out of 10
We came to Gables end as a family of 3 adults (68, 31 and 24) and a child aged 9. We love the Norfolk area and used to come a lot to the area, however we used to get a boat on the Broads. However, my mum felt she'd be unable to do this now she's older so we decided on a cottage.
The photos looked OK of the cottage, and the price was right but we weren't expecting very much for the price we had paid for a school holiday week.
Finding the cottage:
The satnav did seem to get confused after coming off the duel carriageway and tried to send us the wrong way (turning right instead of left), however once we realised it was wrong and self corrected, we couldn't believe how easy it was to find the cottage.
We were greeted at the door by Mr and Mrs Mason who let us in and gave us a quick tour of the cottage and showed us how the heating worked (we came in February and unluckily for us in the middle of a storm so the heating was needed!). They were very pleasant and approachable and not in the slightest overbearing. They told us how we could contact them in an emergency or if we had any problems.
We couldn't believe the size of the bungalow. The photos really do not show just how big this cottage is. The living room is very large with seating for at least 6 adults (a large at least 3 seat sofa, an armchair and a large 2 seat sofa), the kitchen is a kitchen diner with a large table for 6 and plenty of cupboard and work top space, 2 small fridges and a small freezer. The bedrooms are excellent sizes, even the smallest of the rooms with the bunk beds was roomy. The bathroom was ginormous! I'm fact it seemed a bit of a waste of a large space!! The garden was also very big, and very secure (perfect for dogs!) with a large grass area, a stoned area to the sides of the cottage, a built in bbq (which we didn't use with it being winter), and a patio type area where I assume a patio set goes in summer months. We had a table and chair set outside which was comfortable and stylish and all we needed for the time of year, though I am very sure if I'd asked for a patio set the owners would have obliged. The lounge has a large patio sliding door which would be lovely in the summer.
We had asked to borrow a dog crate as our pup is only young and we couldn't fit our own in the car, the owners were excellent and allowed us to use one of their own which we placed in the living room as there was plenty of room without it being in the way.
We were left an excellent welcome pack of biscuits, coffee, tea and some milk in the fridge which meant we could have a coffee before going on to get some shopping!
It was my brothers' and my birthdays during the week and the owners had left us up some banners and even a box of chocolates after I told them it was our birthdays which was a really lovely touch and really appreciated!!
Comfort and equipment:
The beds weren't the most comfy I have ever slept on in the twin room, however they also weren't very uncomfortable as some have suggested. I suffer with a bad back and so I am quite susceptible to feeling uncomfortable even in a relatively comfortable bed, as an adult used to a double bed, it obviously didn't help it being a single, but that is no fault of the cottage whatsoever!! The sofas were extremely comfortable and as mentioned before very large!
The table would comfortably fit 6 people around, but you do need to pull it out away from the radiator to fit the other 2 in comfortably, but this is easily done.
The heating is easy to use, it comes on 3 times a day and there is a thermostat on the wall to control the temperature, we found the heating to be more than adequate and didn't need to use it any more than it was set for, we did turn the thermostat down on a couple of occasions as the bungalow gets very warm and holds the heat well. What I couldn't seem to do was turn down the radiators in the bedrooms, which would have been ideal as the bedrooms got very hot.
The only problem I found to do with heating was the hot water, the hot water is on all the time, so you don't have to wait for the heating to be on, but it seemed to run out, if one person had a shower, the water was still warm but not hot afterwards, and the water didn't seem to be hot enough to fill the bath, and have a hot bath, the bath was always just about hot. I like a really hot bath, so I stuck to showers after the first one I had. But again, this is my personal preference for how hot I like my showers and baths, nobody else in the family were bothered by this.
There is a washing machine and a dishwater, so pack some laundry and dishwasher tablets. There is a maiden to hang your clothes and lots of radiators. I found clothes dried really quickly. In the summer/dry months there is an outside clothes dryer.
The fridges are a decent size, one is small and the other is about average size. Plenty of room for food and drinks for us. The freezer is small, not as small as a caravan or boat freezer, but you'd struggle to fit more than a bag of chips, ice and a tub of ice cream in there. So bare this in mind when shopping for your trip.
The kitchen is very well equipped. We are used to boating holidays where you can barely make a full meal with the equipment, but we found making meals from scratch a breeze with all the equipment. A cheese grater, sharp knifes, potato peeler, tin opener, bottle opener, plenty of trays, a jug for juice/water, a tea pot, a great selection of glasses and mugs. We didn't find the cottage lacking anything we needed for make a meal each night. We usually eat out on holiday, but didn't feel the need here at all. We made 3 course meals each evening with no problem whatsoever.
The oven is easy to use, it is an electric oven, and being used to a gas oven at home this took some getting used to, but it's very self explanatory to use and cooks at a normal speed unlike some cookers I have come across on holidays!
WiFi is included in the cost, which we all used without problem on our phones, and we took our Amazon Fire Stick too for Netflix which connected no problem. My daughter brought her Nintendo Switch with her which would not connect to the WiFi saying something about the WiFi settings, she was still able to play some of her games, but do bare this in mind if your children are bringing anything like this as it may not connect, we didn't look too deeply into this to be honest as we could have because it wasn't a necessity, so it could have been easily rectified if I'd tried.
There is a selection of games: Scrabble, cards, Kongman,(which is brilliant!!) and a selection of books to read. As well as lots of blankets and throws to get cosy and comfy on the sofas which we thought was a lovely touch!!
The cottage was very clean and tidy on arrival and had all the cleaning equipment you'd need to keep it that way. With it being very windy rainy and overall wet, the dog did make a real mess with muddy pawprints being brought in from the garden, so we did find we had to mop everyday, but all the floors are wooden or tiled and no carpet so this wasn't a problem. He did however put his muddy pawprints on the bed covers (not that we let him sleep in the beds, but he is only a pup and has a habit of jumping up on things!). So if you do have a dog and go during a wet time of year... Expect some muddiness to clean up! But also expect a well stocked cleaning cupboard to help you including a mop and bucket!!
The immediate area is lovely, you're in a small village of Hockering. The cottage is listed as a semi detached, but the houses are connected via a garage, so it feels very much like a detached home. Next door is a car garage and a village shop (literally 2 minutes walk, if that), the shop is very well stocked, very reasonably priced and the people running the store are so friendly! There is also a post office in the shop, so you can withdraw cash if needed. The shop takes cards over £5 and is contactless enabled. They sell a selection of local produce as well as the usual things you'd expect in a corner shop, eggs, milk, bread, tinned goods, fresh foods, sweets, snacks, newspapers and magazines. As well as toiletries. The shop is not in the slightest over priced, in fact I struggled to get over the £5 threshold when I went in to buy some breakfast items!
There is a pub around a 3 to 4 minute walk from the cottage, we didn't actually go in as we were planning due to bad weather and days out, so I cannot really comment on the pub itself other than to say its very close by, but we didn't have any noise complaints at "kicking out time".
The cottage backs onto a dual carriageway, which means that during the day when in the garden you do have traffic noise, and being next to a car garage, there is some noise from here too. This didn't bother us at all, I'm from a town and have traffic noise in my home, so it wasn't really anything new to me, and if you were out in the garden, it isn't so loud that it interrupts your conversations, it's just there in the background. You cannot hear this in the house at all. It is around a 10 minute drive to get to a "big shop", and when there you have a selection of stores to choose from: Tesco Extra, Aldi and Lidl are all on the same industrial estate, as well as a lovely Marstons pub which does great pub grub, and a McDonald's if you're wanting some fast food! Just a little further down the road is another store called Roys (if you're familiar with Wroxham it's the same Roy's as they have there), this is more like a B&M and not the same calibre store as the one in Wroxham, no lovely fresh butchers or bakery, I would recommend driving the extra 15 minutes to Wroxham to visit Roy's instead! But there are plenty of large stores in the area to choose from to get a "big shop".
We didn't get a take away but did have a look at what was available when we arrived just incase, Uber Eats do not deliver to the area, but Just Eat offers one take away which delivers which did pizzas and burgers and the likes. As I say we didn't use them, but it's good to know they're there if you really can't be bothered cooking or going out!!
When we went to the cottage it was out of season, even though it was school holdiays, in February there doesn't seem to be a lot going on. A lot of the local tourist type stores are not open, the boat tours don't run as usual, a lot of the local attractions are not open. Due to the bad weather we didn't really do a lot... We planned on a couple of trips out to the very close by attractions which were open like the Roar Dinosaur Park and the Bewilderwood centre, but due to the bad weather we didn't actually bother, but these are close by and were both open. Instead we got a day boat for 2 days and visited some of the local areas we used to go to on the boats. In the summer or during peak season, there is a lot more open in the area. But even during this week,there was a Broads Tours boat trip From Wroxham, day boats for hire (approx £20 per hour or £120 for the whole day), dinosaur adventure park, bewilderwood, go ape. Great Yarmouth is a good day out for the kids during high season, when we went there was very little open but during the busier months there is a theme park, adventure golf, and of course the beach. In a nutshell there is plenty to do all year around, but going during April to October you will definitely have more to do in the area. However we still had a lovely week even without these things being open and we had the advantage of fewer parking problems and quieter days out!
The location of the bungalow is perfect, there is a bus stop right outside the pub which you can easily get to Norwich on (and at a very reasonable price, at less than £6 for a day ticket for adults). We didn't use the bus as we had the car, but I have no doubt that you could get anywhere you needed to get to by the bus service. Wroxham is around 25 minutes away, Yarmouth around 40 minutes, Cromer around 45 minutes, Norwich 25 minutes. So nothing is too far away without being bang in the centre of the busy-ness and without the price tag of a cottage on the river.
Value for money:
Well really what can I say, I paid £350 including insurance for a 7 night stay in February half term. Even during high season, the bungalow doesn't go up above £900 for the week. Which when compared to the river boats and the cottages along the river is a massive saving. We have said we would definitely consider a summer holiday as that garden and setting would be lovely in summer!!
Some pointers for the owners:
Update the photos of the cottage. Honestly they do not do the cottage justice at all. The layout is also slightly different than in the pictures available. (the layout is better than the layout in the pictures). It's so much bigger than it seems on the photos!
An outdoor bin for poo bags. OK I know it's easy to bag the poo and walk around to the front of the house to put it in the bin out front, but when it's dark and cold you really don't want to be doing that. And you don't want it in your kitchen bin. So I ended up putting a bag outside to keep it in til we went out and I put it in the outside bin at the front of the house. A small bin outside would be a great addition. Just add a sign to remind customers to empty it when they leave!
We found that the leaflets were a little out of date in the cottage, this is likely with it being out of season when we visited, but could definitely do with some up to date seasonal leaflets.
The cottage says car parking for two cars, however, there only seemed to be one space, there were 3 spaces outside but two seemed to be for the cottage next door. We only had one car so this wasn't a problem for us, but if you have two cars it could be an idea to check in with the owners before you go to make sure you can park both at the property.
The addition of a walk in shower could be a good idea if you had any future renovation plans, this would be good for people with mobility problems who might struggle with getting in and out of a bath.
I have absolutely zero complaints about our stay at all, these are just some suggestions which I saw which could improve an already excellent property.
I wouldn't hesitate to book again, we all had a fabulous time in a beautiful comfortable and large cottage!!