Sheringham

A Food Tour of Sheringham

Heather Park

I’m not normally one for word association, but you say seaside, I say food. They just go together – and the Norfolk town of Sheringham is no exception.

After arriving by steam train on the North Norfolk Railway – which you can read about in my last post! – the obvious thing to do first was have a cuppa, because I’m British and can’t function without a constant feed of the leafy brew.

As a fairly frequent visitor to the town, I didn’t hesitate in choosing my tearoom of choice: Julie’s Coffee Shop. Hidden away in a huddle of shops named The Courtyard, it has the look and feel of a vintage sunroom, with tan, tiled floors, a glass roof and elegant metal furniture. The tea is strong and served in a china cup, and the carrot cake is cut so thickly that I had to wrap half up in a serviette to save for later, which is never a bad thing.

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Quite content, and with my saved slice balanced warily at the top of my bag, I embarked on a bit of souvenir shopping. Sheringham’s quantity of gift shops teeters on the obscene, but seeing as I’m obsessed with… well, stuff, I bloody love it. Each and every one of them has its own eclectic mix of bits and bobs: seashells, tin signs, jewellery, mugs, Norfolk lavender, wind chimes, fairy lights – even treasure chests, which come in small, medium or large depending on how committed you are to piracy. I obviously couldn’t resist the railway merchandise that takes advantage of the Poppy Line, and so I merrily skipped down the street with an embroidered cushion under my arm that declared itself as first class and for ‘the use of splendid persons only.’

I’d gone a whole twenty minutes without food at this point, so half-way down the High Street my next stop was the greengrocer, as tradition dictated that I needed a punnet of strawberries to eat on the beach. I knew I was getting close to the sea, because the same wind that buffered the bunting above me carried the smell of salt and the sound of laughter.

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I perched on one of the rocks like a wary budgie, punnet in my lap, strawberry juice on my fingers, watching boats bob along on the horizon. But no fruit is ever enough when at the beach, and it was almost lunchtime…

Twenty minutes later and I was back, perched on the same rock and with chips so vinegary they were making my eyes water – I can’t stand them any other way. I would’ve been quicker, but I always have to pop into the newsagent’s to grab a drink because I can’t deal with the emotional strain of having to choose a J2O flavour on demand in the chip shop. But for once, my social awkwardness paid off, because just as I was about to purchase my orange juice I spotted my little lighter. Blue, like the bunting, the sea, the sky, and with dots like the pebbles on the beach: I had to have it.

The meal tided me over long enough to explore the historical side of the town. The host to the first bomb dropped in World War One – which, incidentally didn’t go off and was carried away in a bucket – there’s more to Sheringham than sand and sea. I walked my chips off around the Mo Museum, which served up a slice of history almost as substantial as my slice of carrot cake (it was jolly big.) The ground floor was made up of rooms full of all manner of boats, and you know they’re doing something right when they’ve got a vegetarian like me interested in the fishing exhibit.

After looking around for a good couple of hours, the time had come again. I’d done tea, the cake, the strawberries, the chips, but it just wasn’t enough. There I was again, stomach rumbling (probably from overeating, but we’ll go with it.) The answer was obvious. This was something only a man could solve… good ol’ Mr Whippy.

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So after a stop at Ellie’s Ice-Cream – good product, good price, what’s not to love? – I walked back up the lengthy High Street, looking longingly at the impulse-buys I’d resisted, glad that I had an ice cream in hand to stop me from running in and grabbing them there and then. The 19th century town clock marked the half-way point in my journey, and by then my dessert was nothing more than the end of a cone.

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My feet ached from the walk, but it was a satisfied ache, and not yet bad enough to stop my detour into The Chocolate Box to buy 100 grams of boiled sweets for the train ride home. With that, my seaside food tour was complete, except for the legacy of the squashed-to-buggery carrot cake, which made for excellent motivation while finishing this post.

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