Why I Love Norfolk: Ben and Matthew Conway

Cousins Matthew Conway, left and Ben Conway, right, co-directors of Dipple and Conway Opticians.

Cousins Matthew Conway, left and Ben Conway, right, co-directors of Dipple and Conway Opticians. - Credit: Dipple and Conway

Memory

Ben: “Our wedding at Sennowe Park in 2016. My fiancé Jenna and I fell in love with the venue instantly. Sarah Softley recommended Sennowe, and it blew our socks off at first sight. The perfect backdrop for the best day, our guests from outside of Norfolk still describe it as the fairytale setting. Breathtaking views of the Edwardian house, sweeping gardens, and a friendly, intimate atmosphere made for a pretty perfect Norfolk day.

Landmark

Matthew: It must be the striking, iconic landmark of Norwich Cathedral. Piercing the skyline, its history is fascinating and architecturally, it is quite simply striking. As a family, we have loved having a new reason to visit the cathedral this summer to see Dippy up close. And as long-time supporters of the Hostry Festival, we look forward to attending Norfolk’s autumn festival which will back at the cathedral this October and November.

Beach

Ben: I have such vivid, happy memories of time spent at Winterton as a child. We would take a holiday as a family for a week or two at a time, long before any of us used the term ‘staycation.’ I would scamper through the dunes and pretend to be on the set of Jaws, playing sharks with my siblings. 

Town/city/village

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Matthew: “Wells-next-the-Sea comes a remarkably close second but I’m a real city person, and love nothing better than walking the cobbled streets of Elm Hill in Norwich with an espresso from Kofra or meandering around the market. Our Norwich practice has been based at Castle Street since 1916, and we are an independent business with our heritage and history firmly rooted in Norwich, so I really cannot pick anywhere else.

Place to Eat

Ben: Woolf & Social on Nelson Street in Norwich is a fantastic example of a local hospitality business that gets its food, service and atmosphere spot on. And it never stands still. An innovative, intelligent team, they are always serving up exciting new dishes and flavours. Jorge’s Portuguese restaurant is another personal favourite. Nestled in Orford Yard it serves the best steak in Norwich. I can’t resist the ribeye.

Pub

Ben. I love everything about the Fat Cat pub in Norwich. It is a good local business which has stood the test of time, serves the best range of locally brewed ales, and has a warm, inviting atmosphere which attracts a diverse crowd of customers. We commissioned a beer called Cat’s Eyes in celebration of our centenary year back in 2017 raising money for Break charity. It was great fun, for a great cause.

Attraction or day out

Matthew: We have three children and an energetic dog, so the beach is our favourite place to go for a day out. Ice cream, sandy toes, fresh air, and a swim in the sea ticks all the boxes for us. Better still, do not just go for the day, make a week of it! In the summer, we have had the best days out with friends based at their beach hut in Wells-Next-The-Sea. 

Something that happens every year

Matthew: A trip to see England's largest colony of grey seals at Blakeney. I love that it’s a natural annual Norfolk event that is famous not only UK wide but around the globe too; and we’re incredibly lucky that these charismatic creatures can be seen right on our doorstep. 

Shop

Ben: A true treasure trove, you visit Thorns DIY in the city thinking you need one item and leave armed with so many useful things. Things you never even knew you needed. Like us, Thorns is a Norwich institution. It has been open since 1837 and is a family-run independent business, renowned for its outstanding friendly, personal, and honest service. And they have experts in store to help with everything from mixing paint to key cutting to servicing and repairs for your favourite gardening tools. My partner Jenna will groan when I arrive home with a Thorns bag. I have a piece of dowelling that I bought months ago on a whim. But, one day, it will come in useful. Everything you buy in Thorns has a practical use and a purpose.

Export

Matthew:  The Norfolk tongue is entirely unique and is officially the most difficult British accent to mimic. During my acting days and even now as I continue to tread the boards in my spare time, I have never heard any non-Norfolk native actor recreate the Norfolk accent properly. They quickly slip into West Country, which for anyone born and raised in Norfolk will know is a load of ‘ole squit!

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