South Norfolk Does Business: The Happiness Branch

So here it is!  The first business to be featured in South Norfolk Does Business is The Happiness Branch owned by Gemma Sandwell.  Here is Gemma in her own words explaining more about it and why she decided to set it up.

So Gemma, tell me about you! Who are you, what is your business about and where are you based?

I’m Gemma Sandwell and I run The Happiness Branch which is all about the science of happiness, strengths and Mindfulness to help people and businesses flourish. I’m based between Wymondham and Attleborough, but I help clients all over Norfolk and even the UK as my coaching products can be both face to face and online.


Why did you choose to set up your business and how do you serve your customers?

I set up my business after spending years studying psychology, positive psychology and Mindfulness and applying the tools to myself which changed my life completely.  I then was able to apply them to a business setting working for a large financial services organisation.  It was then that I realised that I was really passionate about helping more people and businesses to be at their best, so I decided to set up The Happiness Branch.  I offer one to one coaching, strengths profiling and mindfulness courses. I help clients personally as well as help grow their businesses and support their employees.

What about your links to south Norfolk?

I was born near Norwich but moved to south Norfolk to escape the city 4 years ago when I realised how important living near the countryside was for my wellbeing.  My own version of Escape to the Country!

What do you think is so great about living, working and business owning in south Norfolk?

It’s great to be surrounded by beautiful countryside and quaint market towns but be within reach of Norwich and other transport links when needed. I’ve also found other local businesses and people great and supportive and there is a good sense of community.

Could you share some of your best south Norfolk ‘shout outs?’

I personally love going to and having meetings at the Egg Sheds in Wymondham. It’s a great place; lovely homemade cakes, delicious free-range eggs and cute little sheds to sit in. I’m also a fan of Wymondham Station Bistro and The Boars pub at Spooner Row! A bit of a food and drink theme going on for me!

And finally, do you have any exciting events or offers coming up at The Happiness Branch?

My 8 weeks of Mindfulness course has just launched, and cohorts are running in October and January.  This is a unique course running online in a supportive group environment. It doesn’t matter if you can’t attend one week at the allocated time as the sessions will be recorded.  The first cohort starts on the 15th October and includes a private Facebook group, all course recordings, workbook, journal and a special mindfulness gift at the end of the course, all for £249.

I’m also running a Be Your Best Self workshop locally on the 15th November which will feature useful tools and tips to increase your happiness based on science and research. A one hour workshop costs just £7 per person.
Both of these can be booked via

Thanks Gemma!  You can find out more about The Happiness Project here.

South Norfolk Does Business

Well hello again!

I have taken a break from blogging about Norfolk over the summer holidays but now I’m ready to roll again with a new theme called South Norfolk Does Business.

During my travels around south Norfolk earlier in the year, I came across some fantastic people and organisations doing amazing things in business and beyond and I wanted to showcase as many as I can.

Each week a different business will be telling you all about what they do, why they do it and what they love about south Norfolk.  Hopefully, you will come across businesses you have never heard of and perhaps celebrate some old favourites as well.

So sit back and enjoy the next part of the tour around south Norfolk but this time with a slightly different flavour!


Thank you!

South Norfolk

So here we are at the end of this journey. Sob!

I began ‘Shout Out South Norfolk’ back in March with the intention of finally getting out and about and discovering the best bits of South Norfolk; our new home.

Norfolk has always been home.  However, South Norfolk was somewhere new and shiny compared with our old stomping grounds of Norwich and North Norfolk.

Having grown up there, I knew North Norfolk so well and as my children came out of the baby stage, I felt a yearning to replicate my wonderful childhood for them in the places I knew best.  But I gave myself a strong talking to. Surely South Norfolk had some great places too!

Armed with a vague knowledge of the surrounding towns, a pair of eyes wide from coffee and my iPhone, the toddler and I became explorers of our new locality.  I thought about what I loved about North Norfolk and set out to discover equivalent places down south.

I made a promise not to just drive through towns on the way to somewhere else but to stop slow down and savour them.  And I did.

And I have only just scratched the surface.

Thank you so much to all those that have got involved and shared your South Norfolk places using #mynorfolkplace and #shoutoutsouthnorfolk.  Those who entered my competition and tagged me in their photos deserve a big thumbs up! I would also like to thank everyone who has suggested places for me to visit on my journey or even invited me to their own event.

I have enjoyed every minute of it and now feel more connected to where I live.  I have even received messages from people thanking me for what I have been doing for South Norfolk which is amazing!  At times it has felt as if some of my followers have been on this journey with me.

Shout Out South Norfolk started as my project for my Digital Mums Social Media Management course but it has become so much more.

It will continue so I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself properly.

My name is Katie and I am a Norfolk mum of two living near Diss. Until Christmas I was a primary school teacher, a rewarding job I mostly enjoyed but became increasingly inflexible as my children got older.  Prior to teaching, my career was in marketing so I decided to go back and update my skills through a company called Digital Mums.  Since January I have been training to be a Social Media Manager and Shout Out South Norfolk has been my learning vehicle.

I have thoroughly enjoyed connecting to where I live through my campaign and have discovered some wonderful people and businesses along the way.

Going forward I plan to use my newly acquired social media skills, teaching skills and previous experience in marketing to support local businesses further over the coming months now my training is finishing.

I very much look forward to continuing this journey and hope you will join me along the way!!

Thank you all again!



June 2018 Norfolk Goodie Bag Competition Terms & Conditions

How to Enter
Entrants will need to comment on a competition themed post on Shout Out South Norfolk’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels with their favourite Norfolk place and use the hashtag #mynorfolkplace. E.g. ‘Cromer Pier #mynorfolkplace’ or ‘High Lodge Thetford #mynorfolkplace.’

When to Enter and Who can Enter
The Competition opens on Monday 25th June at noon and closes at midnight on Saturday 30th June.

Entrants can enter at any point between these dates.

Entrants can only enter the Competition once but can like, share, comment, tweet and RT as many times as they like.

The Competition is only open to UK residents aged 21 or over, excluding anyone professionally and personally connected with the administration of Shout Out South Norfolk.

Automated or bulk entries from third parties will be disqualified.
We reserve the right to exclude serial competition entrants who have entered more than 4 competitions in the last month.

The winner will be selected at random.

The prize for winning the competition is a bag of South Norfolk goodies. Some items will be food items with clearly stated allergy information. If you have any allergies, please check labels before consuming.

The Prizes are as stated and cannot be sold or exchanged for cash, goods or services.

Data Protection and Publicity
You consent to your handle on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram being disclosed on Shout Out South Norfolk’s digital channels or other media if you win any Prizes under the Competition.

By entering the Competition, you agree that Shout Out South Norfolk may contact you in relation to the Competition.

By entering this contest, you agree to a complete release of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Shout Out South Norfolk from all liability in connection with this competition.

Beautiful Bungay

Ok so technically Bungay is in Suffolk but I have decided to include it in this project anyway.


More importantly, I’m ashamed to say I didn’t think I had ever been to Bungay before!  I felt better when ‘the Mr’ admitted he didn’t think he had ever been…..and he grew up in Beccles!

However, while we were there, it dawned on me that I HAD actually stepped into Bungay town many, many years ago on a work night out at Ye Old Three Tons where I got to experience a Medieval Banquet in all its glory!  I’ve made a mental note to check this out again as a proper grown up.  I have also a list of date night places for the next time we manage to escape for a few hours!  There are some lovely looking pubs and restaurants.

Here are some of our highlights from Bungay.

1) Earsham Street Delicatessen, Earsham Street.

The food!  I know a deli has gorgeous food and all, but I just could not believe how much food Earsham Street Deli has.  I’ve never seen anything like it!  We poured over literally everything for ages admiring how they were arranged on the shelves, the packaging, how delicious they looked, the works!  It was like being in an Aladdin’s Cave full of gems.  A treat for the eyes and the taste buds.  A place to buy both the everyday items and for special treats, both sweet and savory.

Earsham Street Delicatessen

2) Earsham Hall, Earsham.

There is so much to love about Earsham Hall.  I like it’s rustic aesthetic and beautiful grounds.  The Hall is occupied, however, the owners regularly do tours which are very appealing to me as it has a very colourful history.  We explored Earsham Hall pine and marveled at the range of furniture and trinkets.  Unfortunately, the plant shop out the back was closed but we did bump into two beautiful peacocks outside.

Earsham Hall

3) The Castle Inn, Bungay

I’m told this is a fabulous place to eat, however, we only had time for drinks and crisps so it’s on the ‘date night list.’ I took a sneak peek at the menu and was impressed.  It has rave reviews and has won many awards.  I was really impressed by the professionalism of the staff and the cozy and quaint atmosphere.  We will definitely be going back for more.

4) Independent Shops, Bungay

I was overwhelmed by the quality of independent shops in Bungay.  A real mix of types with lovely interiors and exteriors and loads of quality products. The Greengrocers was like a dream with lots of produce on display outside and all the shops seemed to blend well together in the town.

Independent shop in Bungay

5) Bungay Castle, Bungay

It is sad that there is not much left of it compared to other castles in Suffolk but we enjoyed visiting Bungay Castle grounds and learning all about it.  It has a remarkable history and it’s great the town is protecting what is left.  The people at the Cafe there, Jesters, were very welcoming and sold us delicious icecreams which we enjoyed whilst gazing at the Castle ruins.

Bungay certainly has something for everyone and for us as tourists was a perfect blend of shopping, eating, and sightseeing.  Thank you for having us!

Lovely Long Stratton

Long Stratton has always been somewhere I just drove through on the way to somewhere else.  Kind of obvious really since the A140 goes right through it.  So as part of this project, I decided to stop and explore and was very surprised by what I found.  The town is busy because of said A140 but there are lots of little independent shops and businesses that are thriving.  I explored the surrounding area too and found a few more places to add to my South Norfolk nugget collection.  Here goes…..

1) Goodies Food Hall, Long Stratton.

Goodies Food Hall, Long Stratton

Where do I start?  A few weeks back I wrote about the challenges of shopping locally and a lovely follower recommended that I tried Goodies.  Long Stratton is about twenty minutes away so a bit further than I would ideally spend in the car but it was worth it.  There was such a great selection of food, both local and independent brands.  A butcher, greengrocers and a cafe on site sealed the deal for me and I’m sure Goodies will be a regular feature in our lives going forward.

2) Past & Present Tearooms, Long Stratton

Past & Present Tearooms, Long Stratton

Stepping into Past & Present is like taking a step back in time.  We enjoyed a lovely cake each and a pot of tea in the room out the back next to the fire.  It felt as if we were somewhere else for the time we were there.  The ladies were really friendly and we enjoyed watching the world go by outside.

3) The Old Ram Inn, Tivetshall St Mary

Just South of Long Stratton in Tivetshall is the wonderful pub and guest house, The Old Ram Inn.  It boasts a fantastic menu and great atmosphere in a gorgeous old coaching Inn.  Of course, I tried the burger and had it topped with pulled pork; an awesome combination.  They also do breakfasts and Sunday lunch which I’m told are legendary.  I am feeling so lucky to live close to such a great pub!!

Why Wymondham?

Phew!  What a whirlwind, whistle-stop tour of Wymondham!  Thank you to all my lovely followers and readers who have suggested things to do and places to go.  As usual, it was hard to decide what made the cut for my top 5 but it had to be done and here it is. Why Wymondham indeed!

1) The Boars, Spooner Row

Quite frankly, in my opinion, The Boars is one of the best pubs in Norfolk.  Absolutely beautiful beer garden (this is always high up on the list of must-haves for us at Shout Out South Norfolk Towers), AMAZING menu, charming atmosphere and fantastic service makes this a star place for South Norfolk.  There is a pub in North Norfolk called The Pigs (which I am planning to feature soon) which I believe IS the best pub in Norfolk.  The Boars is a close second to me.  Something in the name perhaps? Pigs? Boars?

The Boars, Spooner Row.

2) Wymondham Abbey,

Even if you are not remotely religious, you can’t help but consider Wymondham Abbey to be an amazing, peaceful and reflective place to visit.  Its history and magnificence draw you in to be charmed by what it has to offer.  A walk in the grounds, a browse of the ruins or somewhere to simply to sit, think and wonder, Wymondham Abbey has it all.  What an icon for the town!

Wymondham Abbey, Wymondham

3) Ashwellthorpe Woods, Ashwellthorpe near Wymondham.

Seeing the bluebells at Ashwellthorpe Woods was a great way to start Spring off with a bang!  Unfortunately, I forgot my phone and camera when we went so you will have to take my word for it but these woods were a lovely, peaceful place for a gentle dog walk with the children.  We shall be regulars that’s for sure.

4) Market Cross and Market Place.

Another icon for the town is the Market Cross.  The unique shape of which has become synonymous with Wymondham for hundreds of years.  The marketplace itself is a hive of local shops, tearooms, and businesses creating a vibrant hub for the masses of houses and developments that now surround the town.  I really enjoyed browsing the shops and taking in the atmosphere.  Especially on such a beautiful day.

Market Cross, Wymondham

5) The Station Bistro

A great place for tea and cake or even a filling home cooked breakfast, the Station Bistro has been delighting residents of Wymondham and beyond for several years now.   It’s quirky railway-themed decor is a delight and the service is friendly and welcoming.  We are going to back for breakfast again soon!

Adventures in Shopping Locally – Part 2

A few weeks ago, I challenged my family and me to stay out of the supermarkets for a week and shop for our food only in local shops.  It certainly was a challenge and an eye-opener, and I learned a few things too.

Local Produce from Green Pastures Farm Shop near Bergh Apton.
  • It takes time more time to shop locally than just popping to the supermarket. Bit of a no-brainer really.  It usually takes me about one hour to go to the supermarket and then another 15 minutes or so to put all the food away.  Going to the butcher, greengrocer, a bakery, as well as the local village shop, took much much longer.  Even when I got uber organised about it with lists for each shop and everything!
  • It was more fun for the children, despite the increased amount of time. Much to my surprise, the children actually enjoyed going to a variety of shops.  My brain didn’t turn to mulch trying to keeping tabs on them whilst wrestling with my shopping list.  Baskets with wheels ‘helped’ as did welcoming, understanding shop staff.
  • Farmers markets can be scary.  If you are new to them, farmers markets can be quite scary (sorry!).  I wanted to browse but I felt guilty if I walked away from a stall empty-handed.  In one place I panic bought a jar of local honey.  Although absolutely delicious, it was 5 times as much as what I usually pay for honey.  All the produce looked amazing though but most of it wasn’t on my shopping list.  A great place to go for a local treat, perhaps.
  • Farm shops are great – if you can find one near you.  A lovely Instagram follower suggested an amazing farm shop near Bergh Apton.  We went and bought loads of lovely produce but unfortunately, it’s just too far away to visit weekly.  I have since found one that is a bit closer to us.  It’s worth exploring and shopping around so you know which ones stock what.
  • Supermarkets aren’t necessarily the enemy.  When the week of no supermarket shopping was up, I did venture back but with an eagle eye for where my purchases came from.  I did notice that a lot of seasonal fruit and veg in the supermarket was grown locally and made sure I bought that over buying green beans grown in Kenya, for example.
  • There was less plastic involved.  When we bought our lovely food home and put it away, the bin wasn’t as filled with plastic from the wrapping as it usually is.  The fruit and veg were either loose or in paper bags. The bread from the bakery was wrapped in paper.  The farm shop offered us a cardboard box for our purchases. It was far from being a zero plastic adventure but the amount was significantly reduced.
  • The shopping list wasn’t the be all and end all for once.  Like most people, we plan meals for the week and write a corresponding list.  However, we had to substitute a LOT.  Local shops obviously don’t stock as wide a range of products as supermarkets so flexibility with ingredients was key.  It would have been so easy to nip to Morrisons for a pak choi but we made do with carrots and peppers for our stir fry that week.
  • Cooking from scratch feels like a revival.  Occasionally.  The absence of packaged goods meant that I got more creative in the kitchen (dangerous), especially for snacks, which were probably healthier as a result.  Without a curry kit for mine and my husbands weekly Friday night treat we were forced to actually follow a recipe from one of his treasured books and use spices we had forgotten we had!

So all things considered it was a positive experience.  The increased effort felt worth it and justified for everyone in the family and it felt great to know we had supported South Norfolk farmers and suppliers.  We will endeavour to be regular South Norfolk farm shoppers and avid supporters of our local butcher and baker in the future.





There’s something about…… Attleborough

Another of Norfolk’s fine market towns, Attleborough is situated off the A11 in beautiful South Norfolk.  I know of plenty to do around Attleborough but the town has always been a bit of a mystery to me.  I feel it has many hidden gems not obvious to those on the periphery of ‘localness’ like myself.


So, rather than straight driving through it on the way back from Norwich (or just nipping to Sainsbury’s for fuel/treats), I decided to stop and spend some time in Attleborough to really appreciate what it has to offer.

There are plenty of cafes, pubs, and restaurants for starters so a really great place for anyone to enjoy a wide range of food and drink.  I enjoyed visiting many of the businesses, not only for the unique products they sold but for their fantastic customer service.  Attleborough is such a friendly, welcoming place it has been really hard to choose my top five for this town and its surrounds.  But here are what I feel are its’ nuggets of gold.

1) Old Buckenham – Just all of it! 

If you saw my Instagram a few weeks back I shared a video of a 360-degree view of Old Buckenham Village Green.  Reputed to be the largest in Britain, it is 40 acres of common with duck ponds and home to the annual fair*.  I think it’s fair to say I love everything about Old Bucks (as it is known) and I would live here if I could.  The pubs are amazing (The Gamekeeper and the Ox and Plough; located pretty much opposite each other but each with own unique vibe.  The playground is a favourite of my children.  They call it the ‘tractor park’ because of it’s, er, tractor slide; a fitting tribute to it’s locality.

2) Pizzeria Bello, Attleborough ,

As their website suggests, Bello’s really is ‘a little bit of Italy in the heart of Norfolk.’ The pizzas are dreamy, the ice cream out of this world.  They do takeaways and a bring your own wine night.  Yum yum!  My mouth is watering at the memories of a recent wonderful evening.  Be sure to book your table soon!

3) Banham Zoo, Banham,

Just a few miles South of Attleborough in the village of Banham is Banham Zoo!  Such a fantastic family attraction in South Norfolk.  It is deceptively big and has so many amazing animals from all over the world to see.  I’m pretty certain everyone from Norfolk has already been, but if you haven’t you really must.  I used to live in the village and have been 5 times in 3 years!!  They have just opened a new Sea Lion enclosure and this year are celebrating 50 years of wildlife conservation with lots of events planned.

4) The Stag, Attleborough , 

Unfortunately, The Stag Carvery, which is part of Breckland Lodge, suffered a fire earlier this year and are currently closed for rebuilding.  They still deserve a massive shout out as being perhaps THE place to go for a family-friendly Sunday roast this side of the A47.  They promise to come back stronger and better than ever and are currently taking bookings for the start of the winter!

5) Susan’s Work Basket, Attleborough, 

OK, this one is mainly for crafters like me.  When I lived in North Norfolk I had a go-to fabric shop that is just too far away now.  Susan’s Work Basket is a brilliant replacement for that ‘hole’ in my life and has an amazing selection of fabric for me to work my way through and other sewing and knitting goodies for sale.

It was really hard to make this list as there are so many fantastic businesses in South Norfolk, as I am discovering.  I had a lot of responses to my request for recommendations so thank you to those of you who took time to do so.


Adventures in shopping locally – Part 1

It has been three years since we moved to South Norfolk and although I’m getting to know its’ best bits, I still don’t feel I support its’ local shops as much as I would like.

It started well.  As soon as we moved, I religiously marched (as much as you can with a double buggy laden with two children) to my local butchers in Banham every week to make sure we were eating local, free range or organic meat.

A weekly trip to the local town became a ritual and I made sure I got cash from the village post office to buy eggs sold on the verges of the surrounding country lanes.

However, returning to work with two small children made keeping my new found habits a challenge to say the least.  And of course, my Sainsburys and Amazon habits have now come back with a vengeance.

My weekly supermarket shop.

According to Buy Local Norfolk*, ‘Buying locally automatically retains money within the local economy, thus protecting, in the most sustainable way possible, the unique flavour and character of Norfolk.’

So the importance of buying locally is crystal clear.  The challenges that we all face (not just working mums like myself) are making time to shop around, and knowing which shops sell what.

Now I am getting to know my new area very well, I have started to consider buying local as a pleasurable habit again, rather than a time-constrained chore.

So….. I have set myself a challenge!  To buy locally as much as I can for one week to see if I can do it.  How hard can it be?

From the research I have done online so far, shopping locally has the potential to save me money as well as reduce the amount of plastic I throw away.  So there are plenty of incentives.

Let the challenge begin!