10 minutes with…

Growing up and running a successful family business in Norfolk, Matthew and Ben Conway, co-directors of Dipple & Conway Opticians, share their favourite places to eat out and visit in the county. The fourth generation overseeing the management of one of Norfolk’s oldest independent businesses, and with a foothold in Norwich, Diss and Swaffham, they tell Hannah Freeman where they love to spend their downtime. 

Matthew Conway, Director of Dipple & Conway Opticians

growing up in Norfolk
Ben: I grew up and went to school in Norfolk, before heading to London for University and work. I settled back here 11 years ago, and now, with a nine-month-old baby, it’s the best county to enjoy family life. As a child, I cycled the Marriot’s Way countless times with friends and family. The smell and taste of salty chips, eaten straight out of the paper at Winterton beach, is such a vivid memory; nothing quite like it. 

Matthew: I have so many fond memories of growing up here. Family walks at Winterton, with Ben too, and countryside cycle rides. Now, with three children of my own, every spare day we have, we head to the coast. We love beach hut days at Wells-Next-The-Sea and spotting the seals at Blakeney, creating amazing core memories for our children. 

Ben Conway, Director of Dipple & Conway Opticians

favourite haunts 
Ben: Norfolk never stands still, with exciting places and new producers popping up all the time. But balancing that, we have so much heritage here, businesses that have truly stood the test of time. To relax, I love to visit Thorns DIY and browse its Aladdin’s cave of DIY and household goods. Whatever you need, they’ll find it. I sincerely love that place. 

Matthew: The Wallow self-service wine bar is a favourite Norwich city centre spot to meet friends and work colleagues and share an antipasti board. And in Diss, I’m a big fan of the small family-run Ampersand brewery. Their taproom area is right next to the brew deck, giving great views of the tanks while you enjoy a glass of their freshly brewed beers. 

lunch stops 
Matthew: When I’m at our Castle Street practice in Norwich, I love walking through the city to grab a bite for lunch. There’s the incredible Norwich market with Mike & Deb’s stall bursting with colourful fresh produce and in-season fruit and veg, and Yalm in the Arcade is home to some exciting independent food kitchens. Kofra in the city serves the best coffee.

Ben: In the city, Moorish is a must-visit for me. I love their coconut milk flat whites. And at the weekend, Norwich market is bustling with people and flavours. An hour at Sir Toby’s Beers, watching the city go by, is my idea of the perfect afternoon. Then I’ll head to the Chilean stall, Cocina Mia, which sells the most delicious empanadas. 

time to unwind 
Ben: I’ve recently started jogging and Whitlingham Broad is an idyllic, picturesque, quiet spot to clear my mind. As fairly new parents, we’re seeing Norfolk through a child’s eyes now. Our little boy, Rex, is a fan of farm animals, and he loved a recent day out at Church Farm near King’s Lynn, feeding the lambs. 

Matthew: Hiring a boat on the Broads is one of my all-time favourite things to do. And the beauty is, you don’t have to worry about navigating – as long as you remember your way back, just switch off and take in the views. 

hidden gems 
Ben: Our go-to places are Brix & Bones or Jorges Portuguese, both in the city centre. The team at Brix & Bones really know their stuff, interacting with their guests to explain where their meat has come from, the grilling process, and how they forage for produce. The care and attention to detail that goes into every dish is really apparent. The whole evening is a fascinating education, and the mixologist is one of the best we’ve encountered in Norfolk. We love the experience and social side of eating out, speaking to people whose real passion is food. And at Jorge’s too, the service and food are always exceptional. 

Matthew: For an evening meal, we’d always book Farmyard. Some of the very best food I’ve eaten, always punchy, vibrant dishes served up in an informal, fun setting. The Unthank Arms is a go-to for relaxed Sunday roasts, and the Gunton Arms in North Norfolk is where we’d book for a special family occasion. It’s a stunning part of the county. 

Ben: On my days off you’ll find me in the kitchen cooking, testing, and tweaking recipes, or browsing Spice Land on Dereham Road for interesting new ingredients. So yes, absolutely, I’m a foodie. My signature dish is a tagine. And in the summer, I love to cook outside and experiment with different BBQ techniques. Desserts and sweet treats I can leave – I’d happily order another main course over dessert any day. 

Matthew: When time allows, cooking and eating out are always at the top of my list of things to do. A humble brag, but I am the master at cooking Sunday roast chicken for all the family. In fact, chicken is my speciality. Especially spicy chicken! 

get your eyes seen 
Ben: Some people put off booking an eye test, perhaps because of other priorities or feeling nervous. But, please, if you have any concerns, book an appointment. At Dipple & Conway, we have been testing eyes, selling glasses, and helping people to protect and retain their sight for over 100 years. And of course, we’d love to see you. Sooner rather than later. 

Matthew: Ben is 100% right. The earlier sight deterioration problems are picked up, the easier they are to manage. Think of an eye test as part of your overall health MOT or self-care routine. Our expert teams will check your eyes thoroughly, with hospital standard technology, to alleviate any concerns and assess your overall health. Look after yourself, and please, don’t put it off. 

eat well for your eyes
Ben: It’s really all about having a good, balanced diet, plenty of leafy green veg, and vitamins. Berries, kale, spinach – they’re all great for your eye health. And we won’t get preachy here, but stopping smoking is one of the best steps you can take for eye health.

Matthew: Think about your digital diet too. If you’re staring at screens all day, give your eyes a break. To reduce eyestrain, follow the 20-20-20 rule –take your eyes off the screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

what’s new at Dipple & Conway?
Ben: We’re just back from eyewear exhibitions in Paris, Munich, and Milan where our team has been looking at the newest, coolest spectacle designs and brands on the market. Lots of new styles, colourful, quirky designs are coming into branch soon. Look out for them!

Matthew: Very soon, we’ll be offering our clients the very latest in progressive and single vision lenses. These lenses are the most intuitive on the market and offer enhanced usability, which means for people who wear varifocals, they will experience a much wider field of vision. As we aim to stay at the forefront of advances in eyecare, we’re really pleased we can start offering these cutting-edge bespoke lenses to our Dipple & Conway clients. 

Find out more about Dipple & Conway Opticians at dippleconway.co.uk

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *