In England, there’s something of a ‘new tradition’
This ‘new tradition’ is all about celebrating local heroes. After all, even the Queen’s done that ages with the Honours Lists, but this one’s different.
This one’s about celebrating the people who help us travellers see even more of England and contribute in many different ways of showing us (and showing off) the best of their communities.
I love things like this!
I’m sure pretty much everyone who’s ever travelled has come across someone local at least once in some destination that has been kind, offered help, advice or something useful that has ended up making such a big difference to our travels with their local expertise.
That’s essentially what this award; the Tourism Superstar Award (from Visit England) is all about.
Anyway, on a brisk, sunny morning a week ago, we hopped aboard the train from London and made our way over to Norwich where we would be spending time with the guy we’re supporting to win this year’s honours; Charlie Hodson.
You’ll find out more about why further down; and yes, a lot of it is to do with food.
It’s another one of those cities I considered studying in but truth be told, even though it’s fairly close to London, I’d never actually visit properly.
The houses all around here are just so beautiful but the crowning gem here has got to be its impressive cathedral.
Norwich Cathedral is one of the largest in England and stunning to see.
In fact, it has the largest monastic cloisters (that bit in the centre) in all of England.
Suffice to say, you’ll find yourself losing quite a fair bit of time as you marvel at the sheer beauty of this place.
In fact, it took the persistent rumbling of my tummy to tear me away from this place and carry on through Norwich.
As you carry on your merry jaunt through the ancient Medieval city, you’ll find yourself confronted with many houses here that’ll give you serious home envy.
…some of which are historic homes too! (Look out for the plaques outside the homes for more details)
Eventually, we made our way over to Louis’ Deli on Upper Giles street for a quick bite to eat.
We would be eating a lot more later on with Charlie so I tried to keep it light, and by light I mean I had 3 pancakes and bacon; which disappeared before a camera could even set its sights on it.
Lloyd, on the other hand, went for smoked salmon and scrambled egg (and managed to squeeze in a quick photo before diving in).
Re-energised (and totally caffeinated), we carried on through the pretty streets of Norwich, heading over to the skating rink.
We didn’t actually go to the skating rink to skate – it doesn’t serve as a proper rink anymore.
It did however back in Victorian times, used to be a proper skating rink (we are talking back in the 1800s) and today, still very much in the structure it had back in those days, is home to a cornucopia of beautiful knick-knacks.
We’re talking about art, clothes, rugs, pottery and so much more. When you visit Norwich, I’d totally recommend coming here for a proper mooch-around.
We then swung by Norwich Market, which sounds pretty regular on the surface of it, till you find out that this market has been here for over 900 years!
Obviously, the market has changed over time and now it’s a much more civilised affair but it spots like this that remind of you of how outside of London, Norwich used to be one of the biggest cities in the UK.
It’s a key part of why there’s such a strong, long and rather fascinating history behind the city.
We eventually hopped into a taxi and headed over to the butcher’s – Archer’s, which is where we would be meeting with Charlie Hodson.
Archer’s is another one of those places that have been around for ages.
Now a little bit more about Charlie and why we’re rooting for his to win the award.
Charlie is all about fantastic British food. As world-renowned as British produce is (gins, beef, beers, cheeses, bread, cakes…etc), British food; as in British meals doesn’t always get the credit it deserves.
We Brits love British food but it takes people like Charlie (and I guess, in a large part – everyday people like you and I) to fully show visitors to England.
In other words, if you happen to visit me in London, we’re going out eating at all the best British restaurants I can find.
Food isn’t about discussing and over-analysing, it’s all about eating! With that, we set off to go eat some food at the Fur and Feather, Charlie’s pub/restaurant/bar.
Charlie is all about championing smaller local producers.
He puts his money where his mouth is and uses their produce in his meals, he showcases them as much as he can at the restaurant and makes time out to even mentor them.
We’d picked up some meats at the butchers and Charlie set to work whisking, mixing, roasting and pretty much-turning everything into some of the most delicious meals we’d had in a while.
You also got to see, first hand, how the local produce played a part in his cooking!
In what seemed like almost no time whatsoever, we had a table full of delicious pork and lamb meals.
And yes, I may have had two of those dishes to myself! For what it’s worth, I did pay for my greed later when I could barely move from having eaten so much.
I have no control when it comes to delicious food.
In an effort to walk off the food, on Charlie’s suggestion, we popped into the Woodforde brewery.
Thankfully, this was next door (which is the one that does the brews for the Fur and Feather) for a bit of a tour.
The tour was a bit impromptu, so we were shown around by someone who had just finished his shift and oh my goodness, it was one of the funniest tours ever.
Like how that guy isn’t a brewery tour guide (or even just a tour guide in general), I have no idea.
The brews are great but methinks he’s missing his calling as a comedian.
Having now gone pretty much “farm to table” for our food and beers, we headed back with Charlie into the city centre where we’d been told about one spot we had to visit; Grosvenor Fish Bar.
We arrived just before full-on rush hour and made our way downstairs to the cavernous seating area.
You wouldn’t expect it to be as big as it is from outside but there’s a surprising amount of seats here.
We ordered up the fish and chips (there’s so much more than this on the menu but it was a Friday and fish and chips just had to done).
We also got some calamari (because clearly my greedy tummy has short-term memory and couldn’t remember how full it was not that long ago) along with fried greens.
Oh, and you also get some amazing homemade sauces here too. Now, I may have taken quite a few of these home with me; that garlic mayo is my absolute favourite.
Well and truly stuff, we finally said farewell to Charlie and Duane.
One of the biggest things that are dawned on me, not just in Norwich, but in the Cotswolds is that British food is special in these places because of how little the food has to travel.
These places have direct access to farms and so sourcing the produce locally and reducing the amount of time it spends in storage makes eating in many places in England so special and the best way of truly appreciate great British food.
We loved Norwich so much!