Let's really love West Norfolk and tell people about it
I think Will Self called it psychogeography when he used to write his column in the old Sunday Independent. That mental map in your mind of the world that differs from reality.
That feeling of familiarity and belonging in certain parts of the town that disappears when you cross a road or railway line. That feeling of being almost home when you reach a familiar landmark on the A10 heading north. Think of those maps where Lancashire is represented by black puddings and whippets while Norfolk is turkeys, turnips and tractors. Something of that seems to be going on with the Norfolk hospitality awards as announced in the EDP recently.
The favourite café was named as the village tea rooms in Heydon, beating off competition from shortlisted places in Norwich (three), Yarmouth (two), Cromer, Pensthorpe and Salhouse. The top hotel was the Assembly House in Norwich, with runners-up in Wroxham, Yarmouth, South Creake and Gorleston. Benedicts in Norwich is the choice of top restaurant with the short list comprising entries from Norwich (three), Yarmouth (two), Fleggburgh, Wymondham, Trowse and Burnham Market. The people’s choice of pub is the Bucks Arms at Blickling with entries from Gorleston, Fakenham, Neatishead, Dilham, Hunworth, Coltishall, Thurne, Norwich and Great Moulton making up the best of the rest. Notice anything? Of the 35 pubs, cafes and restaurants selected not one is in West Norfolk. Well one, if you allow Burnham Market which is just in the West Norfolk CAMRA Branch area.
I know from experience of both work and voluntary organisations that it is a lot further to King’s Lynn from Norwich than it is to Norwich from Lynn, and that practically all county wide meetings I have attended have been over there.
Still, we have enough pubs that regularly win regional and national awards such as Watlington Angel, The Rose and Crown at Snettisham and the White Horse at Brancaster for us to aspire to at least a mention. Since the end of lockdown, it has been a real pleasure to get back into cafes and are Cobbles in Lynn, Petals in Dersingham or Great Bircham Stores and Café not worthy of consideration?
I contacted the EDP for a comment and Lauren told me: “Thanks for the email, that’s a really good point. It’s certainly not deliberate – they were whittled down from a shortlist but you’re right, it’s an important point to make. There’s plenty of wonderful places to eat in West Norfolk, including The Old Bank, The Wenn’s, Rose and Crown – many more!”
Still, it is not just the EDP that seems to find West Norfolk rather low profile.
CAMRA received a message from Greene King to let us know that their pubs are to offer a discount of 10 per cent on real ale to CAMRA members.
They attached a list of over 600 places which will be part of that scheme, which include precisely none in the West Norfolk branch area. I know that it is a while since we have been part of the Greene King heartland and with the closure of pubs such as the Prince of Wales and the selling off of the Wenn’s there are fewer outlets, but I thought that The Gatehouse might make the list.
Heritage Day again demonstrated what wonders West Norfolk has to offer, not just pubs, but it also showed that we have to tell the world about us.