Sarah and Andrew Ruffhead's Norfolk
Sarah and Andrew Ruffhead's Fish and Ships Coastal Art Gallery in Burnham Market sells artist/designer Andrew’s original quirky artworks, including fish, crabs, lobsters and whales made from up-cycled pieces of old fishing boats. Sarah has lived for most of her life in Norfolk and moved to the coast eleven years ago. Andrew moved here from London seven years ago. They tell us about their Norfolk.
What would your ideal weekend in Norfolk involve? An early morning walk on Brancaster beach with our Lurcher Harry, then we open the gallery – people enjoy seeing the 'artist at work' and they like taking a bit of north Norfolk home with them.
We also love eating with friends at home, so probably a feast cooked by Sarah with fish from Gurneys in the village, a piggy pudding (local raspberries, meringues and lemon curd bought from Humble Pie), lots of wine from Satchells or Adnams at Holkham, and much laughter. Sunday the gallery is open again, but in the evening we'll settle down to a good DVD – try Shadows in the Sun, written and directed by Houghton Hall's David Rocksavage and beautifully filmed in Thornham and by the wreck of SS Vina on Brancaster beach.
Your favourite place to eat and why? Wiveton Hall Café is a fun, arty, colourful and stylish place, with views to the sea, and serving the best food ever - much of it from the farm. There is a farm shop, pick-your-own fruit, and cool tapas evenings as well.
Your favourite pub and why? The Gunton Arms on the edge of the Gunton Estate, reigned over by a herd of deer. A bit of a trek for us, but worth the effort - and we can have a stroll on Cromer pier on the way home. It's a fabulous pub owned by art dealer Ivor Braka, so there's wonderful art on the walls (a Damien Hirst in the ladies' loo no less!) and exemplary local food - their own venison, Cromer crab and seafood. Head chef Stuart Tattersall (ex-Mark Hix) cooks up a storm on the open fire - huge steaks and crispy roast potatoes.
What do you long for if you've been away? Poet Thomas Campbell wrote 'Distance lends enchantment to the view' and we certainly agree, missing the wide open spaces, swathes of sea lavender, and living on the 'edge'. When you step onto a beach such as Holme-next-the-Sea or Thornham it is sky meeting sand as far as the eye can see. Each time you go the beach the vista is new and exciting, due to the changing tides and shifting sands.
What's your favourite Norfolk place and why? Brancaster beach early in the morning when a sunny day beckons. We often take bacon sandwiches and a flask of coffee, and Harry of course, and get there before anyone else is up. Sitting by the dunes with the beach to ourselves is the perfect start to the day, and it's hard to drag ourselves away from this piece of heaven, but fun to see the world waking up as we drive through the village back home.
Where would you have a picnic and what Norfolk food would you have? We would take the ferry and chug out to Scolt Head Island, loaded up with delicious local goodies to eat; such as freshly baked baguettes from Grooms Bakery, Potted (just caught) Shrimps from Gurneys , quails eggs from a stall on the side of the road between Overy and Holkham (they also sell bantam eggs, perfect poached for breakfast), cooked-behind-the-counter chicken and ham pie from Walsingham Deli, asparagus from Wiveton, luscious strawberries from Sharrington, and wicked chocolate biscuit cake from Humble Pie. All washed down with a bottle of Satchells vino!
Your favourite Norfolk view? We love to sit outside with a glass of wine on the decking at the White Horse in Brancaster Staithe, watching the sun go down. We have simply the best, fiery red sunsets here (by the way did you know that Hunstanton is the only place on the east coast that faces west?). The White Horse has one of the best views along the coast, looking out over the marsh and mussel beds to Scolt Head and the sea beyond.
Where would you send a visitor to really appreciate Norfolk? Two good ways to explore the north Norfolk coast are by climbing aboard the Coast Hopper, a hop-on, hop-off bus service between Hunstanton to Cromer, or walk the wonderful Norfolk Coast Path, again going west to east, past sandy beaches, dunes, and onto the cliffs at Cromer, taking in the sheer remoteness and beauty of the coast.
What piece of advice would you give a visitor to the county? Enjoy shopping until you drop in Burnham Market, eat at the Michelin-starred Neptune Inn at Old Hunstanton and Morston Hall, tuck into fabulous food at a huge choice of 'gastro' pubs, but slow down, sit awhile and enjoy the quiet beauty of your surroundings. Walk down the lanes between the chalk stone and flint cottages (you always see more this way anyway), and enjoy simple pleasures such as a Holkham ice cream at Wells-next-the-Sea Beach Cafe, a crab sandwich from the kiosk on The Hard at Brancaster Staithe, an excellent cup of coffee sitting outside watching the world go by at Thornham deli, walking by the lake at the Holkham Estate, or spying a marsh harrier or a bittern amongst the reeds or on the marshes at Cley.
What's your idea of Norfolk Big Sky Thinking? We have both big blue skies and big yellow sands, but if you mean 'original, visionary and creative thinking', then North Norfolk is both home to, and visited by, a whole tranche of clever, innovative, artistic folk (we would say this!) who keep it forward-thinking, cool and original, without losing sight of its stunning sense of place.
Take a look at Sarah’s Blog for her personal take on life in north Norfolk.