The Perfection that is Frenches Farm, Farmhouse B&B: 400m from a pristine beach with seals:
I am sitting out front in the garden at a bench table surrounded by birdsong, as I post this from my laptop before going for a swim in the blissful sunshine. The manicured lawn goes on forever flowing to arable fields with only a majestic ancient Beech tree marking the boundary; in its boughs a pair of Jays are nesting.
This fifteenth-century farmhouse is gorgeous - well appointed on the inside and on the outside. Up a spiral staircase, the cavernous bedroom has colossal oak beams built-in during the early 1400s; trees were at least 400 years-old when felled so you are looking up at wood that was living c. 1,000 years ago! The round shaped beam was fashioned from the mast of a famous tall ship.
You get your own entrance to come and go as you please (but as farmers get up at five a.m, maybe no late-night raves – they didn't say that, but goes without saying on a working farm). Breakfast is from a good-choice menu and includes full English – everything is organic – and utterly yummy as freshly cooked. There is only the one apartment, so no need to worry about noisy neighbours – it's peace, peace, peace all the way.
The horse who starred as Black Beauty decided to retire here, that is to say, animal-lover Ruth kindly took him on and facilitated his retirement. He's got brains not just beauty as it is an excellent choice - 400m from a pristine Blueflag beach where seals bob up from the sea, looking curiously at you as you walk along in the early morning shoreline. Well-behaved dogs are welcome, but no sheep-chasers. Bird life proliferates, there are muntjack deer and badgers' sets nearby.
The sand is perfect for sandcastles and there is a Lifeguard-watched section of beach if you walk towards Sea Palling (turn left on the beach and walk for ten minutes) – always swim between the flags. For teenagers, there is scuba, jetskis, snorkelling from Sea Palling as well as plenty of eateries just near the beach there (also clean public loos – a must near a beach) – and great surfing right the way along Horsey, Waxham and Sea Palling beaches (they all join up so you can walk for miles). Because it's a bit further from Sea Palling, the Waxham section of beach opposite Frenches farm is very unpopulated – you've got big skies and stretches of sand all to yourself and can just look out over the water and focus your mind as the sun sets. I found two substantial pieces of amber - the light hits at an angle in the evening which makes it relatively easy to spot.
Got to mention the rock pools on Sea Palling beach near lifeguard's hut; where my little girl gleefully fished whitebait out in the 'Great Fish Rescue' trying to get the baby fish back to the sea in a bucket before the Seagulls ate them all! There were millions of fish stranded by the tide, easy to catch in nets - and lots of friends helped - great fun was had by all and many fish were saved; total cute fest. Other marine life abounds - crabs, starfishes, shellfish - it is the beach of choice for Marine nature trips by local schools – and now I see why! Rock pools are not just good for pond dipping for minibeasts and marine life – they are great for toddlers with inflatables, boats and mini-surfboards or younglings just learning to swim, and are very, very safe. They are Nature's warm, shallow swimming pools for children.
A spacious, airy and impeccably tasteful bedroom at Frenches farm looks out over beautiful tranquil fields, silence is broken only by the gentle swooping of summer swallows as they dart amid the eaves. But wait – you are the guest of Ruth, Henry and their family – so just a room? No – you get an entire annex to yourself, with beautifully appointed bathroom, living room – two huge flatscreen TVs in bedroom and another in the spacious living room, bookshelf-stacked library, period furnishings and every little thing thought of – chocolates on arrival, biscuit tin with yummy biccies, bottle of water to fill the kettle, a full-size fridge in the room to keep milk fresh or any other food you've brought, box of tissues, clean fluffy bathrobes to borrow, soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, hair mousse, toothpaste, just in case you forget yours, and towels and linen all provided, tea, coffee, hot-chocolate, a fresh jug of milk every day (and the mugs match the rose-theme in the room) and lots of friendly banter with a traditional Norfolk welcome. Really nice touches.
It is also in the same grounds as the historic site of Waxham barns - the largest Tudor barn in the county, well worth a visit.
Ruth and Henry at Frenches farm do Norfolk proud. They would have to invent a new star rating; it's an eight-star experience. They are so kind and genuine, a really lovely family.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org