Meet our Champion for Festival Norfolk
Charles Pugh - Artistic Director of the Holt Festival which runs from 23rd – 30th July 2017.
My favourite season is autumn. Oddly I can think of nowhere else where the season of mists captivates me, save North Norfolk. Rent a bicycle and ride from Holt to Cley next the Sea and you will see what I mean. The road is quiet. No tourists. As you gently weave your way down the Glaven Valley passing such landmarks as Bayfield Hall you will be overwhelmed by the “mellow fruitfulness” all around you but most of all the woods, particularly the magnificent oak trees. The sense of peace, of history, of unchangingness in this rapidly changing world, is at its most palpable in this twilight season of the year.
On my visits to Norfolk the place you will find me enjoying a meal is Cookies Crab Shop on the Coast Road at Salthouse. Fantastic seafood salads at very reasonable prices. And not much else. The perfect antidote to London’s uber finesse. Who needs fancy décor and facilities when nature’s very own saltmarsh provides them. Of course not everyone is a fan of “basic”. A Trip Advisor contributor (2012) gave Cookies a big NO on the grounds that its facilities were only fit for the sixties. Suits me fine!
Spot to visit?
One spot I love to visit is the enchanting coastal village of Blakeney. It was a commercial port until the estuary silted up which means that only recreational craft can now get to the little harbour in Blakeney village. It is, as is well known, the perfect place from which to explore North Norfolk’s coastal life, with ready access to the coastal walks, to the birdwatching, seal trips, salt marsh and the many creeks created by the siltation process. But I love the quayside at Blakeney for itself. At the day’s end it reminds me of the hour of the paseo in southern Spain. Every generation is out and about on the quay. Couples of all ages arm in arm. Families walking their pet dogs. Children with their fishing nets. All drawn to the harbour boat/water spectacle. As the poet said: If you take my advice. There’s nothing so nice. As messing about in the river.
My favourite event in north Norfolk is the Holt Festival. It takes place in the last week of July and is now in its 9th year. I have to declare an interest. I am the Artistic Director. But this was not always so. Before taking the engagement I was just another festival goer so to that extent I can be dispassionate. Why did I fall in love with this particular festival? Because it is a small, intimate festival with a very big heart. Holt itself is an enchanting Georgian town. Gresham’s School kindly lends facilities which are not only splendid but also lovely. The programme offers something to suit all tastes. You can tell a successful festival by the answers to 2 questions. Do the performers look as if they are enjoying themselves? And do the volunteers (over 80 of them at Holt)? If the answer to both those questions is yes that is a sure sign that the audience will also be having a good time. A wonderful event. Well done Holt!
Norfolk’s best kept secret?
I dare say there is nothing very secret about Saltmarsh shingle beach. As everyone knows it is situated beside the salt marshes and consists of a pebble bank which affords precious little shelter from the elements. But it’s Norfolk’s best kept secret on a warm, still, July night if you share a bag of fish and chips, a bottle of beer, the setting of the sun, on an empty beach, with the woman you love.
Norfolk Country Cottages are delighted to again, be sponsoring this fantastic festival…