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View of the North Norfolk coast and the parkland from the gazebo viewing tower at Sheringham Park

What Mothers Want!

In 2000, there was a very successful and funny film entitled ‘What Women Want’, where Mel Gibson had a fluke accident that gave him the ability to read women’s minds.

I’m sure there are many mothers out there that wish their families could this Mothers Day. I think I can speak for most of them who would just want a little bit of your time and maybe a little effort.

If you’re stuck for an idea for an afternoon stroll, Sheringham Park could just be the place to run off a bit of steam, take in some fresh air and have a bracing walk. There are sure to be a few early rhododendrons and camellias in the park as due its coastal location and the micro climate created by the large rhododendron collection, the wild garden is largely protected from winter frosts.

View of the North Norfolk coast and the parkland from the gazebo viewing tower at Sheringham Park

Climb the gazebo viewing tower to enjoy the scenery of the North Norfolk coast.

large collection of rhododendrons in the parkland with the blue sea in the background

Due its coastal location and the micro climate created by the large rhododendron collection the wild garden is largely protected from winter frosts.

stunning bi-colour rhododendron plant

Part of the large rhododendron collection created by landscape gardener Humphry Repton over 200 years ago.

How about the children making mum some bread for breakfast or a few scones. Guests love home-made bread at Chimneys. I have a few tips and a great recipe  for scones that I will post before Sunday. There are lots of lovely cafes and restaurants that serve delicious Afternoon Teas but be quick as this weekend is sure to be busy.

homemade bread and breakfast muffins on offer at breakfast at Chimneys

Everyone loves home-made bread and muffins at Chimneys

freshly home-baked lemon and sultana scones

Freshly baked for an Afternoon Tea feast


drifts of snowdrops in the dell garden at Walsingham Abbey

Snowdrop Heaven at England’s Nazareth, Walsingham.

I had a magical afternoon at Walsingham this week. There are 18 acres of woodland carpeted with snowdrops in the season and quiet river walks alongside the Stiffkey.

snowdrops in drifts follow the path and beyond in the woodland and gardens at Walsingham priory

These are the most beautiful snowdrops gardens I have ever seen at Walsingham

priory ruins on the lawn at Walsingham

The magnificent East Window arch on the main lawn, just one of the mediaeval Priory ruins at Walsingham

entrance to dell snowdrop garden and woodland Walsingham Norfolk

The gates to the dell garden are locked at 3.30pm but I don’t honestly think I’d mind being stuck there

river with snowdrops around the river bank at Walsingham Abbey

snowdrops follow the meandering river in the Walsingham Abbey grounds

Entrance to the Abbey grounds is permitted through the Georgian Shirehall Museum, for 200 years a courtroom but originally built as a pilgrim hostel where there are local artefacts and illustrations of life in Norfolk long ago. Entrance to the Abbey Grounds cost £5

It is particularly apparent that little has changed (architecturally) and the buildings are full of charm. You’re likely to see a nun or two as Walsingham has a long history of religious pilgrimage, dating back to the 11th century.

If you’d like to see the snowdrops in full bloom I suggest you think about it quickly.

The Black Lion, Walsingham is a cosy pit-stop for a light lunch with great atmosphere and a roaring log fire.

sandwiches and homemade chips at the Black Lion, Walsingham

A great light lunch sitting beside a roaring fire at The Black Lion Hotel, Walsingham

Whilst in the area, Pensthorpe Natural Park is definitely worth a visit, just seven miles from Walsingham. With beautiful gardens, spectacular wildlife, an adventure play area, lakes and trails, it’s a great attraction for families

Creake Abbey is only five miles away, where there are beautiful ruins of an Augustinian abbey founded in 1206. They are freely accessible and in the care of English Heritage.

Creake Abbey is also the home to a stunning Café and Food Hall, fantastic shops and studios plus an award winning farmers’ market.

The farmers market is the first Saturday of every month and is a culinary feast of all things wonderful in Norfolk, not to be missed!

Review of 2014 – It’s been a Funny Old Year

How to portray 2014 in a few paragraphs?

A wonderful mix of fun and frolics and cooking, a good helping of hard work and improvements and seasoned with a good smattering of supporting local events and charity might just about cover it.

The year began with lots of exercise being the order of the day. After running for all of 2013 and until the middle of February, my thoughts turned to re-inventing Chimneys to become the very best it could be.

A massive refurbishment ensued as we aspired to ‘Boutique B & B’ status, with a room doubling in size, antiques  bought and re-upholstered, new carpets and painting and it went on and on and so did the smiles.

Everyone has been delighted with our new rooms and 2015 sees the new building work just beginning as we create a new snug and dining room and consider what else we can do to improve.

A new website was built by Wayne Beauchamp of East Coast Group and brilliant he was too.

Afternoon Tea was introduced at Chimneys this year and has proved to be extremely popular as guests take a break in the garden and enjoy a scrumptious assortment of cakes, scones and sandwiches.

June 2014  saw a massive Afternoon Tea Party where 110 people sat down to  Full Afternoon Tea in the garden and were waited on by the brilliant D of E students from Aylsham High School. What fun we had listening to Norfolk’s own Buble, Mr. Dale Bullimore and a very memorable time it was.

This summer was the busiest time yet for Chimneys. When I did get a few hours off it was spent cycling within the Norfolk countryside and further afield and spending time  with family and friends. As usual, I didn’t spend enough time at the beach. I’m hoping to remedy that in the New Year.

The Autumn saw my involvement with Regenerate, a great committee formed to do just that. I feel excited to be part of it and this December saw the first Christmas Farmers Market. it was a great success as North Walsham buzzed with excitement. Lots of quality marketeers and entertainment on the Town Clock made me proud to be a ‘Walsham Gal’.

So what’s planned for 2015 I hear you ask?

More of the same I hope.

I always try to do my very best and you can be assured that I shall play my small part in making Norfolk a Wonderful County that it most definitely is!

A Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Year to you all.





Chimney’s Answer to The Great British Bake Off

Firstly, may I say that I thought Martha was the most inspiring contestant I’ve seen on The Great British Bake Off.

The youngest contestant ever to compete, so talented, polite and original who has realised that cake can get you everywhere in life! Indeed, cake is the answer!!

It was Richard’s birthday this week and as always there is only one cake that is worthy within the Harmer household on such an occasion – Chocolate Fudge Cake.

I have an extremely tatty paperback cookbook that I acquired from McDougalls Home Advisory Service, 28 years ago when I first got married, probably the most useful book to equip oneself for this wonderful union!

There lies within, the foolproof recipe.

Here goes…..

Ingredients: 10 oz. self raising flour, 3 tbsp. cocoa, 6oz. caster sugar, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 pt. milk, 5 fl. oz. oil, 3 tbsp. golden syrup

Method: Preheat oven 350 Celsius, Gas mark 4. Line two 8 inch sandwich tins with greaseproof paper. Combine all the ingredients beating well. Divide between the two tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes. Turn out and allow to cool.

Only Delia Smith’s Chocolate Fudge is sufficient to crown this cake.

Ingredients: 3oz. granulated sugar, 3fl. oz. evaporated milk, 4 oz. plain chocolate (I use the supermarket value brand and it does the job well), 1 1/2 oz. butter, vanilla essence.

Method: Place the evaporated milk and sugar in a pan on a medium to low heat until the sugar has dissolved. bring to a simmer and simmer WITHOUT STIRRING for six minutes. add the broken pieces of chocolate and stir until dissolved and then the butter and a few drops of vanilla essence. Put it in a bowl in a fridge until it is thick enough to spread on a cake.

Spread in-between the sponges and on top and decorate with your favourite sweeties.

IMG_2958 IMG_2957

A dear friend who is lactose intolerant was telling me that she really missed chocolate cake.

This cake recipe works if you substitute the milk in the sponge for coconut milk and the evaporated milk for an oat cream called ‘The Original Oatly’. Waitrose stock it. It’s impossible to taste the difference so how about that! You just need to be careful what dark chocolate you buy but Waitrose also have a dark Continental chocolate with only a trace of milk.

It’s been said that my husband only married me because I could cook and had a car. There’s many a true word said in jest!

I hope you all enjoy baking this great cake.

After all, cake is the answer, whatever the question. Enjoy!