19.7.16

Lunching at the (Famous in Norfolk) Wiveton Hall






Wiveton Hall is riding a wave of fame at the moment, and it's well deserved. A few months ago you may have seen a little ol' programme called 'Normal for Norfolk' grace the BBC, and obviously I tuned in like a crazed Norfolk fan; consuming anything that mentions my beloved homeland. I was really worried that the programme would make Norfolkians out to be simple and stupid, which is an unfortunate and unfounded stereotype (except for that North Norfolk lot - we don't mention them), but in fact it was a blissful three hours of television that surmised what life is like in a rural hall run by an eccentric chap called Desmond.

You come across these people in countryside pubs; the ones wearing decades old tweed, drinking malt whiskey at midday with an ancient labrador at their feet. 'Gentleman farmers', as they are called in the show, which essentially means a ancestrally rich bloke doing whatever they can to keep an estate alive. Think Downton Abbey, but in 2016 where giving off part of your land to a festival rather than to commercial farming is the new way to 'diversify' and therefore stay afloat. It's a hard gig. Desmond - the aforementioned 'gentleman farmer' - is such an interesting character that you truly couldn't make him up if you tried. A bumbling, enthusiastic and perpetually upbeat chap who appears in real life exactly as he does on the screen. Like a cross between Boris Johnson pre-Brexit and Arthur Weasley from Harry Potter.

We were prompted to head along to the cafe after getting major food envy pangs from an episode that focused on the kitchen at Wiveton Hall. Needless to say, we weren't the only ones. It seems that the restaurant kicked up in popularity overnight and my parents scoured the website for a free slot. Eventually, we were in!


We headed along on a beautifully sunny Saturday and  made it to the hall with just a few wrong turns down awkward shingle cottage lanes. The hall is located amongst the marshes near Holkham and Wells. It's a beautiful spot, with a typically diverse setting for this part of East Anglia. Pine trees merge into sand dunes that fade into the marshes; home to dozens of sea birds and unique wildlife. The cafe is smack bang in the middle of this and draws on the local area for the menu, which changes according to the season. We went for Cromer crabs, which are just about the best crabs you will have in your life. I did that classic 'periscope of the plates' every time something came out of  the kitchen and it all looked delish!







The other great thing about Wiveton Hall are the happy little pigs snorting and snuffling near the cafe. Now, I know I have mentioned this about a million times before, but I bloody love pigs. I love the noises they make. I love their silly tails. I love how full of character they are. I love how rambunctious they are. I also love eating them. Let's concentrate on the former points though, shall we? I sat next to their pen for quite a while watching them, which was totally cool with the people up at the hall. In fact, if you've got little-uns with you there's a nature trail to go around, which I am a mighty fan of.

Now summer is creeping eeeeeeeever so slowly into our lives, I expect the Pick Your Own will be fit to bust, as the field there is huuuuuuuge. They also sell produce from the farm so you can have a potter around after your meal. Basically, I'm a huge fan of this place and it's unpretentious attitude to cafe culture, whilst being clearly focused on good food and good surroundings. Tea and cake? Tick. Norfolk coastline? Tick. Pigs? Tick. Can I move in yet?

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