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TRAVEL: QUEEN & COUNTRY AND FURTHER AFIELD
A high-flying London couple left successful careers in arts and design to renovate an 18th Century tinsmith’s workshop in Aylsham, Norfolk. It's now a stunning B&B, styled with a superb collection of art and design pieces, and resident dogs Dusty and Cleo. The charming owners Paul and Paul talk to us about their new life, their brilliant and unique style and why everyone should come and stay.
Paul B and Paul V moved from the hustle and bustle of London life to the peace and quiet of Norfolk where they’ve created the incredibly stylish Tinsmith’s House B&B – home to cleverly curated furnishings, incredibly comfortable beds and breakfasts to die for. We asked them more about their move and why they love this rather gorgeous part of Norfolk.
PAUL B AND PAUL V
Were you always country boys or did you have to make the leap from city life?
We moved to North Norfolk from Islington in 2012 having lived close to central London for more than 30 years. Paul V grew up in one of the leafier areas of Wolverhampton. After working for an International NGO for many years he ran his own graphic design agency for more than 25 years and still looks after a few select clients. Paul B grew up on the edge of the Peak District in Derbyshire and worked for several influential contemporary art galleries in London and New York. Apart from the B&B, we also arrange pop-up exhibitions at different locations across Norfolk promoting art and craft produced by artists and designer makers based in the east. Tinsmith’s House is decorated with many of these same artists and craftspeople.
How did you end up running your business?
We started offering B&B about three and a half years ago because there wasn’t anywhere that was close to what we offer in this part of Norfolk. Aylsham has plenty of places to stay, but they tend to be self-catering. We wanted to open a place where the focus was on the comfort and ease of the country with the friendly informality and convenience of the town. When we lived in London we had a really big apartment with our design studio on site so plenty of people were coming and going. When we moved to Norfolk, the B&B complimented how we live. It has felt like a natural progression of who we’ve always been.
Tell us a bit about the country pursuits that are on offer either through you or through providers in the immediate area.
Guests can leave the car in the car park and transfer to a canoe or kayak hired from The Canoe Man. He runs a whole series of different trips, either guided or supporting guests who wish to go it alone to paddle down the River Bure towards Wroxham and the Broads. Only a few of our guests have ever done it, but they said it was a brilliant experience! It’s the best way to appreciate the beauty of the river, which runs through Aylsham and the Broads. It’s not for everyone, but it is easy to pick up and a truly sustainable way to travel – with relatively little effort – through the natural environment that has grown around these manmade waterways.
Cycling is the other thing that guests have taken to, either bringing their own bikes or hiring some when they get here and we have a barn to keep the bikes safely. Huff and Puff Cycle Hire are very friendly and will deliver a suitable bike for most needs to our door. The cycle paths that run across this part of Norfolk coincide in Aylsham and are well signposted following either Weavers’ Way or Marriott’s Way.
Go to our Top Tips page https://www.tinsmithshouse.com/travel-guides-north-norfolk/ and you’ll find a downloadable PDF with the contact details: https://www.tinsmithshouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/GUIDE-ACTIVE-2016.pdf
What’s your favourite walk and are you a dog friendly place to stay?
Our favourite walk is on the much neglected east coast, on the sandy but fast eroding beach between Happisburgh and Cart Gap. It is THE dog walking beach, with lots of doggy action and during the season you can spot the odd grey seal bobbing about along the shoreline. It’s peaceful in the summer, never getting too busy even during peak season and it’s beautiful in winter when you can barely stand up because the wind is so strong and the lighthouse is the only visible landmark!
We have two dogs – Dusty and Cleo – who stay below stairs but in fairness to them, we don’t permit any other dogs to stay.
Do you have a favourite pub or restaurant nearby?
The Gunton Arms is just 15 minutes by car which we still love because of the contemporary art collection, its location on the edge of a deer park, good beer and the delicious bar snacks. Eating there is a bit of a scene – if you can get a table! We’ve also recently found The Brisley Bell for more relaxed eating. It’s about 25 minutes rom Aylsham and has been put together with such care and attention to detail – we love it. The menu features timeless country cuisine and really great cooking.
If you’re looking for a bit of culture, where do you head to?
There are lots of sporadic music events in this part of Norfolk. These are usually run by enthusiastic patrons of the arts on the country house estates or in some of the Norfolk churches near Aylsham. Some are sensationally good, but its difficult to list them because they are irregularly held. Otherwise, during the summer, Norwich has some pretty good local festivals and of course there’s The Theatre Royal for theatre, song and dance.
For the visual arts, we run and programme pop-up events – Norfolk By Design, showcasing craftspeople, makers and artists from Norfolk and the surrounding areas. We currently have a pop-up at Houghton Hall until the end of July, which is running in conjunction with the Damien Hirst exhibition.
This blog originally appeared on Further Afield
If you want to find out more about the properties featured on Further Afield visit their website at: www.furtherafield.com