Author Archives: Just Regional

Bake Off star visits Norfolk restaurant for BBC series

Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain came to the Norfolk coast to try sailing and preparing fresh Cromer crabs as she visited a family run restaurant in West Runton.

And you can see how she fared on Monday, July 31, in BBC2’s Nadiya’s British Food Adventure.

Nadiya, the 2015 champion, is in search of the best of British cooking for her new series, which takes “a culinary road trip around Britain”, visiting a different region of the UK in each episode in a bid “to uncover some of our most exciting food pioneers”.

In this third episode Nadiya travels to Norfolk to learn about the food she loves to cook for her family.

First stop is in Weybourne, where she boards a sea fishing boat for the first time, to catch the area’s hugely popular sweet Cromer crabs. After returning to land, Nadiya uses the day’s catches to make some fresh and vibrant Vietnamese style crab summer rolls at Rocky Bottoms with Ali and Richard Matthews.

Nadiya said: “Our country’s regional cuisine is much more than tried and tested traditional dishes – there are quirky and clever food producers out there who are reinventing British food in unique and exciting ways. I can’t wait to meet these local food heroes, to find inspiration in the most unusual food stories and unlikely ingredients and then come up with some brand new recipes in the kitchen adding my own special twist.”

Ali, of Rocky Bottoms, comments: “We really enjoyed having Nadyia here at Rocky Bottoms. She embraced going out on our fishing boat with such tenacity, as it was a little rough! She then helped us prepare the catch back at our crab and lobster canteen, and with this she created delicious Vietnamese style crab summer rolls for us to enjoy in the evening.”

The episode will air on Monday 31st July, 8.30pm on BBC Two.


Nadiya at Rocky Bottoms as part of her TV series.

Every day is a holiday for Elsie

Elsie Aiken had to put down the crossword to make a cup of tea when we went to see her.

She had just finished reading a short story in The People’s Friend (a good one, apparently) and had come in from making sure the weeds were staying away from her immaculate garden.

Not so remarkable on a Wednesday afternoon in Hoveton … but Elsie has just celebrated her 106th birthday.
Born in Barnet, the eldest of three siblings, Elsie knows exactly what to credit for her longevity. ‘I’m fortunate,” she said. “I don’t take any tablets, I haven’t seen my doctor in years…

“I have a lovely life. I get up when I like, I go to bed when I like,” she added with a twinkle in her eye. “My daughter says I mustn’t do something or other, but when she’s not there I can please myself.”

Elsie’s earliest memory is watching a German Zeppelin crash to the ground when she was about four years old.

“I woke up and the room was lit by a red light,” she recalled. “When my dad realised I was awake he said ‘come and see because you’ll never see anything like this again’.

“The basket had caught alight and the flames were going up and I saw it burn, fold and crash down. I was about four. I didn’t think about the men in the basket.”

She went out the next day to find it but did not know where to look – but it was not the last time she would hear about it. When she married for a second time at the age of 85, she moved to Cuffley, Hertfordshire, where the remains of the airship had landed.

“I went out for a walk and saw a stone plaque. When I went to have a look, it was where the Zeppelin had come down,” she said. “It had taken me 85 years to find it!”

Sharp as a tack, Elsie left school at 14 without any qualifications, saying she always strived to be top of the class but was always thwarted by one girl. “I was always next to her – sometimes only by one point – but I never beat her.”

After all these years does she remember her? “Betty Enderby.”

After leaving school, Elsie went to work in a silk factory until she married George in 1930. The couple had four children – Barry, who died, aged 48, and Sharon, Graham and Adrian, who all live with in a stone’s throw of each other in Hoveton. She also has 11 grandchildren but says she has lost count of the great-grandchildren.

She enjoyed bringing up her family as well as working, including as a cashier in the canteen at Legal & General for many years. George, who had been a fireman, worked as a gardener until they decided – aged 68 and 70 – that it was time to take a break.

“But then we were sitting there one day and I said ‘We’re wasting our lives, what can we do?’,” she said. The answer came in an advert for a gardener and a cleaner.

The couple had always enjoyed dancing. Elsie made her own dresses and was a regular winner at fancy dress contests. Even after she was widowed she carried on dancing – which is how she met her second husband when she was in her 70s.

“I went sequence dancing with my sister and her husband, and one night the hall was double booked so we went somewhere else,” she said. “We all sat in different places and Arthur came and sat near me. We got talking and when we went back to the usual hall he didn’t go back to his usual place…”

The pair were dancing partners for seven years but she eventually gave in to his proposals when she was 85, moving to Worlingham, near Beccles. “They read the banns on Sunday and we were married three weeks later. He didn’t let the grass grow.”

Elsie moved to Hoveton when she was widowed 17 years ago. And she thoroughly enjoys her life, spending time with family, doing her crosswords and visiting garden centres – although she does complain of forgetting things at times. “Every day is a holiday,” she said. “And it suits me a treat.”

Police and Crime Commissioner tackles road safety in North Norfolk

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green has welcomed the introduction of a scheme to tackle speeding drivers on rural roads in North Norfolk.

Members of the Special Constabulary are joining forces with Community Speed Watch (CSW) volunteers to carry out high visibility enforcement checks in the Cromer area.

The team of 14 will focus their efforts on areas where speeding has been raised as a local concern and those not currently covered by CSW.

PCC Lorne Green, who went to meet the newly formed team during a crackdown in Felbrigg last week (Thursday 20 July), said: “At our Police Accountability Forum in Cromer earlier this year a number of people raised their concerns about cars speeding through their villages.

“I hope the introduction of a scheme in the Cromer area will help to reassure residents we are listening and taking direct action.

“This is community spirit and partnership working at its best with members of Speed Watch working alongside the Special Constabulary Speeding Team to protect their local community from unsafe driving.”

The scheme is one of a number of community policing projects being supported through the PCC’s Early Intervention Fund. The fund is open to policing teams across the county to help them work with communities to tackle local crime, disorder and community safety issues.

PC Pete Davison, Norfolk Constabulary’s Engagement Officer for the North Norfolk area, said: “We work closely with our partners all-year round to target speeding drivers and schemes like this help us to enforce the law whilst also raising awareness of the dangers.

“Speeding is serious whatever the road, but through rural villages the dangers can be intensified. Pedestrians and other hazards are often closer and therefore your reaction time can be reduced. Speed limits are in place for a reason so I would urge motorists to stick to them.”

The scheme is the third of its kind to be funded by the PCC with other initiatives already launched in the South Norfolk and Great Yarmouth areas.

Specials and Volunteers Manager Sue Goode, added: “This is a great example of how our committed volunteers get to experience the world of policing while helping to support local communities and organisations such as Community Speed Watch.

“It’s pleasing to see the specials getting involved with local communities and help to address issues of concern.”

Lorne Green pictured with members of Cromer’s Special Constabulary Speeding Team/Community Speed Watch.

Norfolk artist wins Holt Festival – Sir John Hurt Art Prize

Norfolk born artist Chloe Steele has been announced as this year’s winner of Holt Festival’s Sir John Hurt Art Prize.

Her pencil drawing Beginnings End was chosen by the judges from over 250 entries from around the country. The winning entry is one of a series of three drawings by the artist inspired by Norfolk skies.

She said ‘It’s thrilling to win this prize in my home county. Norfolk has always inspired me, its vast skies are almost overpowering and constantly changing. For me Norfolk skies and its landscape have an emotional charge that combines the real and abstract. I consider Landscape and drawing to be at the heart of my work’.

After growing up in Norfolk Ms Steele attended Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art before training at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Her work has been regularly exhibited in the UK over the past ten years at Galleries including at Norwich Gallery, Firstsite in Colchester, Keith Talent and Pump House Gallery, London and as far afield as Canada. She has been selected for various residencies including Up in the Air, Liverpool, by the British Council in Shanghai, Gasworks in Taiwan, Chateau de Sacy in France and by the Slade School and West Dean College, Chichester. On graduating from the Slade in 2005 she was awarded the Henry Tonks prize for drawing.

She was recently commissioned by MAX architects to design steel portcullis gates for the entrance to a former department store near London’s Victoria station.

The artist, who lives in Wells-Next-The-Sea, received a cheque for £1,500 and will have her work exhibited at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts later in the year.

Announcing the winner, Lady Anwen Hurt said ‘John was a great champion of art, he started in painting and painted all of his life. He was very honoured to be asked to be a judge of the Holt Festival Art Prize.’ She thanked Art Prize organizer James Glennie saying ‘Thanks to the hard work that James has put in the Prize is becoming better known with entries coming from ever further afield and the quality getting better each year.

Introducing the prize judge Robert Upstone, former senior Tate curator, also praised work by Norwich based painter Will Teather and Norwich University of Arts student Jessica Burgess.

The prize was renamed Holt Festival – Sir John Hurt Art Prize in honour of the Norfolk screen legend who died earlier this year. He was a keen supporter of Holt Festival and especially the Prize, awarding or judging or both almost every year since its inception.

The winner and all thirty shortlisted works can be seen in a free exhibition at The Auden Theatre, Cromer Rd, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 6EA until the end of the week.

The 9th Holt Festival continues until 30 July, full details and information at

Aylsham’s Daisy in Wonderland for one week only!

This month, Aylsham’s own Daisy den Engelse joins the cast of Alice Back In Wonderland, which is being performed from 26-29 July by Norwich Theatre Royal’s Youth Theatre Company. Alex Dalgleish caught up with her to find out what brought her to the stage.

In the show, Daisy will be taking on a dual role, playing the parts of Loreena (Alice’s sister at home in Oxford) as well as Wonderland’s Queen of Diamonds. That can’t be an easy job – if nothing else, it’s twice as many lines to learn! Fortunately, Daisy has plenty of stage experience: “I got started right at the beginning of high school,” she says. “I had a tiny role in one production. It was the smallest part you could possibly have without technically being a stagehand, and I just remember absolutely loving it!

“I took it so seriously, and I just came offstage every night feeling totally elated. I left on such a high – it was absolutely fantastic!”

Previous performers in the Youth Theatre Company’s summer shows have included Sam Clemmett (who went on to play Harry Potter in the West End) and Me Before You star Sam Claflin. That’s a lot of star power to live up to, but Daisy fully intends to carry on acting once the show ends, and she hopes to make it into drama school.

She’s not too bothered about what she acts in, though: “I’ll play anything they’ll let me! I’ll even take a non-speaking role. To me, that’s an opportunity to really focus on what you want to put across to the audience, and it challenges you to manage that without words.”

“On the other hand, the last time I was at the Theatre Royal, I was playing the main character in Antigone. I had about as many lines as you possibly could have in a single play, but it was amazing to perform. It was a chance to get inside the character’s head, because you could see exactly where she was coming from. I loved that.”

So what is it that first brought Daisy to the stage? “There’s nothing else like it!” She laughs: “I’ve tried sports, all sorts of things, and nothing gives you the same feeling. I think acting is an opportunity to step outside of yourself and leave all your problems behind for a while; you can just be totally involved in someone else’s life. If you’ve got the opportunity, you must try it!”

She clearly enjoys it. But the auditorium at Norwich Theatre Royal can seat around 1300 people, so there must be some nerves on opening night. “That’s a real benefit of doing these shows; I’m so much more confident than I used to be. I was actually quite shy.

“These days, I feel much more able to just talk to people, to smile and say hello. And it turns out that you get smiles back – people are actually quite friendly!”

That confidence is going to come in handy this summer. Alice Back In Wonderland is a sequel to the much-loved Lewis Carroll book, which Daisy read in preparation for the role. “It’s a really happy, playful book. It’s full of wonderfully strange things that you’d never expect, and that comes across in our play as well. We’re following those characters a little bit further down the line, and I think that’s really nice.”

The show imagines what might have happened after Alice returns home to boring old England. Despite being determined to follow in her Uncle Lewis’ footsteps and become a mathematician, she’s sucked back in to Wonderland, which is being threatened by the Red Queen and her army of chessmen.

Featuring 280 talented young actors, dancers and musicians, it’s a big show. So what can audiences expect? “They can expect happy tunes, wild dancing and a lot of crazy characters. Expect to come out of it happy – you’ll definitely go home feeling good!”

Alice Back In Wonderland, Wednesday 26-Saturday 29 July, at 7pm, and Saturday matinee at 2pm. Tickets £7-£12. Discounts for Friends, Over-60s and Under-18s. Captioned performance on Saturday29 July at 2pm.
To book, log onto or call the box office on 01603 630000.

Daisy den Engelse

Aylsham service station is not just any garage… it’s an M&S garage!

The long wait is over – Aylsham’s new petrol station and Marks and Spencer will be opening tomorrow morning, Wednesday July 26th.

The new £2m Burgh Road BP service station has been a hive of activity for the past 24 hours as staff worked through the night to stock the shelves.

When the ribbon is cut at 8.30am tomorrow it will mark the end of a decade-long fuel drought in Aylsham, with motorists having to head along the A140 to Alby or Roughton to fill up.

The garage, M&S Simply Food store and Wild Bean Café will be open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, according to service station manager Daniel Sirdar.

And the opening fuel prices went “live” on the board outside the new venture yesterday afternoon – £113.9 per litre for unleaded petrol, and £115.9 per litre for diesel.

The first customers will receive a range of discounts and a free bag for life for their shopping.

“The atmosphere’s been really good, positive and excited,” said Daniel, 28, who lives in Norwich. The new venture has created 23 jobs – four full-time.

“The site manager who was working here on the build said that in his eight years’ experience he had never had so many people trying to come on to a site and ask when it was opening!”

Daniel invited anyone with comments, criticisms and compliments about the new development to get in touch with him.
The service station also includes a toilet accessible to disabled people as well as a baby changing-room.

Lloyd Mills, chairman of Aylsham Town Council, said he was personally “very pleased” that the project had been completed.

“It will save people quite a long trip for fuel but I think the M&S shop has been raising even more interest than the garage!” he said.

Andrew Kenney, BP district manager said: “The new store and introduction of the M&S Simply Food range means we have been able to create 23 new jobs for people in the local area. It’ll be open late providing customers with a selected range of Marks & Spencer’s high quality fresh, innovative food alongside the best of BP fuels and our very own Wild Bean Café.”

Manager Daniel Sirdar

The new BP petrol station and M&S shop on Burgh Road

the shelves are fully stocked

Popular head teacher retires

After 15 years at the helm of John of Gaunt Infant and Nursery, head teacher Fiona Chant is retiring, but she will definitely be remaining active in Aylsham.

Fiona came to Aylsham from a deputy headship in Hertfordshire back in 2002 and time working in Borneo and (the less far flung) Northamptonshire.

“Norfolk and Suffolk were always counties we loved and had ambitions to move to, both for the coast and for the lifestyle,” she said.

“John of Gaunt was the first headship I ever applied for and I was delighted to be successful in that application.”

When she arrived, Fiona found she was asked to build bridges and links with the community and, 15 years on, she is immensely proud to know that that is exactly what she and her team have managed to do.

“This school is at the heart of the community and has great relationships with parents.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but for me it’s time to go.”

Fiona and Vanessa Scargill, from Aylsham High School were two of the pioneers of The Aylsham Cluster Trust (TACT), which was designed to improve the education of children and families in the area.

“To have a formalised partnership is very unusual and that is something which gives me particular confidence as I get ready to retire from the headship,” said Fiona.

“We wanted to set up a system which was sustainable and didn’t rely on an individual strong personality to work.

“Jamie Olney, the recently appointed Head of School at Bure Valley School, applied for the post partly because of the partnership and support of other schools within TACT.”

The TACT family learning day is another example of the type of family engagement which Fiona rates highly. She describes it as an opportunity for parents to understand how schools work and how they can get involved in their children’s learning.

So does retirement mean feet up and cruises? Unlikely, it would seem.

“I will continue to be involved with TACT and contribute to the School Direct teacher training programme, as well as take on the junior vice presidency for Aylsham Rotary Club,” she said.

“We have a new puppy and a family, including grandchildren. I’m a very enthusiastic gardener, traveller and scuba diver.

“So no, I won’t be twiddling my thumbs and I will still be very involved in the Aylsham community.”

And a final word about Fiona’s replacement, Clare Toplis: “I’m so pleased both for her and the school. She will build on a successful school and make it even better. There was a very strong field for the role and she was certainly the best.

“There is a fantastic team of teachers, teaching assistants and support staff here and our staff retention is very high, which I hope tells its own story.

“Clare will also be supported by Duncan Spalding, executive head teacher; Jo Tuttle, business and community director from the Aylsham Learning Federation; and of course the strong governor board, chaired by Mike Downes.”

Mr Downes thanked Fiona for her many years of running the school and said: “During Fiona’s time at John of Gaunt, she has constantly striven to improve the education of every child in the school and given them the best education possible.

“So many children have left this school with a fantastic start to their educational journey and a love of learning.

“The school has developed into a vibrant and supportive community in which everyone feels valued and secure. So many families owe Fiona and all the staff a debt of gratitude for the way they have given their children a love of learning, security and individual attention unmatched anywhere.”

Fiona Chant, the outgoing head teacher at John of Gaunt.

England Manager congratulates Aylsham FC on funding success

Aylsham FC is celebrating after being awarded a £3,000 Grow the Game grant, something that has attracted praise from England manager Gareth Southgate.

The grant, which will provide a boost to grassroots football in Aylsham, has paved the way for the club to enhance the girls’ football offering over the next three years, something that is top of the agenda at the club.

England Men’s Senior Manager and Football Foundation Ambassador Gareth said: “I am so pleased that Aylsham FC has secured this Grow the Game grant. The club has worked very hard with Norfolk FA and the Football Foundation to get more local people playing football so that they can enjoy the many physical and mental benefits that come with playing regular sport.

“Grow the Game is mainly funded by the FA and delivered by the Football Foundation. This is money that is flowing from the very top of the game down to the lowest levels, to help clubs at the grassroots to bear the cost of starting up a new team, whether it be for a new kit, pitch hire or sending volunteers on FA accredited coaching courses.”

Grow the Game is a £2.5m programme which awards grants to grassroots football clubs that wish to create new teams, especially among under-represented groups.

There is £1,500 available to help FA-affiliated clubs with the cost of creating a new team, which might include the cost FA coaching courses; FA league affiliation costs; referees’ fees; first aid kits; and even football kit and equipment.

Gus Bates, Aylsham FC youth football chairman, said: “I am extremely grateful to the Football Foundation for this grant. We strive to keep taking our club to the next level and this money will be used wisely to grow the girl’s game in the town and keep Aylsham FC at the forefront of sport in the area.