We were up early (well I was) in anticipation of going on holiday, to Hickling Green for a week. We had booked a cottage, and my parents were joining us for the first couple of nights. The cottage would be ours from 16:00 so we had plenty of time to get there, and had left the packing to the morning of the day of departure, however as usual we were all packed and ready to go by 10:00, we had 6 hours to do a 3 hour journey.
The plan was to stop off at RSPB Sandy to buy some binoculars that Helen had promised me for my birthday. It took only just over the hour to get to Sandy the RSPB headquarters. We parked up and it started to chuck it down with rain so we ran to the shop and visitors centre, however we did not stay for long, there was no cafe and the optics selection was not that great and no one seemed interested in selling, I would wait till we are next at Minsmere where they have a bigger selection and knowledgeable staff on hand.
Now we had a dilemma where to stop off next? There were a few options, we fancied making the most of our National Trust membership, Wimpole Hall and Anglesey Abbey were near, too close in fact, but we had visited previously. We settled on Ickworth Hall which would take us via Bury St Edmunds thus avoiding Thetford which I feared would be busy as there was a 40mph long stretch of road which was being widened. Thetford has always been a bit of a bottle neck and we have experienced delays passing through on the way to the North Norfolk coast in the past.
We stopped for a paper to distract Helen from my driving, and arrived at Ickworth Hall at about 12:30. The weather was warm with blue skies and white fluffy clouds, perfect spring weather for taking photo’s, although we would have to be wary of possible down pours. The main feature f Ickworth Hall is the massive rotunda building that forms the middle of the hall which had two impressive wings as well, one of which was an up market hotel.
First things first we used the facilities then headed for the restaurant, which was not the usual queue up with a tray and choose your fare variety but a wait here for a table and the be waited on variety. We stood by the wait here sign and despite catching the eye of one of the waitresses stood about dong nothing, it was not until two further groups of people had turned up that we got some attention! We ordered spring vegetable gnocchi (Helen) and smoked salmon and bread (Neil) from a waitress who called Alune who quickly came over and took our order when we looked up from our menu, excellent service. The food tasted great and the coffee was great, the next challenge was to pay, we went over to til,and again despite being noticed by a couple of waitresses no one came over to take our money, until we had waited a few minutes!
We exited via the shop, but Helen forewent the shopping delaying it till later in our visit. Next we went out to the sunny side of the building to get some pictures. There were plenty of Cowslips and Primroses under some Magnolia bushes which kept me distracted while Helen smoked the evil weed. The gardens were well maintained, and manicured around the back of the house, and around the front the landscape was more parkland but there were thousands of daffodils in flower to add some foreground to my pictures.
The house was quite interesting it seems that it had been built in phases over the generations as each generation fell on good and bad times. The rotunda must have cost a bit with all the curved components required to build it. Helen and I speculated how they might of done the floor boards were the cut curved or cuts straight then bent to shape. I reckon they were bent to shape it would have been very difficult to get the curve correct and I guess you would have ended up bending them a bit anyway to make them fit with the others.
We left the hall at just after 14:00 and the sat nav was predicting and arrival at Hickling Green at 15:57 perfect. The drive was pleasant especially with the Golfs adaptive cruise control dealing with the throttle pedal. We passed through territory that was familiar to me as we got closer to and passed Norwich. We were soon following signs for the broads and arrived at Hickling Green at 15:58 not a bad prediction by the sat nav.
The cottage we had rented from Norfolk Country Cottages was well appointed and equipped, we would be very comfortable for our week. After settling in we took a stroll down to the broad at Hickling itself and took in the area on the way. We decided that many of the houses were weekend cottages but there also seemed to be a really good sense of community, with many notices for clubs and society meetings and events going on.
That evening we went to the Greyhound Pub to eat, we had booked a table but judging but we probably had not needed to. The fare was pub food mainly fried but that suited me fine, Helen and I had veggie burgers dad had seafood medley and mum had some chicken dish which to her surprise came in a bun. Helen and I decided not to have a dessert but I ended up eating half of dads lemon meringue sundae which was really tasty, you really can’t go wrong with cream, ice cream and meringue with a lemon sauce.
After getting up early we were in bed early too!