Why go to Norfolk?
There was a smug, metropolitan tone evident when we announced we were going to Norfolk for the weekend. "Norfolk?" mocked our friends, "isn't it really flat and boring?"
But as anyone who's actually been will tell you, flat fields mean big skies and a horizon so broad you can see the curvature of the earth, making you feel very insignificant indeed.
We stayed at the charming, family-run boutique hotel Titchwell Manor and while it might not actually the end of the earth, you really can see it from there.
Curled up in front of their log fire on a big sofa, with views out over the marshes, dunes and sea, the hotel feels like the last bastion of civilisation before the enormity of the North Norfolk coast overwhelms everything. And that is anything but boring.
Staying at Titchwell Manor
Our room was The Potting Shed, but should definitely not be confused with the kind of cobweb-infested shack our grandpa would sneak off to.
Separated from the other rooms, with a private terrace and views across the walled gardens, this charming wooden cabin was the perfect weekend sanctuary from the increasingly hostile weather.
We paused briefly to admire the stylish décor, tasteful linens and sleek in-room technology before dumping our bags and heading out to explore.
Undeterred by the ominous clouds, we pottered off to the nearby town of Burnham Market (think miniature Chelsea-on-Sea) before heading to Holkham Beach, made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow in the final scene of Shakespeare In Love.
The advantage of being almost entirely alone on such a beautiful, unspoilt expanse of sand (recently voted Best Beach In The UK by travel writers) is that when a storm gathers out on the horizon, you have plenty of time to Instagram it while it rolls in, but not quite enough time to escape it.
Returning to The Potting Shed, the first task was to fire up the log burner and the second was to submerge ourselves in the gorgeous roll-top bath until our teeth stopped chattering. The staff kindly tumble-dried our wringing wet clothes leaving us a few hours to relax before dinner.
What to eat?
Head chef at the 3 AA Rosette awarded Conservatory restaurant is Eric Snaith, son of owner Margaret and finalist in last year's Chef Of The Year competition.
There's no doubt this is destination dining and we wouldn't be surprised if Eric soon collects a Michelin star, but thankfully, culinary refinement isn't at the expense of a great atmosphere.
Overlooking the manicured gardens, The Conservatory is both classy and cosy, and unlike other fine dining establishments, the staff are friendly and the food doesn't take itself too seriously.
The 8 course Conversation Menu successfully navigates the sublime to the ridiculous; an accomplishment in itself. 'Yukon Gold Potato, Hay, Buttermilk and Sea Purslane' seemed a salute across the sea to Scandinavia, meanwhile local 'White Fallow Venison, Parsley Root and Beetroot' was on more familiar turf.
Every dish was innovative and exquisitely presented, bearing Eric's clever and playful signature. You'd expect nothing less from a chef of his skill, but you might not expect to find him here, cooking in his mother's hotel at the end of the earth (or, more accurately, the end of the A10).
We remembered those who scoffed at us for coming to Norfolk, and washed the last laugh down with a cracking dessert Riesling.
Rooms at Titchwell Manor start from £75 per night, with the 8 course Conversation Menu costing £95, including wine pairings. A 5 course version and a la carte options are also available.
For more information, visit titchwellmanor.com or call 01485 210 221.
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