On a sunny Saturday morning in October, The Girls (2 of my besties and me) set off for a wild weekend in……..Cromer. Coach trip mecca of the Norfolk Coast and famous for crabs….I assume they’re the kind you eat. First stop Norfolk Lavender Farm near Hunstanton, we so know how to party. Mads could hardly contain her excitement when she discovered there was a farm shop, her excitement was contagious and I very nearly bought some sort of homemade pickle packaged in a jar in that shabby chic kind of style. Lou, for the only time that weekend, was not stuck behind the lense of a digital SLR and instead tucked into cake for lunch while Mads and I opted for the healthy option and wished we’d chosen the cake!
Onwards to Wells Next To The Sea along the North Norfolk coast road, dotted with quaint villages and gourmet pubs to keep the London set fed and watered. We decided that any pub painted with vintage Farrow & Ball type paint would be far too expensive for our pockets so we carried on until we reached Wells and parked on the beach car park. For those unfamiliar with Wells beach it is worth a visit, sand and sea (doh) with a few dunes and the icing on the cake is the multi coloured beach huts (offers in region of £60,000 if you fancy one). Lou took some stunning pictures, a few of which I’ve posted below, as a semi-professional arty-farty camera whizz I left her to it although I was allowed to use her precious SLR to take a few pics…they will be the ones with Lou in the picture. If you want to see more of Lou’s photos look up Beaulah Beau on Facebook.
Next stop Cromer, one of the bigger resorts along the North Norfolk coast. Cromer is famous for its crabs but as none of us are particularly keen on crabs, it was the cheap rate at the impressive Victorian Hotel De Paris that had grabbed our attention and our sole reason for visiting Cromer. When we arrived the building did indeed look impressive, perched on the cliff high above the pier, you could almost imagine a Victorian lady in the dress of the day carrying a parasol and entering the building. The interior, however, was a mix of impressive Victorian decor and original features contrasted with naff formica furniture and Georgian wire windows adorned with a plethora (so wanted to use that word…plethora) of health and safety signs. It soon became apparent that the hotel was destination central for coach trips which attracted the older (than us) clientele. Why the management think that a bit of crappy formica and old wing back chairs arranged nursing home style around the edge of a lounge is attractive to older people I can only guess at. Perhaps the raving reviews on TripAdvisor has something to do with it, mine wasn’t so glowing but neither was it terrible. What stopped me from writing a totally crap review was the room; despite the smell of damp (which we later discovered was due to water coming through the en-suite ceiling when the room above took a shower) despite the naff wing back chairs and the lack of homely touches – the view was awesome framed by the huge bay window. Pier people watching soon became a favourite activity, as well as drinking nice cups of tea while sitting on the dark green (why are these chairs always dark green?) wing back chairs positioned to take advantage of the views from the window. The Hotels position is what has saved it and why it continues to prove a popular choice for a the coach travelling masses. That said we met some characters and the breakfast was excellent considering the poor waiter had to serve 1 vegetarian, 1 gluten-free and 1 cake-a-holic!
Mads had a small single room with a side view that didn’t smell of damp and I shared a huge room with Lou. After we had checked out each others rooms, texted, facebooked and tweeted and had a nice cup of tea (omg we will end up going home on the coach!) we decided to take in the sights and stock up on provisions before getting ready to hit Cromers night life. The sights didn’t take long, shops were closing and Cromer isn’t a massive place to stroll around. We bought a bag of nuts and a bottle of wine and headed back to the hotel, the highlight being when Mads told me to “mind the bob” when approaching some dog poo. Poo being referred to as “bob” is something I haven’t heard since my childhood and it set us off in fits of laughter, it’s one of those moments that can’t be explained and can only be shared by 3 friends who met at college when they were 16 and are still laughing about bob almost 30 years later. I guess you had to be there.
The evening could have been a bit of a disaster if it wasn’t for our shared sense of humour. We had booked a restaurant/bistro type place for a meal, a bit pricey but we were celebrating my birthday. We arrived and were served drinks then led to our table – no-one else was in the restaurant, the vege option was off, several starters were no longer available and when it got to the point where Mads could have her steak but not the sauce we decided it was time to leave. I say we decided but I was, as usual, indecisive and despite outward appearances I can’t stand confrontation. Mads is very self-assured if something isn’t right and she wanted me to enjoy my birthday meal but it was Lou, while Mads was still reasoning with me, that went up to the waitress and told her we wouldn’t be ordering anything to eat on account of nothing being available and we would drink up and leave. Now, sitting in an empty restaurant with a waitress glowering is not my idea of non confrontational and, for the first time that evening, I made a decision; I swigged my Pimms and legged it. I was half-way up the street before Lou and Mads caught up, we looked at each other and once more the laughter commenced. We eventually found an Italian which served gluten-free pasta and tucked into our meal at last, our intention being to find a pub afterwards which served late. But like 3 small children that have had a busy day we all began yawning and headed back to the hotel, we passed guests playing dominoes (no doubt into the wee small hours) and trundled up the stairs, though the regulation fire door and into our rooms for a nice cup of tea before bed. Ibiza style partying it was not.
Early to bed, early to rise; in fact so early we saw the sun-rise, a spectacular free show from our window which Lou caught on camera. We tucked into breakfast, showered, packed, complained about the water coming through the bathroom ceiling and checked out. Would we return to the Hotel De Paris? – Maybe in another 30 years time….by coach! Our route home took us through Kings Lynn where we stopped for an unimpressive lunch at Nandos although granted it’s not the best place for a vegetarian to have lunch. We chatted, we laughed, we listened to tunes and sang to a few of them and all to quickly our snatched mini-weekend away was over. OK so it wasn’t exactly as it used to be, partying all night fuelled by drink, but it was just as enjoyable. I reckon you could drop the three of us in the most boring place on earth and we’d still have fun, we’d still be comfortable enough with each other to nod off, pass wind and laugh at bob. I guess that’s what growing up and growing older together does to people; that and booking coach trips to Cromer.