Muddy Stays: Cinder Cottage
When looking for a cottage stay, it’s natural to go straight for the ‘hotspots’ in any given location – in Norfolk, that’s the Burnham Market’s, Holkham’s and Well-next-the-Sea’s. But sometimes it makes both financial and ‘I-really-need-some-peace-and-quiet’ sense to go slightly off the beaten track.
That’s what I found during the February half-term when looking for a North Norfolk cottage stay. Exhausted, and in desperate need of some family time, I wanted to avoid the inevitable long wait at the bar to order my roast dinner – one eye squarely on the barman (whose attention I’m trying to grab); the other on my squabbling kids a few metres away. That’s how I stumbled on Cinder Cottage.
Cinder Cottage is in the quiet hamlet of Rinstead, near enough to reach the hotspots but far enough away to be quiet. Large fields are visible at every turn; walk a few metres out the front door and say hello to horses grazing in the field.
The local pub, The Gin Trap, is two minutes’ away on foot and is a gorgeous, whitewashed affair with open fires, a large beer garden, quaint bedrooms, board games and Gin tasting boards. There’s even a little silver van outside (called Felix) which travels around the county selling Gin cocktails to stressed-out locals. Our quiet afternoon by the fire, nursing pints and playing Kerplunk with the kids, was a highlight of the week.
Meet Felix, the travelling Gin bar
Ringstead also has a post-office-cum-newsagents-cum-off-licence that also doubles up as a gift shop, as well as a decent playground for kids needing to run off a bit of steam.
The cottage itself is an attractive, Norfolk-stone-clad semi, with parking for two cars and a small front garden with seating and BBQ.
Stash your coats and muddy boots in the porch before entering the cosy lounge with its big sofas and blankets. I loved the wooden world map on the wall and the coffee table made of wooden logs.
This property is marketed by Barefoot Retreats, and guests receive a welcome hamper of fizz, milk, apple juice, crisps and cake on arrival – very civilised.
The kitchen is light and airy, with a central table seating four and distressed white wood cupboards hiding everything away neatly (it took me a while to find the dishwasher).
The owner has thought of everything – there are even kitchen scales and small caffetieres for morning coffee (spot the little sheep on the shelf).
Nice day? Fling open the French doors and let the kids play in the garden while you cook (or continue sipping the wine and chatting!). There’s a large bench with seats for dining alfresco and plenty of lawn to run around on. The best part? It’s all enclosed so nobody can escape!
To the side of the kitchen you’ll find another door leading to a utility room (this is where your washing machine is) and a cloakroom toilet, which is very handy indeed.
Cinder Cottage is on three levels; on the second you’ll find two double bedrooms and a large bathroom with tub and shower over the top.
I loved the furniture used to deck out this house – check out the chunky chest of drawers with leather handles and the industrial-style lighting. All upstairs rooms have gorgeous field views, too
Head upstairs again for the loft room, the highlight with its four-poster bed and stag-themed décor.
There’s a small en-suite here, too, with a loo and shower.
Amenities are from wonderbrand L’Occitane.
We soon got into a happy routine, waking late after a decent night’s sleep in our kingsize beds, piling into the kitchen in our PJs to make coffee and eggs; flicking on the DAB radio… by the final day sun was streaming through the French doors.
Once showered and dressed, we would choose a beach to head to – Holme-next-the-Sea and Brancaster are the nearest (both were deserted our on visits) – and spent as long as the weather would allow marvelling at the vastness of the sky. Cold but happy, we’d pile into the car and find the nearest pub for a drink or lunch – never failing to stumble across a warm welcome and a roaring fire.
Back at the cottage, we’d light the fire (wood-burners are easy to peasy to light – and actually stay lit), put on the flat-screen and – with the kids settled in front of a movie – head into the kitchen to crack open the wine and catch up.
All in all, a wonderful stay.