Experience Real Local Life of England by Visiting Artisans


By Glynn Burrows  


Artisans and craftsmen and women are to be found in every corner of the globe and visiting people who work in an area is often a great way to find out more about the places you are visiting, as well as giving yourself a great opportunity to buy some real local souvenirs.

I have arranged a few visits for specific interest groups, but this year, I am putting together a whole week where we will be seeing some of the items that are produced in the area.

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Glynn Burrows, owner of Norfolk Tours, shares how artisans and craftsmen and women provide an authentic local experience in England. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.


One of the visits will be to a small glass-making company, in one of our local market towns. The company was originally based in an old barn on the North Norfolk coast, but they moved to a more modern building in Fakenham several years ago.

They make everything from glass animals, bowls, dishes, drinking glasses, decanters, trophies, decorations, and anything else that can possibly be made of glass and the best thing is that visitors can have a go at doing it themselves. Last week, I actually blew a glass ball for our Christmas Tree and one of the other people in the party made a Whisky Glass. Obviously, we had a lot of expert help, but we actually had a part in making our own glass object.

The demonstration, beside the glass furnaces, shows how a glass animal is constructed and then we see how a small fruit bowl is made. There was a display of how not to blow glass and also some extremely interesting insights into just how complicated it is to put together even the simplest of items.

On another visit, we went to a distillery, which was just in an outbuilding of a pretty usual-looking house. The still and the barrels, together with the shelves full of flat-packed cardboard boxes and hundreds of empty bottles were the only giveaways that this was, in fact, a small cottage industry.

The whole process was explained, from the still, to the bottling and we got lots of opportunities to taste several of the products. The owners are very happy to part with a lot of their secrets, but there are some which are kept tightly under wraps.

One thing which really impressed me, was the way they work with other local businesses. One such great partnership is with a local fruit farm, which provides them with strawberries, plums, and other fruit and another was with a local preserves company that takes all of their used fruit pulp, (after it has been steeped to release some of the flavours into the alcohol,) to make into very tasty jams and chutneys.

The great thing about artisans is that they are often seen to be working together, often to great mutual benefit.

Pottery is made in every country in the world and it is often pots, dishes and plates with the local coat of arms or pictures of a local landmark which can be seen in souvenir shops. Sad to say, most of these souvenir ware are made in such places as China, so I implore you to look out for locally made products. When we were in Canada and visited Prince Edward Island and Halifax NS, we were fortunate enough to find some beautiful local pottery, but when we went to Niagara, there were no locally made souvenirs to be found.

In Norfolk, we have several different studios, so you can see different styles of pottery, depending on the one you visit. Some potters use the wheel and some use moulds, or free-hand forming and it is really something to have a go at throwing a pot for the first time.

Another lady I know does smocking, another knitting. One man makes cricket bats and another wicker baskets. A jeweller and a jam maker, farmer and a farrier. A blacksmith and a silversmith, or an artist and an actor. A brewer and a bodger, or a boatman and a beekeeper.

It is amazing just how many really unusual jobs people do and most of them are only too pleased to show visitors what they do as well as let visitors have a go, if at all possible.

If there is a skill you would like to learn about or a trade that you have always wanted to have a go at, why not include it in your next holiday? You could come away with a great souvenir too!

Glynn provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history. Past guests have visited and experienced stately houses and gardens, castles and churches, ruins and villages, birding and wildlife, World War II airfields, and general area taster tours too. Accommodations can be in all types of establishments, from character buildings such as windmills, thatched cottages and castles, self-catering or five star luxury –  just say what you want and it can be arranged. Nothing is too much trouble for Glynn! Visit www.Norfolk-Tours.co.uk




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Glynn provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history.

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