Escape to the Country – Norfolk, England

“When the weather’s good, there’s no better place to be than the British countryside.” –Ross Kemp 

Steve & Mary’s home. It used to be the Old Chapel.
My beautiful hostess, Mary & I standing on a very cold & windy Wells Beach.

Usually when I travel to the U.K., I stay in a “suburb” of London with our longtime friends, Keith & Donna. This visit however, I was lucky enough to escape to the country for a few days of rest & relaxation. My good friends, Steve & Mary live in the small village of Stanfield (pop. 162) in the county of Norfolk. Norfolk, located in East Anglia, is a low-lying and predominantly rural county 90 minutes by train northeast of London & is a leading producer of fruit, veg & much to my chagrin, animal products (beef, pork & lamb).

Steve purchased this old phone booth for £1 & is fitting it with a defibrillator for the whole village to use.

After inviting myself to stay, I felt it was necessary to let them know that I was now vegan (you can read about my journey here) & wouldn’t be eating any animal products. I figured that this would cause some “discomfort” with my hosts but didn’t want to surprise them once I arrived.  Since their village is so small I was sure I’d see some kind of banner announcing “Warning: Crazy vegan Californian coming to town”! Turns out I was half right as everyone we ran into had, indeed, heard about me.

I could’t connect with social media so I connected with nature instead.
This coconut-based “cheddar” cheese was a hit with all. I hope I can find something similar here.

As expected there was a bit of panic from Mary about what to feed me but she was quite gracious & bought me a few staples – almond milk for cereal, soy creamer for coffee & FreeFrom buttery spread for toast. She even bought a coconut-based “cheddar” cheese which was so delicious that even they both liked it enough to eat it! (Another small victory for our side!) I was so touched by their thoughtfulness as it seems that a lot of people not familiar with “what vegans eat” can be completely flustered when standing in their own supermarket. This fact was proven to me when I heard the story about when Mary was standing in her local Sainsbury’s staring blankly at shelves when an employee walked by. Clearly at her wit’s end, she asked him “what on earth do I do with a vegan?” His answer, “shoot them!”

They took me to this sweet little vegetarian/vegan cafe out in the middle of nowhere.
Where I had a lovely curry & a glass of local cider.

Fortunately for me, he was the only bump in an otherwise beautiful, idyllic & accommodating setting. One evening we were invited to a friend’s home for drinks & appetizers (most meat & dairy free) & the lovely hostess was very keen to tell me that her daughter was a vegetarian! When she passed around some yummy little homemade pastry’s she whispered, “you can eat these, they’re meat & dairy free”! Then the next day we returned home to find that a copy of the UK’s alternative wellbeing magazine Natural Health had been left at the door with a note “for your vegan friend!” And then there was the pub where Steve & Mary had previously made dinner reservations for my last night. They had advised the staff that I was coming & were told “oh yes, the chef does like to be warned!”

The village church & cemetery.
Inside the church where the pews date back to the 1200’s.

My eating & lifestyle habits aside, they chauffeured me around to some pretty awesome places & introduced me to some really nice people. The internet service was sketchy at best so I really was forced to relax.

Baconsthorpe Castle (circa 1500’s) or what’s left of it!
Beautiful cows enjoying the grass at Baconsthorpe.

I loved everything (Sainsbury employee excluded!) about my visit – the peace & quiet, even the terrible internet service – and could have stayed for weeks. I can’t wait to go back to Stanfield & the Norfolk countryside!

Official name: Wells-next-the-Sea. Locals just call it Wells Beach.
These multi-colored beach huts are owned individually & line the beach .

Have you traveled to the English countryside? Leave me a comment.

Thanks for reading!

xo, Erin


6 thoughts on “Escape to the Country – Norfolk, England

  1. OM G! You are so funny. We will try and comment after we go to Bath and the Cotswolds in June! BTW, have you seen Agatha Raisin? Love it! Totally cute murder mystery set in the Cotswolds. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Silly me. I must be daft or Bodmin. 😉

    1. Thanks for the compliments! And yes, I love Agatha Raisin. Can’t wait to hear about your travels to Bath & the Cotswolds.

  2. I have been fortunate to travel with you, Erin, and I can vouch for the fact that there are usually multiple choices for you to eat at restaurants. When we were in London with you, on our very first night in fact, we ate at 222 Veggie Vegan restaurant. There was only vegan food for us 3 meat eaters. And guess what? I had a delicious version of my favorite dish, beef stroganoff. It was very rich and very tasty.

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