Postcard From Norfolk: Great Massingham
Almost completely at random (i.e. find a cottage in North Norfolk that's centrally located, reasonably priced and for 4 or more people - we always like things to be a bit more roomy on holiday) we found ourselves based in Great Massingham - all the villages in North Norfolk have cheerful signs like the one pictured. It's just how an English village should be, with an extensive village green and with not one, but four massive ponds. These came complete with bulrushes, yellow flag irises and a multitude of quacking ducks, some of whom were found outside our door every morning in spite of Squid, the cottage owners' cat.
A place with a traditional church, sadly not one of the intriguing fortress style churches found elsewhere in the area, but built from the same materials. A thriving village shop plus a pub rescued from the ashes of the deceased Rose and Crown and resurrected as The Dabbling Duck. An object lesson in how a community/council partnership can restore the beating heart to a village. Note the plastic topiary balls outside though and contrast that with the overflowing jugs of real cottage garden flowers (foxgloves, delphiniums and sweet williams) on the scrubbed wooden tables inside. A place for great beer, morning coffee and afternoon tea as well as locally sourced lunches and dinners. A place to linger with newspapers, books and games close to hand, or to borrow a laminated map showing one of the popular walks around the area and go further afield. A fiendish monthly quiz and curry night to take part in, other regular events and an exhibition by a local photographer.
And our cottage? A place fashioned from the outbuildings of The Old Swan, another deceased village pub. Traditionally built using red brick and grey flint, just like many cottages in the area. Wooden beams inside and plenty of space, yet cosy. Books on the shelves (including Beverley Nichols) and tricky jigsaws to complete on the odd rainy day.
A perfect place to stay.