New for February 2018 – Incredibly proud and happy to report that following our inspection by Visit England we have not only retained our 4* Gold award for The Bee’s Knees Cottage but have been upgraded to 5* for The Borrowers!!
Sky TV and Box Sets now in both cottages plus Alexa and Amazon Prime so come and join us to experience the seasons change, the warmest of welcomes, fabulous hospitality and find out just why we get such wonderful reviews from our guests and how we were awarded our 5* and retained our 4* Gold Awards from Visit England and the Trip Adviser Certificates of Excellence!
AUTUMN into WINTER
Tranquility and peace in the heart of the South Norfolk countryside. The perfect place to get away from it all……..relax and eat and sleep in style!
Welcome to Winter here at Olde Farm Holiday Cottages, the clocks have gone back so the days are short and the nights might be long but the frost makes everything magical in the gardens which still teem with life as the snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils start to make their appearance, the birds are around singing and digging for insects, the robin visits each morning waiting on the picnic table for his breakfast, the owls hunt at night and are magnificent. The days though short can still quite warm in the bursts of Winter sunshine and the star filled night skies are just breath taking as the frosty nights ensure clear, cloudless nights. Our hens, ducks and the swans wander exploring and the cats and dogs lay dozing in what remains of the sunshine when not in front of our log fire, Barry and Brenda the hedgehogs are tucked up fast asleep in their houses just waiting for the Spring. All is well with the inhabitants here in Banham in this most beautiful of seasons. Oh and before I forget to mention it, if you’re coming to Norfolk you just have to see the seals and the birds!
Our model and baseline is that our cottages are the ones that we would want to find on arrival and stay in. Our prices are the same all year round, with no increases for the Summer, Christmas, New Year, Easter or half term breaks. We offer total flexibility and your short or long break can start on any day of the week with the only stipulation that you book for a minimum of two nights for most of the year (three in August and at Christmas and Easter). Check in is normally 3pm and check out 11am – if you require an early check in or late check out these can be arranged dependent on availability. Our mission is to have initial guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends; repeat guests we hope will next arrive as friends and leave as ‘family’
- What will we find when we arrive? When you arrive you will find that there is a seasonal welcome basket waiting for you in your cottage. Full of home made bread, scones or mince pies, pate, jam and marmalade, local ham bacon and cheese, juice, mineral water, milk, together with an extensive selection of teas and coffees – not to forget the flowers, Prosecco and chocolates! The fresh eggs are from our own small flock of hens and there are apples, strawberries and cherries to pick in season. We are also more than happy to adapt your welcome basket to fit your dietary requirements, so if you want vegetarian, vegan, peanut/dairy/gluten free then just let us know and we will do our very best to ensure you have just what you need.
Also back in the cottages for the winter months, and to further add to your comfort and experience, is the option of ordering a delicious home cooked hot ‘one pot’ meal to be waiting for you in the slow cooker on arrival – particularly welcome if you are arriving late with us on these cold winter evenings – options can include, soups and home made bread, local organic chicken casserole with dumplings (plain or savoury), chilli con carne, lamb in rosemary and red wine, vegetable stew, beef in local ale and a whole variety of moroccan tagines – chicken with apricots and sultanas or with lemon and almonds, lamb with prunes to name but three! A full range of veggie options can also be made for you. Just let us know and we can devise a menu just for you at a very reasonable price of normally around £10 per head.
Alongside the welcome basket we provide all those everyday essentials – rubber gloves, washing up liquid, scrubbers, foil, cling film, salt/pepper/oils/vinegars/herbs/spices, etc – nothing is more irritating than arriving at your cottage to find you need to stock up on the absolute basics – better still this means that there is no need to have to pack these and bring them with you, leaving more room in the luggage for essentials such as shoes!! As we are a mile from the nearest shop we operate an ‘honesty pantry’ system in both cottages which has proved to be especially useful and appreciated by guests, this contains tins of soup and vegetables, pasta and sauces, rice, gravy mixes, flour and other staples – the simple rule is that if you use it then just replace before you leave. Treats/toys/bowls/blankets/poo bags/towels/wet wipes for your pets are also included as standard. There are complimentary toiletries in the bathrooms for you to use if you wish and we always have a stock of spare disposable toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors and shaving foam, etc should you forget to bring yours – just ask.
Set amongst working farmland and pasture our cottages form part of a barn conversion and its outbuildings which were built around 150 years ago for the farmhouse and still working farm next door – so particularly at Harvest there are times when you will hear and see tractors and other farm vehicles coming and going about their business. Where we are is very ‘real’ rural Norfolk but it is also beautiful and uplifting and the lack of street lighting means the huge star filled skies are mesmerising – wrap up warm, sit outside in the evenings with a hot chocolate or something stronger and just drink it all in.
Both our cottages have been rated by Visit England and this year gained the additional accolade of a Trip Adviser Certificate of Excellence. The Bee’s Knees (4* Gold) adjoins the main house with The Borrowers (5*) adjacent in the courtyard, both have dedicated garden areas as well as sharing the communal gardens and amenities.
- Can you arrange a special gift or surprise? If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion then please tell us and we can go another extra mile for you! If you wish to arrange an extra special treat for someone on arrival then again just let us know and we can work together to make your celebration even more memorable, there is a wonderful local florist and wine shop.
- Where can we go when we visit? Situated in Banham, between Thetford and Norwich just South of Attleborough, we are ideal for visits to Banham Zoo, the Snetterton Motor Circuit, Bressingham Steam Museum, Englands only Whisky distillery (The English Whisky Company) and several other Norfolk and local Breckland attractions including a day out at the races at Fakenham Race Course or Great Yarmouth. See for yourselves the wonderful wildlife at Minismere (home of Springwatch). Indulge yourself with a spa day at Centre Parcs at Elvedon which is easily reached or in The Retreat in the famous Jarrolds Department store in Norwich. If steam trains are your particular love then we are only 20 minutes away from the longest heritage railway in East Anglia. The Mid Norfolk Railway runs between Wymondham and Dereham. There are wonderful museums in Norwich and surrounding towns and also several beautiful National Trust and English Heritage places within easy reach to visit – Felbrigg is a particular favourite of ours. There are numerous wind and water mills to visit. Petrol heads and extreme speed lovers will welcome the opportunity to visit the Lotus factory which is situated in Hethel – if you have ever fantasised about driving one of their cars, now is your chance!! Oh and I almost forgot to mention that if your particular dream is to experience a hot air balloon ride then just over a mile away from the cottage you can do just this with Breckland Balloons; soar high above the Norfolk landscape, see the Broads and much more from a unique birds eye point of view! then be back in the comfort of your cottage within minutes and share with us the experience (sadly I have to do this vicariously through guests as I have a total fear of heights)
- What facilities will we find in the cottages? We believe that if you are looking for a warm welcome, high levels of comfort in high quality furnished and well equipped cottages with free wifi, luxury beds and bedding, Smart TVs with Sky and Sky Box Sets, BluRay players, Alexa with Amazon Prime , Bose/Panasonic sound systems, Nespresso coffee machine, dishwasher, ceramic hob, granite worktops, combination microwave, full size oven, fridge and separate freezer and laundry facilities, together with food mixers, slow cookers, smoothie makers, choppers and blenders then our cottages will easily meet your requirements. We offer you the informality of self-catering but with the added twist and benefit of quality furnishings and all the little extras that you would hope to find in an up-market hotel.
- What are the cottages like? The cottages are both different but each has a wealth of character and we have kept and restored local, natural materials where ever possible. They have exposed beams, oak floorboards, clean crisp decoration, shutters, egyptian cotton linens, beds so comfortable you will not want to get out of them; large, squashy sofas with soft throws and carpets which your feet just sink into. Watch the wild birds as they visit to enjoy their breakfast tidbits; feed the resident pheasants, ducks, swans and chickens. Spend the long winter evenings snuggled up in front of the fires with a good book and a hot toddy or chocolate and choose from the selection of up-to-date DVDs to watch. Have a romantic candlelit evening BBQ in The Smial or throw together a fragrant and warming dish in the slow cooker so that it is ready for when you come home after a day exploring. In the warmer months, enjoy dining alfresco in the garden – the gazebo overlooking the pond is lovely for a glass of wine or to linger over supper. The pagoda is tucked away in a quiet corner and catches the last of the suns rays – perfect for a pre-dinner drink or to watch the wildlife at dusk. There are picnic tables scattered around for informal lunches or snacks and each cottage also has its own dedicated BBQ and outdoor table and chairs on the patio or deck.
- Can we bring our pets with us? The cottages are ideal for couples & families and for larger groups they can be booked together with extra B&B accommodation in the main house. Pets of all kinds are positively welcomed – we can provide a hutch for rabbits or guinea pigs in the garden or directly outside your cottage if you wish, hens can join Thelma and her pals in the Hen Palace, ducks can be accommodated on the large farm pond (catching them afterwards might be tricky, but not impossible) and our dogs and cats absolutely love to have new friends to play with.
- Essential (if boring) bits: We try to be as accommodating as possible however past experience has led us to have to develop a few simple terms and conditions which apply to all bookings and we would be grateful if you would read our Terms and Conditions page before you place a booking directly with us to avoid any misunderstanding in the event that you have to cancel your holiday. Bookings made via Holiday Lettings or Airbnb are subject to their terms and conditions so please make sure that you have read and understood these before you place a booking via them.
The beauty of Olde Farm is that it is within peaceful surroundings overlooking real working farming pasture yet is within easy reach of so many places of interest.
Artists – Olde Farm Cottages have a wonderful large pond ideal for artists to appreciate and capture nature at its best. There are plenty of places to set up your easel by the water to paint, draw or photograph the abundant wildlife, seasonal flowers, the old boat and mother nature herself.
Meditation – Whether it is making the most of the peaceful pond setting or using the thatched gazebo, the whicker Whim or large gardens, there is plenty of scope to carry out meditation, aerobics, yoga or other forms of relaxation.
Star Gazers – Visitors have noticed the stunning night skies that Olde Farm offers as we are well away from any intrusive lighting. Bring your telescope (or ask and you can borrow mine) and experience the planets, stars and their associated constellations as you may never have seen them before – unspoilt and spectacular. Why not organise a star gazing weekend for friends and colleagues? For information on organising a star gazing party check out the BBC website to down load their star gazing party pack! We can provide you with food, drinks, blankets and hot water bottles to keep you cosy and warm.
Bird Watchers: Norfolk may well be the bird watching capital of Britain. It certainly has Premier League status nature reserves – just the names of Titchwell, Cley, Holkham, Blakeney, Snettisham and Welney makes birdwatchers weak at the knees. There’s plenty to see whatever the time of year. Common birds in Norfolk range from ghostly barn owls cruising along field margins to the bright flashes of kingfishers hunting along a river. Cetti’s warbler sing loudly from rustling reedbeds and moustached bearded tits join the warblers with their pinging call. Here at Olde Farm you can see owls, kites, buzzards, rooks, hen harriers and skylarks flying overhead All manner of garden birds come to feed from the numerous feeders dotted around the gardens – this year we have had numerous species of tits, swifts, wagtails, goldfinches, yellow hammers, wrens, blackbirds and sparrows nesting and raising their young – it has been an amazing privilege to share this.