Thursday, 26 May 2016

Retro Dining at Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

Looney Toony. The minute I saw that on the Grosvenor Fish Bar menu, I knew that I had to taste it. I turned to Stephen and said that whatever we did eat that day, it had to include a Looney Toony.

Loony Toony at Grosvenor Fish Bar

Shark bites on the menu at Grosvenor Fish Bar

We'd arrived in Norwich in the late afternoon after spending the day at Felbrigg Hall. After navigating some twisting alleyways and lanes, we soon spotted Grosvenor Fish Bar and I immediately fell in love with the retro feel of the place. There was a long line of people waiting to be served but we decided to head downstairs to the eat-in section.

A retro fish truch at Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

We had a choice of rooms in which to sit downstairs and chose one with a vintage food truck in. With my mind set firmly to the English seaside of the 1950s, we turned to the menu. 

The menu at Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

We decided to choose a number of dishes to ensure we got a good feel for the variety of food offered. That is blogger speak for, we were ravenous and made complete gluttons of ourselves. Perhaps it was the reasonable prices that made us underestimate the generous size of the portions but as you can see, we received a veritable feast.

A feast at Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

The first thing we agreed on was the Looney Toony, of course, followed by the Shark Bites and 5 Quid Squid, served with Chips & Cheese. 

The Looney Toony is a tuna steak in batter, wrapped in a wholewheat roll with lettuce and wasabi mayo. As soon as I bit into it I experienced an explosion of flavour in my mouth and was immediately regretful of my decision to share everything with Stephen. I knew that I couldn’t finish everything on my own but I wasn’t quite ready to share the good bits either. The Looney Toony was delicious and I certainly understand why it is one of their most popular dishes. 

Shark bites at Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

Next I tasted the Shark Bites, shark nuggets served with a miso dip. I thought they tasted not dissimilar to cod but slightly less oily as white fish goes. Stephen disagreed but politely said that shark must be an acquired taste. I concurred and polished off the rest of them. 

5 Quid Squid at Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

The 5 Quid Squid was a serving of large crispy squid rings in batter served with garlic aioli. Naturally I steered clear of the garlic dip but the rings on their own were very tasty indeed and I enjoyed them. These were Stephen's second favourite. 

Chips & Cheese at Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

Together with our meal, we enjoyed a massive portion of Chips & Cheese which was exactly what it says on the board. We so enjoyed the chips that we stayed an extra ten minutes just to eat a few more. It is also possible that we had eaten so much that we couldn’t actually move. 

Grosvenor Fish Bar was such a fantastic and unexpectedly fun experience that I'd definitely recommend it and will certainly return when next I'm in Norwich. 

Downstairs at Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich

I loved the atmosphere of the place and noted that like us, many of the patrons felt comfortable enough to spend a long time there, relaxing and chatting or even sitting alone and reading. It is not often that an eatery feels like home and it is easy to see why Grosvenor Fish Bar is achieving somewhat of a cult status in Norwich.

As much as I loved it, we did eventually have to leave but we did so knowing that we had discovered an absolute gem of a place.

Grosvenor Fish Bar
28 Lower Goat Lane,
Norwich,
NR2 1EL.

Opening Hours
Mon - Sat 11:30am - 7:30pm (ish)
Closed on Sundays.

We visited Grosvenor Fish Bar during our visit to the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, one of the UK’s longest-running and largest international arts festivals featuring film, dance, contemporary music and a host of other events.

I’d like to thank Visit Norwich, Look Sideways–East and Grosvenor Fish Bar for inviting me to try out the menu. Our visit was complimentary and as always, all views, enthusiasm and gluttony are entirely my own.

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Walk With Me at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk

A Walk With Me Felbrigg Hall

"Weird", says Stephen and he's not entirely wrong. It is a little odd to be walking in the beautiful grounds of Norfolk's Felbrigg Hall, wearing headphones and carrying an iPad for navigation. We're certainly getting a few peculiar looks from people walking their dogs.

Felbrigg Hall Clock

Felbrigg Hall signposts

Felbrigg Hall Walled Garden

We're taking part in Walk With Me, a 'walkscape' designed by sound artists Jeroen Strijbos and Rob van Rijswijk. The experience is primarily audial in the form of narrations, snippets of conversations, ghostly voices and musical accompaniments.

Avenues of Felbrigg Hall

At first, the experience is quite surreal, you'll hear the beginnings of a conversation before it fades away, a strange utterance without context. Stephen might be quite right in his estimation of the experience.

At the point of the Victory V at  of Felbrigg Hall
At the point of the V for Victory

And then the penny drops. In the narration, a young girl is observing a couple sitting together on a bench and suddenly in front of me I see the bench. I turn around and see the V for victory and it's akin to a reverse virtual reality experience. Rather than disappearing into my head and into technology, I'm standing in this vast outdoor space and experiencing it with all my senses.

A gate in Felbrigg Hall

Beware livestock at Felbrigg Hall

Buttercup at Felbrigg Hall

A fallen tree at Felbrigg Hall

I begin to piece together the clues, as generations of voices tell their stories. They are all interconnected in some way and all are connected to Felbrigg Hall, to its history, to actual events that took place there.

The sessile oak tree at Felbrigg Hall
The 500-year-old sessile oak tree

When we began our experience, the man from National Trust told us that there were up to 6 hours of narration available which meant that you could spend a whole day exploring the grounds. I can believe him. We never did find the ice house, having turned down the second part of the Victory V instead of heading west. But we did find the incredible 500-year-old hollow oak tree and many other treasures besides.

Inside the oak tree at Felbrigg Hall
Inside the hollow oak tree

Incidentally, he also told us not to worry if we got lost or disappeared. The local Norfolk police would be able to track down the iPads and retrieve them, even if switched off. He mentioned nothing of our own rescue, of course. (And so we were introduced to the fantastic Norfolk sense of humour).

Fences of Felbrigg Hall

Conservation area Felbrigg Hall

Beauty of Felbrigg Hall

Wildflowers of Felbrigg Hall

Forboding skies at Felbrigg Hall

Felbrigg Hall in the distance

Back to the walk and we begin to see Felbrigg Hall to our left and know that we haven't strayed too far off the beaten track. Each time life's stresses begin to seep back into my conscious, I'm drawn back in to the narration, seeking more clues and spotting more landmarks. The church is up ahead, spotted with graves located just inside the church walls.

St Margaret's Church Felbrigg Hall

Sheep of Felbrigg Hall

Lamb Felbrigg Hall

All too soon, we begin to spy signs of life and we find ourselves back at Felbrigg Hall. What a wonderful, exhilarating experience!

Felbrigg Hall

Walk With Me is a fantastic immersive experience and one that I would love to repeat, if only to find the clues that we missed and piece together more of this ghostly story.

The name ‘Felbrigg’ dates back to the Danish invasions at the end of the first millennium. In 1450, the estate passed out of the hands of the de Felbrigg family and into the hands of the Windham family where it remained until Admiral William Lukin inherited it in 1824.In 1863, a Norwich Corn Merchant by the name of John Ketton bought the estate for £77,238, the equivalent of £7.7m today. Born in 1906, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer was the last squire of Felbrigg Hall. It is he who planted the Victory V in 1946 to commemorate VE day and the death of his brother Richard who was killed in Crete in 1940. Robert never married and bequeathed Felbrigg Hall to the National Trust on his death.

Felbrigg Hall
Felbrigg
Norwich
Norfolk
NR11 8PR

Directions: 2 miles from Cromer; off B1436, signposted from A148 and A140
[Important: do not trust your SatNav!]

The Walk With Me experience runs at Felbrigg Hall Gardens and Estate until Sunday 30 October 2016. The experience costs £8 and includes the use of iPad and headphones.

We visited Felbrigg Hall as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, one of the UK’s longest-running and largest international arts festivals featuring film, dance, contemporary music and a host of other events.

I’d like to thank Visit Norwich, Look Sideways–East and National Trust for inviting me to experience Walk With Me at Felbrigg Hall. Our visit was complimentary and as always, all views and enthusiam are my own.

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Bringing Some Cheerz to Our New Home

Doesn’t time fly? Tomorrow will mark eight weeks since we moved into our new house and it is already four weeks since I started at the new company. Life is good but it feels that I can do nothing to slow down time. Buying our own home has been as exciting as we expected but not without its challenges.

We bought off-plan and are still working through a significant snagging list. I’ve been chatting to our new neighbours and they are all as happy as can be! It seems it was only us that had to replace half their kitchen because the builders drilled through the electrical supply when installing the cupboards. Nobody else had to replace half the kitchen ceiling because the shower flooded from the first floor and nobody else is still dressed and presentable by 7am each morning to let a stream of builders into their home.

As you can imagine, I needed an extra dose of cheer in my life and was thrilled when the lovely people from Cheerz contacted me to ask if I would like to try out their service. It was serendipitous – I’d already seen a post about Cheerz on a fellow blogger’s site and was very pleased to be contacted.

After expressing my excitement and enthusiasm, we agreed that I would try out a Big Square and a Little Square.

Registration and User Experience

Registering on Cheerz is easy and can be done using Facebook or your email address. Once on the site, you choose your product and then upload a series of photos to the interface. At this point you click on the photos you’d like to add and then move to a preview screen. From here, you can move the photos around and you can also edit how they are cropped. You can even add a couple of filters.

Cheerz is designed with Instagram in mind but I used my original photography as taken with my Canon 1000D. I find that iPhone photography can be great on digital but often suffers in print.

The Cheerz Big Square

The Big Square

For the Big Square, I chose a series of photos from our trip to Italy in 2013. I really liked how well the photos came out and how striking the colours are. The dark frame looks great and the size allows just enough detail to be eye catching.

We decided to hang the Big Square in our main bedroom and it looks lovely.

The Big Square retails at £40 plus postage, is 40cm x 40cm and can take between 4 and 16 photos. I was pleased with our choice of 9 photos.

The Cheerz Little Square

The Little Square

For the Little Square, I chose four photos from our trip to France last year. As you can see from the photo above, the photos I chose should have definitely been bolder and more colourful. If you choose a Little Square, do keep that in mind. I chose to hang the Little Square outside my study so that I can see it and think of France every time I trudge in for more studying.

If I could make one recommendation, it would be to offer the Little Square in the same dark frame as the Big Square so that they match and because I think it looks nicer.

The Little Square is £20 plus postage, is 20cm x 20cm and takes 1 or 4 photos.

The Customer Service

The customer service at Cheerz was superb. One of my orders was held up by the courier and when I emailed to trace the order, they immediately sent a replacement order. I didn’t want to make a fuss but was assured that this is the standard service that they provide to all customers.

Verdict

Would I use Cheerz again? Yes. I love how the Big Square turned out and love the idea of hanging my own photos on my walls.

Cheerz Discount Code

I hope I’ve convinced you to give Cheerz a try. If so, you can click here or use the code MANM9Y when checking out for a £4 discount off your first order. In full disclosure, I will tell you that by using this code, I will also be rewarded with credits towards my next order.

Masks from Venice

That’s all for now. I leave you with one final photo of masks that we bought in Venice and a lamentation that I wish my home-photography skills were a little bit better! I definitely think I need a tripod and a lot of practice because the photos I have taken have been pretty dire.

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Saturday, 14 May 2016

A Strange Day in Richmond

Richmond Park in Spring

Have you ever had a day where everything seemed to go wrong? Melissa and I had one of those days recently when we met up in Richmond for a walk and a session of afternoon tea.

Our day started with me missing my train. I like to think I'm not often late and I rarely miss trains but on this particular day, my tardiness meant that I was going to be a full 30 minutes late. It turns out I don't actually live 4 minutes from the station after all.

Playing in Richmond Park

We met up at Richmond Station and caught a bus to Richmond Park. Perhaps I should mention that this was a relatively mishap-free experience and we managed to get off the bus at the right stop! I am not very good with buses at all.

We took a stroll through Richmond Park as we made our way to Pembroke Lodge. I must say, I had expected the park to look slightly less barren by this time of year. Nevertheless, we did find some photo opportunities but didn't find the famous Richmond deer. 

Tree in Richmond Park

Leave in Richmond Park

A Path in Richmond Park

Pembroke Lodge was very busy when we arrived and when we finally found someone to talk to, we discovered that we were in the wrong place for afternoon tea. We needed to go to Pembrokes at Richmond Hill Hotel, a good 15 minutes walk away, and we were going to be late. 

Pembroke Lodge

We hurried as much as we could but we were indeed late for our sitting. When we arrived at the hotel, we couldn't find anyone to point us to the restaurant and landed up walking right to the wrong side of the hotel. 

The Richmond Hill Hotel

Eventually we found our way and were given a seat but then we waited ages to be served and even longer for our afternoon tea stands. Was it worth all the grief? Yes and no. 

Afternoon Tea at Richmond Hill Hotel

Afternoon Tea at Richmond Hill Hotel

Afternoon Tea at Richmond Hill Hotel

Afternoon Tea at Richmond Hill Hotel

My gluten-free option was very good and featured moist, springy bread, a lovely panacotta and a delicious creme brûlée. But the scones? The scones were superb. Served warm, the scones were fresh out the oven and had the perfect taste and consistency. They are probably the best scones I've ever had, gluten-free or not. To complement our food, we shared a mint and rose tea, followed by a lemon ginger tea. 

Unfortunately, the standard afternoon tea was not as good as the gluten-free option, which is a pity because mine was quite good. I would definitely have liked the service to be a little more attentive and for £29 each for the champagne afternoon tea, I would expect a much better quality and consistency to the whole experience. 

London from Richmond

The Thames Flowing Through Richmond

Would we return? We'd definitely like to return to Richmond later in the summer and we said as much on the day. As we walked from the hotel back to Richmond, we saw some gorgeous views of the park and river. 

RichmondBicycle in Richmond

All in all, it was a strange afternoon indeed but one that reminded me of the importance of girlfriends and the opportunity to get together and confide in each other. They definitely couldn't take that away from us!

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© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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