my taste of East Anglia – Polly Crosby

Polly Crosby is a local author, being born in Suffolk and now living in Norfolk. With her second novel, The Unravelling out now, Polly shares her passion for East Anglia and her favourite places within the region.

where I live
I live in South Norfolk, an undiscovered watery gem. To the south are the beautiful water marshes of the Waveney Valley that marks the border between Norfolk and Suffolk, and to the west is the stunning Tas Valley.

I grew up in Walberswick, a small but very pretty fishing village on the Suffolk coast. It has always been a very creative place, with artists and writers visiting for centuries. I still consider it my home, even though I can’t afford a house there! The landscape there has always been a huge inspiration for my writing, from the sea to the marshland and the huge, Suffolk skies. 

the pull 
When I was younger, I had a yearning to leave East Anglia and explore, but like so many, I have been drawn back here. I love that I am always relatively close to the sea, and there are so many beautiful beaches in our part of the world. Norfolk and Suffolk are filled with unspoilt secret places, and we are also spoilt by the incredible food and drink our area produces.

favourite places 
Old Hall Farm at Woodton is a cow with calf dairy – they take great care of their Jersey cows, letting the calves continue to feed from their mothers long after they would normally be weaned. Old Hall Farm produces the most beautiful unpasteurised milk, milkshakes, cream and butter, and they have a farm shop and café too, where they sell lovely local produce. 

I also love Redwells Brewery, a taproom in Trowse on the edge of Norwich. They produce a range of beers that can be enjoyed in their quirky taproom along with absolutely delicious homemade pizza.

Being a Suffolk girl at heart, my favourite local cheese is Baron Bigod – an English brie-style cheese made in Bungay with milk from Montbeliarde cows. 

In the summer, we like to bike along the local bridleways to our nearest pub. It borders a pond and a pretty common, and there is nothing nicer than sipping a cold glass of wine and watching the wildlife. Sometimes we drive to Sea Palling or Winterton for fish and chips on the beach – and occasionally a doughnut! Norwich is close by, and we love wandering in the market and finding new foods to sample.

back to nature
I love Tyrell’s Wood near Long Stratton. It is a stunning wood, managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and some parts date back to the thirteenth century. Nearby is Goodies Farm Shop, which has a huge selection of delicious local fare, perfect after a good muddy stomp!

The local landscape had always seeped into my writing. The Unravelling, my second novel that came out in January, is a historical story set on a fictional island, but it was inspired by Orford Ness – a strange and secretive spit of land in Suffolk once owned by the MOD. Orford Ness is open to visitors and is well worth a visit, especially if you combine it with a trip to Orford village itself, which has an absolutely delicious smokehouse! 

My novel is about a young woman who takes a job on a wild, mysterious island off the Suffolk coast. She is tasked with hunting butterflies for her employer, but she quickly  begins to uncover clues to something dark and secretive, hidden far below the surface. 

looking ahead
In terms of covid, this year feels more hopeful than last. I have only just started hugging people again, and I can’t wait to spend more time with friends and family. I’m looking forward to longer evenings, lazy barbecues with people we love, and swimming in the sea. These are all such simple things, but if the last couple of years has taught me anything, it is that simple pleasures like food and drink and friendship are the most important things of all.

Polly shares her favourite recipe with us. It is by Sunil Vijayakar and my husband cooks this quite often – we adore it! Click here for the recipe: bang bang chicken
Don’t forget to share your photos with us @eatnourishdrink #eatnourishdrink!

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