Cranmer Country Cottages were the perfect place to spend our May half term holiday as a family of 6 including 4 children aged 10,9, 7 and 3.

Swallow

We stayed in Swallow which forms part of a row of barn conversions looking out onto a large open field in the beautiful Norfolk countryside close to the North Norfolk Coast.

Swallow a self catering cottage with three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and open plan living all on one floor is spacious, with modern farm house features and very comfortable furniture. The interior whitewashed walls are fabulous with modern art prints and the space is light, airy and very clean. The kitchen is well stocked and the big farmhouse table is perfect for family meals. A dishwasher and washing machine are always an added bonus! The south facing outside eating area is private and a relaxing space to eat and read.

Activities at Cranmer Cottages

he amazing indoor swimming pool within one of the converted barns looks out onto open fields and is a delightful pool for all the family. We swam in the pool everyday, sometimes twice a day, most days having the pool to ourselves. The pool is a salt water pool rather than chlorine which is a real treat and the steps leading down to the pool were great for our youngest daughter.

The large open field which Swallow looks out upon from the glass, sliding doors provides the perfect natural playground for all the children from the various cottages to spill out and play together. The subtle slide, wooden climbing frame, swings, beautifully painted shepherd’s hut and playhouse are all lovely additions and give the children a variety of things to do outside. Most evenings before and after tea the children from the cottages would play happily together and on one evening they set up a football match.

The indoor games room within the courtyard area has something for all ages with a play kitchen, reading corner, play tent and toys for toddlers and babies. The tennis table and pool table are great for older children.

Things to do in North Norfolk

On the Saturday we visited Holkham beach which is a beautiful, large beach accessed on a boardwalk leading from the car park through pinewoods. The beach is perfect for building sandcastles on a fine day and long walks at any other time. It is a popular beach for horse riding and watching horses gallop along the beach in groups is spectacular. We had a lovely lunch at The Victoria which is perfect for families and looks out over the marshes. Holkham Hall is a wonderful place to visit for the day and on previous visits we have all particularly enjoyed the ‘Field to Fork’ exhibition, tractor ride, cycling through the deer park and family games in the Walled Garden. There is also a 5k Park Run on a Saturday morning through the grounds.

On Sunday we went down the road to Walsingham to see the Slipper Chapel and then walked around the pretty village. A visit to the Walsingham Farm Shop supplemented the Sainsbury’s delivery nicely for local fresh strawberries, asparagus, fish and meat. The Wells to Walsingham light steam railway can be picked up close to the farm shop and is a great ride through the Norfolk countryside to Wells with open carriages as well as covered carriages.

A visit to Norfolk can not be without a visit to Burnham Market foundly know as Chelsea-by-the-Sea! The smart independent shops and more familiar chains such as Joules and Jack Wills make this a hot spot for the well-healed. The Hoste on the Main Street is a popular place to eat and apparently on occasion a few famous faces have been sighted. The children spent their holiday money in the independent book shop which had lots of lovely books and then had a stroll around Burnham Market. We headed on from here to Brancaster to the Crab Hut for some fish for tea and on to Wells where walked along the beach past the pretty multicoloured beach huts. Brancaster is also a fantastic beach for families within close walking distance of a car park and great for sandcastles and beach games.

On Tuesday we ventured east to Glandford and the Shell Museum where the children each picked a special shell as a souvenir. The Museum has a fantastic collection of shells and is a gem. Nearby Wiverton Hall made famous by the television programme and the phrase ‘ Normal for Norfolk’ made a perfect stop off for tea and scones. We sat outside overlooking the marshes on brightly coloured chairs. The cafe is fun, with great staff, art on the walls that can be purchased, a toilet with a ‘vue’ and the delicious home made food including cakes and salads all served on the full collection of delightful Emma Bridgewater pottery. In the school holidays Wiverton runs Pizza evenings and in the sumner months PYO strawberries and raspberries. The next village along is beautiful Blakeney where we parked in the National Trust car park and went crabbing with buckets and nets from home that we managed to remember this time! The children caught lots of crabs in the late afternoon sun which they put back into the sea and it was a lovely way to spend the late afternoon/early evening in a village where it truly feels as though time stands still.

On Wednesday we took our binoculars to RSPB Tichwell which is an active bird reserve suitable for children and leads onto a fabulous beach. We went home via Eric’s fish and chips in Thornham which opened around 3 years ago and is a perfect place to eat in and enjoy tradition fish and chips as well scampi and a vegan option. At 5pm Eric’s filled up with families and the atmosphere was as good as the food. Gurneys next door is a brilliant place to pick up fresh fish including home smoked salmon, oysters, prawns and lobsters as well as food from Cley Smokehouse. Thornham Deli is highly recommended for food as well as shopping.

On Thursday we visited National Trust, Blickling Hall and enjoyed a 4 mile cycle ride around the grounds. HSBC in conjunction with British Cycling has subsidised the cost of cycle hire and provided excellent bikes for all ages including balance bikes and cruisers for younger children. The house is magnificent and has a number of exhibitions and various activities for the children. The gardens are spectacular and when we walked round the wisteria was in full bloom and the peonies were peering through. The coconut ice cream and mango sorbet comes highly recommended by the children too! National Trust, Felbrigg is also nearby and worth a visit.

There are plenty of other things to do in the local area such as Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, pot painting in Holt, soft play in Wells, a dinosaur adventure park a little further afield and Bewildered with a huge playground. Norwich isn’t too far for a day trip to see the impressive cathedral. Cranmer Cottages provide a very good file in each cottage and lovely Zoe is always on hand to discuss what there is to do and help with anything relating to the cottages.

There was time for a quick swim on Friday and the children to say goodbye to the friends they had made before we checked out at 10am. The children had the best half term week, there was plenty to visit and stay active plus we had chance to relax and chat on an evening whilst the children played in the field. Half term doesn’t come better than that.

Thank you Cranmer Cottages.

Victoria Tilbrook