Home Farm Blog

Fancy treating your mum this mother’s day? How about booking a last minute weekend break in one of our luxury cottages where she can be surrounded by her family and spoilt rotten. 
There’s no better way to say thanks than to give her a bit of time to relax and unwind on the North Norfolk coast and treat her to a scrumptious mother’s day lunch at one of these popular venues.
North Creake
If you’re a fan of a traditional pub atmosphere and good food then look no further than the Jolly Farmers. The menu offers a great variety of seasonal and locally sourced meals ranging from traditional pub grub to impressive daily specials.
The Victoria is a short stroll from the famous and very beautiful Holkham Beach. It’s a very welcoming place to stop and indulge in a delicious plate of food after an exhilarating walk on the beach. Serving fresh, local and seasonal is paramount for the chefs at the Victoria; you can enjoy beef and venison straight from the Holkham estate as well as delicious fresh fish that’s caught on the North Norfolk coast. Food is served from 8am so you can even pop in for a hearty breakfast if you don’t fancy cooking breakfast in your cottage.
The White Horse offers spectacular views over the Norfolk Coastal path and marsh making it a beautiful place to dine. The chefs pride themselves on cooking up fresh local produce including an abundance of locally caught fish and seafood, which is delivered by the local village fishermen. You can’t get fish any fresher than straight off the boat!
The Orange Tree is a contemporary styled pub situated in the beautiful village of Thornham. It has won many awards including the Dining Pub of the year for two consecutive years. Their award winning food is innovative and the executive chef, Philip Milner is well known for his seafood dishes including wild seabass and razor clams. There are a variety of dishes that will suit most tastes, ranging from the pub classics to contemporary cuisine.
Titchwell, Nr Brancaster
Titchwell Manor was the winner of the EDP best restaurant of the year 2013 and we can fully understand why. The two restaurants on site offer a truly gastronomic experience. The Eating Rooms offers a more informal and relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy a selection of dishes from their large brasserie menu or book a table at the conservatory where you can savour a 7 course evening meal. On Sundays both menus combine plus there’s the opportunity to tuck into a traditional Sunday roast too. Delicious!

Here at the Green Room and at Cranmer Country Cottages we factored in sustainability and eco-responsibility from the get-go of our business planning. Our vision was to “create a high quality sustainable self-catering holiday destination while minimising the impact of our business activities on the environment’.

Holidays don’t sit comfortably in the ‘go green’ model. Transport is a major stumbling block if, like us you are offering beautiful rural isolation as part of your appeal. Incentives to travel ‘green’ are never taken up (back to the drawing board there).  Holidaymakers who regularly recycle at home are less likely to want to bother on their holiday. We work hard to enable our guests to ‘Go Green at Cranmer’ and have comprehensive recycling facilities but if they want to dump all their rubbish in one bag, there is little we can do about it. It’s OK to do a Rotweiller impression in the office but prowling around the cottages checking into bins is an absolute no-no.  However, we can pat ourselves on the back as our supplier recycles over 90% of waste collected. So ‘A-’with some way still to go.

 Another stumbling block for rural sustainability has been a reliance on oil for heating and hot water. Oh, and we also have a stunning, heated indoor swimming pool.  Over the years we have installed a 20kw wind turbine, 2 ground source heat pumps and 50kw of solar thermal.
Sustainable  ü. However, the swimming pool was always a stumbling block so this summer, with much blood, sweat and tears and expense, we commissioned a 100kw biomass boiler. Swimming pool ü. Heating for the office and house ü. Heating for the cottages previously running on calor
gas and oil ü.

 Why is it such a responsibility?  Whether you believe in the problems of climate change or not the undisputed fact is that we are running out of fossil fuels (the clue is in the word – fossil). We have heard many arguments over why renewables are not efficient, cost too much and are a blot on the landscape but the stark fact is that we have no choice. We have to find different sources of energy otherwise we will run out. Power cuts may be just a threat at the moment (price rises are currently a very hot potato) but they are inevitable if we concentrate purely on the now and fail to invest in sustainable energy sources. Yes, they are expensive to install and run but we have to start somewhere and as the technology improves, it will get cheaper. Electricity was so expensive to install originally that only the very rich were able to benefit. And building electricity systems from scratch was hardly economic. And electricity pylons are not beautiful. And which would you rather have?  Wind farms or Chinese-funded nuclear power stations.


We have no choice.


It’s been a steep learning curve and we are happy to share our experiences with others, which we will do in this blog. Please keep reading.  And let us have your comments.


It only feels like yesterday when we were celebrating Christmas and welcoming the New Year in, the last 6 weeks seem to have flown by and now we are only a matter of a few days away from the February half term.

There are a few events and activities taking place throughout Norfolk that will keep the family entertained during the half term break, we’ve picked out a few of our favourites below.

Bee a Nature Explorer
Pensthorpe Natural Park
15th – 23rdFebruary
Become a nature explorer and buzz around the nature reserve trail discovering bugs, beasts and wonderful creatures that make Pensthorpe their home. Finish the day with a marathon play in the new WildRootz adventure play area where there’s dens to build, zip wires to ride, slides to whiz down and much more to climb and explore too.
Family Nest Building Workshop
Creake Abbey
15th February
Join the Sculthorpe Moor Nature Team at Creake Abbey where you can build your very own nesting box which you can take home to put up in the garden. You will also have the opportunity to visit a barn owl roost, see their nest box and learn some very interesting facts about owls and birds of prey that live in the UK. 
Walsingham Abbey Snowdrop Walk
Throughout February 
Walsingham Abbey is home to the spectacular ruins of a medieval priory and pilgrimage and during February the grounds are more breathtaking than usual as they are covered in a blanket of snowdrops. Snowdrops are always a sure sign that spring is on the way as they are the first flowers to emerge from the ground after winter. The grounds are open every day throughout February and visitors can explore over 18 acres of woodland that’s covered in a blanket of snowdrops. 
The Mystery of the Missing Brooch: a Gressenhall Treasure Hunt!
Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse
17th – 21stFebruary
Lady Hermione was visiting Gressenhall Workhouse to meet some of the deserving inmates when she realised that she had lost her favourite brooch! Come and follow the clues, crack the code and search the workhouse. Can you find the location of the missing brooch? Discover what other accessories a fashionable Victorian like Lady Hermione might wear and make your own badge to take home in Art Attack!
Norwich Dragon Festival
Various Locations in Norwich
10th – 23rdFebruary
Did you know that Dragons have been a heraldic symbol that’s been closely connected to Norwich since the middle ages? As a result of this very special connection, the Norwich Dragon Festival showcases two weeks of family fun packed activities that celebrate the dragon and it’s ties with Norwich. There’s nearly 70 events planned in over 25 locations throughout the city, so come and see fire breathing dragons, get involved with dragon themed arts and crafts and take a quest to discover dragons throughout the city.
Boggle Wish Bonfire
15th – 23rdFebruary
This curious treehouse adventure park is packed full of adventures and interesting characters. This half term the Boggles will be sprinkling their magic and lighting up the warming fires throughout the park. So head down to ride zipwires, clamber across jungle bridges, slide down slippery slopes and enjoy the party. There will also be storytelling and the opportunity to create your very own wish-making potion which you can take to the fire pit to make all your wishes come true.
Teddy Bear Express
Bure Valley Railway
15th – 23rd February
Enjoy a steam train journey in the heart of the Norfolk Broads. This half term we’re inviting your teddy bears to join in on the fun by offering free travel for every child who brings their own teddy. (Child has to be accompanied by a fee paying adult. Terms & conditions apply) There’s also a teddy competition, teddy themed colouring in and scrummy teddy bear children’s meals are available at the whistlestop café too. 
Although it’s a little late we’d like to wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. We’ve had a busy start to 2014 as we’re currently connecting our brand new biomass boiler to our older cottages meaning we’ve made a huge step of reducing our carbon footprint and we will soon wave goodbye to fossil fuels for good (well, apart from a little gas we use for the cookers). Whilst this work happens, we’re also refurbishing a few rooms in the cottages and we look forward to all the final touches being completed in early February.

January is also a busy month as we receive lots of enquiries and bookings from people who are planning their annual holidays. The summer months are already looking very busy for us and we’re looking forward to welcoming new and returning guests throughout the year.

Last summer brought us beautiful, hot sunny days and we are hoping for the same this year. For us, there is no better place to be in the world on a hot summers day than enjoying the great outdoors in North Norfolk. From coast to countryside and everything in between, there’s something for everyone. It’s the perfect destination for a staycation.
But, summer isn’t the only time to visit North Norfolk as the area is always bustling with activity. As a result, we’ve put together our A to Z of things to do and see in North Norfolk and hope you get to enjoy some, or all of them, when you visit.
Attractions – There is something for everyone to visit in North Norfolk. Stroll around large stately homes, learn something new in the museums and view local artists work in the galleries. Nature lovers will enjoy the big choice of nature reserves nearby and families will be spoilt for choice with the family friendly attractions.
Beach Huts – If you fancy having a base by the sea then there’s not better way to do this than by hiring a traditional beach hut. Wells-next-the-Sea and Old Hunstanton both have beach huts that are available for daily and weekly hire.
Crabbing – This is a fun and cheap way of entertaining the children for a few hours and can become quite addictive! Pick yourself up a crabbing kit, which includes a crabbing line, bucket and some bait (bacon always works a treat!) and head to Wells Harbour Quay, Blakeney Quay or Burnham Overy Staithe to see how many crabs you can catch.
Dungeons – Norwich Castle is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and was built by the Normans as a palace over 900 years ago. It is full of interesting exhibitions and historic treasures that the whole family will enjoy discovering. For the fearless and sceptical people out there, how about a tour of the famously haunted dungeons… you may just find yourself covered in goosebumps whilst you’re down there!

Exercise – For those of you who enjoy an active life, there are plenty of ways to keep fit and get some exercise when you’re away without it feeling like it’s a chore. Our heated indoor swimming pool and tennis courts are available for all of our guests to use when staying in our cottages, we can also help organise cycle hire so you can pedal around the countryside and enjoy the beautiful views. The coast is a popular place to enjoy an invigorating walk or run and being by the water also means there are plenty of watersports to enjoy too.

Farmers Markets – Stock up on delicious seasonal produce at one of our many farmers markets. There are monthly markets in Fakenham, Holt, Blakeney and at Creake Abbey in North Creake. The area also has plenty of farm shops and other fantastic food outlets that sell locally produced food and drink, full details can be found here.
Grey and Common Seals – Blakeney point is famous for its huge seal colonies of both Grey and Common seals. During the winter months the Grey seals have their pups giving visitors the opportunity to see little white fluffy pups braving the elements whilst the common seals have their young between June – August. There are several boat trips available to book on a daily basis but we recommend you book to avoid disappointment. We think the seal trips are a fantastic opportunity to get up close to some of the UK’s favourite wildlife residents and an experience we highly recommend to all of our visitors.
Holkham – Holkham is a thriving 25,000-acre agricultural estate that has been in the same family since the 1750’s. Visitors can tour the house and enjoy vast parts of the land including the beach and nature reserve. There is also a deer park, museum, pub and shops to visit. Holkham beach has recently been voted the UK’s best beach and we are very proud to have such a wonderful place on our doorstep to enjoy.
Ice Cream – No seaside holiday is complete without enjoying an ice cream on the seafront. What’s your favourite? A 99 with a flake, chocolate, strawberry, rum and raisin, raspberry ripple, butterscotch… The list goes on and on!
Just Relax – You’re on holiday, so it’s time to relax and take it easy. For a few days, switch off that alarm clock, don’t worry about work, step away from daily routine and just enjoy yourself.
Kite – No childhood should go without the experience of flying a kite. Such a simple thing can create hours of fun. You can fly a kite on the beach all year round so long as you have a breeze! For the adrenaline junkies who want a bit more of an adventure, why not try a kite surfing lesson, which are available to book at Hunstanton beach.
Lavender – Heacham is home to the world famous Norfolk Lavender gardens. Here you can stroll through scented gardens, purchase lavender gifts and even try a few lavender cakes and other delicious treats in the onsite restaurant. There is also an animal farm and outdoor play area for children to enjoy too.
Market Towns – There are a number of market towns dotted around North Norfolk and they’re brimming with boutique shops, local delicatessens, bakeries, art galleries and teashops. Fakenham is our nearest market town, but nearby there’s Burnham Market, Wells-Next-The-Sea and Holt which are all very unique and definitely worth a visit. 
Nature Reserves – You are completely spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring our nature reserves and discovering the Great British wildlife. All year round there is something going on. During the colder months the reserves become home to several winter migrants, in spring we enjoy the spectacle of new life and summer brings plenty of visitors including terns and avocets to the area. Sculthorpe Moor is very close to our cottages, so you don’t need to travel far to enjoy the wildlife. Other reserves in the area are Pensthorpe, Titchwell Marsh, Cley Marshes, Blakeney National Nature Reserve & Scolt Head Island.
Orchard – Drove Orchards have over 40 acres of apple, pear and plum trees, and boast over 150 varieties of different apple. In addition to this, they also grow Strawberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries and much more. The beauty of Drove Orchards is that you can turn up and pick your own seasonal fruit to enjoy during your stay. The shop also stocks their own delicious award winning apple juice along with a great collection of pickles, chutneys, local cheeses and other delicious local produce too, perfect to stock up on and take home to enjoy.
Paddling – For a refreshing cool down on a hot summers day, take a paddle in the sea. Or for the hardy, dip your toes in the icy waters on a cold winter’s day to see how brave you are!
Queen – Sandringham House is the country retreat for the Queen and several members of the Royal Family, who famously spend their Christmas on the Sandringham estate. The house, grounds and museum are open to the public to visit from April to November and the visitor centre and shops are open throughout the year.
Racecourse – A day at the races is always fun and Fakenham Racecourse is a stones throw away from our cottages. Race meetings are on a monthly basis and unlike some other places it offers a casual atmosphere and is very family friendly – Children under 16 go free!
Seasons – Whatever time of the year, North Norfolk offers plenty for visitors. Winter brings lots of Christmas events, perfect for Christmas shopping, plus you can enjoy brisk, refreshing walks on empty beaches and warm up in cosy pubs that serve up hearty meals. In spring there’s lots of activity on the reserves with nesting birds eagerly awaiting the arrival of their chicks. During Easter there are lots of family events including eggciting egg hunts! In summer you can pack up picnics and spend your days at the beach or take day trips around the area visiting attractions and exploring nearby towns. As the nights begin to draw in during autumn, we look forward eating lots of local seasonal food and have fun celebrating Halloween and Bonfire night.
Trains – Take a vintage steam train ride along the coast with North Norfolk Railways. The Poppy Line is a scenic route that runs from Sheringham to Holt and is a memorable day out for all ages. Wells and Walsingham Light Railway also runs through the North Norfolk countryside and offers a great adventure for the whole family.
Umbrellas – The east is the renowned for being the driest region in the UK making it a great place to spend your holidays. But, it if rains during your stay don’t let it put you off exploring the area, just take an umbrella with you and remember, it never rains in a pub!
Victorian Cromer – Cromer is on the very edge of the North Norfolk coast and is famous for it’s crabs. The seafront is full of beautiful Victorian buildings and whilst you there you should treat yourself to a tasty portion of fish and chips and take a stroll along the pier.
Watersports – You can enjoy a wide range of watersports including windsurfing, sailing, kiting, canoeing and kayaking around our beautiful North Norfolk coastline. Courses and lessons are available for anyone who’s wishing to try something new. 
Xtreeme Adventure – Well, ok, so it’s called Extreeme Adventure so we had to cheat a little! This high ropes adventure course is situated in some of the tallest trees in the East of England. For families who like heights this is an adrenaline packed day out where you can conquer a course that’s situated 20ft up in the trees (or 40ft for the more adventurous!) Children under the age of 10 are not able to do the course, but there is a woodland walk and quiz plus an under 10’s play area available.  Extreeme Adventure is situated 8 miles south of Fakenham and offers an exciting day for those who have a taste for adventure.
Yachting – Our coastline is a great place to enjoy sailing whether you’re an experienced sailor or a novice wanting to give it a try. There are a number of places around where you can hire boats and take tuition. For an enjoyable day out a little further afield, there’s also the beautiful Norfolk Broads to discover either by boat or on foot.
Zzzzzzz – the lovely sound of exhausted children who are tucked up in bed after an adventurous day!
22nd December 2013

Exciting plans for 2014

2013 has been a very busy and enjoyable year for us at Cranmer Cottages.

Snowfall  at Cranmer in early 2013

The early winter months brought plenty of snow, the whole area looked picture perfect and very tranquil.
When spring arrived, we enjoyed an abundance of snowdrops, crocus, bluebells and daffodils. The countryside was literally peppered with a good splash of colour. Guests enjoyed the spectacular snowdrop walks at Walsingham and there were plenty of Easter events planned locally for families to attend.
Then along came summer and for the first time since 2006, we enjoyed record high temperatures and long, sunny days. Our guests spent their days on nearby sandy beaches and evenings outside playing family games in our large paddock area where children also enjoyed our brand new play area.
The summer extended into the early Autumn months and now we’re in mid December we’re looking forward to the New Year ahead.

Late Summer Sunshine Near Holkham

We’ve got a few exciting things to look forward to in 2014 which we’ve been planning over the past few months.
Firstly, we are delighted to launch our one-hour, on-site farm/ nature walk. This walk is only available for our guests and gives an exclusive opportunity to view our fabulous countryside and get up close and personal to the local nature. We have even created a trail quiz to encourage our young visitors to learn more about the great outdoors and the amazing wildlife we have.
We’ve also teamed up with Pensthorpe Wildlife and Gardens who have kindly agreed to offer our guests a discounted family ticket. For those who haven’t heard of Pensthorpe before, it is an award winning wildlife and conservation reserve that offers something for all ages. The reserve is bustling with birds and wildlife throughout the year, so it’s perfect for birdwatchers and nature lovers. There are also a lot of exciting activities and things to see for families, including their brand new play area, Wild Rootz, which is definitely a winner with the children.
During January, we will be carrying out some refurbishing work on our cottages. We’ll be sharing details of the work we’re doing on our Facebook Page over the next few weeks, so remember to head over and ‘Like Us’ to receive our updates.
Being an eco friendly tourism business, we have worked very hard over the last few years to lower our carbon footprint. On site, we already have a wind turbine and solar panels, which heat and power some of our facilities, but we took a giant leap this year and installed a 100kw biomass boiler. This biomass boiler now means that, other than using a little gas for cooking, we can turn our backs to nasty fossil fuels that we’ve previously had to use. The biomass boiler is fuelled by recycled woodchip, which would otherwise go to landfill. We can now proudly say that our self catering cottages are now ‘powered by nature and nurtured by us’
Rescued Grey Seal Pup
Finally, we’d like to make you aware of a visitor payback scheme, which we’ve just introduced in the wake of the recent floods that affected the seal colonies at Blakeney. We are asking all visitors who book a break with us to make a voluntary donation of £1, which we will match fund, to go towards the RSPCA East Winch branch. This charity is specifically dedicated to rescuing seal pups in the area and rehabilitating them back into the wild. Blakeney is home to large colonies of Grey and Common seals, who breed and bring up their young throughout the year. It really is a magnificent sight to see and one that shouldn’t be missed when you visit the area.
If you book your break and would like to make a donation, simply tick the box on your booking form which says ‘Visitor Payback Scheme’ and our online system will do the rest for you. We will update our website with details on the progress of this scheme over the coming months.
North Norfolkreally does offer something for everyone. From coast to countryside, it is brimming with quaint market towns, extraordinary wildlife, superb visitor attractions and an indulgent selection of places to eat. Once you visit you’ll be itching to come back. Our self-catering cottages are already booking up fast for next summer, so if you don’t want to miss out check our availability and book your holiday now. 
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support throughout 2013 and we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Best wishes,
The team at Cranmer Cottages.
The festive season is beginning to ramp up in North Norfolk. Lights are being strung up in local the towns, the shops are playing festive music and are stocked up with Christmas decorations, gifts and lots of delicious food.
We’re buzzing with the anticipation of a busy Christmas period and we have guests visiting so they can do their Christmas shopping. Our local towns are full of boutique shops with beautiful gifts to suit everyone.

We offer short breaks over during November and December, giving you the opportunity to enjoy a break away and stock up on gifts and seasonal goodies. And if shopping isn’t your thing, there are still a number of Christmas events planned that will definitely get you in the festive mood. From Christmas lights being switched, spectacular Christmas Shows to special Santa steam train rides, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
20th November 2013
Holt becomes a winter wonderland when thousands of white fairy lights glisten over the over Georgian buildings. Join in on the festivities where there will be street entertainment, food and shopping before the lights switch on with a firework display. The Christmas lights will sparkle in Holt until 5th January.
Lights Switched on 6.45pm, festivities start from 5.30pm
Burnham Market
23rd November
4pm – 8pm
This year’s Christmas lights will be switched on by the ex Norwich City Footballer and local celebrity, Darren Huckerby. In addition to this, Burnham Market will host a Traditional Christmas Market between 4pm – 8pm. 
There will be over 25 art, craft and gift stalls to peruse around with gifts including jewellery, soft furnishings, artisan chocolates, Christmas wreaths and much more available to buy. Whilst you wander around the stalls you’ll have the opportunity to listen to carol singing, a brass band, Nelson’s Shantymen and a local live cover band playing on the Fairstead Green.
Father Christmas will make a special appearance for the children and there will be lots of activities including ‘Pin the Nose on the Reindeer’ to keep the children occupied.
There will also be lots of tasty food stalls where you can enjoy an array of foods including a hog roast, mulled wine, mince pies, Crepes and much, much more.
Fakenham Parish Church
28th Nov – 5th Dec
10am – 8pm
Fakenham Church hosts a very special Charity fundraiser with 90 decorated trees all trimmed and lit for over 80 selected charities. This event is free, but we recommend you take a bag of coins so you can donate a few pennies to your favourite charity trees. Last year over £22,000 was raised for charities including local schools, nurseries and the British Heart Foundation. There is also a Christmas Market selling items such as Christmas cakes and cards. Food and refreshments including light lunches and homemade cakes will also be available to buy throughout the festival.
North Norfolk Railway
1st – 24th December
Enjoy a steam train ride to visit Santa in his magical wonderland. Special services will run between the 1st – 24thDecember where you can take scenic train ride from Sheringham Station through to Weybourne Station, to find Santa waiting by an open fire to give the children a warm welcome and to ask that all important question of what they would like this year for Christmas.
Adults get to enjoy sherry and mince pies during the train ride whilst children receive a biscuit and soft drink.
Booking is recommended for this unique and wonderful North Norfolk Christmas experience.
Holkham Hall
7th & 8th, 14th& 15th December
Christmas this year at Holkham Hall will be a wonderful sight! See the magnificent state rooms beautifully decorated in traditional Victorian style, complete with handmade decorations, real greenery from the park and candle light. A visit to see Father Christmas in our new grotto will be pure magic for the children.
Burnham Deepdale
7th & 8th December
The Deepdale Christmas Market has over 70 stalls, along with entertainment and activities. It’s the perfect place to stock up on Christmas presents, decorations and local food and drink. The weekend will be full of seasonal cheer and guarantees to set you in the festive mood for the big day itself.
Felbrigg Hall
15th December
11 – 3pm
A small number of select food and gift stalls will be at Felbrigg Hall on Sunday 15 December. Take the opportunity to do some last minute Christmas shopping and buy some gifts and goodies.
25th December
For all the brave people out there, how about taking a plunge in the sea on Christmas day?
The Hunstanton Christmas Swim has now been going for over 50 years and over recent years we’ve seen record crowds watching and participating. The event raises funds for the Round Table which help to support many local good causes.
If you fancy it, you may want to think about doing it in fancy dress as there’s the opportunity to win £25 for the best dressed individual or £100 for the best group. What bizarre outfits can you think to wear?!
King’s Lynn Corn Exchange
6th – 31st December
This year’s panto is the fairytale story Beauty and the Beast, and stars Darren Day as the Beast himself.
In good old fashioned panto style, there’s a baddie to boo, the goodies with their hilarious gags and a heroine in need of being rescued. This is a rip roaring adventure full of fun and live music. True Christmas entertainment at its best!
Theatre Royal Norwich
17th December – 19th January
This year’s festive extravaganza is the most popular panto of them all – Cinderella.
There will be magic, comedy, audience participation and fun along with music and dancing to enjoy. This traditional panto will be a delight for all the family.
The all-star cast includes Shelia Ferguson (The Three Degrees) as Fairy Godmother, Christopher Ryan (The Young Ones, Absolutely Fabulous) as Baron Hardup, Matt Milburn (Hollyoaks) as Prince Charming, and Richard Gauntlett as Buttons.
9th November – 23rd December 2013
The Thursford Christmas Spectacular is the largest Christmas Show in England and is a magical experience. The show starts on the 9th November and runs until the 23rd December. Booking is essential as it’s a hugely popular event, people travel from all over the country to see it. It is well worth treating yourself and loved ones to a long weekend in Norfolk to attend this spectacular show…… and a great excuse to get into the festive spirit!
Being situated in North Norfolk, we are extremely lucky to have a number of nature reserves nearby, making our holiday cottages the perfect destination for nature lovers. We also know that the autumn and winter months are an excellent time to visit the reserves, especially for keen bird watchers. Not only do we have a great variety of resident birds including Marsh Harriers, Bitterns, Avocets and Oyster Catchers, the reserves also become packed with winter migrants including Brent and Pink Footed Geese, the Black-tailed Godwit, Fieldfares, Redwings and Bramblings.
Marsh Harrier hunting over local arable land
There isn’t a day that currently goes by where we don’t see or hear a flock of geese flying over us and we know, from reading updates via the social network sites, that the migratory birds are arriving and settling into the reserves on a daily basis.
We offer the perfect sanctuary after a long day outside, braving the elements. Our warm, cosy, open plan cottages have been designed to make you feel at home the instant you walk through the door. The living room space invites you to put your feet up and relax and our large beds are so comfortable, we guarantee a good night’s sleep. We also have a heated, indoor swimming pool on site, which is always a welcoming place to thaw out those frozen, numb toes!
So, dig out your thermals and waterproofs, scrub down your walking boots, clean up your binoculars and rummage around in the back your kitchen cupboard for that Thermos flask. It’s time to book into one of our luxury cottages and explore the Great British Wildlife at some of these popular spots.
Sculthorpe Moor
We had to start with our neighbour, Sculthorpe Moor, which is situated approximately 2.5 miles from our cottages. This reserve is owned by the Hawk and Owl Trust, a charity that’s dedicated to conserving owls and other birds of prey, in the wild.
The 45 acre reserve has woodland, fen and reedbed habitats and offers a rich variety of wildlife. Throughout the year you can enjoy spotting wildlife such as tawny and barn owls, willow and marsh tits, kingfishers, tree creepers and water and bank voles. During the autumn and winter months you can find bramblings, water rails, siskins and roosting harriers too.
Between October and March the reserve is open from 8am – 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday. All families are welcome to enjoy the reserve – a voluntary donation of £3.50 is suggested from adult visitors.
Pensthorpe Wildlife & Gardens
Okay, so Pensthorpe could possibly be seen as more of an attraction, but we had to include it for the work this place does. This fabulous reserve covers over 200 acres and is nationally renowned for it’s conservation projects on Red Squirrels, Corncrakes, Turtle Doves and Cranes and is also nationally recognised as a breeding site for several species of birds, butterflies, insects and mammals.
Pensthorpe also works extremely hard to encourage children to discover nature and how they can respect and protect our natural surroundings and wildlife for their future. Interactive activities such as pond dipping, den building and going on an interactive bug walk, all educate the children and help them experience nature first hand.
This year, Pensthorpe also opened up their new adventure play area WildRootz. This adventure play area has been designed to encourage children to play and explore in natural habitats such as woods, fields and streams. It’s adventure play, nature’s way!
For full details of opening times and admissions visit www.pensthorpe.com
Cley Marshes
Cley Marshes is owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and is their oldest (it was purchased in 1926) and best known nature reserve. In fact, it actually provided a blue print for nature conservation, which has now been replicated across the UK.
The reserve includes a shingle beach and several lagoons, along with a grazing marsh and reedbed. It supports large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders and is home to residents including the bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
The visitor centre looks across the marsh to the sea and the views are truly breathtaking.
Titchwell Marsh
This popular RSPB reserve takes you past reedbeds and shallow lagoons, before you reach a sandy beach. 
There are four birdwatching viewing points, all of which are wheelchair accessible, where you can watch an array of birds including Water Rails, Bitterns, Bearded Tits, plus variety of Waders, Terns and Ducks.
There is something for everyone at this reserve, even the children are encouraged to find different species of birds, insects and animals during their walk and if they find everything on their list, there’s a little prize to collect from the visitor centre.
Titchwell Marsh is open all year round and full details can be found at http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/t/titchwellmarsh/index.aspx
Blakeney Point Nature Reserve
One final thing we must mention before we go, is the seal colonies around Blakeney Point.
Blakeney Point is a four-mile-long sand and shingle spit and is home to colonies of Grey and Common Seals. It is also one of the most important sites in Europe for breeding terns.
Grey Seal Pup basking in the winter sun
Although the seals can be seen throughout the year, Grey Seals have their pups between November and January and Common Seals have their young between June and August. The best way to view the seals in their natural habitat is by taking a boat trip either via Morston or  Blakeney Quay. This is a fantastic experience for all the family as it allows you to enjoy a close view of the wildlife without disturbing it. 
Blakeney Point sits within the Blakeney National Nature Reserve. The reserve itself is made up of saltmarsh, mudflats and fresh watermarsh and hosts a diverse range of special wildlife.
More details about boat trip operators and the reserve itself can be found at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney/visitor-information/
3rd October 2013

Autumn Half Term Fun

After a very busy summer period, September seemed to pass us by in flash, now it’s the beginning of October it means that the half term hols aren’t very far away. Halloween falls over the half term period this year so we thought we’d share some of the spooktacular events that are taking place in North Norfolk for families to enjoy!
Trick or Tweet
26th Oct – 3rd Nov
Take a spooky self-guided trail around the nature reserve, playing games and learning about the local history and natural world at this time of year. Also explore the brand new WildRootz adventure play area where there’s over 30 individual pieces of play equipment to play with and enjoy.
Halloween at Holkham
27th – 31st October
Creep through the bygone museum trying to avoid the spiders and creepy crawlies to find mad scientists at work creating spells and potions. Get involved in the weird and wonderful craft making and you can take home a spine-chilling memento.
Visit our walled garden to take a creepy spider hunt, you will also have the opportunity discover lots of spooky facts about these eight legged creatures.
There will be a daily fancy dress parade in the courtyard so make sure you come dressed up for the occasion, gory face painting and carving pumpkins will also be taking place too.
Halloween Week
North Norfolk Railway
26th October – 3rd November
Are you brave enough to ride on the ghost train? Take a daring trip on the North Norfolk railway over half term and you’ll be in for a treat and a few tricks too!
For an extra spooky experience, stop off at Weybourne Station and enter the spook-laden Halloween Hall, a hellish haunt of witches, warlocks and shuddering spiders……. It’s not for the faint hearted!
The Real Halloween
Holt Hall
26th & 27th October
This magical and enchanting event will celebrate the Halloween festivities with an array of workshops and activities to entertain children and parents alike.
Children will have the opportunity to make a magic wand, a witches pet (a bat!), a wizard shield, a magic potion or a witches messenger (an owl!) in one of the bookable workshops.
There are plenty of other free activities including a walk through the woods to discover the magical power of trees and children can also help make the fairy banquet or some special brew in the witches’ kitchen.
Don your Halloween costumes and prepare for a spooky evening at Gressenhall where there will be plenty of activities to get involved with.
Help track down a howling hound that’s on the loose and take a ghostly tour of the workhouse. There’s also a shadow puppet show to enjoy, face painting and lots of arts activities to get involved in too.
Dinosaur Park, Lenwade
25th October – 2nd November
Head to Norfolk’s biggest Halloween experience and enjoy 5 frightening attractions including the screaming woods and the maze of mutants! Take the opportunity to carve your very own pumpkin and get up close and personal with an array of creepy crawlies if you dare!
Snagglefang’s Spooky Spectacular
26th October – 3rd November
BeWILDerwood will be feeling a little spooky over half term week so come dressed up in your best Halloween gear and take the opportunity to build your own lantern and join in with Snagglefang’s end-of-day Luminous Lantern Parade – it’s a magical way to finish the season!

17th September 2013

September Seasonal Recipes

September is a fantastic month for seasonal produce, hedgerows are full of juicy ripe blackberries, orchard trees are heavy with apples and pears and we cannot forget good old damsons and plums which are in season too. 
There’s also an abundance of delicious vegetables, which are harvested at this time of the year, including sweetcorn, cabbage, beetroot, squash and pumpkins. 
With so many delicious fruits and vegetables available at the moment, it got us thinking about the dishes we enjoy eating at this time of the year and we thought we’d share a couple of recipes we love making. 
These recipes use local seasonal produce, some of which we can forage for in the countryside around us. 
We hope you enjoy making them as much as we do! 
Pumpkin & Apple Soup
1 Large Onion – Diced
2 Small Cooking Apples – Peeled & Cored, Roughly Diced
1 Small Pumpkin (750g) – Skinned, Deseeded and chopped into Cubes
2 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme – Chopped
1 Litre Vegetable Stock
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Wholegrain Mustard
2 Tablespoons Soft, Dark Brown Sugar
125g Crème Fraiche
Salt & Pepper
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Once melted, add the onions and thyme and gently fry, stirring frequently until the onions are soft and begin to colour. Add the apples and sugar and cook gently a further 3 minutes.
Add the pumpkin, mustard & stock and bring to the boil. Once boiled, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the apples and pumpkin are very soft (approximately 15 – 20 minutes)
Blend the mixture until smooth and stir in half of the crème fraiche. Season with salt and pepper and heat the mixture through.
Serve in warm bowls and for a finishing touch, swirl in a spoon of crème fraiche.
Tip: You may want to try roasting the pumpkin seeds whilst making your soup and sprinkling these on top of your soup for added taste and texture.
Hedgerow Jelly
This delightful homemade jelly works particularly well with meats and cheeses and if stored properly will last up to 6 months. It’s a lovely way to create a homemade gift to give friends and family over the Christmas period.
450g Blackberries
450g Damsons
225g Raspberrries
225g Elderberries
Juice of 2 Large Lemons
1.3kg Preserving or White Sugar
Put the fruit and lemon juice in a large saucepan and add water until it reaches just below the level of fruit. Cover and simmer this for an hour then mash the fruit and leave to cool a little.
Once cooled a little, pour the mixture into a jelly bag and suspend over a glass bowl and leave to drain (ideally overnight) until all the liquid has been released.
Measure the juice and add 450g sugar for every 600ml of liquid. Heat the mixture and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and boil for 10-15 minutes or until the jelly hits its setting point.
Remove from heat and skim off any scum that may be on top of the jelly.
Pour the jelly into warmed, sterilized jars and seal. Once they are cooled, store in a cool dark place until required. 

29th August 2013

Christmas at Cranmer

Christmas at Cranmer is one of out most favourite times of the year. We thrive on the vibe and excitement that families bring when they stay and it’s something we look forward to when the winter months start to creep up on us. 
If you’ve considered getting away over the festive period but haven’t quite made up your mind whether to do so or not, here’s a few reasons why you should spend your Christmas with us:
1) Home from Home
Our cottages are family friendly and give a warm and friendly feel that makes you feel instantly at home. Over the festive period, all of our cottages are trimmed with Christmas trees and other decorations to give you that truly festive feel.
2) Lots of Space 
Each cottage has been designed with an open plan living space which is perfect for families who want to enjoy time together. We also have cottages with inter-connecting doors, meaning we can accommodate groups of up to 12 people. In addition to this, our fantastic Green Room is available to hire if you are in need of a large dining space to get everyone around a table for a Christmas Day feast!
3) The Great Outdoors! 
North Norfolk is famous for big skies, beautiful countryside and a rugged coastline, and on a cold winter’s day there’s nothing more invigorating than a brisk walk and a good blast of fresh air. Seeing as we all have a tendency to over indulge in rich foods over the festive period a good walk is the perfect tonic to pep you up. Our heated indoor pool is always a very warm and welcoming retreat if you are the kind of person who isn’t keen on braving the elements!
4) Festive Activities
From early December the area becomes a hive of festive activity with lots of events and things to do. There are festive markets to browse around, the Christmas spectacular at Thursford is always popular as is the special Santa steam train trips. The local panto in Norwich is fun for a day out, plus there are plenty of places for children to meet Father Christmas too.
5) Festive Feasts
There are a large number of local food suppliers in the area to help you create the ultimate Christmas gourmet experience. Order yourself a famous Norfolk Black or Bronze Turkey for your Christmas Dinner and try out a variety of local cheeses, our favourite being Mrs Temple’s Binham Blue. We are lucky to have a number of local farm shops which stock an array of other local delights including the famous Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies, Gnaw Chocolate and the very delectable Norfolk Cordial
Alternatively, if you’d prefer not to slave over a hot stove on Christmas Day, there are plenty of local pubs and restaurants you can book instead, or, we can help you organise caterers who can do the cooking for you in the comfort of your own cottage. 
Whatever your needs are, we can help you arrange a very memorable Christmas away from home.

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