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18 November 2012 34,170 views No Comment

So, it’s not Holkham. It’s Wells-Next-The-Sea. Which people just call Wells. And which confused me for a full 24 hours cos I thought they were saying Wales. Gotta love a tourist eh, and the people here really do seem to love their visitors, we met gorgeous people and had outstanding service everywhere we went, it was very a lovely experience.

the beach

Holkham is the nearby (2 miles away) estate and its influence and presence on Wells are significant. It’s also the name that visitors (me) have heard of but for that I blame journalism, fiction and good ole word-of-mouth. Wells is on the north coast of Norfolk, a flat, quite brown landscape that pours down to a wide smile of sandy beach. And that sandy beach is shallow shallow so when the tide goes it you have acres more of Norfolk to play with, it’s just stunning. The sand stretches to dunes, and the dunes give way to (Nad says purpose planted) evergreens which give this amazing look of an alpine ridge next to the sunshine coast. Sitting between the sand and the trees is a row of beach huts, that most English of eccentricities, and these must be the best eccentricities in England, their position is incredible and the owners have done them justice with some lovely paint jobs :)
When we were at the beach it was breezy and cool but gorgeous, there were heaps of people out walking and, with the tide low, it looked like we could have carried on walking for hours and hours. We didn’t do that; Holkham, sorry Wells, is also known for its good pubs. So all in the name of balanced research…

the town

Wells town is planned around the harbour rather than the beach. It’s a working harbour. Actually, I’m gonna stop there, is it a working harbour? There were a good number of boats and some that looked fully fishing equipped but now I ponder, well, it was perhaps all a bit picture postcard and unpungent to be a proper working harbour. Oh yeah, and one of the boats was a coffee/ pancake shop. Pah, details; the harbour is charming. It’s extremely tidal – metres and metres of difference in water level – so it’s interesting, and rather than open out directly to the sea, the boats have to sail up channels through marshes which is also interesting & different and, not a bit mysterious (what’s in there.?).

We were staying at The Globe on the Buttlands square, a square so pretty you wish you were in a horse-drawn carriage wearing crinoline. The Globe is delightful: a friendly, warm pub whose staff have brilliant smiles and our room was generous & just totally pleasant in style & little extras. We didn’t have a carriage (must do better) so settled for walking around the square, around the square to The Crown, another smashing pub-restaurant-hotel with more lovely, friendly staff. Despite the vast amount of flagstone The Crown was very cosy and the crowd here was great – walkers (dissecting their walk in detail), hnters’n’shooters wearing actual breeches, other easy drinkers (hello) and dogs of every shape, size and colour. We had bowls of mussels here, they were immense. And also I discovered Becks Vier, yum, great, thanks.

We ventured back to the harbour pubs (research) and hung out in The Golden Fleece very local & very fun. Norwich had just beaten ManU, the jukebox was working in everyone’s favour and they had dry roasted peanuts, so between that and the lager it was friendly banter and chat all the way. Side note – there’s some great ink around here.
When we left The Fleece (still singing) we headed back to The Globe for dinner. I think they wished we hadn’t.. banging on about ManU and Wales and all sorts. But our dinner was great – local crayfish & lobster linguine and polenta with veg to start, mackerel with side deliciousness for me, Holkham estate venison for Nad – trific.

the estate

The Holkham estate, just out of Wells, is one of the most exquisite, manicured pieces of England I have ever been to. It’s back from the beach but you can see that row of evergreens and the horizon is wide open. Holkham Hall is so polished and well kept you’d think it’s owned by BBC for their period dramas, the lake/ pond is rippling & shiny, no duke poo in sight, the drive way – nearly 1 1/2 miles of it – is favoured by grouse and Landrovers. We rode our bikes around Holkham estate and it was a brief but glorious ride. I just couldn’t take in enough English civility and wholesomeness (may have been the hangover) and I like to think Nad got Mr Darcy inspirations from the whole experience. Chuck in a few deer, what looked like bay laurel trees and a crispy breeze and it was autumnal heaven. No autumnal heaven is complete without a good roast and we had ours at The Victoria, a delightful building bustling with families, locals, visitors and gravy-carrying waiting staff. I pitched for broccoli & stilton soup then fish pie with baby carrots on the side. Pretty much if you gave me coal with baby carrots on the side I’d be happy. Nad had ham hock then the beef roast, the yorkshires looked golden perfect and the cauli cheese was smashing.

I have to stop there because I’ve got no adjectives or superlatives left.

Norfolk, it was brief but marvellous. Next time I’ll use me wetsuit and running shoes ;)

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