The Cottage Smallholder

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A grand day out

Photo: Unusual and nameless shrub

Photo: Unusual and nameless shrub

“I wonder whether I’ll order crab or something else.” I secretly mused as we pottered along in Seraphina’s little black car.

The plan was a leisurely drive to Butley’s Oysterage in Orford. A bit of a culinary blow out and then home. Incidentally, the odious Len has a holiday house in Orford. This adds a certain frissance to a trip to the village.

But a visit to Butleys was not to be. We found that we were on the wrong road.
“Where does it lead to?”
I checked the map.
“Let’s go to Old Hunstanton. They are bound to have crab.”
“And we could go shrimping.” I could see us, trousers rolled up and nets at the ready. Homemade potted shrimps are divine. At this point the Thelma and Louise theme cracked in. We were out and having fun.

But all we found at Old Hunstanton were hotel chains. And a shed on the beach selling drinks and ice creams.
“What we are looking for is a small relaxed place where we can eat fresh crab with bread and a beer,” Seraphina explained to the owner of a craft shop.
The lady riffled through a guide book.
“Cookies would be perfect for you. It’s a bit of a drive along the coast – at Cley. You can eat outside. The beach is a bit pebbly but sandy further on.”
She pronounced Cley, Cly. And mentioned Salthouse. We didn’t realise that Salthouse was actually a place – imagining an old building that used to house some sort of fish salting operation.

We whipped along the coast road. The sea just a faded thin blue line glanced occasionally between hedgerows.  We passed lots of tempting eateries but our hearts were set on Cookies. Eventually we reached Cley, turned a corner and spotted a large sign. “Cookes”.
“Perhaps they spell it differently in Norfolk?”

We had missed last orders by 15 minutes but the friendly owner rustled up crab sandwiches and dinky salads with a smile. As we guzzled these in the pretty garden we wondered why we couldn’t see the beach that the craft shop lady had mentioned. Or the state of the art bird sanctuary, complete with twitchers carrying powerful binoculars and cameras with lenses that could fell an elephant.
“Perhaps the beach is on the other side of the house.”
But a quick shufty after lunch revealed the sea was miles away.

Later that day when we were trying to find our way home – map reading is not a well honed skill with me – we decided to take an easier but less direct route home. If we stuck to the major roads even I could trace our path. Heading for Sherringham, we eventually passed the bird sanctuary and later our eyes were drawn by a large sign – “COOKIES”. There were the outdoor tables, and on the other side of the road the beach.
We roared with laughter. The perfect excuse to return in August to sample Cookies crabs.

Meanwhile if you happen to need a reviving pit stop on the coast road, pop into Cookes – you won’t be disappointed.

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  1. Oooh the Butley Orford Oysterage was a big favourite of ours when we lived in England. It’s fab. And there’s a wonderful smokehouse just around the corner. And if you’re in Orford, The Jolly Sailors is well worth a visit too. In fact all of that part of Suffolk is lovely.

  2. Brilliant, Fiona. We’ve just moved to Norfolk from France, and this looks like the perfect exploratory day out. I’ll get the maps….

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