Lifeboat ahoy!

You don’t have to drive far to en­joy a bou­tique break on the beau­ti­ful north Nor­folk coast - and you don’t even need to leave the dogs be­hind, as dis­cov­ered

EDP Norfolk - - Hotel Stay - DO­MINIC CAS­TLE

IN AN idle mo­ment I have some­times thought that, were I to be rein­car­nated, I would like to come back as a dog.

And, if I did come back as a dog, I would en­cour­age my own­ers (don’t ask how) to take me with them to stay at The Lifeboat Inn in Thorn­ham. For there I could be guar­an­teed the sort of com­fort and at­ten­tion, and an ap­par­ently lim­it­less sup­ply of bis­cuits, that I would, as the loyal fam­ily pet, de­serve.

There would be some­thing in it for the hu­mans, of course; The Lifeboat is an ut­terly charm­ing bou­tique inn/ho­tel in the heart of the north Nor­folk coast, a ram­bling war­ren of a place steeped in 500 years of his­tory, with lots of sur­pris­ing lit­tle nooks and cran­nies, smart bed­rooms and an ex­cel­lent kitchen.

We, two hu­mans and two ca­nines, were lucky enough to pick the first proper week of sum­mer for a mid­week stay at the ho­tel. We ar­rived as the sun was low­er­ing it­self over the hori­zon, spent af­ter lightly bak­ing the Nor­folk coast­line all day.

Our room – named, like all rooms in the

inn, for one of the crew of the Li­censed Vict­uallers III, a Hun­stan­ton lifeboat – pressed many but­tons. Stylish, with smart decor in the right shades of Far­row & Ball and lit by those vin­tage-y light­bulbs, it had a hand­some bath­room and all essen­tials for man and beast, in­clud­ing dog mat, bowls and more bis­cuits.

We re­paired to the con­ser­va­tory for sup­per, dogs in tow. If you’re less keen on eat­ing un­der the hun­gry gaze of hope­ful hounds, they are kept to the one room; how­ever ev­ery­one seemed quite happy and there was no com­mo­tion from the as­sem­bled labradors, ter­ri­ers or even our two.

We (the present Mrs Cas­tle and me) shared a seafood plat­ter to be­gin with, a fes­ti­val of smoked mack­erel and salmon, cray­fish tails, squid and bread. My pesc­etar­ian part­ner chose the fish pie to fol­low, a hearty con­coc­tion served with just-right veg­eta­bles, while I se­lected pork belly with ap­ple cider mashed spuds, crunchy greens and a trea­cle jus. Es­corted by a pleas­ing Chilean Mer­lot, it was all de­li­cious.

It would have been rude not to try a dessert, so we po­litely or­dered cof­fee pan­na­cotta, toasted al­mond and pis­ta­chio crumb, co­coa oil for her­self and peanut but­ter par­fait, crushed pret­zels, with a but­ter­scotch sauce for me.

Full to burst­ing, we heaved our­selves and bis­cuit-filled dogs out for a night­time wad­dle around the vil­lage.

Next morn­ing, af­ter a com­fort­able night dis­turbed only by dogs tak­ing ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to hop up and steal bedspace, we break­fasted with­out them. I es­chewed the tra­di­tional full English in favour of poached egg with thick slices of ham and hol­landaise sauce on muffins; the PMC grazed the ex­ten­sive buf­fet and topped up with por­ridge. It was all first-class.

In­deed the whole stay was first class and even though we were barely an hour from our own front door it was a de­light­ful and re­lax­ing change of scenery. All praise to the crew of The Lifeboat. Do­minic and Rosie (and Ol­lie and Lexi) Cas­tle were guests of Agel­lus Ho­tels, who own and man­age a group of ho­tels and restau­rants in­clud­ing The Lifeboat Inn and The Che­quers at Thorn­ham, Tud­den­ham Mill, The Westle­ton Crown and The Ship at Dun­wich. Room rates start at £145 and the ho­tel has a range of of­fers avail­able; for full de­tails call 01485 512236 or visit www.lifeboat­in­nthorn­ham.com

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