Discover the best places to Picnic in Norwich
Finally! With our lock-down restrictions loosening, and the Great British summer making a much-needed appearance – we have to ask ourselves, how do we make the most of our newfound freedom?
After what felt like an endless torrent of ready meals, take-outs and sitting inside in front of the T.V, there has never been a better time than now, to take a step outside and cast those lock-down blues to a summer’s breeze. That’s why we’re helping you find the best spots, in and around Norwich, to plan your perfect picnic!
While everyone approaches picnicking in their own personal way, Norwich’s local and independent shops and market stalls can make your first picnic out something special! Here are just a handful of our recommendations..
St. Giles Pantry
Picnicking and locally produced food really do go hand in hand – Alan Sabol, the owner and shopkeeper of St. Giles Pantry, understands the value of independently produced groceries, and has created one of the finest places to purchase every element for your perfect picnic, in his own words;
“jam, gin, cheese, chutneys – you name it, we have it!”Alan Sabol
Working in the leisure industry for over 25 years, Alan clearly understands the ins and outs of good produce. Opening in October 2020, with the sole intention of supporting “great producers who were suffering from the pandemic”, all of his stock is being produced by local farmers, cheesemakers, butchers, breweries and wineries within a forty-mile radius.
With such a wide range of stock, asking Alan for a picnic basket recommendation felt appropriate
“On my picnic, I would bring some Marsh Pig, (a Norwich based charcuterie) Baron Bigod (a delicious brie-style cheese from Fen Farms Dairy in Suffolk), some Flint Vineyard wine, and maybe some Burnt Mill beer.”
Alan explained that every item in-store is there for a reason, “there is a story behind everything we sell”, and the passion with which he approaches good food makes St. Giles the place to find that perfect pairing for your basket.
Not only is the produce at St. Giles delectable, but the stunning shopfront in and of itself is also worth a visit alone, and can be found at 95A Upper St Giles St, Norwich NR2 1AB, or take a look at their story and events at www.stgilespantry.com
Chef Ron’s Kitchen
If before heading to your picnicking spot you’d rather fill your basket with some of the most delicious, no-frills attached great food in Norwich, then Chef Ron’s Kitchen may just be exactly what you are looking for.
If we had to reserve the phrase ‘hidden gem’ for one spot in Norwich, it would have to be for Chef Ron’s. He and his family have been operating from the heart of the Lanes for five years, and after speaking with the chef himself, it is clear that time, care and effort with which Ron approaches food makes this place a must-go.
“What makes Ron’s is flavour and quality of food at affordable prices – food for the working man and woman”, and it is clear that Ron’s outlook permeates every element of his humble deli;
“All our meat is local: all our chicken is free-range, all our beef is butchered in the area – we’re health-conscious, and our food is clean”Chef Ron
Ron’s passion for his food and his business is inspiring, and with over 35 years of fine dining experience “from French cuisine, to Italian”, it’s hardly surprising to see why!
Of course, we needed to hear what Ron would pick up for his own picnic, and without missing a beat he told us
“It’s got to be our homemade pastrami sandwich on our poppy seed roll – it’s got that flavourful crunch with our homemade bread. To drink I’d probably take our Acai smoothie with me as well – it’s one of the best superfoods and it’s delicious”
Ron’s eldest son, Roman, runs the aptly named Roman’s Juice bar, and really any pairing from the two is beyond perfect. On asking what he would recommend for picnic-goers, he assured “I could recommend everything – the question is, what do you want to experience?”
Chef’s Ron’s Kitchen and Roman’s Juice Bar can be found, tucked away in the lanes at 19 Lower Goat Ln, Norwich NR2 1EL, or peruse their gallery at www.chef-rons-kitchen-and-romans-juice-bar.business.site
Sir Toby’s Beers
The pairing of a crisp, locally crafted beer, and breathing the air of where it was brewed, is among one of the finer things in life. For owners Toby and Dominic, this couldn’t be more true. Operating now for almost four years from their charming beer stall Norwich Market, they pride themselves on serving hundreds of different craft beers – from stouts, to IPA’s, to pilsners and so much more. On asking what makes Sir Toby’s special, Toby himself explained,
“we’re not pretentious about beer – whether you want a traditional ale, or an IPA, or a lager – we’re not ‘craft or go home’, and we love it.”Sir Toby
On your summer picnic, Toby would recommend “a nice fruity sour beer – they’re crisp and not too heavy, so you won’t be falling asleep in the sun. So maybe a Radler or a Saison”, although he reminded us to keep checking, explaining excitedly that every fortnight “we have completely new stock!”
Sir Toby’s truly is your one-stop-shop (or rather stall) for that perfect beer to keep ice cold in your hamper, stop by at Stalls 182/183 Norwich Market, NR2 1NE, or visit their site www.sirtobysbeers.co.uk
CJ’s Fruit and Veg
Picnicking isn’t quite picnicking without the sight of fresh strawberries, apples, pears, and all things fruit and veg to enjoy in the sun – and there is no place more fitting to pick up all you need, than the long-established market stall, CJ’s Fruit and Veg.
Looking out directly over the high street, CJ’s truly is a cornucopia of all things fresh and locally sourced, and being a family run business, spanning four generations with no sign of stopping, we have to think they know good veggies!
If you’re looking for fruit to pick at throughout the day, or want to prepare a salad, or even find the ingredients for that couscous you’ve always wanted to make, why not shop local, and support a true family establishment that prides itself on high quality, Norfolk sourced produce!
You can visit CJ’s at Stalls 26, 27 and 36 in Norwich Market, or check out their website at http://www.cjsfruitveg.com
Where to Picnic
There are almost an endless amount of places to set up a perfect picnic in Norwich, let alone the beautiful villages that surround it, far too many to even approach in this list – then again, here are a few of our personal favourite picnicking hot-spots to check out –
Just a short taxi ride outside of the city centre, Eaton is one of the four historic parks located in Norwich, and it truly has the reputation to prove it. Opened by Edward VIII in 1928, Eaton Park might just be one of the most beautiful spots to relax and picnic in Norwich – with its bandstand, pavilion, rose garden and lily pond – you might just feel as if you had travelled back in time to its opening.
Events are still held in the large pavilion, and more are expected in the coming weeks – anything from live music, book readings or an open-air performance, could be the perfect way to end your summer’s day. The iconic rotunda in the centre of the park also sports a café, just in case you need a top-up of anything, or if hot drinks with your picnic are more your style.
Eaton Park is just an ABC journey away, at 2 S Park Ave, Norwich NR4 7AU, review their history and events at www.friendsofeatonpark.co.uk
This hidden gem may be the closest you can get to a real-life ‘secret garden’. The Garden was established one hundred and forty years ago by Henry Trevor, a Norwich shopkeeper who, over a period of forty years transformed this former chalk quarry, into one of the most scenic locations in Norwich, especially perfect for a picnic with someone special.
A true Victorian showstopper, Plantation Garden features flower beds and lawns that are maintained beautifully, woodland walkways and a rustic bridge around the perimeter of the garden, an Italianate style terrace, and as a centrepiece, a Gothic-style water feature and fountain.
Being maintained since 1980 by the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust, a collective established by Sir Roy Strong, previous director of the National Portrait Gallery, and the V&A – the suggested £2 entry fee seems almost too good to be true!
Plantation Garden can be tricky to find but ask any ABC driver and they’ll know exactly where to go, at 4 Earlham Road, Norwich, NR2 3DB, and take a look at www.plantationgarden.co.uk
Along with Eaton, this is one of Norwich’s four historic parks – opening in 1904, Waterloo is a beautiful scenic park with a rich history, perfect for any picnic. The park’s bandstand and Art Deco pavilion are central to the park’s design, and both are also beginning to host events to cap off a perfect day out. Waterloo also hosts a plethora of activity grounds, including a tennis court, large open areas that have been used for cricket and other sports, play facilities for children, including the Splash Pad, a small interactive water feature, which operates in the summer months, so best to bring a towel!
According to Friends of Waterloo Park, the volunteer community that supports the six-acre plot, Waterloo hosts one of the largest herbaceous borders in the UK – the style of which is reported to be extremely accurate to the period many of the parks in Norwich were established. A children’s sensory garden is also accessible for any budding young gardeners, alongside the Dyer’s Garden, which specialises in traditional plant-based dyeing techniques, so expect some craft events in the coming months! On the outskirts of the city, a cab ride would certainly make the journey worthwhile, you can find Waterloo at Angel Rd, Norwich NR3 3HX, and you can visit the Friends of Waterloo at www.friendsofwaterloopark.org.uk