Future is bright for community pub on the edge of the Broads

Andy and Helen Bales at the Lodge in Salhouse. Photo: Bill Smith

Andy and Helen Bales at the Lodge in Salhouse. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

The future's looking bright at the Salhouse Lodge, which sits atop a hill overlooking the winding road below, and is set in about five acres of Norfolk countryside.

The owners have just opened a campsite on the land to go with the seven letting bedrooms at the main building, and there's also a barbecue and children's play area on the site.

It's all a far cry from just a few years ago when the future of the pub was in doubt with dwindling customers and business.

The pub is run by mother and son Helen and Andy Bales, who have been at the pub for more than 20 years.

Mr Bales, who said he enjoyed the way of life, said: 'We are now back on the up. We are not going to close and we will be here for the foreseeable future.

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'We are a community pub. We do lots of wedding receptions here and have a 120-seater function room. We have a Saturday and Sunday carvery and the restaurant's open seven days a week.

'Live entertainment is booked for most weekends and barbecues in the summer months.

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'We get a lot of visitors from the Broads, especially now that we have more accommodation and a campsite on the land. We've only just opened them, but the feedback so far has been 100pc positive. We're looking forward to a bright future.'

Mrs Bales, who was presiding over a group of customers outside in the sun when I visited, said: 'It's not a job. When you go into the licensed trade, it becomes both your social and business life. But this has been a family partnership ever since we opened.

'It's funny but we have had all this land all this time but never made a penny from it. But we've now got the campsite and are making the most of it.'

The pub also seems to have a good number of regulars, many of whom were enjoying the June sunshine on my visit.

There was a good amount of banter between them and Mr Bales, and some of the regulars said it was like a home from home.

'They seem to cater to everyone here,' one customer said.

'They get young people, old people, and everything in between.

'It's especially good for kids with the children's play area outside. And they have a good selection of drinks including real ales, and the food's always good.'

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