An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
Bringing the Outside In
Tel: 01328 713093
A quirky unique gift shop branded around the notion of ‘outside in’ that exhibits stunning local landscape photography and sells a wonderful selection of coastal artefacts that capture the true spirit of the North Norfolk coastline.
Where to find it
BTOI is situated in the village of Holkham next to the entrance of the Holkham estate and The Victoria hotel. It can be found on the main A149 coastal road from Old Hunstanton to Wells-next-the-Sea which is a delightful drive that passes through endless picturesque villages that will urge you to pull up, get out and explore so allow yourself plenty of time for a leisurely trip. A visit to this area could never be complete without a stop off at the award-winning Holkham beach either, so bring your flip-flops and camera; you’re in for a treat. As Martin Billing, owner of BTOI for ten years now sums u: ‘smile, breathe and go slowly’. This is the essence of Norfolk life.
What to expect
Gather together the core elements of the Norfolk coast and put them in a shop. That’s what Martin has done. Everything ‘outside’: stunning scenery, breathtaking coast, nature and enjoyment of the simple things in life, is brought ‘inside’ to transform your home into everyday tranquillity and uncomplicated living. The shop is a relaxed informal affair with items for sale in sheds and outbuildings as well as the main premises. This layout makes for a most enjoyable browse.
What can you buy here?
Martin began his Norfolk career as a landscape photographer and later formed BTOI as part of the Cambridge young enterprise initiative as a means of exhibiting his work. What I love best about his photography is his gift of truly reflecting Norfolk in every shot. His pictures tell stories and create real moving scenarios which is no mean feat from a still image. His title summaries are inspiring: “a late autumn evening, alone in this vast space, having the pleasure to watch the movement of a beautiful night” and make you want to purchase a piece of this Norfolk bliss.
The coastal items for sale also incorporate this idyllic way of life. It’s an unusual array of themed offerings that you’ll not find elsewhere in Norfolk. Nature-inspired wooden creations such as birds, boats and fish can be bought as well as sea life ornaments and other homely decorations. The driftwood clocks are a favourite of mine and will be featuring on my birthday list. The rope work and nautical finds are unique, and the message-in-a-bottle kits are sure to delight any child or child at heart. You’ll also find a selection of coastal coffee table books and boxed card sets.
Whether you are looking for something special or just browsing as a passer-by this shop, with its unusual haphazard layout, is one of the county’s must-visit venues.
BTOI is open every day except Tuesday 10.30am – 4.00pm. Landscape photography prices start from £44 for a 20 x 16 in print, framed for £74. Canvases range from £150-£360.