Friday, 6 November 2009

What I did on my holidays (in Cromer)

blackcurrant and cassis sorbet
blackcurrant and cassis sorbet, originally uploaded by Trevira.

No this won't be a school essay!

But I always do plenty of research before our holiday breaks because I don't want to miss out on any good places to see, enjoy or eat at in the vicinity, and its always useful to find reliable testimonials online.

One of my best sources for travel information is Anne at I like, who shares an enthusiasm for the "Great British Holiday" and has impeccable taste. Her regular reports of her jaunts, with copious photographic evidence provided on her flickr photostream, are always full of places, attractions and businesses that are worth making an effort to seek out. (Of course, there's plenty of other good reasons for checking I like, but we're talking holidays here).

Anne's keen interest in unusual, quirky and/or neglected tourist attractions led her to establish the essential nothing to see here. This has developed into a prodigious online repository for the informed and discriminating tourist with an appreciation of the unusual/quirky/neglected.

Back to my holidays. We stayed at the Hotel de Paris at Cromer, which caters mostly to the silver-haired coach party crowd. Indeed, it proved rather hard to secure a booking at all, but it was worth the effort (and regular phone calls on the chance of a cancellation) for a sea view room that looked right over the pier.

Cromer is a modest little seaside town on the north Norfolk coast, which has little to offer the nightclubber or funfair fiend. It was perfect!

There's plenty of book shops and antique and collectors' shops for junk hounds, including Collector's World, easily found on Church Street, where I secured some brass fringes from a Mason's apron and a clutch of enamel badges. The friendly owner showed me an extraordinary set of Freemason's ceremonial robes - white with a red crusader's cross on - that had more than a passing resemblance to a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

Fine dining seems in short supply in the area, but I did really enjoy a (birthday treat) meal at La Griglia, and can wholeheartedly recommend their seared scallops starter, and seafood risotto made with "whatever's fresh from the market today." I would have taken pictures but the lighting was so low I could barely see to pick up my fork!

Mary Janes (award winning) Fish Bar on Garden Street supplied at least two more of our meals during the break, but don't try and sit down in the restaurant too late or the waitresses bellow at you "we're closed" as you push open the door (this was at about 8.30 p.m.) Don't let that robust Norfolk charm put you off though, the fish and chips are great. Just head to the take-out bit and enjoy your fish supper on a bench overlooking the nearby pier (weather permitting, of course).

In nearby Sheringham is the wonderful Ronaldo's Ice Cream parlour. Ronaldo's uses local cream, milk and fruit for its ices and spurns artificial colours and flavourings. It took some time to make up my mind:

Ronaldo ice cream parlour
Ronaldo ice cream parlour, originally uploaded by Trevira.

And then it turned out that they didn't have any chocolate cappuccino and Tia Maria on that day. Fortunately, my second choice - blackcurrant and cassis sorbet - was sublime and can be admired at the top of this post.

Finally, 'Joyful' West's Shellfish Bar, in Sheringham too:

'Joyful' West's Shellfish Bar
'Joyful' West's Shellfish Bar, originally uploaded by Trevira.

which supplied freshly made crab sandwiches for my birthday lunch (eaten on the seafront and shared with some very cheeky starlings), not to mention the best dressed crab at prices half those I saw in Cromer.

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