Sunday, September 1, 2013

Norfolk Coast - Weekend Away

One month ago Devin and I were lucky to get out of Dodge (Cambridge) and spend a few days camping on the Norfolk coast. Our lovely friends Andrea and John loaned us their car so we were footloose and fancy free to go where we wanted, when we wanted. What a luxury! (Thanks Bronskills!) From August 2 - 5th we toured the Norfolk Coast and spent the days Wi-Fi free, staring out at the ocean.

After minimal searching, Devin found Overstrand Campground. It's only open 2 months out of the year, and is in this tiny, wee, speck of a town called Overstrand, just southeast of the larger, more tourist-laden town of Cromer. The campground was lovely, complete with bathrooms, a canteen, and as you can see from the photo, beautiful ocean views. We were just a short hike down the cliff to miles of pristine beach. The only drawback from the campground was that it was pretty busy (holiday weekend) and many families were nearby so we could hear every word of their conversations, or that of their angry children who frequently went into melt down. Other than that, all was fabulous!

D and our wee tent

Our first night at Overstrand we settled into camp, took a long walk on the beach and marvelled at where we were and how nice the weather was. We sat in our fancy new Crazy Creek chairs (folding chairs), ate beans and rice, drank whiskey, and ate sour patch kids. As the sun went down we snuggled into our down sleeping bags and read our books by the light of nature's friend, the iPhone.

Looking northwest toward Cromer
Devin's getting good at the arm shot
Ta Da!
Walking back to campsite

The next day we got up with the sounds of camp all around us, made coffee and oatmeal and then packed our bags for the beach.  We spent the entire day combing the sand, swimming (Devin), reading books, staring out to sea and hiking up to Cromer. Once at Cromer we realized how lucky we were to NOT be staying in Cromer as the beach near our tent was so much nicer, and virtually private. Cromer is a quaint town, but has an air of tourism and busy-ness about it, which is fine, but not what we were looking for. One of the shops in town was named "Cedar's Surf Shop", so I snapped a photo of it for my nephew Cedar. Maybe he'll visit that shop one day! We grabbed a few sandwiches and snacks and ate them up on a bench overlooking the Cromer pier. Afterwards, as any self-respecting tourist would do, we bought ice cream cones and went for a walk down the beach. Adorable alert: many beach towns have these "beach houses" that are painted in bright colors all along the sea wall. Inside they are about the size of a garden shed and have the odds and ends to make a day at the beach more leisurely and pleasurable (tea kettle, chairs, hot plate, towels, shade from the son, shelter from the wind, etc.)

Hot Rock: Spa Hayley

Sunset Contemplation

After our day on the beach an visiting Cromer we headed further afield to Felbrigg Hall, Estate and Garden. We arrived early, before the house had opened so we decided to take a walk through some of the 520 acres of land. There are many photos of Felbrigg to be seen on Google Images if you're interested in seeing more. We only took a few shots of the house, focusing more on the gardens, which were utterly stunning. We managed a lovely hike without running into any livestock. Phew. (Not only are the English unfailingly polite, they also let you know when the cows might be about)

Walking through the forest at Felbrigg
Felbrigg Hall
Felbrigg Hall Ceiling
Felbrigg Hall, Formal Dining Room
500 Year Old Sessile Oak
500 Year Old Sessile Oak

After a lovely day at Felbrigg we continued along to the grounds at Sheringham Park. This park was founded in 1812 and has acres of land covered with hundreds of Rhododendron bushes, few of which were blooming this late in the summer. We wandered through the lush garden and woodlands, climbed a few lookout towers that gave you 360° vistas of the Norfolk countryside out to the North Sea. The landscape was beautiful, and we had a great time, acting goofy, telling jokes, and pretending we were yoga instructors from the website Yoga Today.

Once we had our fill of nature, we headed back into the city of Sheringham and found a great pub called The Windham Arms where we had a few pints, watching the neighborhood paint signs in the nearby lot for the city's upcoming parade. Afterwards, we walked up the high street and found a lovely little Thai restaurant called Chai-Yo. Once we were sufficiently stuffed we went for a walk back toward the water and in a little courtyard we found a live band playing to a nice sized crowd. Just nearby there was a beautifully restored VW van advertising that a local company has a fleet of them for vacation hire. We got far too excited about this possibility and fully geeked out over the possibility of renting one of these within the next year . . . we'll see about that. But wouldn't it be so fun?!
Retro Campers Norfolk, we might hit you up next summer . . .

Sheringham Beach
Beach Houses, Sheringham

We spent the rest of the evening exploring the seaside, taking in the sights, and watching the sun go down. The following day we grabbed a bite to eat at a local seaside diner on the cliff-top near our campground. We spent a handful of hours on the beach that morning, soaking in the sunshine, the surf, and the change of scenery. We truly felt as though we'd lucked out with this quickly planned weekend away. Minimal planning, quick escape to the coast, and an altogether perfect long weekend away. I like to think of it as our one year wedding anniversary trip. 

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