Love at first sight
PUBLISHED: 05:14 02 March 2015
Award-winning holiday home owners Caroline and Paul Mace share their experience of creating a beachside getaway fit for all seasons in Mundesley.
One visit to the Norfolk coast was all it took for Caroline and Paul Mace to fall in love with life by the sea – and it inspired them to embark on an exciting new award-winning adventure.
During a weekend break in Mundesley with friends to celebrate Paul’s 40th birthday, the couple stumbled upon an old house in need of some love and attention, and such was their new-found affection for the village, they decided to buy it.
“We had never even been to Norfolk before, but we just had the most amazing weekend. We have three boys who are two, five and seven, and they just really loved the space, the beach and all that fresh air. We started chatting about the possibility of buying a house there – it was just dreaming really – but then I walked into the village and saw this old house for sale and knew it could be amazing.”
When the couple returned to their home in west London, Caroline couldn’t help but take a look at the estate agent’s details and now, two years on, Tower House is an idyllic holiday home for perfect for a family getaway. It has just been named Best Self Catering Establishment, sponsored by Norfolk Country Cottages, in the EDP/Visit Norfolk Tourism Awards 2014. “I was so tongue-tied when we won the award. It was amazing really and made all the hard work worthwhile. We wanted to create something special for our boys, but also for others to enjoy as well, a place where friends and family could holiday together,” says Caroline, who is a project manager.
The stylish house boasts nine bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and entertaining space, a games room, a low maintenance child-friendly garden and everything you need for a holiday at the beach.
“We very much used our own experiences of holidays to shape the touches which we feel make all the difference. We wanted it to feel luxurious and relaxing for parents, but have plenty to keep the children entertained,” says Caroline. “It has a themed pirate bedroom, which everyone loves. My boys always race straight upstairs, put the pirate gear on, ring the ship’s bell and pull down the blind which has a map of the world on it. We also provide buckets and spades, bodyboards, games and toys. Hopefully it means people don’t have to bring quite so much with them.”
It took the couple eight months to transform the property on Paston Road.
“I don’t think anything was left untouched. There was no heating on the top floor, we had to take walls down, add new bits of roof, we had to have it rewired, new plumbing put in, new bathrooms and a kitchen, plus it had to be completely redecorated.”
The couple and their three boys travelled down to Mundesley every other weekend to check on progress and work on the house.
“We would drive down on a Friday night and stay at the Holiday Inn Norwich-North, as it had a pool so the kids could let off some steam after being stuck in the car. I think it might have been a sign as it was the same hotel where the tourism awards were held all those months later,” she laughs. “Then we would head to Mundesley first thing Saturday and talk with the builders, do some work and then take the kids to the beach. Even then, we knew it was the right decision. The house was upside down and it was freezing cold but the kids just absolutely loved it, pulling on their wellies and getting on the beach.”
Although the house is rented out during the year, the family stays as often as possible.
“We come as much as we can and we spent Christmas here. We have gone from having never been to Norfolk to spending as much time here as possible.”
Highly commended in the Best Self Catering Establishment category at the EDP/Visit Norfolk Tourism Awards, in association with Hoseasons, was Limes Farm Cottage in Ludham. A former farm workers’ dwelling dating back to the 18th century, it has been sympathetically restored and extended and has a large, charming farmhouse kitchen at its heart. Outside, it boasts beautiful gardens and views across the Broads countryside.
Also highly commended was Plum Tree Cottage at East View Farm, near Coltishall. Set in 10 acres of landscaped grounds, the traditional barn conversion combines contemporary living with cosy original features. Its roaring fire and luxury finish are perfect for the adults and there is plenty of space outside for exploring to keep the children amused.