Mike Loveday's Norfolk
Mike Loveday, chief executive at Norwich HEART, the Heritage Economic And Regeneration Trust, gives us the lowdown on his favourite Norfolk things.
SEE MIKE IN OUR HERITAGE & HISTORY FILM
Where is your favourite place to eat, and why? Apart from 'old stuff, my passions are travel and gastronomy so whenever I get the chance I love to try the best restaurants in the world – San Pellegrino 50, Michelin or just quirky, very creative unknowns. I think, in Norfolk, Galton Blackiston up in Morston has consistently kept quality and invention high, with a local twist – I had my wedding reception there which says how good I think it is. Bishop's in Norwich is so good that I take overseas visitors there – a French woman observed 'I thought English food was awful but this is excellent'.
Your favourite pub, and why? As a long time beer obsessive I'm very picky about good beer. If the aforementioned 'best restaurants' don’t bother with good beer and instead proffer globalised slop I tell them, and the reviews, so in no uncertain terms. The Fat Cat in Norwich is a shrine, and Colin Keatley a legend, in the delivery of what CAMRA have twice voted national pub of the year. I've also been drinking craft beer long before it became 'the thing' in places like London and the new Mash Tun in Charing Cross (as well as its little sister the Tap House) have done a huge service in bringing an eclectic range of British and US 'crafts' to central Norwich.
What's your favourite Norfolk place and why? Carrow Road (when we're winning) because it's about 27,000 mainly local people sharing passion, culture and birth right (actual or adopted) spanning age, gender, class and ethnicity and sometimes baffling the pundits.
Where would you have a picnic and what Norfolk food would you have? My daughter and I took a picnic out on a boat on the Broads which is clever because the view changes every few minutes and you have an endless stream of ducks and other avian life to feed. Content would have to include Norfolk cheeses (especially Binham Blue) and of course a crab and/or lobster plus Colman's Mustard since HEART runs Colman's Mustard Shop & Museum.
Your favourite Norfolk view? Sunset or a snowy day over Mousehold Heath or that view of the city skyline as you fly in from Schipol.
Where would you send a visitor to really appreciate Norfolk? A real challenge because there is such a diversity and that's its essential quality but I suppose the north coast with a blanket of mist over the marshes, the odd mill and church tower peeping through and waves breaking in the distance. In Norwich, stand in front of The Forum and see the reflection of St Peter Mancroft - the encapsulation of the city of rich cultural heritage which has always been and still is at the cutting edge of innovation and modernity.
What piece of advice would you give to a visitor of the county? Allow enough time or keep coming back – 93 miles of heritage coast and seaside; the most complete medieval city in England; remarkable art including the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the Norwich School of Artists; some of the best festivals in the UK from culture to beer; eateries and funky shops; windmills galore and the largest set of medieval churches in the world, sport to watch and get involved in; stately homes of families that shaped the nation; market towns oozing with character and really friendly people – you never stop discovering.
What's your idea of Norfolk Big Sky Thinking? Big sky thinking is being an anarchic maverick. The local motto is 'do different'’ and that was certainly the maxim for Boudicca – hammer of the Roman Empire; the first English Hebrew poet; the author of the earliest surviving book by a woman in English; the Father of Perpendicular Architecture; England's first Protestant martyr; the instigators of England's first provincial newspaper, theatre and public library; the intellect behind the American Revolution (Thomas Paine); the country's first black circus proprietor and Nelson to name but a few. So ignore all of the lazy, outside stereotypes and embrace the 'out-of-the-box' thinking that is Norfolk.