Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Boxing Day and New Year’s Day Guided Walks at Fairhaven Garden Norfolk Broads

Head to Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden at South Walsham in the Norfolk Broads for a guided walk in the garden on Boxing Day, Saturday, December 26, 2015 and New Year’s Day, Friday, January 1, 2016, both starting at 11am.

Garden admission, which includes the guided walks, is adults £6.20, concessions £5.70 and children £3.65 (under 5 free). The walks last 1½ hours and a complimentary mince pie and glass of mulled wine will be on offer in the tearoom at the end.

Highlights include the massive 950-year old King Oak and other ancient oak and beech trees and the views across South Walsham Inner Broad. Learn about the history of the garden, the collection of plants introduced by the 2nd Lord Fairhaven and the organic working methods still used today.

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is at South Walsham (NR13 6DZ), nine miles east of Norwich, signposted off A47 at B1140 junction, t. 01603 270449.

The garden is open daily all year, open 10am to 4pm during the winter (closed Christmas Day); free entry to tearoom, gift shop and plant sales. There is wheelchair access throughout the garden, including a Sensory Garden. Visitors requiring special facilities are advised to telephone in advance, mobility scooters available. Dogs are welcome on leads; small charge to cover poop scoop.

Maids Head Hotel Norwich Wins English Hotel Loo of The Year Award 2015

Mandy Ames Head Housekeeper and Erwin Mullari Housekeeping Assistant with the Loo of the Year Awards
The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich has won best English hotel loo, in the Loo of the Year Awards 2015.

In addition to winning the National Award for Hotels in England, the Maids Head’s toilets received top Platinum grading and a special Attendant of the Year Award for cleanliness.

The Loo of the Year Awards have been identifying the best in Britain since 1987, and are recognised as standard setters for all those who provide ‘away from home’ facilities for staff, customers and visitors.

Over the last year the Maids Head has invested £140,000 in fully refurbishing all public toilets at the historic hotel, including the addition of an accessible toilet near the Wine Press Restaurant and new gents’ toilets close to the Minstrel Suite, the hotel’s man function room. The completed refurbishment reflects the heritage of the hotel with a contemporary twist.

The Maids Head received an unannounced visit from a Loo of the Year Awards inspector and was assessed against 100 judging criteria including signage, décor, fixtures and fittings and overall standards of cleanliness and management.

Christine Malcolm, General Manager, the Maids Head Hotel said: “We are very proud of our refurbished toilets. It is fantastic to have received this endorsement of their quality, with a national English Loo of the Year Award. I am particularly pleased for our hard working housekeeping team, led by Mandy Ames and specifically Erwin Mullari, who has overall responsibility for keeping the toilets looking at their best.”

The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich claims to be the oldest hotel in Britain, based on the hotel’s site being used continuously for hospitality since the early 12th century.

Now privately owned by the Chaplin family, who also run The Gonville Hotel in Cambridge, the Maids Head has 84 bedrooms and caters for a wide range of corporate events in its historic meeting and reception rooms. An ongoing programme of refurbishment and renovation has included the installation of a hi-tech capillary heating and cooling system in the oldest part of the hotel – a first for Norfolk.

Private ownership has also meant a return to a policy of local purchasing for food and drink. Visitors to the bar and restaurant can sample Maids Head Ale from Woodfordes and Winbirri wines from Surlingham.

Norwich historian Walter Rye, who also owned the Maids Head from 1889 to 1895 considered it to be: “the oldest Norman site in the city after the Castle”.

Historian Rev. Francis Blomfield explained that the hotel was built on the site of a house owned by the early Norman bishops. It was this house that became a guest house for visitors to the Cathedral. This eventually became the Murtel Fish or Molde Fish Tavern, the predecessor of The Maids Head. The tavern is first mentioned in Norwich records in 1287. John Paston recommended the Maids Head as good place to stable a horse in a letter dated 2nd November 1472, confirming the change of name.  

For more information about the Maids Head Hotel see, t. 01603 209955.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Greater Yarmouth 2016 Tourism Launch

The Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area Ltd (GYTABIA) launched its 2016 campaign on Tuesday 8 December at the Hollywood Cinema to an audience of over 200 local tourism and business professionals.

The centrepiece of the launch was the première screening of 15 new films, including a special extended version of the new TV advert, all to be shown online in 2016. These new films, produced by Norfolk based Ember Films for internet use, are aimed at the growing audience of online viewers who use YouTube as a search engine and the trend of watching ‘on demand’ online, both of which are increasing as traditional media loses viewers to the internet. 

The themed films look at different aspects of Greater Yarmouth, highlighting all sorts of things that visitors can do, from shopping to exploring heritage, from enjoying indoor or outdoor attractions to discovering what’s open in winter for holidays out of season, as well as taking a more in-depth look at some of the stories behind tourism. 

Pictured at the Hollywood Cinema, Alan Carr Chief Executive, Karen Youngs, Project Manager, Cllr Barry Coleman Vice-Chairman, Kirsty Burn Marketing Manager, David Marsh interim Chairman, GYTABIA.
David Marsh, Interim GYTABIA Chairman said: “We want to inspire a new generation of visitors through a medium that is current, relevant and accessible and create an online social buzz by focussing on the key strengths of our destination and on the lives of some of the people who make our destination great.”

The launch was also an opportunity to reveal the 2016 Holiday and Short Break brochure and to announce some of the projects that the BID will be able to support in 2016 and beyond.

Cllr Barry Coleman, GYTABIA Vice Chairman said: “Business leaders from all over the borough from east to west, from Winterton-on-Sea to Hopton-on-Sea have recognised that the BID is an amazing opportunity to galvanise communities and groups of traders to work together towards a common goal: to increase customer numbers, customer satisfaction and customer spend.”  

“Of the 40 or so ideas submitted, the BID will be supporting a range of projects including an Eating Out Week, a National School’s Sailing Regatta in Gorleston and Hopton’s 10th Anniversary Fete and Carnival.  There will also be continued support for the Wheels Festival, Great Yarmouth Arts Festival,  the Film Festival,  Martham Scarecrow Festival,  UK Beach Volleyball in Gorleston, the summer fireworks in Great Yarmouth and Hemsby, Gorleston’s annual Christmas Switch-On and for the popular Maritime Festival.”

The BID Board has also allocated funding to assess the feasibility of staging an Air Show in Great Yarmouth in 2017.  

David Marsh said: “This is a probably our most ambitious and challenging project so far and we will need every day of the 18-month lead in time to make sure everything is in place.”

“The BID is also about helping create a good first and lasting impression so we are pleased to be able to support floral projects in Hemsby and Filby as well as developing new trails around Winterton-on-Sea.  Working with the Community Trust the BID is also supporting the ‘Station Hosts,’ a team of meeters and greeters who provide information to visitors arriving and departing through Great Yarmouth railway station.”

All priority projects identified at the November board meeting are being worked up now for final approval in January.

Cllr Coleman who is also GYBC’s portfolio holder for tourism said: “Tourism is a key sector in the borough’s economy; some £130 million, or 24.5% of the annual tourism spend, is contributed by tourism businesses spending with other businesses.  We look forward to continuing to work with partners across the borough to make a real difference over the next few years.”

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

50 Christmas Trees in a Church, Dickleburgh, Norfolk – The Winners

The 12th annual 50 Christmas Trees in a Church at All Saints Dickleburgh, South Norfolk, drew to a close on Sunday, December 6, with the prize-giving for the 23 most popular trees voted by visitors to the festival.

Ladies Tractor Road Run (for Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer appeal) was the winner in the adult category for their tree decorated with tiny pink bras. Susan Whymark Funeral Service came second with an amazing ‘dress’ tree and Culrose Residential Care Home were third with their gingerbread themed tree.

Annie Chapman - Ladies Tractor Road Run 
1st Dickleburgh Rainbows, who combined with Harleston District Girl Guiding, won the children’s category with their fabulous plastic bottle tree, displaying Christmas messages of hope. Harleston CE VA Primary School came second with their Hands of Hope tree and Burston Community Primary School was third with their gingerbread house tree.

Dickleburgh Rainbows and Harleston Girl Guiding tree
The Nick Arnull Plate, for the most innovative tree, was shared by Susan Whymark Funeral Service and 1st Dickleburgh Rainbows with Harleston District Girl Guiding.

The Christmas Tree festival has raised £2,000 for EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices) and a donation will also be made to Norfolk & Norwich Hospital Oncology Department, with residual funds being retained by the Benefice of Dickleburgh and the Pulhams.

Rowena Roskelly, one of the festival’s organisers, said: “We have had an excellent week. I would particularly like to thank all the volunteers who helped set up the church and look after visitors throughout the Christmas Tree festival. Thanks also go the local organisations and businesses who contributed such a superb collection of decorated trees; many congratulations to all the winners. This has been the last 50 Christmas Trees in a Church at Dickleburgh, although some of the volunteers are thinking about running something different in the church during Advent 2016.”

For more information about 50 Christmas Trees in a Church, including the full list of winners, see