Muddy stays: Lark Cottage, Titchwell
There’s nothing like a break from the norm to liven up routine, and what better way to inject some excitement into a dull week than a picturesque drive to North Norfolk’s beautiful coast where fresh air, farmyard animals and picture-postcard beaches are guaranteed?
As for places to stay, I could really get used to reviewing beautiful cottages in beautiful locations with beautiful views (owners of beautiful cottages in beautiful locations with beautiful views please take note…) and am lucky enough to be visiting my second today.
Lark Cottage sits in the tiny, quaint village of Titchwell, four miles from the popular holiday spot of Brancaster and – rather more enticingly – smack bang on the beach. The first thing I notice on heading up the gravel driveway is that, while ‘Cottage’ is part of the name, the property is both larger and grander than the word suggests, but still in keeping with tradition with its handsome exterior clad in Norfolk flint.
The three-storey beauty sleeps up to 10 in four bedrooms, each cosily and thoughtfully kitted out in a whimsical cottage style, with art deco uplighters, roped curtains and chandeliers providing a backdrop for antique pieces of furniture and select pieces of art. There is also a family bathroom and two en-suites, while well-behaved dogs are welcome, making this the ideal holiday home for a large family.
A snug lounge with squishy sofas, games, books, magazines and a large flatscreen is the perfect spot for kicking back after a day on the beach – draw the thick curtains, turn on the little lamps and create a more intimate atmosphere.
Downstairs is also where the piece de la resistance resides: an open plan kitchen-cum-diner-cum-conservatory – which I can only assume is a well appointed extension – offering the most jaw-dropping views imaginable.
As for the garden, well, have you ever seen anything like it? From the perfectly-manicured lawn the view just keeps on going, through the countryside, into marshland, onto a caramel beach and finally to the sea. Want to take a closer look? Head to the master bedroom on the top floor and use the telescope – a lovely touch.
In fact, engaging ideas are everywhere – from the handcrafted sign on the door to the hand-sewn doorstop, and from the wooden elephant plaque to the fantastic artwork.
Angela, the owner, is thoughtful enough to leave a bottle of Prosecco and a locally-made (and scrumptious) strawberry cake out for me, plus a couple of postcards to write home about my trip – more people should write postcards.
A bulging folder of information provides hints and tips on both the house and the area, while a handwritten calendar lets visitors know what’s going on when (little lines of Typex making me smile – Typex should join postcards in making a comeback.)
Arriving on a Thursday afternoon – the sun finally shining for us after weeks of summer rain – my daughter and I head straight outside to take a closer look at the birds flying off the marshes into the garden (Titchwell’s very own RSPB branch has recently reported sightings of Great Knots, Spotted Redshanks, Avocets and Spoonbills; I’m guessing there are also Larks, erm, larking around somewhere too?).
As we admire nature at it’s best, I look back and notice that even the back of the house is impressive…
One tweet to Angela the day before arriving and a fab babysitter is arranged for the first evening of my stay – I have a cunning plan to kill two Titchwell birds with one beachy stone (not literally) and head to Titchwell Manor for dinner (more on which in a later post). As babysitters go, strangers are generally the last resort, but Claire is a child genius who not only manages to get my daughter to go to sleep in a strange house but at a reasonable time too.
With my evening ahead fast approaching, I plug my iPod into the modern dock provided, open the now chilled bottle of Prosecco and whip up a spaghetti dinner, eventually finding the freezer, microwave and toaster in the utility room, while my daughter finds both a lollipop and a bottle of Gin in the cupboard on the other side (what to do? Whip the lollipop off the child with eyes like saucepans and risk her dropping the Gin in distress or grab the Gin first in the hope she’s crap at undoing lollipop wrappers?! Middle class dilemmas eh?!).
A 50 yard walk across the road brings guests directly to Titchwell Manor, a pub and restaurant with views of the ocean making it perfect for a little evening out (particularly ideal for me as I can be safe in the knowledge that my child is just a Hop, Ship and a Gin away).
The next morning, despite the somewhat awkward sleep (why do children insist on sleeping in the same bed as you when there are four bedrooms to play with?), I make fresh coffee, eggs and toast and head outside to brave the breeze, admire the view and wait until cries of “can we go to the beach please mummy,” get unbearable. After exactly eight minutes, we head out.
We are on the coastal path leading to the completely deserted idyll that is Titchwell Beach within a duck’s quack, and spend a delicious day making sandcastles, eating ice-cream (there were two Magnums in the freezer at the cottage – nice) and splashing about in the sea before collapsing back in the cottage for one final night.
With the madam asleep, I pour another glass of Prosecco (no it’s not flat and yes the spoon trick does work) and sit in the garden wondering if the next door neighbour is willing to sell and, if so, whether they would accept the wide grin that’s currently on my face as full payment.
Yes, as breaks from the norm go, this one is was just what the doctor ordered – and routine may now continue aplomb.
Lark Cottage, Main Road, Titchwell, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 8BB. northnorfolkholidaycotts.co.uk