Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Loddon: The Swan to become a hotel.

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MORE details have emerged on plans for the important Swan site in the middle of Loddon. The new owner Justin Fenwick has submitted plans to build 2 three- or four- bedroomed houses between the pub and the bowling green as a way of funding what his architect calls “the rejuvenation of the hotel”. The Swan,  I should add,is always referred to as a hotel rather than the pub we’ve been used to in recent years. The extensive outbuildings will remain and might be converted into four hotel rooms in time. Crucially the pub, sorry hotel, will become a free house, a move which will raise a cheer from most CAMRA-types. Those in the know argue that it’s often the pub group charging too much for both rent and beer that leads to pub closures. The letter submitted to South Norfolk council also makes clear that the Bowling Club can continue as normal and the alleyway through to Sale Court will survive. More details  - including plans here:

* Earlier story here

Rockland: Business booms at Oxnead House

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AMID all the economic gloom, some cause for optimism on the Wherryman’s Way. Pia and Iain Saunders (pictured) launched their new holiday cottage business in Rockland St Mary in August. The three separate cottages within the grounds of Oxnead House seem to me, to be just what the WW needed in this part of the world. From the flat-screen tellies to the exposed wooden beams, the style is sleek and modern. And the good news is that the couple have been rushed off their feet since their new website went live. “We’ve had inquiries from all over the world,” said Pia. “We’re already really busy.” The Lodge, The Stable and The Barn occupy a large plot which looks down upon Rockland Broad from the corner of New Inn Hill and Green Lane. Green Lane is the way Wherryman’s Way walkers arrive in Rockland, having cut across fields from Wheatfen Broad in Surlingham. If you want to do the entire Wherryman’s Way in one stretch over a relaxing three days, you could do worse than make Oxnead House your first-night stop.

*Just to be clear Oxnead House is nowhere near the lost Broads village of Oxnead which lies close to Aylsham on the Bure. This one is very much Yare Valley. 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Rockland New Inn: The Walkers look to stroll it

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STOP me if you’ve heard this one before, but welcome to the new guys at The New Inn at Rockland St Mary. Yes, yes I know there have been a few, but Mick and Paula Walker are pukka leaseholders and so should bring this Wherryman’s Way pub some much needed stability after a stop-start year. It’s a point not lost on Mick who thrusts a leaflet into my hand which says “we want to build on the hard work of the temporary managers and continue to put The New Inn back at the heart of the neighbourhood”. And who would want to take over a seasonal pub at the end of the season? Well this couple certainly make a virtue of it, explaining that it will give them time to talk to the locals, before they start dealing with the very different needs of summer tourists. In fact their first priority is to ask local people for their suggestions. (So email with your thoughts.) 

Former management consultant Mick and nurse Paula both look very much at home behind the bar, so it’s something of a surprise to learn that they are first-timers, although they did spend five years in Ireland running a backpackers hostel/guesthouse. They first opened these doors on Thursday and will start serving food on Tuesday – Head Chef Robert is an integral part of their plans. A proper espresso machine for decent coffee and that new necessity wi-fi, should follow very soon. And it will certainly be a pub-full because three children will live here plus Spike the Yorkie and Milo the cat.

I was sorry to see the Walkers’ predecessors Alix and John go, and you can understand a certain amount of “here-we-go-again” cynicism from the average Rockland drinker, but Mick and Paula certainly talk a very good – and friendly - game. If we can help them through their first winter, they might just hang around for an awful lot longer. And that has to be good for the village, the tourists and those Wherryman’s Way walkers.

See Mick and Paula’s website here: