Its official East Anglia has the best climate in the whole of the UK - something to do with the fact that Norfolk and Suffolk is the big Smurf nose on Great Britain, the North Sea and the wind pull direction from the Mediterranean but I don't really know! But it is a fact. Like the fact Elm Hill in Norwich has more Medieval Buildings down that one street that the whole of London. Or Norwich Market is the biggest outdoor market in the whole of Europe or is that one of them (its big though).
But I do know Spring is in the air and we are expecting a heat wave, YES a HEATWAVE - not Doritos, actual nice weather, sun and everything. I can't wait, I love Spring. Lodge Farm is full of Daffodils, a million at least (I cant count), blossoms budding, little cute goslings are wandering around with noisy parents and the smells in the air are lusciously spring like.
I'm a little relieved because my 5th Annul PoP uP is over, I was worried about the weather, at one point a thunder storm was expected just as people were supposed to be arriving, but the sun came out and the feeling that Spring had landed was in our hearts as we filled up tea pots and took cake stands round jam packed full of freshly baked scones and sarnies.
49 people booked in for Afternoon Tea and we all know cakes are best made fresh, so I had an early start yesterday but it was all worth it. I even made my husband dress up like a Northern Toff and wheel the cake trolly round, Tiramisu pots, Date slice, Orange and Yogurt cake soaked in orange syrup, Ginger Parkin, fresh strawberries and Chocolate shortbread with fresh cream and raspberry adorned the display. But not before their choice of 2 either cheese, fruit or plain scones with 'The Tea Ladys' Strawberry & Champagne Jam, Clotted Cream and butter. But before that 'Can we get a Rewind' (thanks Craig) the guests had Chicken Coronation (it was good - I do a mean CC), Smoked Salmon and Cress, Cream cheese with cucumber and a smudge of mint jelly and Home baked ham with Local Fig'n'Apple Chutney.
The tea was Wilkinson's Afternoon Tea blend, Ceylon and Darjeeling. A scrumptious little number. BUT flipped heck I didn't expect the on-slaughter of Coffee drinkers, its AFTERNOON TEA, the clues in the title - I was cut short on that one, with only 2 cafe-tier and one bag of spare coffee. I think we must off made a dozen or more coffees all of whom had 2 - 3 cups each. I hate coffee now!!!
But everyone had a lovely time and we managed to raise £200 for 'Little Lifts' a local charity aiding gift boxes to women with breast cancer in primary care. Saskia my daughter earn some pocket money helping out as the main waitress and organiser, Nick my hubby didn't get paid in money but in cake later and my son managed to over sleep and earn nothing, hay ho!
Don't worry about Nick I'll take him out for lunch, to say thank you - maybe Afternoon Tea - - Noooooooo more, he cries!
Don't worry about me I've ended up with 11 cake stands, 2 vintage sets of crockery, 4 extra tea pots, a fridge full of whipping cream and Tiramisu, a whole ginger cake (I don't like Ginger Cake), 1/2lb of ham and some left over 'squids' for lunch in the city, oooh, and achy feet. Some good some not so good - just like life.
I won't mention my teen son!, thats a whole other blog.
So, thats over, the holiday barns are my priority now with Summer Bookings coming in - its amazing what the threat of a heat wave does. We've been so slow holiday business wise lately, with the knock on effect from 'The Beast from the East'. I mean no one in their right mind sits in-doors while a foot of snow lands in their garden and thinks 'Lets go some where nice in England on Holiday in a few weeks'. Then there was the rain - - thanks the skies that spring is on the horizon and business is starting to pick up. I need the money, bills don't stop for the weather -
Did I tell you the one about my car - - I'll save that one for another day (Hint' its gone and I'm driving a hire car - yes, it was the weather, kind of).
So - - - - come and see us, fancy some cooking, fancy a holiday, fancy a break away, fancy my husband (you can have him), fancy some wildlife, fancy skinny dipping in Bawburgh River with a tea cosy on your head - - - its all here at Lodge Farm.
Over and Out - Zena x
www.lovenorwichfood.co.uk - me other one
Seven years of Lodge Farm, seven years of debt, seven years of working - but finally after 3 years of saving we have fitted the last piece of the jig-saw.
For years I've been looking out of my kitchen window - in between teaching cookery courses and scowling at the 1940's concrete patio, uneven, unloved and old fashioned. We've done bits and pieces through the years but couldn't afford to do it all properly - after all its a massive slab of back garden.
So 3 weeks ago I got the boys in - Gavin, Karl and Kieron from GPS Landscaping to do their magic on my big plan. http://www.gpspaving.co.uk in case you wanna recommendation - tell them Zena sent ya!
Of course being a foodie it was all about the Al Freso BBQ, an outside kitchen was just the thing I dreamed about. So the Brazilian, south American pit is sunk in to the paving to form an Earth Pit BBQ, for all sorts of cooking. You can cook a joint of meat on a skewer stuck in to the ground, judge the wind and put it where the flames will blow the joint to cook. You can add a tripod and cook in a dutch oven - a pot hanging over the fire. You can burry some goodies in tin foil or if I'm feeling fruity, banana leaves and cook in the ambers, or even hot stones. Plus you can cook off a stick - like marshmallows or smores. Endless fire fun.
Then theres the Victorian Bricked BBQ area, all in sections, one for a BBQ grill, one for a Butlers sink, one massive long slot for the Okabbassi / Mangal Grill (Kebab Trough) and some for the worktops or anything else I fancy. Plus we've put in a stand for a Pizza Oven, when we can save up some more.
So - im sooo soooo happy, its finally nearly, almost done! - Just got to grab the electrician, the plumber to copper weld some taps and the carpenters to fit the roof - - oh, and the fencer to keep out the wildlife.
Then I can put on some summer spectaculars like out Afternoon Tea being held on April 14th from 1pm - - see events on www.lovenorwichfood.co.uk for more information. The official opening of 'Lodge Farm's Outdoor Kitchen'. Then hopefully I'll put on some BBQ cookery classes through the summer - more details to follow.
So come on over and take a gander - - but don't fall down the pit!!!
I'm sorry to neglect Lodge Farms Blog - I must admit to writing endlessly for www.lovenorwichfood.co.uk all about food and more food, usually while eating food and then I sit back and dream about food a bit more.
But my focus for at least 10 minutes will evolve around the my last 7 years at Lodge Farm - time has flown by and we have finally saved enough to do the last bit of building work at Lodge Farm, by the way of replacing the old patio garden out the back. It's an isor of 50's concrete paving with the leaning tower of BBQ pisa in the corner. I'm not talking about food, I'm really not but we are building an outdoor kitchen area, with a earth fire pit and a lovely lounge area - so I might be able to include it all in to my cookery school - - see it wasn't about food!!!! Work starts in a month and hopefully will be out of the way for Christmas - where I won't be thinking about food at all.
This time of year we do longer stays - mainly so I don't have to clean and iron - !!! It's prefect I can chill back a bit, get on with other stuff and familys have a comfy home from home for a few months while in transit -
The swans are still going strong, their 3 ugly grey ones are floating around somewhere - but regularly get chased of by Elvis & Pricilla - teens!!! Charlie Jrn, Boo, Doris and Splodge the geese wander of in Autumn to get more food so I only see them once or twice a week. The chickens are malting and look very ugly! even Fluff bum the feathery Barham (can't spell it) looks bedraggled and the poor things are now down to 6 in number. Im hoping to get some rare breed ones in Spring - I'm missing the tasty green eggs and being able to identify them. (I didn't mention food!)
Bawburgh Village has been active this last few months with the annual Bonfire, BBQ and firework spectacular - we had a record 400 people show up this year and sold out of our locally sourced organic burgers and bangers. Sold out of my special mulled wine mix and we even sold out of homemade soup and bread rolls.
My daughters annual Christmas fair is on Sat Nov 25th - - please come and show your support she's raising money for the Princes trust - 20 stalls, my cafe selling Crimbo wraps and home made cakes, santa and festive cheer. 10-2pm Bawburgh Village Hall.
Then theres the annual Christmas lunch for the villages, Im on the ham -
Im off for some food - - - - sorry!!!
Whats happening with the weather - - it is July.
However as I've said before the weather is always fantastic at Lodge Farm its set in a 'Simpsons Movie bubble dome, unpenitrable from the bad stuff but unlike springfield you can get in and out really easily. I'm just hoping for some good rays on Saturday for my daughters 18th and my 50th birthday party here at Lodge Farm - Party 1850. The place is looking stunning, hummocks have been hung, benches moved, grass cut, trees trimmed and the geese are on there best behaviour in readiness.
Even my dads come back from Spain - where its far too hot. Who wants 'bum crack hot', thats when its scolding hot & you feel sweat run down your back and in to crevices not usually accessed in Britain! I'm sorry for my crudeness but when it happens its really not nice - - - of course Lodge Farm's magic dome stops all that horrible stuff, leaving you comfortably dry and warm.
Talking about summer Elvis and Pricilla the resident swans had 7 cygnets a few months ago but as usual they've been left with a lot less. How cruel nature is - 3 cygnets remain. Its the pike in the lake - - its very rare many chicks survive, with the big fish, otters and mink nothing small has a chance. The geese have got it right they 'ween' on land - avoiding the water for too long.
We've been running Lodge Farm Holiday Barns for 5 years now - - we have noticed this year, that business has gone very slow. Everybody's in the holiday trade is complaining - - what with disasters, terrorist attacks, elections, Trumps and more people just arn't going away as much - - - so if you want a bargain look at our last minute specials. We even have a week available in all three barns in August if you fancy a week away with friends or family. This week The Dairy's been empty - thats never happened before in July - - - so lets hope 2018 turns back to normal for the British tourist trade.
I love Lodge Farm - on a sunny day with the glimmer of the lake and all the wildlife buzzing around cackling in the distance with the lush green of all the trees as they sway in the wind.
I love my children - despite the fact they are teenagers and quite frankly a pain in the bum at times, But I still love em and want to do whats right by them and bring them up to be good, happy an healthy.
I love my husband - - despite the fact he's a moody old northern so and so - I look forward to growing old with him, traveling and enjoying hopefully a healthy retirement together.
I love myself - i'm quite happy to have a good chat to myself, I think I'm a good person - I live my life with 'if its fair - its ok, if its not fair then don't do it - so I can sleep at night all peaceful and happy.
I LOVE FOOD MORE -
It's not just a passion, its my life, its my every waking thought, its my imagine before bed I - then I dream of foodie pleasures and wake up to do it all again. I love to teach - exciting themes, I love to watch food blogs from far flung places, I love to eat out, I love people to cook for me, I love to discover new flavours, I love to experiment and spend hours writing recipes and coming up with things to try. I love to cook - - -
Then theres the other stuff like food history, food science, experiments with chemical reactions - food thickeners, food enhancers, things that fizz and foam. Gaining knowledge learning new ingredients, facts and figures.
Like do you know what 'Kecap Manis' is - its a thick syrupy sweet Indonesian soya sauce, great for dipping or enhancing stir-frys, noodle dishes or fried rice.
Did you know 'Worcestershire Sauce' has got fermented anchovies in it - thats because fish brings out the flavours in meat, Roman's did it with fermenting fish guts, Asians do it with fish sauce or shrimp paste. We do it with Worcestershire - -
Did you know if you massage a lemon its more juicy - - - -
It's a never ending pool of Loving Food - yes, even more than life it's self!!!!
So when you some to Lodge Farm Holiday Barns you can be assured that your kitchen is full of the things you need, Norwich is full of great places to eat, the Guest Book is full of recommendations and if you fancy it you can even have a cookery lesson or scoff on ice-cream in the diner - - or just enjoy take-aways with no washing up but great views.
Today I was lucky enough to get a free trip upon the big red bus to promote tourism in our fine city –
When you find out Chapelfield roundabout used to be called Phenomena Corner because it was the coldest place in the city you know you’re on to a winner.
Tons of seats upstairs or down, open or not – any weather for £10 adults and £5 kids for a 24 hour pass plus concessions and family passes at reduced rates.
Just the round trip is about 50-60 minutes with a running commentary – telling you everything you need to know about our magnificent history and its glorious buildings – take in The Assembly house, the castle, the cathedral, the puppet theatre and more – Plus you get to go all the way up to the top of Mousehold and stop of at Britannia café for a free cup of tea with a bought in cake.
But between you and me Britannia café is amazing, views over the city, really reasonably priced food, ice-creams, cakes, lunch and dinner – there is something for everyone like kebabs and pitta, to fish and chips to soups to sarnies to salads – so its well worth staying over for lunch and a walk on Mousehold before hopping back on the bus again.
Plus, the bus has stops at Norwich train station and the Bus terminal – so a great last thing to do if you’re on your way home.
There are 9 main hop on hop off stops including Tombland for the Cathedral and Elm Hill (with the most medieval buildings in one street than any other place in the UK). A stop for the castle so you can take in the museum or simply shop at castle mall (one of 2 indoor shopping centres). Plus, a stop on Kings street so you can visit Dragon Hall or riverside for cinema, restaurants, bars and more.
I really enjoyed myself, learnt a whole lot more about the city and would truly recommended it to anyone even if your local -
- - - ps - the bus didn't drive upside down - but the picture is! - -
Norwich has over 500 food and drinking places, with 100's of independents in that list. When I travel I google and trip advise all the best places to eat, its not about price, its about the experience and the quality of the food - the love and the passion the chef plants in to each dish. So, it can be the ethnic cafe, the greasy spoon, the 3* latest rave or simply a locals back street wonder - if it serves up good food, I'm there - I don't even care if the owner is a Whelk and the Waitress a clam - - just give me the food!!!
My top places to graze –
- Cookies Crab Shop – The Green, Salthouse, Holt, NR25. (ok not Norwich but worth the 40 minute drive in to North Norfolk) My absolute favourite food is Lobster and you can get half a lobster platter for under £15 packed with salad, prawns, several types of smoked mackerel, cockles, good old fashioned bread & butter and more. It’s a rustic beach shack spilling out in to the yard with a purpose made summer house and a marquis crammed with seating but it’s pure charm on the North Norfolk coast. Bookings a must in the summer months or get a takeaway and enjoy on the beach.
- Gonzo’s Tea Room – 68 London Street, Norwich. Is a crazy mad eccentric ‘man cave’ full of wonder, like a zillion collectable figures, pictures and stuff on stuff. But they serve the best burgers & sweet potato fries in Norwich and certainly the best wings with 7 finger licking toppings like blue cheese and walnut. But it’s not for everyone – it helps if you’re a little crazy yourself!
- Figbar – 23 St John Maddermarket, Norwich. Sometimes all’s you want is dessert and desserts all they do (we’ll except for a couple of savoury pastries). Delicious top London standard blends of sweet yumminess for around £6-8 or just opt for one of their freshly baked and prepared cakes ‘n’ bakes – all done to sweet perfection.
- Workshop – 53 Earlham Road, Norwich. My favourite lunch time haunt. It’s not about the service or the restaurant - that’s all casual, it’s about the delicious Mediterranean Middle Eastern infused tapas style dishes. Choose a couple each and share. The menus stuck to the bar (don’t try and move it!) and served from mid-day. I’ve only ever had one good dish the rest have been amazingly gorgeous and superbly delivered in taste.
- St Giles Hotel – 41-45 St Giles Street, Norwich. If you fancy superb service in a gorgeous art deco setting with quality food to match then St Giles is pure indulgence without the cost. St Giles is part of my food and drink walking tours, because it simply ticks all the right boxes.
- Grosvenor Fish & Chips – 28 Lower Goat, Lane, Norwich. Norfolk potatoes and Suffolk fish are superbly cooked together making the tastiest Fish & Chips probably in the world. The Grosvenor is no 1 on trip advisor and rightly so. The seating downstairs is atmospheric, the menu inspiring with exciting goodies like Wako Taco, five quid squid and more – for me it’s the highlight of my walking tour, just one of the many places we visit for a bite.
- Baby Buddha Chinese Teahouse –139 Ber Street, Norwich. One of my food pleasures in life is Dim Sum, I’ve even started teaching it at Lodge Farm Kitchen. Baby Buddha does a great lunch time menu with a few dozen tapas sized Chinese classic fried, steamed and baked goodies. I love the turnip cake – actually made from mooli. Fried wontons, spring rolls and steamed BBQ pork buns are all classic favourites but Fung Chung is my go to dim sum – steamed thick rice noodles stuffed with a choice of pork, minced beef or prawn. I enjoy my dim sum with a pot of jasmine tea at least every other month.
- Moorish – 17 Lower Goat Lane, Norwich. Take away or eat in falafel pittas – packed full of freshly prepared shredded salad, humus and a choice of chilli, yogurt & mint or tahini sauce – or go for all three. A basic falafel to take away is £3.80 delicious, filling, cheap and healthy.
- Woolf and Social – 21-23 Nelson Street, Norwich. Local Artisan bread, tempting exciting sharing dishes and great cocktails. Everything tastes so good in this local, just out of the city small but perfectly formed modern restaurant.
- Blue Joanna’s – 103 Unthanks Road, Norwich. A great mix of blue tacos with different fillings, small sharing dishes and tasty sides, they do the best fresh cut chips in Norwich – perfectly seasoned and moorish – load the table and enjoy. I can’t wait to go back for breakfast the menu looks amazing.
- Brick Pizza – 39 Market Place, Norwich. Simply the best pizzas in Norwich. I like the one with pear & walnuts but the classics are good too. A great dough, amazing tomato sauce and the best quality toppings all cooked in a wood burning oven to perfection.
- Dray yard Smoke House – 31 Exchange Street, Norwich. My kids (well teens now) love this American smoke house of meatiness. For lunch they sometimes do an amazingly good value £5 mid-week main meal – with choices like burger and fries, ribs n wings, mac & cheese or maybe even a burrito with slow cooked shredded pork perfect for family, friends or a lunch time treat.
- Waffle House – 39 St Giles Street, Norwich. A family favourite. I’ve been enjoying these tasty waffles for over 30 years. The milkshakes are the best in Norwich, I love the fact they source locally and ethically. My favourite is the hummus and avocado but I sometimes go for the specials if they have a curry on plus I can never resit the house salad with blue cheese dressing on the side – always tasty with friendly service.
- Flaming Galah – 123 Ber Steet, Norwich. My favourite chilly day take away. An Australian pie and mash shop. The specials are very special I’ve enjoyed succulent duck with red cabbage and come exciting Thai infusions, along with their classic menu – I love the chicken pie, so creamy and packed full served on a bed of mash, topped with mushy peas and smothered in rich gravy for just under a fiver with a drink to take out.
- Café Gelato – 6 Opie Street, Norwich. Norwich’s new proper Italian Gelato shop, gelato is freshly made ice-cream made mainly with milk making it soft and smooth. The Italian owner and creator makes tasty seasonal specials. It’s a great place to pop in to for a scoop and coffee.
- Namaste – 2a Opie Street, Norwich. While working in London as a chef, we often enjoyed south Indian vegetarian food always ordering Bel Poori, a bit like rice krispies, Bombay mix, cold potato & raw onions with spicy sauce, tamarind and yogurt – sounds strange but it tastes incredible. Namaste offer similar south Indian favourites including Dosa’s large stuffed lentil flour pancakes.
- Assembly House – Theatre Street, Norwich. One of my absolute favourite things to do is indulge in afternoon tea and I think the Assembly house is the best place to do just that. An historic Georgian building full of charm with great service to match. A perfect afternoon tea has to offer fresh loose tea, cut the crusts of the bread and always serve clotted cream with freshly bakes scones – they do just that, offering a big range of Wilkinson’s local tea and serving everything just right.
- Lust & Liquor – 2-4 St Benedict’s Street, Norwich. Is my top choice for cocktails, superbly blended with fresh ingredients, attention to detail with a lot of professional care and love which is just what a cocktail needs.
There are 3 places we haven’t managed to get to yet but will do very soon because I know there going to be great – B’Nou, Benedicts and Badgers Bottom Secret Dining - 2017 here we come.
Not to mention my cookery classes, I offer bespoke cookery classes like no other cookery school around. Offering 15 themes specialising in Asian cuisine and ranging from Bread to tapas. My main 2 classes are a mini theme for 2 and a group cookery course for up to 8 – always private for your organised group – you can’t get more foodie than that.
My Food and Drink Walking Tours take in a hefty portion of local independent Norwich food joints in over 3.5 hours in a 3 mile tasty walk. For more details go to www.lovenorwichfood.co.uk
Zena Leech-Calton (c) Cookery Tutor and Food Writer
We found that short breaks often blocks people wanting to book week stays or longer and we also found it hard to rent the odd mid week breaks that were left. (plus its more cleaning and washing for me!!)
So after pondering for all of a minute (I think it was the cleaning thing that did it!) we decided to only offer short breaks as a kind of last minute booking meaning we now release weekend and mid week breaks 2 weeks prior between Easter and summer and 4 weeks at all other times - full details on the availability page.
After looking at my bookings book I found we only did about 4 - 5 short breaks in each barn in the whole year - so hope people won't be too disappointed but of course it means that if we do have odd weeks and days left I'll be doing a lot more last minute specials on our availability page.
So keep an eye out - -
Bawburgh's a lovely village, not just because I live her but also because of the great stuff -
St Walsons Well - a traditional bricked up well at the back of the church where St Walstons was supposed to have stopped for a drink on his pilgrimage back home to Bawburgh.
The Church - Medieval in all its splendour, with its Naped flint walls, its quirks and its gorgeous tower.
The Pub - The Kings Head is a gastro pub serving up fine foods and a good selection of ales, its rooms sprawl in its Victorian building meaning there are little nooks and crannies and a warm fire blazing in the middle. plus in summer you can enjoy al fresco eating in its beer garden.
The River Green - home to the July Duck Race and Fate. Fishing, feed the ducks, take a paddle or chill on its soft green grass under the shade of a tree. Picnic & bring over a drink from the pub - everyone does it!
The Mill - residential now but still looking impressive as the back drop to the river and river green, with cascading water oozing out of its gates.
The Bridge - behold the Victorian built bridge sending cars one by one over its delicate frame.
The Village Hall - we have barn dances, bridge, Christmas Fayres (this year Dec 10th 11-3pm, open gardens (coming in 2017), party's, social evenings, weddings and more plus a playground out back for the kids to enjoy. The Zip wire is coming soon along with some new editions to the already fabulous play area.
The Goose Farm - - - - goosie ganders our feathered friends enjoy a free range life on acres of grass land up New Road from late summer. With over 10k disappearing a few weeks before Crimbo we were all shocked to hear 1500 went missing one chilly November evening never to bee seen or heard again. It even made the national news - but somethings a little fishy in bawburgh and I'm not talking about
Bawburgh Fisheries - new doors private (members only) fishing lakes one of which we over look - bustling with hugh monsters to mini silver slivers. Herons, kingfishers, otters and kestrels all have a plunder.
When you have a business, tons of people phone and e mail you up asking to advertise with them on websites, in magazines and newspapers - if we did everyone we would be in bigger debt than Lodge Farm put us in - in the first place.
So we decided to blow this years advertising budget on updating our website - it seems likes ten blue moons ago, when I was sitting in the caravan as project manager to what was then a run down building surrounded by mud and rubble. Working on text for the old one - - I was so excited when it launched months before we were ready - but it was out there & I loved it.
Six years on and thats a long time in internet years it was looking a little old fashioned, a bit like a Vol U Vont filled with a tin of Baxters chicken soup and garnished with some curly parsley (it all goes back to food!!!) so - - - here it is looking modern and fresh like a Quinella of whipped goats cheese on a bed of pea shoots with a mint foam and a few micro chunks of sorrel jelly served on a ridiculously large slab of slate scattered with a splash of aged 1 million year old balsamic reduction.
Hope you enjoy - - feed back always welcome.