Why I love Norfolk: Mark Baker

Mark Baker

Mark Baker - Credit: Supplied by Mark Baker

Memory 

My favourite Norfolk memory (except for Norwich beating Ipswich in the play-offs!) is doing the Break GoGo Gorillas trail in 2013. Our children were very young and it was a great way to spend family time looking at all the sculptures and chatting to other gorilla spotters along the way. We found lots of parts of Norwich that we didn’t know existed! CIM sponsored a gorilla and we bought him at the Break charity auction at the end of the trail – Mack still has pride of place in our offices today.

Landmark

Norwich Cathedral – this building is incredible. I’m amazed at the skill of those who designed and built something so tall and so detailed without all the technology we have today. Another favourite landmark is the war memorial at Elveden – it’s not actually quite in Norfolk, but whenever I travel away, I know I am on the home stretch when I reach that point.

Beach

Gorleston – the beach is huge and unspoilt with beautiful sand. I also like that it’s a bit of a well kept secret so it’s usually quite nice and quiet. 

Town/city/village

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Taverham, where I spent my youth - the village of legends! So many fond memories of great mates growing up. We had BMX tracks, woods, parks, skate ramps and what seemed like a world of adventure on our doorstep. I made some lifelong friends in that area.

Place to eat

The Wildebeest in Stoke Holy Cross is an epic food place. It has an amazing atmosphere and such fine dining.

Pub

This is a tough one as I love so many -  The Coach & Horses on Thorpe Road, Norwich, is a proper pub. Any pub that makes its own ale, is busy every night of the week and where it takes two men to move one of their huge wooden bar stools is a proper pub to me. I love the skin-on chips and hearty quality meals, plus it’s great for the football or rugby.

Attraction or day out

For me it’s often an early start for Carrow Road. On a nice summer’s day, I like going early for a bite to eat and then on to Carrow Park to let the young ones play games coached by the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation team, before getting to the match. There’s always time for a beer afterwards to debate the game.

I also love Eaton Park – it’s the perfect picnic spot and enjoyed by so many people for different activities. Skateboarding and scootering, basketball, football, play park, walking dogs, jogging, friends meeting up, not to mention radio-controlled boats, crazy golf and a steam train. All on our doorstep – people would travel miles for a facility like that.

Something that happens every year 

The Old Catton Football Festival. Grass roots football at its finest. My 10-year-old son is now in his fifth season at the club. We love the event and the end of season appreciation for the players and managers. Not everyone a becomes professional footballer, but you see mini moments of joy and excitement and many lessons learnt.

Shop

Soundclash on St Benedict's, Norwich. From my love of rap records on import as a teen, through to rave tape packs in my late teens/early 20s and CDs thereafter, Soundclash was always must-visit. Even though technology has moved on, this brilliant shop still has everything for casual music fans and hard-core collectors. Spenny in the shop was always friendly, whether you made a purchase or just came in to get a handful of flyers to suss where to go out. It’s also the first time I got interested in signage, which become my career. A guy called Dib hand-painted the sign and I was in awe of those skills. Many moons later, I set up a company making fascia signs and today CIM stands strong 22 years on – thanks Dib!

Export 

Alan Partridge, for taking the Michael out of this fine place and putting us on the map. Failing that it’s got to be Humpty Dumpty Brewery – super friendly ale fanatics just up the road.