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Berlin, Monte Carlo and Biarritz: Amazing European destinations … 0

Berlin, Monte Carlo and Biarritz: Amazing European destinations …

Biarritz, France You can keep your fancy five-star hotels for a family holiday for me there is something instantly appealing about arriving at a mobile home in hot, sunny weather. Here, the fresh aromas of the pine forest canopy at Al Fresco s Sylvamar campsite catch you by surprise. Situated near Biarritz on the Aquitaine coast above Spain, it s sandy under foot here, with the beach just under a kilometre away.

Indeed, if you like a beach holiday, Sylvamar takes some beating, although the campsite also comes with a spectacular swimming pool. Our three children, Sam, 16, Lucy, 13, and Emily, 10, were just as much at home at the beach as they were in the pool, which has slides, showers and a lazy river. There s an indoor pool too, should the normally reliable weather let you down.

Next door is the site s main restaurant if it s a Saturday night you may need to book, but there s also a brilliant takeaway just 10 metres away with friendly English-speaking staff. The on-site supermarket has all you would expect, including a superb on-site bakery. You could be a little bit more adventurous and seek out the Carrefour Super (15 minutes away towards Biarritz) where Basque specialities abound I found Serrano ham and a chunk of C te de Boeuf to barbecue, which won over my son immediately.

We stayed in the roomy three-bedroom Vivaldi mobile home, which was up to the usual high standards of Al Fresco. There was good space outside the mobile, too great for games with the kids or, more than likely, watching them from two sun loungers. Because, yes, there is sun and lots of it.

But the nice thing is that the heat is far from punishing, with a gentle sea breeze in the late afternoon making conditions very pleasant during our stay. At the nearby beach, Labenne Ocean, you can take a surf lesson or hire a board for 6 an hour. It s a seemingly unending stretch of golden sand where you won t struggle to find your spot.

North of Labenne are the equally delightful beaches of Capbreton and Hossegor, amazing for experienced surfers and spectators alike you ll stand there open-mouthed watching the modern gladiators of the sea ride 10ft waves. Capbreton is definitely worth a visit and has a very child-friendly beach. In the centre of the town is a pleasant and affordable shopping strip and heading further towards Hossegor is the port and marina area, with several highly recommended restaurants including Le Deck.

If you like moules in its many forms, you will be in your element. I couldn t resist the surf n turf. Biarritz is a glitzy resort town south of the campsite, which once hosted Napoleon and his wife.

Nowadays it s home to chic shops, brasseries and bars. Further south is the resort of St Jean-de-Luz, another jewel on the Basque coast. Just like Biarritz, this is popular among surfers, swimmers and promenaders alike.

On the main beach, there are inviting floating platforms 30 metres from shore from where you can have a plunge and take in the mist-shrouded Pyrenees to the south. Sun, sea, surf n turf, served with a side order of the Basque this is the perfect base for a summer holiday. David Stephenson Seven nights in a Rossini mobile home at Yelloh!

Village Sylvamar (sleeps six) on May 21 (off-peak) is 191 with a 30% saving. On July 23 (peak) it costs 1,222 with a 10% saving. All savings are valid on holidays booked before April 4.

Call 0161 332 8900 or see Norfolk When we were shown to our cottage and found a lemon drizzle cake waiting for us it was clear we were going to enjoy our stay at Great Barn Farm. It s a little slice of luxury nestled deep within the quiet Norfolk countryside and the perfect retreat any time of the year.

The farm, run by owners Julian and Sarah, has been converted into perfectly designed barn conversions for couples, families or larger groups. All the barns are named after their original purpose, such as The Tack Room, The Cow Shed and The Stables. We stayed in what was once a piggery, now a spacious self-catered two-bedroom, two-bathroom hideaway with its own large outdoor space.

The privacy of each barn has been carefully considered, giving a feeling of total seclusion; you wouldn t be blamed for thinking you were the only people staying on the farm. A log burner makes a winter stay extra cosy while a gas barbecue is perfect for summer. Great Barn Farm is ideally located for day trips if you want to explore the local area.

Just over half an hour away is the Norfolk coastline, which is full of nature reserves, and there are plenty of options for long, leisurely walks. Enjoy a spot of shopping in the quaint narrow lanes of Wells-next-the-Sea, with its quay and boat-lined harbour. The north Norfolk coastline also has numerous opportunities for boating enthusiasts, from gentle day trips to challenges for more serious sailors.

The barns are situated within an hour s drive of five of Norfolk s stately homes, including Sandringham Estate, where you can rub shoulders with royalty (almost) or, at the very least, have afternoon tea at the Queen s residence. The house and gardens are available to look around, too, and a museum, which houses a vast collection of royal photographs and memorabilia, in addition to vehicles and rare ceramics owned by the Royal Family. Nearby Holkham and Oxborough Halls are also well worth a visit.

A short drive from the barns is the small market town of Swaffham, which boasts a twice-monthly farmers market and number of small independent shops where you can stock up on anything you may need for your self-catered stay. And if a night off cooking is on the cards, try eating out at the nearby gastro-pub The Dabbling Duck or the upmarket Congham Hall if you re looking for something a little more formal. After a day s sightseeing, head back to the barn for a bit of rest and relaxation.

The farm has fantastic indoor swimming pool known as The Sheep Dip it s heated to a balmy 28 C and there s also a spa Jacuzzi and steam room available for all guests to enjoy. Whether you want a quiet couple s break, family holiday or a big shindig, Great Barn Farm has all the comforts of home combined with the luxury of modern design. It’s a fabulous hidden secret.

Anna Woodham The Piggery at Great Barn Farm sleeps four and costs from 900 per week. Call 07713 256532 or visit Berlin I last visited Berlin in 1989 fortuitously and coincidentally arriving on November 10, the day after the wall was opened.

It was an incredible sight and sound. All you could hear was the chip, chip of concrete. It was so prevalent that Berliners even came up for a name for these chippers Mauerspechte or wall woodpeckers.

The woodpeckers are fewer today, and it is testament to the people of Berlin that they have kept large chunks of the wall as a reminder of a very tough and painful era in the city s history. Berlin has seen many changes from grand influential city in the 19th and early 20th century, to home of cabaret and free thinking, from the rise of Nazism to the rise and fall of Communism. It s very much incorporating its past into its future and everywhere we looked there was regeneration and a sense that this capital really knows itself.

It is a beautiful city, with great transport links we hopped on and off the tram and U-Bahn with ease and it has a whole host of interesting and reasonably priced restaurants. We took a bus tour all around the capital from the Reichstag to the Brandenburg Gate, past the beautiful cathedral, the Berliner Dom, out to the palace at Charlottenburg and down the very chichi Kurf rstendam. You can jump on and off as much as you like and it s a great way of seeing this large and expansive city.

The commentary on board is great too, pointing out art works and sculptures, the majority gifts from other countries to mark various historical anniversaries. The Germans have a word for coming to terms with the past Vergangenheitsbew ltigung. The Holocaust Memorial near the Reichstag is very poignant and a place to stop and think.

It was purposely kept plain and stark by the architect Peter Eisenman. Five minutes walk away there are other memorials to gay and Roma Holocaust victims. Checkpoint Charlie, the crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War, is so touristy and commercialised a McDonald’s on one corner is highly ironic.

If you really want to know more about the city s divided past, the best place to visit is the Berlin Wall Memorial, which runs along the majority of Bernauer Strasse. You follow a trail that tells the story of the people who tried to flee, and it is heartbreaking to see the images of those who made it and hear about those who didn t. The museum is superb, with first-hand accounts from people who lived through it.

We also visited the Stasi Museum, erstwhile home of the Secret Police (Staatssicherheit). Even approaching the building, you get a sense of foreboding. When we visited, an elderly woman, who worked in East Berlin during those times, told us what life was like spies everywhere, sometimes even within your own family.

We stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Prenzlauer Berg in the former East. A lot of the city was bombed, so it is slowly being rebuilt and gentrified. It is a great way to see the untouristy side of the city plus a lot more comfortable and cheaper than a hotel. (Our four-bedroom apartment shared between two families cost 700 for four nights.) We had a supermarket right across the road, which was handy for the essential German foodie gifts of beer, chocolate and sausage.

We also tried out the very famous Currywurst, a speciality of Berlin. But then Berlin has so many special qualities we want to go back. Margaret Hussey For details on Airbnb, visit

Prices vary according to location, size of accommodation and length of stay. A return flight from London Heathrow to Berlin starts at 118. See for details.

Monte Carlo There s only one way to arrive in Monte Carlo and that s by helicopter. Hopping aboard gets you from Nice airport to the principality in just seven minutes, giving you a taste of how the other half lives. It s costly, but then Monte Carlo is no place for penny-pinchers.

We arrived after an overnight stay at Gatwick s Bloc Hotel (a brilliant place to rest your head before an early flight) and were whisked by minivan from the heliport to the Novotel a sleek and modern hotel that provides a great base to explore this playground of the rich and famous. There s no income tax for residents, which is why the likes of Shirley Bassey, Roger Moore and Bono have homes here. The principality in which Monte Carlo is situated Monaco lends it an air of glamour that wafts around its casinos, fancy hotels and high-end shops everything from Gucci, Dior, Herm s to Prada.

The Novotel is mid-price, which means you can save a few pennies for shopping and champagne, but the service is first-rate and the executive rooms have nice touches such as free snacks and Nespresso coffee machines. We ate in the restaurant, where the buffet breakfast is top-notch and the set menus are very reasonable. We were there during the Monte Carlo TV Festival, the biggest and most respected in Europe, which occurs each June and offers plenty of opportunities for star-spotting on the Grimaldi Forum s sun-drenched red carpet.

We also saw some famous TV faces enjoying the lively atmosphere at Cipriani, which is much buzzier than its Venice counterpart and has so many attentive staff no one could ever complain about service. Yes, the prices are high but the portions washed down with a famous Bellini are huge and their desserts are the essence of temptation, even if you re full up. Quieter and fancier, Elsa is situated in the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel and has wonderful ocean views, while the produce from its gardens tastes so fresh it s like it s only been picked seconds earlier.

Then there s the Beefbar in Fontvieille harbour, a must for steak lovers where again the portions are far from stingy, the d cor is strikingly modern and the wine list extensive. Aside from the TV Festival, Monte Carlo also famously hosts the Grand Prix, which races noisily through the otherwise sedate harbour and rushes past the beautiful Japanese Gardens. These, along with the majestic Saint Paul s Church, are peaceful spots amid the hustle and bustle.

On the edge of Monaco is the township of Cap D Ail, which is where we headed after our stay at the Novotel. There we checked into the lovely Riviera Marriott. The best rooms face the port, as does the restaurant terrace with its reasonably priced set menus.

Cap D Ail has lower prices, a more laid-back feel and the Marriott has a regular one-way shuttle to Casino Square, so it s a great base for exploring the area. It s also on a main bus route and near the heliport, handy for the end of your trip perhaps feeling poorer, but in the knowledge that, for just a few days, the life the other half lives was yours, too. Simon Button Prices at the Novotel start at 106 per night for room only.

To book, visit Prices at the Riviera Marriott start at 108 per night for room only. To book, visit

British Airways operates daily flights to Nice from London Gatwick. Hand baggage- only economy fares start at 36 each way. For more information, visit

Corfu Hanging upside down from a length of purple fabric, I felt like a gazelle. I had triumphed at aerial yoga and the way I was now tangled in cotton was something akin to Cirque du Soleil. Unfortunately, I remained convinced of that for approximately 10 seconds, or however long it took my eyes to find my squished face in the mirrored wall.

I may have made it into position, but I had not retained my dignity getting there. This was my last day at the MarBella hotel in Corfu, Greece, and I was discovering that an activity I had previously thought as hippyish was in fact a fairly intense workout. We started with simple moves and getting accustomed to the harness, gaining trust that it would not snap under pressure, but before long our class of six were high in the air.

Every muscle of my body was straining as I attempted to copy my instructor Efi, who had been practising for almost five years. She was small but had the strength of an Olympian, pulling and pushing herself into gravity-defying positions with ease as the rest of us struggled to follow. Despite exhibiting absolutely no grace whatsoever, I felt energised and ready to try more when I had achieved some of the moves by the end of the hour.

My aching muscles, however, were looking for something more indulgent and a massage in the spa seemed perfect. My masseuse was professional, with 10 years experience, and put me at ease as I lay on the table. Her fingers felt like needles targeting every knot in my upper back, giving me one of the best massages I have had.

At about 36 for half an hour, she assured me that it was one of the most luxurious massages on the island . Afterwards, I emerged into the Greek sun, blinking as the heat hit me on the face. A quick shower later and I was relaxing on a swing in my private garden terrace looking out over the Ionian Sea.

It felt like a different world. Mainland Greece and the hills of Albania faded into varying shades of blue, while white sails dotted the glassy water. The MarBella Corfu s luxury appeals to a huge variety of people families, young couples, older travellers and adventure seekers.

Offering activities including trekking, kayaking, archery, and excursions to the cultural Corfu Town and a local fishing village, it successfully caters for all. I had a week of exciting activities and much-needed pampering, ending each day in a stylishly decorated junior sea-view suite. On the last evening I could have sat in my hammock for hours watching the sky turn to pink, but I peeled myself away for my final meal.

Locking the door behind me, I took one last look at the view as the sun dipped behind the cliffs of south Corfu and vowed to come back for longer next time. Jaymi McCann Sovereign (01293 731 566, is offering a seven-night holiday to Corfu staying at the five-star MarBella Corfu Hotel on a half-board basis from 515 per person, saving up to 138 per couple. The offer includes an exclusive, free la carte dinner and free breakfast in bed.

It also includes an airport security fast pass, access to UK airport lounges (where available), private airport transfers and return international flights from London Gatwick with EasyJet. Based on departures for May 4. Mediterranean cruise My secret to visiting a different country every day without the chore of airport check-ins and hoarding heavy luggage?

Jump aboard one of Holland America Line s fleet of floating hotels. Before sailing away on my extravagant 12-day Mediterranean Romance Cruise, I stayed at the four-star Bonvecchiati Hotel in Venice. From here, I watched the world s most romantic city light up at night with the soundtrack from The Godfather playing out live in front of classic Italian restaurants.

Mind you, with the price of a beer in St Mark’s Square hitting double figures, I was relieved I was only there for one day. The following day I boarded the 936ft long, 2,000-plus passenger ship MS Nieuw Amsterdam. Sipping one of the many cocktails on offer at the Sea View Bar as the sun slid into the horizon, I watched the ship glide through the Venetian passageways and we were soon out in the ocean.

My first stop was Dubrovnik, and I was excited to stand at the exact spot on the historic city walls of the Old Town where my father, as an artist, had captured the colourful streets and vintage rooftops. It brought back childhood memories as I grew up with that painting framed on my wall at home. My journey then continued to Montenegro, Kerkira in Corfu, Naples, Rome, Livorno, Monte Carlo, St Tropez and, finally, Barcelona.

Holland America Line offers more than 100 organised shore excursions and, of course, there is always the option to roam freely from the ports. Montenegro was one of my favourite stops well worth a 5am alarm call to see the sun rise over the mountainous backdrop through the floor-to-ceiling windows in my verandah stateroom. Fishermen gazed up at our huge five-star floating hotel as we drifted towards the 12th-century old town of Kotor, situated in Boka Bay officially one of the 25 most beautiful bays in the world.

I also loved Corfu, where I burned off a few calories in a mountain bike excursion but only to make space for the amazing burgers and New York pizza at Dive-In, the ship s terrace grill. And after that, I rested my tired limbs in one of the five Jacuzzi hot tubs with a welcome glass of red wine. I discovered other ways of getting in some serious rest at the Greenhouse Spa, which offered a huge range of relaxation and beauty treatments.

The popular hot stones massage and the more intense bamboo massage kept me quiet for some time, and after hitting the indoor hydrotherapy pool made up of bubbling ocean water full of vitamins and minerals I was in a state of total calm. With more than 140 years of service to its name, it s easy to see why Holland America Line has a high rate of repeat bookings and a history of famous guests, such as Katharine Hepburn and Rita Hayworth. The amazing staff are dedicated to guest satisfaction, and I was blown away by the quality of food on board.

An elite fleet of high-class chefs present the most stunning selection of dishes, my favourite being the Taiwanese braised pork belly at the Tamarind speciality restaurant. When I had no more room for food, I headed for the Silk Den bar, where I sat like a king on a chaise longue at one of the highest view points on board, looking out over the horizon as I decided which steak to opt for the next evening. The ship has everything you can think of a casino, cinema, three pools and a spa, as well as cocktail classes, classical music, art auctions, bingo and morning-stretch seminars, to namejust a few.

There is endless evening entertainment, too, with performances by world-class musicians, stage comedians, illusionists and talented vocalists. This year, the Nieuw Amsterdam heads to Alaska when this Mediterranean route will be taken over by its sister ship, the MS Eurodam. So if you fancy travelling in luxury and style, jump on board.

Greg Anderson A 12-day Mediterranean Romance holiday on board Holland America Line s MS Eurodam starts at 1,099 per person, based on two sharing an inside cabin.

Call 0843 374 2300 or visit

Louis Thompson fires Norwich City's U21s to 2-1 friendly win over … 0

Louis Thompson fires Norwich City's U21s to 2-1 friendly win over …

Josh Murphy was impressive in the opening 45 minutes of Norwich City s U21s latest friendly against Gaziantepspor in Austria. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Focus Images Limited +447814 482222 Norwich Citys U21s rounded off their Austrian tour with a hard-fought 2-1 friendly win over Turkish top flight side Gaziantepspor in Schwaz, Austria. Captain Louis Thompson and Jamar Loza were on target in either half as first team boss Alex Neil and his coaching staff watched on.

Abdul Kadir Kayali had equalised for the Turks in what proved a more than competitive outing for the young Canaries. Thompson was deployed alongside Connor McGrandles in central midfield with Josh Murphy wide on the left. Ignasi Miquel partnered Reiss Awuah at the back and Loza started up front.

Murphy was hungry for work in the early skirmishes, cutting in off the left to veer past Erdem Sen but the Turkish called in reinforcements to subdue the wide player. Murphy however, tricked his way past Erdem again in the seventh minute to tee up Loza, who stabbed home from point blank range after a costly spill from Zydrlinas Karcemarskas. Neil along with his coaching staff took their seats shortly after the Canaries had opened the scoring.

Gaziantepspor swiftly identified Murphy as the dangerman with the youngster increasingly targeted for robust treatment. One crunching challenge from Sen required treatment for a bloodied nose as McGrandles led the City protests to the referee. Murphy was felled again just past the half-hour mark but back on his feet to construct a quick free kick with Loza which ended with the England Under-20 starlet dragging his shot wide from a tight angle.

Muhammet Demir thudded a free kick against a well-drilled Norwich wall but the Turks were struggling to test Ben Killip. Loza was slipped through by McGrandles at the opposite end but after drawing Karcemarskas guided a right-footed finish wide from 16 yards. Efetes sense of adventure cut a swathe through back-pedalling defenders but Loza was unable to anticipate his cut-back.

Karcemarskas tipped Murphys curling right-footed strike behind for a corner with the 20-year-old looking the class act on the pitch. The balance of power continued after the interval with Murphy driving at the heart of the Turkish backline but choking a low shot cleared by Sen before another slaloming run ended with a miscued finish that prompted a look of angst from the wide player. Gaziantepspor were looking to up the ante in search of a leveller and Kayali pounced with a superb 20-yard strike past Killip.

Awuah then headed a dangerous free kick clear with City under sustained pressure for the first time in the contest but captain Thompson led by example when he capitalised on a weak clearance to coolly slot the winner in the 82nd minute. Gaziantepspor (starting XI): Karcemarskas, Sume, Vranjes, Yarddimi, Sen, Lima Pacheco, Putsila, Nefiz, Ayaz, Chibuike, Demir. Booking: Lima Pacheco (foul on Loza, 75) Goal: Kayali (71) Norwich City U21s: Killip, Hall-Johnson, Awuah (Crowe 85), Miquel, Efete (Coker 70), Norman (Coker 45), McGrandles, Thompson, Loza, King (Grant 75), Murphy.

Subs (not used): Oxborough, Eaton-Collins.

Booking: McGrandles (foul on Kayali, 73) Goals: Loza (7), Thompson (82)

Six injured in serious collision 0

Six injured in serious collision

14 May 2015 Police are appealing for witnesses after four people suffered serious injuries and two sustained minor injuries following a collision in Stoke Ferry last night. It happened on Oxborough Road near the junction of the A134 around 8.30pm, when a silver foreign registered Renault Espace and a grey Suzuki Swift were in collision. The road was closed whilst emergency services attended and all six occupants in the two vehicles were taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.

Four people sustained broken bones and two people suffered minor injuries.

Anyone who witnessed it should contact the Serious Collision Investigation Team at Swaffham on 101 .