We woke up after our first night in the (very toasty) Pod to gentle sunshine with a crisp edge. As anyone who’s ever been camping knows, that early-morning outdoors feeling is one of the best things about the entire experience.
After donning coats and hats, we grilled bagels beside the stream and enjoyed a cup of tea in the fresh air before heading out for the day.
We’d already planned to head over to Holkham and by the time we’d gotten mobilised and driven over there it was lunchtime. Time for a bite to eat at the Rose Garden Café in Holkham.
We’ve eaten here several times over the past few years so know well that it is a good place to eat with a family. The food is well-priced, homemade and delicious, and the Café has highchairs and a baby changing table.
We had homemade soup of the day (Vegetable) while Little Man had a sausage sandwich (and none of your old rubbish – some high quality local sausage from the likes of Arthur Howell Butchers if I remember rightly). This with a couple of drinks came to about £17.50.
Afterwards, the veritable homemade cake ‘wall’ was too much to resist and we finished lunch with coffee and cake (quite expensive at £2.90-odd a slice but they were huge – enough for two, really).
We left the car parked in the Café car park and walked up in beautiful sunshine towards Holkham Hall and Park. Once inside there is a sign detailing 3 walks and a Nature Trail that you can take around the Parkland. The walks range in length from 3.5 to 6 miles. We chose the 4 mile Park Walk.
This lovely, well-signposted walk took us through woodland paths, into farmland, and finally returned to the main Hall. Along the way we passed the Obelisk, the thatched Ice house and the Great Barn (and my, what an impressive barn it is – built by country house architect Samuel Wyatt in around 1790 it is easy to see that it was constructed to reflect the style of Holkham Hall itself).
For us, 4 miles was perfect. We sat for a quick snack and drink on one of the grassy field edges near the Great Barn. The sun was shining, the temperature had risen a bit and all was well with the world.
Back at the Hall we had coffee from The Stables Café in the courtyard (Little Man had an ice cream from a little hatch). There were Easter-themed children’s games (a coconut-shy, but with plastic eggs, for example) and garden toys (giant dominoes, hoola-hoops, that sort of thing) which kept the boys amused.
After our rest stop in the courtyard, we made our way to the end of the walk (also the beginning, of course). And that was when the pièce de résistance (at least as far as the boys were concerned) emerged like a wooden utopia from the trees. The new Woodland Play Area (dum-dum-DUMMMMMM).
Just when we thought the day could get no more perfect and family-friendly (honestly – it was bordering on unbelievable how wonderful it had been), then we discover this. Naturally Little and Littlest Man had a wonderful time exploring the walkways, rope ladders, tree houses, swings and zip-wire. I suspect we’ll be back very, very soon.
We returned to the car at late afternoon having had the most glorious day out. Lovely food, fresh air, sunshine, a 4-mile scenic walk and a play in a fabulous adventure playground. The only money we’d spent had been on the food and drink we’d bought as well, making it a very value-for-money day out in North Norfolk. Fantastic.
For dinner, we drove back along the Coast to Morston, to the award-winning Anchor Inn.
The Anchor is extremely stylish inside – think boutique pub by the sea. The staff were extremely helpful and efficient, bring out the children’s meals of Small Haddock and Chips and Tomato Pasta in record time (waiting with hungry infants is no fun at all as any parent will testify) and attending to our any and every need.
I had the Rosemary Infused Soft Polenta (with aged Parmesan, wild Norfolk Mushroom Fricassee, grilled Vine Tomatoes and Watercress). Other Half had the Famous Anchor Burger – Rutland’s Aberdeen Angus Steak with smoked local Back Bacon and mature Cheddar, served in a brioche bun with home-made burger sauce, mixed salad and triple cooked hand cut Chips. Wow.
The dishes were beautifully presented (the burger came with a little Union Jack sticking out of the bun), but alas our camera had given up the ghost by this time so no pics. We’ll try to get one from The Anchor to show you.
The food was delicious. Not overly fussy (despite the descriptions), so very accessible to all tastes, but the standout feature was the quality of the ingredients. The food just tasted of high quality. Altogether the meal cost about £38.
Family friendliness-wise, The Anchor is more than accommodating. They have a highchair, excellent changing facilities and a children’s menu. But… Honestly, to really enjoy the atmosphere and food, I think you’d be best placed to visit as a couple or at least with older children. The Anchor and it’s food are too good for a hit-and-run style meal that you can’t savour, which is what you are sometimes forced to have with very young children. I think we were in and out in just over an hour!
The drive back to the Pod ensured two sleepy, well-exercised and well-fed children, and since it was quite late, the putting-to-bed was slick (we’d also learned lessons from Night 1 in the Pod).
We let Little Man stay up and help light the Chimnea (he passed the kindling) and tried to show him the stars, but unfortunately it was a much cloudier night.
In all, a day out that dreams are made of… well, certainly memories anyway.
*All images taken on an iPhone.
To be continued… Day 3: Cromer & The Jolly Sailors.