There is also a games room, and a large open space for outside dining and picnics. The two larger units are ideal for families with young children who can, if they wish, meet the goats! There is also a chance to take part in a cheese-making course (details below).
The Goat Shed is the on-site shop selling the cheese, goat’s milk, seasonable vegetables (including excellent asparagus) and basics like eggs, coffee, jams and honey, plus the award-winning Field Cottage skincare range.
As well as offering peace and quiet, the Cottage is an ideal base to explore what Norfolk has to offer. The famous Broads are about 40 minutes drive away, and a slightly longer trip can take visitors up to the north Norfolk coast, and resorts like Cromer and Sheringham.
Should guests fancy some extra effort, then the gym, pool, sauna and steam room, tennis and squash courts at the nearby Barnham Broom Hotel, Spa and Golf Club, can be used as part of the stay.
Norwich, The Fine City, is a mere 15 minutes drive along the nearby A47, and is really a “must” for Norfolk visitors. With Norwich City Football Club (The Canaries) having just been promoted back to the Premiership there is a real buzz around at the moment. Visit the castle, built by order of William The Conqueror, and packed with art treasures or visit Norwich Cathedral, building of which was begun in the 11th century, which has some fine stained-glass windows and one of the largest cloisters in the country. And, just like Liverpool, Norwich has “one to spare”, the Roman Catholic Cathedral which is also endowed with many wonderful items of gothic splendour. There are also museums, open spaces, and one of the best selection of restaurants to be found in any UK city – from Thai to Turkish! We, however, decided to drive the five minutes or so from the farm to eat at The Buck, in Honingham. This pub-restaurant combines the ambience of a village “local” with top-class dining using local produce and ingredients, served by a cheerful staff. Then back to our Nest for a very peaceful night’s sleep. Not even the goats disturbed us!
Fielding Cottage, Honingham, Norwich, Norfolk, NR9 5DJ/ 01603 880685/ www.fieldingcottagenorfolkholidays.co.uk
Goats cheese making courses:
Regular courses with dates from June 8,9,21,22; August 16,17,30 and 31. The courses are for a maximum of 16 people, and tickets are sold per individual. They can be purchases on the website for £80 per person.
For full details of places to see and visit in the city, contact Visit Norwich or call 01603 213999.
Honingham Buck is at 29 The Street; telephone 01603 880393