The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

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.

  Leave a reply


  1. KateUK

    Fiona- our favourite holiday stop-offs.
    The Cley smokery ( Cookes) in Cley on one of the sharp corners of the Coast Road in the village sells stuff that is divine, their taramasalata is gorgeous.Just about every evening on our way home from wherever on the coast we find ourselves able to stop off in Cley to visit the picnic shop on the corner ( it now has a car park nearby), then on to the smokery shop almost next door…then on the way back to Sheringham past Cookies we’d just have to park up ,purchase some crab and prawn sarnies ( they are SOOOOOO good) and sit watching the salt marshes stuffing ourselves with goodies…can’t wait to get back there.

  2. Toffeeapple

    That made me laugh since I am totally useless at finding my way around. Sounds like a lovely day none-the-less. If you do go to Salthouse, try the crab sandwiches at the Dun Cow, they are sublime and they do a great selection of wine to drink with them. I do so love Norfolk.

  3. Ruthdigs

    Oh that sounds like a fantastic summers day out. I love a crab sarnie by the water. Fantastic!

  4. Small Pines

    Love the day trips! What a wonderful story. I’ve always wanted to do similar – a drive through nice country, the sea, a great meal along the water – ideally eaten in a fishing shack. Being as we’re two hours from the ocean, we’re going to have to get ourselves to Cape Cod or the Maine coast sometime soon. Glad you finally got something good to eat! =)

  5. Magic Cochin

    Oh snap! You ended up going to my favourite coast!

    We went last Saturday – but brought our seafood supper home in the coolbox…

    I can thoroughly recommend samphire with your crab and shrimps 😉


  6. danast

    What a brilliant day out, full of surprises, kind, helpful people and lots of laughter. What more could you ask for?

  7. Love the story! BTW the shrub is Colutea, or bladder senna.

  8. Kooky Girl


  9. Cherry

    Quite a coincidence that I decided to check out the Cottage smallholder today!
    I remember a visit to the Oysterage a few years ago!
    Beccy and I travelled with S, while Danny, Mark and F, who left half an hour later, arrived in Orford half an hour before us!

  10. Leslie

    I know you’re always looking for income streams. This delightful adventure could surely be reworked into a little travel piece ? Perhaps for a syndicate or group of newspapers? It’s timely and affordable to daytrippers.
    Loved it. Leslie

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