A Travellerspoint blog

Cookies Crab Shop

Salthouse, Norfolk

sunny 25 °C

There is really not much to make you go to Salthouse, a tiny village on the Norfolk coast, except for the annual art exhibition at St Nicholas Church and Cookies Crab Shop of course. It is not the sort of place you just happen to be passing but with some local guides (Chris and Richard), with inside information and transport this was a very pleasant day. This week Cookies made it into the Guardian’s (newspaper) 100 Top Alfresco Venues in the UK but by the number of customers there last Sunday, people already know.

It is a tiny wooden shop with tightly packed outdoor tables under a canvas awning on gravel. The tables are booked all through the day allowing you 1 1/2 hours to eat and move on before the next occupants arrive. It is simple, unpretentious and very inviting. There is even and a fishing boat leaning by the small front gate that looks very much at home.

Inside the Cookie’s shack, the menu and rules are tacked on the walls: Please do not bring your own food or soft drinks, as we serve these here. Please bring your own wine glasses, there have been many breakages. We are not a tea room, we do not serve teas or coffee. Closest toilets are in the pub around the corner.

The only things on the menu are salads - Crab Salad, Crayfish Salad, Salmon Salad, Lobster Royal Salad, King Prawn Salad and on and on, all fresh and straight from the fishing boats. They were generous servings and quick - great big meaty servings of fish and shellfish surrounded by slices of tomato, cucumber and beetoot, and spoonfuls of coleslaw; and all the dishes came with faces on them. I noticed the pâté smiled with a tomato face. The salmon looked at us with olive eyes lined with pink shrimp eyebrows. There were sticky toffee puddings and icecream sundaes on the menu, I wonder if they had faces too.

Luckily we had parked the car at the top of the hill and walked down so we were able to walk off some of our lunch then The rest we walked off along the beach from Sheringham to West Runton and back along the cliffs with the precarious caravan parks gradually falling into the sea. It was a perfect, warm summer day, (one of the few we’ve had this summer)– we even swam!

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Posted by dworgan 08:53 Archived in England Comments (1)

Terrace house living

179 Nelson St, Norwich

semi-overcast 16 °C

We are getting quite good at setting up houses now and have a taken a short lease on a terrace house in Norwich, about 3 hours north of London. We have been here for a couple of weeks already but house sitting and cat feeding which has been very comfortable. During that time I managed to get some casual English teaching so it seemed sensible to hang around. It seems funny that an Australian is teaching English to French, Italian, Spanish and Chinese teenagers in England. 3 hours/day for a month helps to ease the pain of the poor exchange rate ( 1 pound = $2.40 Australian!)

Max has made friends with a lot of English teenagers and is enjoying the chance to speak English and spend their summer holiday with them – visits to the beach, movies, parties etc.

So our new house is a 2 bedroom terrace – old, wooden floors, 2 bathrooms. The drawback is that it is not furnished but we have managed to beg and borrow enough to get by even though it still feels a bit like camping. It is pretty comfortable really and very nice to be in our own space for a while. The other feature is the backyard. Although it is only the width of the house – one room – it goes forever. We could easily fit several 50m single lane lap pools in if we wanted to. Most of this is wasteland or stinging nettles at the moment. The house is up for sale so someone will snap it up and see the potential in a backyard of that size or rather length. The location is good as we are directly opposite a Jasmine Palace Chinese Takeaway. Max and friends have already given it a try and gave it the thumbs up. There is also a pub on the corner.

We are newcomers and not in the garbage collection routine yet. Yesterday morning we were woken at about 7am to men talking at our backdoor. As we discovered later the garbos in this area go past each back door and collect any bags of rubbish they can identify. We happened to have some sitting there just by accident. Then we saw that there are garden gates in identical positions in each side fence so they can walk straight through each back yard. Pretty good service eh?

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Posted by dworgan 14:01 Archived in England Tagged lodging Comments (0)

A pub for every day of the year

and a church for every week - Norwich has a good balance.

sunny 16 °C

This old claim to fame probably still stands because there certainly seem to be a lot of pubs - one on every corner. And there is no shortage of churches especially in the old town, there are at least 6 significant, old, stone churches and cathedrals.

In the street we have just moved to (today) there are 4 pubs to choose from – The Fat Cat, The Nelson, another by the river (name unknown) and The Alexandra. We haven’t even looked down the side streets or cross streets yet. They all look like typical English pubs - low heavy wooden ceilings, lots of old pictures on the walls, jugs and pewter mugs hanging from the ceilings, dark wooden bars, dart boards, and of course a roast for Sunday lunch.

Just walking into our closest pub, The Nelson, at lunchtime on Sunday, the smell takes me back to those family dinners at my grandparents’ house, where we always had a roast. Today for 5.95 each we had a roast dinner large enough to fill even a growing and always hungry 15 year old. There was a steady flow of customers who must have also decided it was easier to go to the pub than to try to cook the same meal at home - choice of lamb or beef roast (or both), potatoes, carrots, peas, cabbage, swede (whatever that is) cauliflower, all drowned in gravy, horseradish or mint sauce. We had to reveal ourselves as inexperienced roast eaters though and ask what the strange bowl-like pastry things were and how you eat them – Yorkshire Pudding of course! A slightly amused chef said he like to put them on top of the plate of food and fill them with gravy. It was pretty good and for our first day in the neighbourhood we felt like locals. Pity about the warm ale though …

Folk music is alive and flourishing here and some pubs also provide a venue for music nights where anyone if they know the jigs and reels by heart and are brave enough, can join in. It is more entertaining for me to sit, listen and watch. Looks like we might be spending a fair bit of time at the pub down the road.
sunday_roast.jpg lunchtime_.._Nelson.jpg bar.jpg english_pub.jpg

Posted by dworgan 10:43 Archived in England Comments (0)

The Grand Old Duke of York

Nursery rhymes start to have real significance in Britain…

semi-overcast 20 °C

There is a real sense of history as well as old world charm when you enter the city of York. The Normans invaders reached York in 11th century but the history of York goes back to the Romans, Saxons and Vikings before that.
The city centre is surrounded by great stone gates and medieval stone walls which you can walk around for a good introduction to the city and to appreciate just how long it has been there and the battles it must have faced. There still are many old and fascinating buildings in the old town. At the centre is York Minster, an enormous medieval cathedral which dates back to 1220 but has been extended rebuilt and repaired several times since. The Shambles – the original butchers markets – with its narrow street and leaning tudor style buildings is a wonderful step back in time. The Shambles leads into the market place just where it has been for hundreds of years., and still selling locally grown fruit, veg and smoked fish. You feel like you are living in history in York. There is Cliffords Tower from the 13th century which stands on the same mound as the original Norman’s tower to guard the city.
We now rate museums on their ability to keep 15 year olds interested and the Yorvic Viking Museum gets full marks. On the actual site where a Viking street was discovered and excavated they have recreated the street.
Using s system of suspended chairs you are shown around the old street to watch people at their trade – the leather worker, the blacksmith etc. Explanation in a language of your choice comes from the headrest in the chair. It gives you a very good impression of how daily life was carried out by the Vikings in about 800 AD. After that there are artifacts found at the actual site, bones and skeletons where the injuries sustained on the skeletons are explained and possible cause of death determined…. archeological forensic science.

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Posted by dworgan 09:35 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Cheap air travel is a reality


sunny 37 °C

There are certainly some advantages to living in Europe – lots of nearby countries to visit and cheap flights. This is a whole new way to spending the weekend quite foreign to Australians.

Everything is so close – 2 hour from Spain to Britain, 2 hours from Germany to Italy. But the real surprise is the price. There are a few airlines that really take price wars to the maximum. We thought we were very lucky to find some tickets from Barcelona for 30 euros each and then from Granada to London for 15 euros each one way. We even bought a seat for the guitar because it was cheaper than paying excess luggage for it. Lily bought a ticket a week later with the same airline and paid 1 cent!! It seemed incredible. Unfortunately they don't fly to every airport and if it is not a popular travel time the prices are higher.

In some towns they use outlying airports if the runways or late night flights cost less, and there are airport taxes of course. Big penalities apply for changing flights etc. They cover a few costs by charging 6 euros for each item of luggage and manage to get a bit more back by lowering the luggage allowance. From Australia the allowance is 20 kgs/person but if you fly with Ryan Air - one of the main cheap airlines - it is only 15 kgs. And they charge 8 euros for every kilo overweight. This of course means everyone carries a lot more in their hand luggage and wears all their heaviest clothes

We saw them weigh some people’s hand luggage but luckily they didn’t weigh ours. (They would have made a fair bit of money).

The other price saving strategies they use are that the flight a strictly No Frills – that includes no food or drink provided - we saw quite a few passengers bring out their own packed lunch and cans of beer or soft drink. There are no seat allocations so you can sit wherever you like, the seats don't recline and they sell raffles tickets during the flight to win free travel!

All this still seems amazing that they are able to operate an airline with full staff and to safety regulations, where only a small percentage of the seats are sold at full price and the other tickets are sold progressively cheaper and cheaper.

It doesn’t stop with the airfares - some agencies can arrange package tours where the flight may only cost a few euros or pounds and hotels accommodation for a couple of pounds each per night. We have yet to explore this option. I have heard of a buck’s party going to Latvia for the weekend from Britain.

Air travel is a much harder, longer and more expensive option for Australians.

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Posted by dworgan 05:46 Archived in Spain Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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