A pull to the North Norfolk coast has ushered in a new way of family life for Daniel and Lisa Broch.
Words: Jessica Johnson. Photographs: Bill Kingston
As a property developer and founder of the Everyman cinema chain, there’s nothing too unusual about the idea of a blind bid for Daniel Broch, even when it comes to buying a house. He remembers the moment he spied his dream coastal home when, driving through the outskirts of Blakeney village with his wife Lisa and daughters in 2011, they arrived at a sea-facing plot boasting uninterrupted views across the salt pits of Blakeney marshes.
‘It was a pitch-black night,’ recalls Daniel. ‘There was a house on the land which I couldn’t see in the dark. I just knew exactly how much potential a site like this would have.’ With plans to tend to business overseas the following day, paperwork and purchase of the land was left in the hands of Lisa, who managed to successfully secure the house in his absence.
Together with their daughters Myla and Edith, Daniel and Lisa had originally relocated from London in 2009. Lisa grew up spending summer holidays caravanning as a family of six close to her grandparents in Brancaster, which is a 30-minute drive up the winding coastal road. She had long harboured a dream to provide her girls with the same kind of idyllic childhood spent growing up by the sea, when long, summer days meant cycling with friends, lazing on the beach and hiding in nooks and crannies along the vast, unspoilt coastline.
‘It’s all very simple stuff – this place is who I am,’ says Lisa. ‘The stars at night are incredible, you have seals on your doorstep, and the raw, vibrant marshland is nature at its absolute best. I’ve always said I’d choose my partner on the back of whether they liked this part of coast – if it’s not for you, you’re not for me!’
Discovering local independent school Gresham’s – coupled with the realisation that their family property company, Bliss, could work anywhere with broadband – became catalysts for permanent change. The girls are flourishing at Gresham’s and enjoying the daily rhythms that come with living by the tide – when it’s out, the family don wellies for long, muddy walks with Indie the dog, while at high tide, it’s all hands on deck for a day out.
It turned out the North Norfolk coast was definitely for Daniel, too, despite being London born and bred. ‘I grew up for the first 30 years of my life not even thinking about the weather, but living by the coast means that your day has a real start and an end,’ he says. ‘There’s a sense of society and people here seem more interested in living – you’re forced to make the connections that you don’t need to in the city.’
Not that he’s ready to put his feet up. One of Bliss’ current projects is set to turn Bliss Blakeney into a unique ‘hometel’ destination where the discerning traveller can use a section of the family home as a luxury base to explore the Norfolk coastline. If the Everyman cinema (loved by couples for its plush chairs, ample legroom and sophisticated snack selection) ran coastal holidays, they might just look like this one: enter The Cabin.
Complete with four bedroom suites, private decking, a roaring log fire and an open living space filled with natural light, The Cabin was constructed in seven weeks using sustainable Cross Laminated Timber laid on concrete foundations.
‘We want couples, families or groups of friends to take a week out of their busy lives and slow down to a pace where you can go for a great walk, come back and make a fire and enjoy locally sourced food and wine around the table together,’ says Lisa, who launched The Cabin’s complimentary ‘Brown Bag’ to offer guests their first flavour of Norfolk’s finest handmade produce; along with fresh eggs, bacon, Norfolk apple juice and luxury beauty products, there’s also a vintage record ready to be spun on the in-house bright red Crosley turntable.
The Cabin is a treat for all the senses. Inside, a Scandi-inspired fusion of warm woody smells is piqued by gorgeous top notes; a sleek glass bottle reveals bespoke fragrance ‘The Cabin’ created by perfume emporium, Le Labo. As a lover of antiques and interiors, Lisa has thrown herself into the role of designer; evident in the vivid satsuma and hot pink shades of the kitchen, and the bedroom walls papered in the bold floral designs of Danish architect Arne Jacobsen; the designer is believed to have sketched the patterns in his own hideaway cabin during escape from the Second World War.
The interiors have been exclusively furnished by designers and friends Emma Nixey and Andrew Godfrey. Cushions and lamps are covered in vintage African Batik fabrics, wooden corners glow under the weight of classic English Anglepoises and vintage Krupuk lanterns, while the timber walls, featuring arresting images of abandoned wooden boats and wild local marshland shot by Andrew Godfrey, remind you to step outside and take a lungful of sea air.
‘There’s a whole playground out there,’ says Lisa. ‘Being at The Cabin, and being able to spend time swimming, sailing, crabbing or walking on the beach, gives you space to step out of your life to make new choices. We always make our best decisions when we’re walking across the marsh – that’s where our creative flow lies.’
Lisa's perfect weekend
• Wiveton Hall, a café and farm shop set in a Jacobean manor, makes the summer amazing! You can pick your own seasonal dishes for lunch, plus they run the best tapas evenings wivetonhall.co.uk
• Back to the Garden is a fantastic farm shop, café and restaurant, and home to the best butcher in town back-to-the-garden.co.uk
• At high tide, I love kayaking or paddle-boarding out to Blakeney Watch House, Swallows and Amazons-style, and then dragging the boats back home through the remaining water. We’ll often return with hand-picked samphire or seaweed from the marshes that we’ll cook up for supper.
• The Anchor Inn at Morston is run by two old school friends who serve up locally sourced oysters and homemade chowders supporting some of Norfolk’s finest food producers morstonanchor.co.uk