Through the key­hole

Nick and Craig’s beau­ti­ful home of­fers a retreat from the ca­coph­ony of Clapham and the roar of the mo­tor trade, as Tony Hall found out


...of a gor­geous ru­ral river­side retreat

RE­LAX­ING IN a charm­ing gar­den on a sunny morn­ing, with the King’s Beck bub­bling by, I can well see why Craig Pul­ford and Nick McMen­emy are so en­am­oured with their new north Nor­folk home and this de­light­ful set­ting.

“Top of our wish list,” ex­plains Nick, “was plenty of out­side space for en­ter­tain­ing fam­ily and friends in a nice set­ting. When Craig and I viewed here in July 2015, we looked back at the house, from the beck, and said ‘it’s too good to be true!’ We were blown away by both the house and gar­den and of course the added bonus of the water left us with no doubts, so we bought in Au­gust 2015.”

“As you can see,” adds Craig, “we have in­stalled strings of lights in the trees, added a bench and some seat­ing and have taken full ad­van­tage of the gar­den to host sev­eral out­door gath­er­ings.”

Craig and Nick met five years ago through mu­tual friends; how­ever this is their first house to­gether. “I was born in Glas­gow,” Nick tells me. “But we moved to Nor­folk in 1987 when I was 12 be­cause of my father’s job; he was a direc­tor of en­gi­neer­ing com­pany Crane Frue­hauf. We lived in Taver­ham, but I knew this area as father also looked after the fac­tory at North Wal­sham, where Waitrose is now.

“I went to school at Notre Dame in Nor­wich fol­lowed by univer­sity at Stir­ling, study­ing eco­nom­ics and mar­ket­ing, which I re­ally en­joyed. Then I joined Stan­dard Life in Ed­in­burgh as a grad­u­ate trainee. After eight ex­cel­lent years there I moved to Lon­don be­fore tak­ing a con­sul­tancy role at Mor­gans in May­fair, then Tow­er­gate Fi­nan­cial, where I was a direc­tor. Sub­se­quently I joined in­sur­ance bro­kers Arthur J. Gal­lagher, in the City, as sales direc­tor.”

“As I am based in Northamp­ton­shire,” says Craig, “and Nick in Lon­don, we wanted some­where that was cen­tral

for not just us but friends. Nick’s mum Eileen still lives in Scot­land and his sis­ter Laura is in Sus­sex. My fam­ily, mum Marie and dad John and friends, are East Mid­lands-based, so Nor­folk was a nat­u­ral hub, par­tic­u­larly with Nick’s child­hood mem­o­ries of the county. I have worked in the fam­ily mo­tor trade busi­ness all my life. We did run a very big Audi/Volk­swa­gen fran­chise, but now have an in­de­pen­dent garage, Au­tow­erks in Welling­bor­ough, spe­cial­is­ing in Ger­man sports cars.”

“The in­te­rior spa­ces also had to echo our en­ter­tain­ing ethos. The house needed some work in­clud­ing new cylin­der and roof re­pairs, but for­tu­nately, the rest was cos­metic, as time wise we only had week­ends.” said Nick.

“Our thoughts on the in­te­rior de­sign were a tra­di­tional style; el­e­gant, lux­u­ri­ous and com­fort­able,” says Craig. “We were im­pressed by the style whilst stay­ing at Bab­bing­ton House in Devon. The din­ing room was our start­ing point.

“My par­ents were buy­ing a new ta­ble, so this one was a gift. It can seat ten, so is ideal. With lots of win­dows and light and with the con­ser­va­tory ad­ja­cent we felt we could go for a rich, darker wall­colour, which sets the mood, es­pe­cially at night.

“My mum Marie has a very good eye and gave us valu­able in­put. We wanted each area to flow, us­ing calm colours which work to­gether, such as the grey so­fas in the sit­ting room with the pale grey walls. You could, be­cause of our colour palette, have called this fea­ture ‘Calm in Colby’. The end re­sult has taken us 12 months of week­ends, but we are de­lighted. Nick has a study/of­fice here, so now both of us can spend more time in this lovely lo­ca­tion work­ing from home.”

“Need­less to say,” says Nick, “the din­ing room is, with­out doubt, our favourite room, ex­cel­lent for en­ter­tain­ing and with great

views of the gar­den. It is much more the heart of the house than the kitchen. The chan­de­lier also adds style to the room and is a favourite re­cent pur­chase. We love so­cial­is­ing and cook­ing, with my spe­cial­ity be­ing rib of beef from Cox­fords Butch­ers in Ayl­sham, while Craig cooks a mean mac­a­roni cheese.

“On Box­ing Day last year we had 28 for a meal and in the sum­mer 32 for a bar­be­cue.”

“That said,” adds Craig, “an­other favourite item is the four poster bed in the mas­ter bed­room, which is a spa­cious room with great views. We were for­tu­nate in find­ing our favourite in­te­rior shop,close by. It’s Baker Rhodes, where a lot of the ta­ble lamps and ac­ces­sories are from. They have been most help­ful. We have been de­lighted by how friendly ev­ery­one has been and by how cos­mopoli­tan north Nor­folk is.

“We also love go­ing to Holt, es­pe­cially to Bak­ers and Larn­ers’ deli. We are to­tally spoilt for pubs and res­tau­rants. There’s The Gun­ton Arms, where we of­ten go on Sun­days peo­ple­watch­ing in the bar over a bot­tle or two of Bordeaux. The Black Boys in Ayl­sham has great at­mos­phere and walk­a­ble for us is the Ban­ning­ham Crown, with great ser­vice and food. We love a trip along the north Nor­folk coast, end­ing up get­ting prawns from the lady in the hut in Sher­ing­ham, or a walk around Blick­ling Park, see­ing the house, lake and woods. When time per­mits it’s ten­nis at Ayl­sham or Cromer, whilst Nick en­joys line danc­ing at The Cac­tus Club in Lon­don.

“Dur­ing the week, I live in Clapham on a fairly busy, noisy road so com­ing here is a sal­va­tion,” con­cludes Nick. “With my fam­ily con­nec­tions to Nor­folk, this re­ally has felt like com­ing home and I am so pleased to be show­ing Craig ev­ery­thing. My Dad is buried at Old Costessey and there are still a lots of friends liv­ing around here. Al­though we go ski­ing each year in the win­ter and take trips to Mi­jas in Spain in the sum­mer, where Craig’s par­ents have a home, we can both hon­estly say that when the time comes to close the front door here and re­turn to work, we are so sad, ev­ery time. We’re just look­ing for­ward to our re­turn a few days later, to our true home in such an un­spoiled part of this fine county of Nor­folk.”

DIN­ING ROOM: Ta­ble and chairs from West Coun­try Pine. Chan­de­liers from John Lewis

STUDY: Con­sole from Clas­six, Northamp­ton, Chair from John Lewis. Tall glass vase by Ken­neth Turner.

KITCHEN: Units painted in Far­row and Ball Corn­forth White. Cof­fee ma­chine and kitchen ac­ces­sories from John Lewis

MAS­TER BED­ROOM: Four poster bed, sim­i­lar from Re­vival Beds. Bed­side ta­bles in oak; sim­i­lar Oak Fur­ni­ture Su­per­store Nor­wich. Bed­ding from The White Com­pany. Lamps from Baker Rhodes. Wrought iron stool, trunk and chest of draw­ers from Holt An­tiques...

LIV­ING ROOM: So­fas from Laura Ash­ley. Lamps from Baker Rhodes 01263 733455. Cush­ions from Clas­six, Northamp­ton. Rug on Ot­toman from House of Bruar Scot­land. Cur­tains from Next Nor­wich. Colour paint­ings by Mar­garet Wil­son. Wall colour Purbeck Stone from...

Be­low: Nick and Craig by the river

Above: CLOAKROOM Wall­pa­per by Cole­fax and Fowler from Baker Rhodes. Mir­ror from Clas­six, Northamp­ton. Floor­ing from Eastern Glazed Ceram­ics, Nor­wich, 01603 423391

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