Who are you and what do you do?
I am Paul Dickson. I am an independent tour guide in Norwich and the Norfolk Broads. My tours cover a range of subjects such as Shardlake’s Norwich – a celebration of CJ Sansom’s novel Tombland and a look at Norwich at the time of Kett’s Rebellion. In the Broads, I have recently developed a tour which begins at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, goes through part of the garden, then along the Fleet Dyke to the River Bure and views of St Benet’s Abbey, before returning to Fairhaven Garden through South Walsham Marshes. The tour ends with coffee or tea and the garden’s homemade cake. I am also an independent publisher. During lockdown I published The Lighter Side of Lockdown, a selection of poetry by four friends who were self-isolating. The booklet is raising money for the Intensive Care Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. I moved to Norfolk in 1988 to work for the National Trust in East Anglia as Marketing and Communications Manager, then in 1999 went freelance, primarily doing PR work for tourism businesses. I live in Norwich and was born in Newcastle upon Tyne quite a long time ago.
Are you a keen cook?
I can’t say that I am but I enjoy my partner, Illuminee’s, cooking very much! She comes from Rwanda and her recipes are very much a fusion of African and European styles. We mainly eat a vegetarian diet. I am a big fan of her roasted celeriac with spicy chickpeas. She also cooks a great spicy cauliflower dish, along with her Matoke (green bananas), which is a very popular food in Rwanda. Norwich Market is an excellent place to pick up ingredients for a great vegetarian meal, but we also go to the international food shops like Spice Land on Dereham Road.
What’s your signature dish?
Omelette with mushrooms, onions and cayenne pepper. This recipe was inspired by Illuminee. I particularly like spicing up the omelette with cayenne pepper. I did go through a stage of cooking a lot of vegetarian stir fries – chop it up and chuck it in! My favourite TV chefs are the Hairy Bikers. I really like their honest enthusiasm for the food that they produce. Food is to be enjoyed – and I enjoy eating it!
Tell us about a memorable meal you’ve either made or enjoyed out
We went to Great Yarmouth for a beach walk on August Bank Holiday Monday and ended up having lunch at the Imperial Hotel. It was very busy, but the Imperial team fitted us in and we were looked after superbly. I had a fabulous herb crusted cod with puttanesca sauce. Illuminee enjoyed traditional haddock and chips. We then had mouthwatering desserts – Bakewell tart with raspberry sorbet and sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. We both had a large pot of Earl Grey leaf tea to accompany the food.
Where do you like to eat out here in East Anglia?
I really like going to The Pantry at Jarrold’s in Norwich – I love their cheese scones and the generous portion of butter, which I fully use. The same goes for Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, who also produce delicious cheese scones and a fabulous vegetarian quiche. One day I’ll have to have a go at making my own spicy cheese scone.
Any favourite local producers or products?
Mrs Temple’s Cheese – her Binham Blue and Walsingham cheeses are my favourites – you can taste Norfolk in her cheese. I am also a fan of Bread Source in Norwich – especially their Danish rye bread, which is lovely toasted and dripping in butter. I don’t drink alcohol any more, but used to like Wolf Brewery and Chalk House Brewery beers. I’m a tea drinker now and have enjoyed dropping by Birchley’s Loose Leaf Tea on Norwich Market for a redbush.
Do you have a much loved gadget or gizmo?
I’ve just bought a super new can opener from TK Maxx!
What’s the best foodie present someone has given you?
My daughter, Rebecca, made some fabulous flapjacks as a Christmas present one year.
The Plug – I am in the process of publishing My Word! – the stories behind our favourite words by Peter Sargent. It’s on sale from October 1 and looks at the entertaining and surprising background to common words. For example, what on earth do King Henry VIII and Paddington Bear have in common? www.pauldicksonbooks.co.uk