Back in January, we decided to book a UK mini-break over the May Day weekend. This was way before COVID-19 was a thing, when Japan was still going to be our main holiday of 2020. And then COVID-19 arrived in the UK, Japan was cancelled, and we began to pin all of our 2020 holiday dreams on UK mini-breaks. Except of course, we were in national lockdown in May. A quick email to Holly at Choo Choo Moo and she was happy to reschedule our trip for a time when we could leave our own house. That’s how we found ourselves spending my birthday in a converted railway carriage in rural Norfolk.
Choo Choo Moo reflects the relationship between dairy farms, and the most popular method of milk transportation prior to the 1950s – the railway. Located in a gently sloping meadow, overlooking picturesque farmland, the accommodation is based around two restored goods wagons, Edward and – our home for the weekend – Victoria.
It’s a contactless handover of keys from Holly on arrival. The two carriages are completely separate from each other; the only shared touchpoint is the woodshed and the outhouse where the fridges and a pair of bikes are stored. In fact, we don’t have neighbours on the first night, which gives us the opportunity to run around the meadow like loons.
Victoria may be small, but she is surprisingly roomy inside. At one end is a sofa, already converted into a double bed for us. A gas hob allows for basic cooking, and Victoria comes complete with a whistling kettle. I am particularly impressed by the tiny en-suite bathroom. The owners of our recent Llandeilo cottage could learn a thing or two. There’s a wood burner, which wasn’t really needed thanks to summer’s return for this September weekend. After all, we don’t have a great record with wood burners.
Holly leaves us a welcome pack, which is full to the brim with local produce. Buttery, crumbly cookies. A tart blackberry jam. A seeded loaf, soft and springy to touch. Two bottles of bitter from a local brewer. And in the fridge, fresh unpasteurised milk, raw farmhouse butter and wax-paper wrapped cheese from Fen Farm Dairy. Products that have practically come straight from the cow.
The outside space quickly becomes my favourite place to be. Enjoying a glass of vino on the fairy light bedecked patio. Or wrapped in a blanket with a book on the swinging loveseat. Star-gazing under the dark skies. We failed at the firepit. We are not natural fire-starters.
It’s the perfect place to relax and go off-grid – if you so desire. There are USB charging points next to the bed, but leave all your other electricals behind and pretend that the outside world doesn’t exist. There’s even a little transistor radio for all your FM radio needs. We spent an enjoyable evening listening to Gary Davis and Sounds of the 80s. Until the batteries ran out.
Choo Choo Moo’s location in rural Alburgh means that is easily to see the sights of both Norfolk and neighbouring Suffolk. We visited Lavenham, Southwold and Norwich during our visit, as well as spending time in closest town Harleston. I fully recommend the beers at The Cap, an Ampersand Brewing Company pub. Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft are both also in easy driving distance for a day trip.
We had access to a couple of push bikes during our stay which can be used to traverse the roads and trails around the local farmland. Cycling to the local vineyard sounded like a fine idea. Cycling back did not. After all, like fire, cycling is also not my friend.
Choo Choo Moo Luxury Camping: Low Ditch Road, Alburgh, Harleston, Norfolk, IP20 0BX
Phone: +44 (0) 7539 434971