Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Norfolk & Norwich Beer, Broads & Bitterns** Tour

Bank Holiday Monday 30 August to Friday 03 September 2021

Due to continuing Covid Restrictions on travel to Belgium we have put together a U.K. group Tour based in Norwich for four nights, five days at the Best Western George Hotel which will explore Norfolk, the broads and its breweries by coach. We are asking only for vaccinated Travellers to join us so that all Travellers will know that their fellow passengers are also vaccinated. We won’t be filling the coach to capacity as hotel rooms are limited.

Why Norfolk, Siobhan?

Well, we spent a week in a cottage in Norfolk in June 2021 and really loved it. My sister knows the County pretty well, and took us to some great places, so we thought we’d do the same for our Travellers.

Norwich is Britain’s most complete medieval city and not only is it home to cobbled streets, lovely buildings, and a Norman castle, it is also famous for being a brilliant beer city. It is often said that Norwich once had 365 pubs, one for each day of the year, and 52 churches, so one could repent ones drinking habits at a different church every Sunday. In fact in 1870 Norwich recorded a high of 670 licensed premises. During our stay the excellent Norwich City of Ale now in its tenth year, begins which is a city wide cask and keg beer celebration and involves 45 pubs putting on lots of beers, and local food, rather than a festival in one place, so that’s good for businesses and everyone, especially in these times. (Update 30 July 2021 now postponed to 2022).

The detailed timed Tour itinerary is being worked on at the moment and hopefully we will run this Tour. Here is what we are planning, again if businesses are open re-Covid:

First Day Bank Holiday Monday 30 August

This Tour starts in Norwich where we will spend our first day. We meet up at our base for the next four nights at 11.00hrs at The George Hotel. We can leave our luggage in the hotel and Siobhan will arrange taxi transport to our first visit of the Tour at Norwich Cathedral. We pay a visit to Dippy the Diplodocus who is on tour from The Natural History Museum in London and is currently residing in the nave of Norwich Cathedral*. We’ll have time to look around this stunning edifice and there is a lovely Refectory Café for a coffee (and cake, if required). Norwich Cathedral is one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. Work started in 1096 and it took 54 years to complete, a bit like the painting of the back of my house. It has the second highest spire in the country after Salisbury and the largest monastic cloisters in Britain. It has over 1,000 roof bosses including lots of examples of Theresa’s favourite, the pagan Green Man.

Following this we'll take a short walk through the magnificent Erpingham Gate to the Belgian Monk Café Restaurant where we hope to have a pre-organised group meal in the late afternoon, and a couple of Belgian beers. Perhaps followed by a visit to the St Andrews Brew House Pub & Brewery in the heart of town. Then back to the hotel and a night on the town at leisure, armed with a copy of Siobhan’s Norwich Pub Guide & Map. There are some belters in this City. Four nights is not enough.

The next four days we will be out and about in our luxury 49 seater coach exploring lovely reedy watery, boaty Norfolk and following a buffet breakfast* we will depart the hotel for a packed day and here are the visits we are planning so far:

  • A brewery visit* and beer tasting* at Woodforde’s Brewery and a group meal at their next-door brewery tap pub-restaurant The Fur & Feather Inn at Woodbastwick. Such a nice setting - a red brick pub with a reed and sedge thatch with animals fashioned on the ridge. Do try the Nog, but all their beers are lovely. Their bestseller is of course, Wherry. They have a very good brewery shop on site too.

  • We are looking at possible brewery visit* and beer tastings* at Norwich breweries Chalk Hill Brewery and Redwell and a little further afield Humpty Dumpty or Poppyland, depending on who is available for group visits.

  • We will go on a Broads boat tour* from Wroxham up the River Bure, in the heart of the Broads past Wroxham Broad and Hoveton Broad, and with a commentary from the skipper you’ll hear about how the broads were formed, the reeds and their uses, the birds and wildlife (we saw some Egyptian Geese on our cruise in June). We might see the Ice-Cream-Man Boat and the lovely Norfolk Wherry boats which are different to our Thames barges which we see at Maldon here in Essex. We will pass George Formby’s house on the waterside outside Wroxham, apparently he loved it there. Oh, and there is a bar on board all the river cruise boats. With beer.

  • We will take a nostalgic train ride on the Bure Valley Railway*. This is Norfolk’s longest narrow gauge railway which runs between the historic market town of Aylsham and bustling town of Wroxham, famous for swan and chips. Fish and chips. The swans are in the water. Hopefully we will have our train ride on one of their steam locos. The nine mile, 45 minute trip runs through the pretty Bure Valley countryside following the meandering River Bure through meadowland and ancient pasture. Along the line are wayside halts serving the picturesque Broadland villages of Brampton, Buxton and Coltishall. The carriages and locos are small sizes and are delightful. We had a pint-sized black and red loco and if you put it next to a kitten and asked anyone which was the cutest, they would point to the little loco. Even the diesels were gorgeous. Well, enough of that.

  • We will have some time, probably on the last day in the pretty coastal town of Great Yarmouth. I was frankly surprised at this towns elegance as I thought all British seaside resorts has lost their former grandeur, but this one is great indeed. We will visit the Time & Tide Museum* which is a paean to all things herring. Great Yarmouth was once fuelled by the herring trade, now all disappeared. It’s a great museum, where you can immerse yourself in all things herring, in the history of the ‘Silver Darlings’ and see and smell where the bulk of the worlds supply of herring were once smoked. We’ll then slake our thirst with a beer* in the neighbouring Red Herring pub. There are a fair few pubs serving good beer in Yarmouth and we’ll have a pop at these too.

  • We’ll visit the rare and picturesque Horsey Windpump* which is a listed land drainage windmill in the village of Horsey on The Broads near Great Yarmouth built in 1912 on the foundations of an older one. Its been struck by lightning and damaged by storms several times and is now being repaired. When we climbed inside to the top in June Swallows swooped past us to feed their chicks in nests inside the mill. But my real reason for revisiting here is to drive on to the lovely desolate beach at nearby Horsey Gap. On our way down the gravelled road in June we saw a leggy hare ambling along the road who didn’t run away at the approach of the car which was odd. But more wild animal encounters were to come! When we got to the ‘gap’ we were rewarded with crashing waves onto a surprisingly sandy beach. Then little dark heads with big glistening eyes started bobbing up in the surf, staring at us. My first wild seals! Grey and Common/Harbour Seals! There are a great many of these lovely spotted creatures off the Norfolk coast. So we'll go to Horsey Gap and I hope we get to see them with the group. They are curious, bring your binoculars.

  • We plan to visit The Dancing Men Brewery in Happisburgh and have a brewery visit* and beer tasting* and find out what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did on holiday there and how it inspired his writings.

  • We will go and have a look at the infamous Potter Heigham Bridge over the River Thurne - the scourge of pleasure cruisers on the Norfolk Broads. I seem to remember me and Podge tackling this in a boat years ago. It's an amazingly old survivor made of stone, medieval dating from 1385 and famous for being the most difficult to navigate in the Broads. The bridge has three arches but the middle opening is so narrow that only small cruisers can pass through it, and then only at low water, usually with the help of resident pilots at Phoenix Fleet boatyard next to the Bridge - for a fee. This is one of the oldest bridges in Britain which traffic still passes over. It is said that in 1742 Lady Carew and her daughter Evelyn were abducted on Evelyn's wedding day by a phantom coach driven by skeletons which caught alight as it crossed Potter Heigham bridge.

  • I have so much more to share with you, do join us. If you have any questions or would like to join us please send Siobhan an email or call on 07722 724 558. I am asking Travellers who wish to join us to pay the full amount due as we are so close to the departure date. I can let you have details for payment when you contact me.

    **Bittern sightings on Tour are not guaranteed as they are very rare indeed, though I did see one in flying over the reeds in June 2021. Just saying.

    Tour Price is £775 per person sharing a twin or double room

    Single Supplement: £275

    We regret that we need to charge a single supplement for travellers who require their own hotel room. This is because increasingly hotel room prices are quoted with very little difference between single person or two person occupancy. If you are travelling alone and want to share a room with another traveller please contact Siobhan as we are regularly able to pair up travellers in twin rooms to avoid the need for payment of the Single Supplement.

    Included in the cost of this Tour are:

    Hotel accommodation and breakfasts;

    Hotel city taxes;

    Luxury coach travel on a 49 seater coach with toilet;

    All brewery visits, tours and brewery beer tastings;

    Entrance fees to attractions, museums and historical sites;

    All items marked with an asterisk above and on the individual detailed tour itinerary when issued;

    Copies of Podge’s City Bar Guides and Maps for the town where we stay or spend some time;

    Still and sparkling water on the coach;

    Pick up from Ipswich (at bus shelter outside Crown House, Crown Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 3HS (opposite NCP Car Park), Colchester (Southway Chapel St South Layby) or Chelmsford (The Woolpack, Mildmay Road). Arrangements can be made for different joining points.

    Travellers are responsible for the costs of all food and drink apart from items marked with an asterisk on the detailed itinerary.

    All itinerary times are approximate.

    Personal Travel & Health insurance is not included in the Tour price but is required for all Travellers on Podge's Belgian Beer Tours.

    If you have any questions or would like to join us please send Siobhan an email or call on 07722 724 558.

    All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.

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