Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Norwich...'a fine city'...

A very good friend and colleague is leaving our department and moving to a job in another area of the country. We have become very close friends since she joined us 6 years ago and I will be very sorry to see her go. Of course, we will remain friends and I know we will make every effort to keep in close contact - she has seen me through some tricky times in the last few years and I cannot imagine losing touch but equally, I'm realistic enough to know the landscape is inevitably shifting a bit. At the moment, we live about 5 mins from each other, with a good range of 'favourite haunts' in the neighbourhood and the 'shall we just meet in 10 mins at...?' conversations are going to become a thing of the past. But, I'm trying to embrace the change and think this is yet another new chapter, new places to explore I'm sure and an even greater reason to make an effort to make time for life outside work.

I have been trying to put together a collection of photos of folk at work for her and decided to intersperse them with some of the local landmarks. Yesterday was glorious (thank goodness I didn't wait til today!!) and I took a walk around the city from home in a rough circuit of places to remember. It gave me another dose of appreciation for where I live - everywhere has its pros and cons but all in all, I think Norwich lives up to its motto...it's certainly not a bad place to live!

Just around the corner from me is Norwich Playhouse - home to theatre, music, comedy and a lovely pub garden...plus an onlooking dragon from this summer's 'GoGo Dragons' exhibition (a trail of painted dragon statues around the cities streets and shops)...


Just past the playhouse a bridge crosses the River Wensum that runs through the city centre. Looking down the river, the cathedral spire stands out...


This is old industrial Norwich but now redeveloped with newer housing blocks alongside the medieval and industrial buildings. Some of the canoes were out enjoying the sunshine on the river...


Norwich University of the Arts is housed in beautiful old buildings. Through this archway is a lovely courtyard with the ruined walls of much earlier architecture...


Much of Norwich is pedestrianised which makes it entirely walkable. Heading into the city centre with St Andrews Hall on the left...


...towards my favourite movie spot. My son used to tease that this is a very middle class cinema, with a mix of current and eclectic films and what he described as 'a better aroma of clientele' - of course he was teasing me and not really making a judgement about people here or elsewhere. But I am not ashamed to admit that I like its small screens and cosy theatres, and the fact you can take a very nice glass of wine in with you! I feel ok about going here on my own and just losing myself in a film for a bit. And it has been a regular haunt for my friend and I.


The castle remains an imposing structure in the middle of the city and houses a museum which has been reinvigorated, with much interactive opportunity in amongst the stuffed animals and Egyptian mummification exhibits of such fascination from my childhood...


Looking away from the castle, towards the market place, is the ornate Royal Arcade, perhaps not as spectacular as the array of arcades in Leeds, but rather lovely all the same...


Gentleman's Walk is the main thoroughfare that runs alongside the marketplace and shop fronts...


From the Walk you can pass the side of the Haymarket looking up towards the county library, housed in the fabulous rebuilt Forum building, also home of the BBC studios and with an amphitheatre like area which provides a place to sit, to meet and to watch an array of life and activity.


When I was a child this statue of renowned 17th Century Norwich medic, Sir Thomas Browne, overlooked a fountain. Now it is an open, stepped area with quirky sculptures, commonly used as a place to meet and often frequented by buskers and the crowds they gather.


At the top of Hay Hill the plaza widens, with the Forum and City Hall dominating the view...


and overlooking beautiful St Peter Mancroft church...


The Assembly House is nestled beside the city's Theatre Royal, a lovely grand building with stunning ornate interior decor. As a child, this was the place that we came for schools music competitions and I can remember seeing The Yellow Submarine in the room that was the Noverre Cinema (I seem to remember my parents leaving the three of us - none of us very old, I'm sure - at the cinema whilst they nipped to the shops!). Now, it hosts a lovely restaurant that does a good afternoon tea or pre theatre dinner and the old Noverre is the venue for blood donation - nothing quite like feeling virtuous under crystal chandeliers!! :)


We are lucky to have green spaces in our city - Chapelfield Gardens a leafy haven, popular with families and runners, as well as folk just hanging out on the grass in the sunshine...



From there, I wandered back across the front of the Forum and City Hall and across the top of the colourful market, the castle in the mid distance now...




...before heading back towards the boho end of town, the lively Norwich Lanes, full of quirky shops and cafes, past the war memorial and the decorative old Guildhall...



The bicycle shop is perhaps my favourite little place to eat, drink and just relax and definitely the go to spot for my friend and I. When I was 16, I was bought a Raleigh bike from here (it really was a bicycle shop!) - my first new bike (my Dad was an auction house fan - I had previously had a range of slightly dodgy hand me downs!) which I was very proud of. Now it serves lovely tapas like food as well as bigger meals and a very drinkable glass of Malbec at just the right temperature...!



Back across another bridge for the last few hundred yards home...


Periodically, I wonder about pulling up and resettling elsewhere. But there is a lot that holds me to this place. And at the moment I think I'll stay put. I may just be taking a few trips further afield in the interests of friendship...

S x

9 comments:

  1. I've never been to Norwich but this post make it look like a great place to visit (one day!) with lots to see and lots of history!

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  2. What a lovely place to live. I have vague memories of visiting the castle as a child when we stayed on a houseboat on the Broads. Fun times! xx

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  3. I fine city indeed. It looks like a great place to live - beautiful, historic buildings and lots of open spaces. Definitely going on my 'city break' list. xx

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  4. This was a very interesting post as I've never been to Norwich - it looks great. My husband's from East Anglia and sometimes mentions Norwich. Now I've seen your post we shall definitely have to go.
    Cathy x

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  5. Thank you for the tour around Norwich, I have never been but it looks like a good mixture of old and new. Xxx

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  6. I've never heard of the Bicycle Shop, nor been to the Assembly House or Chapelfield Gardens. Still lots for me to explore.

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  7. Hello Sandra...I was more than happy to read what you have posted here. Norwich, ' a fine city' indeed. That was the signboard that greeted me as soon as I came into the city from London way back in 1977. Is the signboard still there after all these years? I used to live here at Brunswick Road while furthering my studies at Norwich City College...aahh ...those beautiful years there. Reading this post made me feel connected again to this city. Thank you for posting and it sure made me very very happy. Warmest regards....Nora , Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

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    1. Hello Nora, how nice of you to pop by. The sign is still there though I think it's been revamped a bit over the years! Brunswick Road looks very different now - the hospital has moved to a new building on the Cringleford side of the city and the old tower blocks on the Brunswick Road site have gone, with new buildings around a green space that was the hospital car park! City college has had something of a facelift too, but still there. As is much of the city - there are some beautiful old parts and although the city continues to evolve and develop it retains a lovely feel. Glad you enjoyed a trip down memory lane :)

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    2. Hello again Sandra....thank you for taking the time to reply to my comments and for the updates. Going through your pics, I noticed the colorful market place is still there...it's one of the places that I frequented for my weekly supplies. My stay in Norwich was just about 2 years . I then left for Leeds in the autumn of 1979 and went on to stay there for another 3 years. By the way, my flat at Brunswick Rd was next to the dentist and if I remember it well , there used to be a bus stop right in front of it. My best wishes and warmest regards to you and your family. Thank you once again for a memorable read. Nora...KL , Msia.

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