Norfolk can claim to be the county of romance as home to legendary gift-giver Jack Valentine, plus the village where the first Valentine was sent, and miles of bracingly romantic seashore all beneath our famously big skies – ideal for some starry-eyed sta
Ideas with a Norfolk twist
Roses are the flower of romance – and fill three acres of gardens at Peter Beales Roses in Attleborough.
Peter spent much of his life preserving wild and classic roses, saving some from extinction as well as breeding 70 new rose types. The national collection of old roses is held here and the display gardens are open daily, for free, alongside a garden centre and gift shop for romantic purchases.
WITH A PICTURE BY LUCY LOVEHEART
Norfolk artist Lucy Loveheart is loved around the world for her quirky, sparkly pictures which often celebrate her love of Norfolk – its coast, countryside and architecture. Fairytale palaces, moonlit beaches, bird-thronged orchards, blue skies and happy people and animals abound. Her bigger artworks brighten homes, hotels and shops and restaurants around the world, while her work can also be bought for the price of a greetings card.
ON A NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS
Cascading from a rose to a dragon is the name of the evening event at the Seething Observatory on February 16. Chris Greenfield of the Norwich Astronomical Society will take you on a tour of some of his favourite winter celestial sights beginning at 8pm. This is one of the regular public evenings held at the observatory, near Loddon. If the night is clear visitors can explore the night sky themselves, with a chance to look through some of the telescopes after the talk. Admission £3 per adult and £1.50 children.
WITH WINE FROM A NORFOLK VINEYARD
Win his or her heart with a glass of Winbirri, made in Surlingham, near Norwich. Winbirri Vineyard produces wines so good they have won international awards; its Winbirri Bachus was named the world’s top white wine made from a single grape variety in 2017. Other vineyards putting Norfolk wine on the map include the Chet and Waveney Valley Vineyard in Bergh Apton. Based on a traditional family farm, it produces award-winning sparkling, white and rose wines. The Humbleyard Vineyard in Mulbarton also specialises in white, rose and sparkling wines.
WITH CHOCOLATES LOVINGLY MADE IN NORFOLK
Try Gnaw bars, buttons or hot choc shots, created in their Gnawfolk kitchen in Norwich, with flavours including fudge crunch, lemon meringue and raspberry crisp. There’s a bar decorated with chewy red hearts for lovers and even a rocky road can be romantic in chocolate form. Booja-Booja, based in Brooke, near Norwich, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Its dairy-free deliciousness includes chocolate truffles in flavours such as champagne, raspberry, toffee strudel and almond-salted caramel.
WITH A WALK ALONG SOME OF THE MOST ROMANTIC BEACHES IN BRITAIN
Search for heart-shaped stones at Cromer; have a Hollywood moment at Holkham, star of the closing scenes of Shakespeare in Love; enjoy the romance of windswept cliffs near Mundesley; or join the birds which are said to choose their mate on St Valentine’s Day. Let your hearts soar with the birds as they wheel across one of our world-famous wildlife reserves, or stay warm and cosy and watch the winter floodlit swan feeds at Welney Wetland Centre, daily until February 28.
WITH SHELLFISHRELATED CLICHÉS
North Norfolk is your oyster, for oysters. Warm the cockles of his or her heart with cockles. Oysters have been harvested from the sea and saltmarshes of the north Norfolk coast for generations. There are still oyster beds in Brancaster Harbour. And cockles from Stiffkey, called Stiffkey (pronounced stookey) blues, are said to be the best in the country. Try at a seaside stall or shack for a spur-of-the-moment romantic snack.
ABOVE:The Seething Observatory, near Bungay. Picture: Norwich Astronomical Society
FAR LEFT:A Peter Beales rose called Sandringham, which was launched at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2016.
LEFT: Winemaker Lee Dyer of Winbirri Vineyards