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Do you live in the best place in Britain?

A new survey of the UK's loveliest locales sees Norfolk trending. But you knew that already right? So does your neighbourhood make the list?

The Sunday Times published it’s annual best places to live in Britain list last weekend and three Norfolk locations made the top 10 in the East category. Well, tell us something we don’t know, right?!

Local knowledge and seeking out the fun stuff is Muddy’s speciality obvs, so here’s our take on those three hotspots, with some suggestions in case you want to go and have a nosey this weekend. And if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the winning locales, let us know if you’ve been overrun by over excited Sunday Times readers!

Norwich

Home to Muddy Norfolk HQ. I might be biased but it truly is one of the best places to live in the whole of England (not just the East).

I grew up in a small town outside Norwich and have seen the city grow into the cosmopolitan place it is today. UNESCO city of literature plus too many other awards to mention – we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to shops, bars, cafés, restaurants and culture. So where to start …..?

Mainstream shopping.  I’d head to Intu Chapelfield which has all your high street stores. If you fancy something more independent, check out the Lanes and pass through Norwich Market en-route. Both are a hive of small street food and fashion outlets, including the very lovely gift and jewellery boutique Lisa Angel – home grown success now with outlets across the country.

Day time coffee and cake.  I tend to hang out around Exchange Street – Cafe No. 33, London Street – The Cosy Cafe and Pottergate – Alchemista Coffee. When the sun is shining you can’t beat chips from The Grosvenor Fish Bar and a pint from The Birdcage, sat on the green before popping for a little mosey around the antiques and collectables in St Gregory’s Church.  For afternoon Tea in the city, book into the gorgeous Art Deco St Giles House Hotel.

Night life.  I’m a little over the clubs on Prince of Wales Road and you’ll find me chilling along St Benedicts St. For places to eat and drink, The Farmyard, Haggle, Tipsy Vegan, Platform 12 and The Fig Bar are a few of my favourites. However for a special occasion, The Last Wine Bar, Benedicts or Roger Hickman’s – home to two of our favourite Norfolk celebrity chefs.

Pubs & bars.  The Stanley, Sir Garnet Wolsey, The Unthank Arms, Blue Joanna and The Warwick St Social top my list of watering holes.

Culture.  We have the Norwich Castle and Norwich Cathedral , both of which are beautiful buildings on the Norwich skyline. The Open and Norwich Arts Centre always have a fun and creative line up. Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse pull in some big names and shows and we have quite a thriving local arts scene happening at the Maddermarket, Epic Studios and Sewell Barn Theatre. Sainsbury Centre on the UEA campus is worth a detour especially if you’re a fan of Marvel movies – you might recognise the shot!

There are lots of open spaces to enjoy – the cathedral grounds and the river Wensum are in the heart of the city. Mousehold Heath, Waterlook Park (cafe Britannia at both) and Eaton Park are all within the city boundary.

 

Aylsham

Location, location, location – all the benefits of country life but still close to the main city of Norwich and only a short drive to the North Norfolk Coast.

Aylsham has all the Muddy must haves – Biddy’s quirky tearoom, Amika Boutique, Interiors shop Lisa Dawson and hand made chocolate shop Carousel Chocolate. Black Boys Hotel for traditional pub grub or a short drive and you have two of my favourite gastro pubs – The Buckinghamshire Arms and The Gunton Arms.

Aylsham Farmers Market is not to be missed on the first Saturday of the month, showcasing all the wonderful local food and drink producers in Norfolk. Also if you like to sniff out some interesting collectables, the weekly Monday morning auction is an experience where you’ll find everything from garden produce and vehicles to Victorian and 20th century furniture and books.

Bure Valley Railway is a great family activity or if you prefer you can cycle or walk in one direction to Wroxham or the other to Reepham (treat yourself to afternoon tea at the lovely Dial House).

It’s only a short drive to the National Trust’s Blickling Estate with lots to do for kids and adults. Don’t miss Classic Ibiza this summer – grown up civilised raving!

 

Blakeney 

The pretty coastal village of Blakeney is the perfect base from which to explore the North Norfolk Coast. At the heart is Blakeney National Nature Reserve with wide open spaces and uninterrupted views of the coastline, ideal for walking and spotting local wildlife including seals – boat trips can be taken from Blakeney Point .

Plenty of gorgeous flint cottages to rent – check out Salt and Norfolk Cottages.

Food and drink.  We’d recommend the fabulous Blakeney Hotel or The Moorings, a cute café by day and bistro by night. If you want to stock up for a picnic, The Blakeney Deli is full of scrummy local delights or visit Blakeney Crab shed for some fresh seafood. A short walk away is Wiveton Hall Cafe where if you’re lucky you’ll bump into Normal for Norfolk and hall owner – Desmond MacCarthy.

Lots to do in the area – try gillie crabbing on the Quay or walks through the salt marshes or along the coastal path towards Cley beach.

Congratulations to Bury St Edmunds – overall winner and just over the border from us! Muddy had the pleasure of staying at The Northgate Hotel recently and you can read our review of this and the surrounding area here.

Anywhere in Norfolk that you think should have made it onto the list? Let us know!

Find more ideas here

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Norfolk