Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Glad it's over!

Bloody cold

I'm really glad I don't have to make an excuse for not river fishing, it's really bitter out there, the Easterlies are really lazy winds.(They don't go around you, they go straight through!)
According to last nights weather forecast the Easterlies are spread all the way across the Atlantic, the warm air drifts of the Gulf Stream currents,further South than our local forecaster has ever seen on his charts.

It was my birthday on Sunday, just one year to go to official retirement, and as usual we had a break away from home, this time to Norfolk.
I like the time before Easter, as nothing is open and the last thing I want to do is fight through crowds or wander around NT houses!
Usually a tad warmer though!
Things weren't looking too bright on Saturday morning, quite deep snow and a strong wind.
So we packed the car with all our warm clothing, boots, a blanket and a shovel, just in case.
We set of with drifting snow making driving the local B road almost impossible, the decision was made to dodge the minor road out to Horncastle and if we were able to keep to the A roads.
Thanks to the local farmers the drifts on the A roads were being dealt with as we travelled, so we had a relatively comfortable drive down via Wragby to Horncastle and on to Boston, where there were no signs of snow.
This continued until we got close to Sheringham, where cars coming towards us were showing signs of uncleared roofs and bonnets.
Three hours after setting off we arrived at our destination, and it appeared that this village was where one of the isolated snow storms reported on the radio had occurred.
Our destination is The Gunton Arms  Thorpe Market, a pub restaurant with rooms that I found in the Guardian a while ago and saved the cutting. So whilst Googling, looking for just that, a pub with good food and beer in Norfolk, it popped up again.

From the car park

I was surprised at first to find that the pub was behind a high fence, I hadn't really checked out the location, I wasn't looking for nice surroundings,....just a pub with.......
Anyway it turns out the pub is set within the grounds of a 1000 acre deer park and a herd of 200 roe deer roam the park, a very handy supply of venison!

So we had booked in for just two nights, and were given the guided tour of the pub before being taken to our room on the first floor, the Thurston one of 8 rooms.
A very comfortable nicely decorated with  padded walls double bedded room, and a terrific powerful shower!!
The padded walls were a complete piece of Indian hessian decorated with nesting birds, no kids or animals allowed in here. And of course it overlooked the deer park.
The view from one of the windows at 6am

So we made use of the facilities, and went down to the bar to test out the ales, there were a selection of Adnams Broadside, a Woodfordes Wherry, a local ale from the Grain brewery called Gold, and the usual stuff. I steered away from the Broadside.
We stayed until about four o'clock and we tested the beers, had a sandwich snack and went back to the room to freshen up for our dinner, our table pre-booked for 6pm.
Click to read as PDF
Sample menu
A very good menu with everything  local, from Razor clams with a choritzo "stuffing" which I had, to lambs sweetbreads on a creamed wild garlic spelt risotto which The Boss dribbled over.
I followed up with a venison mixed grill which consisted of a piece of liver, heart, a pate of shoulder meat, and a couple of pieces of fillet. Pauline had a very good size lemon sole with shrimps.
Cracking food well presented and great flavours, and more than enough for us to both to miss out the sweets on offer.
A good selection of wines, we had a bottle of Muscadet, and Cote de Rhone to wash it down.
Then to bed, after a relax in one of the Stamp rooms to finish off our wines.
After a restless night for me, too many beers and eating later than usual disturbed my sleep.... breakfast.
The breakfasts were excellent. I had the works, which was bacon, sausage, mushroom and tomato with two fried duck eggs, Pauline had smoked salmon, cut thickly down the fish and scambled eggs, we thought it would set us up for the day, and it did.
We decided to pop out to Cromer and to find the smokery at Cley on Sea.
Cley was our first port of call, past all the snow covered coastal flats to a tiny shop in the village where we bought our supply of smoked fish and a couple of dressed crab, in the knowledge that it was so cold the crab would be fine for our Monday afternoon tea.
Back to Cromer, where the full extent of how cold it was sunk home.
I haven't felt so cold for a long time, although we were well wrapped up.Our exposed bits felt the full might of the freezing wind....it was bitter!

So we quickly found a coffee shop and toilet, sat it out for about half an hour, and found ourselves agreeing it was time to head back to the Gunton Arms with the warming log fires and the welcome pints. And there we stayed until about 4o'clock before retiring for a hot shower and a rest before our dinner at 7pm.

Down to the bar, where I went for a lighter drink, and started off with a bloody Mary..well two, and Pauline settled for her favourite, gin & tonic.
The menu had changed slightly, but I just had to try the sweetbreads, which were equal to Pauline's previous evenings exclamations. She had Ox tongue with a homemade piccalilli and rocket salad, "nice but not as nice as the sweetbread".
We both chose slow cooked roast shoulder of lamb, which came on the bone, much the same as lamb shank. Beautiful flavoured falling off the bone lamb, washed down with a  bottle of the Cote de Rhone.
I also made a bit of room to try the apple crumble and my favourite, if I ever get to having a sweet, proper custard.Not a great crumble, but the custard was good!

Back to the bar and another bottle of Cote de Rhone and trip to the Stamp room, where we stayed a while in the company of a couple from Bedford enjoying a chat about life etc etc

It was in this room that an original print caught my eye, (just above the redheads head). I thought, that's a Genesis LP sleeve ?

A better nights sleep, another full breakfast and a steady drive home along clear roads via Holt to see if we could pick up some fresh crab for our neighbours, but being a Monday there were no fresh fish shops open.

All in all a very good weekend in cracking surroundings, a very good hotel and brilliant friendly staff.
The dressed crab was excellent for tea..the neighbours ? They had to go without.

On returning home I checked out my old vinyl's, and there it was The Dream by Betty Swanwick

 The cover of Selling England by the pound. The original artwork doesn't have the lawn mower though !

Next trip, Scotland in early May....I hope it has warmed up by then!!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a nice, refreshing break Fred.