Mel Cook is PR and marketing manager for Visit Norwich, part of Norwich Business Improvement District. She lived in Norfolk as a teenager, spent 15 years living in London and returned to have a family, settling in Attleborough.

I have amazing and extremely happy memories of large family Christmastimes in Hemlington. We would have a big tree, and my dad would cook lunch for the family, plus my grandparents and my great grandmother. We would take a walk around the surrounding countryside after we had eaten. I remember always enjoying a visit to Hemblington church, it’s set out of the village and its age fascinated me.

Thetford Forest was always our go-to for big outdoors fun with the children. I remember many a time getting covered with mud and my arms aching from pushing the swings so much. It was good when the children got a bit older and were more self-sufficient! We tended to go more in the winter, so I always think of wellies, scarves and hats when Thetford comes up in conversation.

This is a very hard one for me to answer. Working closely with so many places around Norwich and Norfolk, I hold a place in my heart for so many, for different reasons. But if I have to name one it has to be the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. The story of how it came to be, the collections, the big names that the Centre exhibits for us to see for free - and crowd free at that too – and as much as anything the architecture. I get a wow feeling every time I visit. It still also amazes me how many people in Norfolk have never visited. It's scandalous! 

Attraction/day out
Marble Hall situated in Surrey House on Surrey Street in Norwich is another place with the wow factor. And it’s a hidden gem in the very truest sense. The first time I went I couldn’t believe my eyes. Again, it’s another place with an extraordinary story.

My grandparents on my dad’s side were publicans so just the smell of beer takes me back to my younger days. And being publicans meant we had a very sociable childhood (we hung about in many pubs – obviously when they were closed!). The Ribs of Beef today is still run by friends of my grandparents and is my favourite place for a drink, sitting by the river on the small terrace, wrapped up or in warmer weather.

Place to eat
Benedicts is my absolute favourite place to eat. The food is exciting, delicious and local (which is important to me). And their attention to detail is right up there. It offers everything – high quality, friendly and knowledgeable service, and a relaxed atmosphere. Richard Bainbridge has to be one of the nicest chefs I know – and his food is some of the best I’ve ever eaten.

Winterton beach is one of my favourites, less busy than many of our wonderful beaches. And again, somewhere I went to as a child so I’ve great memories.

The Sainsbury Centre shop, Country & Eastern, The Granary and Design House are where I like to head to for a good browse and for gifts for difficult people! But I absolutely love to spend time around Magdalen Street taking my time in Looses having a really good nose around.  

The little yellow pot. Instantly recognisable and used across the world. Colman’s Mustard of course.


I work with a lot of journalists on press trips to Norwich and without hesitation I will always suggest that when arriving into Norwich by train they walk into the city centre via Riverside Walk and up through Cathedral Close to Tombland. It’s not a long walk, but in my view it is the best way to gain entry into the city!