Author Archives: Dave

Oaktree Cottage – Your Perfect Norfolk Hideaway

Sitting on the edge of the village, Oaktree cottage has always been a classic Norfolk hideaway.

Originally it occupied a much larger plot, with its own well, and enough land to form a self-contained hideaway. We can see this from the earliest tithe maps, to aerial photographs taken in World War Two…

Some time after the end of WW2 the cottage fell into disrepair, and we’re told by previous owners that it was again rescued and restored as a Norfolk Hideaway by a couple who were doctors in a London hospital. They clearly loved North Norfolk, as they put a lot of love and effort into the restoration, and of course the roads from London were nothing like they are today.

We suspect that it was during this renovation that the kitchen and bathroom extension was added. There are no planning records from the time, but we believe that the original stairs would have been a ‘Norfolk Winder’ in one of the alcoves by the fireplace, and the footprint of the building would have basically been the lounge and the bedrooms.

The kitchen, bathrooms, and staircase were all added at this time, with the stairs now taking you outside of the original building, stepping back into the old house when you enter the bedrooms.

The cottage was then home to a builder who divided the plot, and built a much larger home on what would have been the smallholding. Sadly they also had to remove the ancient oak which gave the cottage its name to make room for the house, although the ‘small’ oak at the front of that house must be at least 120 years old.

Finally the cottage was a retirement home for the couple that we bought it from, before they moved to a flat by the coast.

Our story began in the late early 2000’s. I’d grown up near Holt, and still have family in the area. A degree in Electronics and Telecoms meant that I ended up working in London, and the Berkshire, and living in Surrey, but a love for North Norfolk led us to seek our own Norfolk Hideaway, which we’re now proud to share with you.

Our response to Covid-19

It has been, and continues to be a challenging time for all of us. Thankfully neither we or any of the cleaning team have been directly impacted, but of course it changes the way we do things.
Our cleaning company were on the ball, and invested in anti-viral foggers back in March 2020 which means that the cottage gets a good fogging on every changeover. Even so, we’d rather put safety ahead of profit, and so decided to keep a buffer week between bookings. The best advice we’ve found tells us that the virus can survive for up to 3 days on some surfaces (stainless steel being one), but much less on more absorbent surfaces. This means that our buffer week allows the cleaner to visit on Tuesday, 3 days after guests have left, and four days before the next guests arrive.

We’re also being as fair as we can with refunds and cancellations for bookings made since the start of the pandemic, as we appreciate that you can’t get insurance that will cover Covid related cancellations any more. If we are locked-down and can’t accept guests, then you will get a refund.

Bathroom Upgrade

We’ve had a bathroom refit and upgrade on our plans for a while, and have completed it over the winter.  We’ve had a few comments that you prefer a shower screen to a clingy curtain, and although it was perfectly functional we thought that the fittings were looking a bit tired.

We’ve put in a new bath, replaced the tiles with much lighter and brighter shower boards, and fitted a shower screen.  The tiled floor has been replaced with a thick vinyl which is much warmer under-foot, and we’ve moved the sink and vanity unit so it’s easier to reach the window and blinds.

The new basin and vanity unit has an illuminated mirror above, which also contains a mirror heater so the mirror doesn’t fog up when you’re in the shower.  A new extractor fan, and a heated towel rail instead of the radiator complete the upgrade.

We hope you’ll be as pleased with the upgrade as we are!


Summer Bedding…

We’ve recently been putting in some great new summer bedding in the garden to make the exterior even more welcoming on arrival, and the view out of the windows prettier too…
The lupins, delphiniums, and poppies continue to keep the cottage garden looking ‘cottagy’, and now the sunflowers, verbanum, and summer bulbs should ensure that we retain some good colour through the summer.
Of course we’ve also got the other type of summer bedding covered with the all season duvets 🙂


Booking for 2017

It’s been a long time since we posted – mostly because things have settled into a pleasant routine.

Just a quick note though, to say that we have now added prices and availability for 2017.  A few dates have already gone – so if you have a preferred date then please get in quick!

Dragon Hall, Pulls Ferry, and Cathedral Close (Norwich)

The first day of our holiday, it’s windy and raining (after a glorious summer), so what to do…

Norwich never disappoints, so on with the waterproofs, and look for something we’d not done before – which today was Dragon Hall.

Dragon Hall - Medieval Merchant's Hall

Dragon Hall – Medieval Merchant’s Hall

Now approached via a fairly nondescript residential and commercial street, this was a thriving trading area in the Middle Ages, situated beside riverside wharfs. The hall was ‘lost’ for many years after being divided into a terrace of houses, but was thankfully rediscovered rather than redeveloped in the late 1970s, and after urgent work to preserve the decaying structure in the 1980s, and full restoration in 2005/6, the hall has been restored to its former glory.

Unusually, the whole merchant hall was owned and operated by a single merchant (as opposed to a guild, as was normally the way) as a sign of his prosperity and financial security, in order to reassure trading partners. This was global import/export 1420s style, at a time when Norwich was the second city of England.

The hall is now open as a museum telling the story of Robert Toppes, the merchant who built the hall almost 600 years ago, as well as the story of the restoration of the hall.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it’s called Dragon Hall because of the dragon motifs uncovered in the roof beams during the 1970s survey, which were in turn inspired by the Norwich Snapdragon, a much-loved emblem of the city in the Middle Ages (see the Castle Museum for more information).

Dragon Motif in the Rafters

Dragon Motif in the Rafters

As we left Dragon Hall, the weather was brightening up, so we crossed the river by the pedestrian footbridge, walked through the new cinema and retail complex on the other side, before crossing once again into the cathedral grounds by Pulls Ferry. From the early 16th century until 1943, a ferry river crossing operated here, and until around 1820 when the bridge was built, it was the main river crossing in this part of the city. The name ‘Pulls’ comes from the ferry operator from 1796 to 1841.

The 15th century arch is believed to have been the entrance to a private canal, which was used to carry the stone for the construction of the cathedral. The stone was shipped from France, and the canal was used to link the short distance from the river to the cathedral site.

The arch, which has a small room over the top, is now the regional headquarters of the Girl Guides, but also opens as a tea room on weekend afternoons through the summer, offering tea and a cake for a very reasonable £1.50 for Girl Guide funds.

Pulls Ferry on the edge of the Cathedral Grounds

Pulls Ferry on the edge of the Cathedral Grounds

From Pulls Ferry, it’s a lovely walk up to the cathedral through the grounds. As well as the cathedral itself, you pass some lovely old buildings on the way through the cathedral close, originally built to house officials, clergy and even their horses…


Still Flying the Blue Flag…

Despite tougher standards this year, our nearest seaside towns have held on to their Blue Flag awards.  Cromer (below) and Sheringham have been awarded the coveted Blue Flag, while further afield, Hunstanton and East Runton have been awarded the new Seaside Award.

While not all of our ‘wild’ beaches share the same facilities (toilets, lifeguards, etc.) they do of course share the same clean water.

Bathers enjoying Cromer beach.

Bathers enjoying Cromer beach.


Hot on the heals of the Oscars, a bit of glitz has come to Cromer this week as Steve Coogan and crew film the final sequences of the upcoming “Alan Partridge” film.

Love him or hate him, Alan and his bufoonery have been livening up a distinctly chilly Cromer pier this week.

The crew are giving little away about the plot, but what is known is that after a police car chase from his adopted home town of Norwich, Alan takes refuge on the pier preparing for what looks like an armed stand-off with the police!

Norwich Cathedral

Before the Second World War, Norwich could boast a church for every week of the year, and a pub for every day. Whilst much of the city was blitzed in the Baedeker raids, there is still a lot of medieval Norwich to explore, with the jewel in the crown being the Cathedral.

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

Building work started in the 11th Century, and the first phase of building was complete by the end of the 12th Century.  Some of the wall painting survives from this first phase.

The spire was later destroyed by a hurricane in the 14th century, and the roof of the nave was burned down in a fire in the 15th century, so there is now a fascinating mix of architectural styles in the current building.

One final bizarre fact is that the lectern, modelled on a pelican no less, was buried in the bishop’s garden to survive the Reformation.  It was found by chance many years later, and restored to service.

The pelican lectern

The pelican lectern

You can find more pictures of the cathedral on our facebook page.