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Norfolk homes: nautical bungalow in Cromer

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:00 26 March 2019

Dining table and chairs from Out and Out Original (photo: Tony Hall)

Dining table and chairs from Out and Out Original (photo: Tony Hall)

Archant

We're paying a visit to a very special home in Cromer

Every sailor knows that access to a safe anchorage gives total peace of mind. I think this analogy also applies in the context of disabled people looking forward to a holiday away, trying to find a suitable property for their needs.

It is certainly something very close to Steve Parker’s heart. Steve, a retired company managing director who grew up in Terrington St Clements, was diagnosed with auto-immune disease multiple sclerosis in 2007.

Accessible kitchen units, Howdens;
photos in kitchen by Clare; flooring throughout  Quickstep Impressive Soft Oak Light laminate flooring, from Flooring Supplies at Thetford (01842 769333) (photo: Tony Hall)Accessible kitchen units, Howdens; photos in kitchen by Clare; flooring throughout  Quickstep Impressive Soft Oak Light laminate flooring, from Flooring Supplies at Thetford (01842 769333) (photo: Tony Hall)

“Clare and I had been playing tennis in Great Massingham, where we have lived for over 30 years, when I said ‘I’ll run back home, as you haven’t worn me out,’” says Steve. “After half a mile my left foot kicked the ground and then again and I had to drag myself back home before collapsing.

“That was the start of my illness, which gradually got worse over the last 10 years. In 2018 Clare and I went to the Clinic Ruiz in Mexico for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, to hopefully stop my progression. It was with great support from family, friends and the wonderful people of Great Massingham who helped raise the much-needed funds, so now it’s fingers crossed.

“It was good friends, Penny and Mike, who run Crabpot Cottages,” says Clare, “who first gave us the idea of a having holiday home, not just for ourselves, but for guests. I had inherited some money when dad died, but interest rates are appalling so we ran with the idea.

Sofa and leather chair, W J Aldiss at Fakenham (0845 230 3388); cushions made by Clare; Other cushions - Southwold Pier Shops (01502 722104) (photo: Tony hall)Sofa and leather chair, W J Aldiss at Fakenham (0845 230 3388); cushions made by Clare; Other cushions - Southwold Pier Shops (01502 722104) (photo: Tony hall)

“We looked at several bungalow properties, but this one, which needed renovation in Cromer really fitted the bill”.

“As I find it difficult getting out of a car, I let Clare do the first viewing, while waiting in the car outside,” says Steve. “Besides seeing the potential of the property, I was very taken by the nice neighbours who came out to talk. It had been owned for many years by a former merchant seaman and under lots of undergrowth Clare and friends found the large anchor.

“We designed the bungalow with the help of Jonathan Rose of Evolution Building Services, for total ease of use for anyone in a wheelchair, but not compromising on style and luxury. There is a wrap-around deck which, with large bi-fold doors, allows you to bring the outside in, all on one continuous level.”

Exterior of the bungalow (photo: Tony Hall)Exterior of the bungalow (photo: Tony Hall)

There are two bedrooms, both with en-suites, with the master having a spacious wet room and all facilities. In the kitchen the hob raises and lowers and the sink and other items are set at wheelchair-friendly heights.

There is a wooden floor throughout and obviously all doorways are wide. So it is an ‘access all areas’ home. “We both love the main living room, with its sense of space, the bifold doors and the decking,” says Clare.

“I loved Cromer from the time of childhood holidays,” says Steve, “and we both used to play at Cromer Lawn Tennis courts – Clare still does. Cromer is very wheelchair-friendly and I enjoy going along the prom, watching the sea and later maybe we go for a drink on the pier, sitting outside at The Pavilion Theatre bar, looking back at the town.

Bedroom furniture from Worldstores; adjustable beds from Restacare ; bedding from the Boston Duvet and Pillow company (01205 317111); cushions from Southwold Pier Shops (01502 722104) (photo: Tony Hall)Bedroom furniture from Worldstores; adjustable beds from Restacare ; bedding from the Boston Duvet and Pillow company (01205 317111); cushions from Southwold Pier Shops (01502 722104) (photo: Tony Hall)

“Steve and Clare, who moved to Norfolk from Northwood in Middlesex in 1971, had met at school, but it was not they joined Fakenham Young Farmers that the relationship took off and they married in 1980.

They have two children, Christopher, who works in Canada, and Michael, who works for Nuffield Health in London. Like their parents they were both active, interested in tennis, football, rugby and horse riding.

“One thing I missed was not being able to go on the beach, and having to sacrifice my Caterham sports car which I could no longer drive,” says Steve. “I now have a special Trekinetic carbon fibre wheelchair with big tyres and separate motors on each wheel. Coincidentally, the seat is made by Caterham and it allows me to go on the beach in firm sand.”

There is a framed piece of text in the entrance hall, that I think sums up this amazing property, the thoughtful design and ambience. It says, ‘Home should be an anchor, a port in a storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and can love.” It certainly is!

The Anchorage, Cromer, is available for holiday lettings, contact: Crabpot Cottages on 01263 579435

crabpotcottages.co.uk

tonyhalleyepix.com

Fact file

Owners: Steve and Clare Parker

Property: Renovated bungalow, with full wheelchair access and facilities.

Built: 1961

Location: Cromer

Bought: 2017

Moved in: 2017/8

Renovation: Took

eight months by

Jonathan Rose of Evolution Building Services, evolution-bs.co.uk

Professions: Steve is now retired; Clare is Steve’s carer and also a part-time book keeper for Gone Crabbing.

Favourite room: Steve says the main room, with the decking and garden accessible through bi-fold doors.

Favourite item: The watercolour above the fireplace, which Clare inherited. It’s a Mediterranean scene.

Favourite shop: Benedict’s Cove in Cromer, set up by a mum for her son who has Downs Syndrome. benedictscove.com

Favourite part of the county: The whole north Norfolk Coast, from Hunstanton right the way around to Sea Palling/ Happisburgh.

Favourite day out: Either Pensthorpe or the grounds at Felbrigg, both wheelchair friendly, followed by something in the tea room at Felbrigg.

Favourite waste of time: Sitting out at dusk, in the wheelchair, watching the big sky for which Norfolk is famed.

Favourite walk: Now Steve has his hi-tech wheelchair, Titchwell Beach, which is user friendly and has a boadwalk, through the reserve, plus hard sand.

Favourite pub: The Pavilion Theatre Bar on Cromer Pier, looking back at the sea and town.

Favourite cafe or restaurant: The Rocket House Cromer, with a lift to all levels.

Hobbies: Steve enjoys listening to his large music collection, with a favourite being artist James Taylor. He also played guitar, until M.S. robbed him of the ability to play. For Clare; riding and tennis.

Most magical moment in the county: Getting married.

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