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Originally posted August 15 2010 at 15:08 under Moments and Friends and General. 0 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled. Last modified: 15 August 2010 at 15:57

A Norwich Trip

Back in Croydon
Photo of Norwich Castle

Norwich Castle

A couple of weekends ago (well, three by now) Janet and I headed for a little break in Norwich (I was tempted to title this post “Ha’ yer fa’r got a dickey, bor?” but we didn’t really hear that broad an accent, and certainly no one enquiring about my father’s ownership of a donkey). We saw a couple of cathedrals, some pubs, a market, an old hall, a restaurant and some swans.


Photo of the river

Norwich, a lovely view

Having spent a couple of hours on a train we arrived to wonder if we’d accidentally went home. A small swarm of black and white clad geordies passed us by. This was due to Newcastle playing Norwich in a friendly, by complete coincidence. So I managed to travel all that way, with the lads in town, and not see the match (not that Jan would have been too impressed with me abandoning her in a strange town!). With a few hours to spare until we could check in it was time to wander round a bit.

Bakers Oven

Bakers Oven—It got Jan very excited

Norwich isn’t the biggest town centre, so it didn’t take too long to have a quick look around. Should you require mushy peas, then the market has a place for you. The market is a strange little affair, with it’s permanently covered little stores in their long rows. As we weren’t in a particular pea mood we settled for the pub on the corner, where we could enjoy a pint and watch the world go by for a bit. We wandered round the rest of the town, noting places to revisit the next day when less burdened down with awkward bags, until the clock ticked round to the time to once more pull the map out and try and find our way to accommodation.


We did manage to find the apartment without too much trouble actually. This was well situated for town (a short five minute walk away from the centre, once you know where it is) and comfortable enough, though not without its quirks. They’d obviously inserted a couple of walls to create two rooms from one (part of the bedroom window frame was actually still in the lounge). This meant the lightswitch for the bedroom was somehow in the hall by the entrance door (and should anyone ever need to know, the hall lightswitch is low level near a socket). There’s quite a dangerous step between hall and kitchen too.

Out and About
Photograph of the two names pub

The Gardner’s Arms/Murderers

Janet at the Ribs of Beef

Having dumped backs and recovered it was time to it was time to head out and about into town. We managed to find somewhere I knew existed by had never understood, the pub with two names. Officially the Gardner’s Arms it apparently got the nickname the Murderer’s due to some nefarious act on the premises. It’s a nice enough pub as well, decent beer. It wasn’t our favourite pub though. That we discovered entirely by accident; The Ribs of Beef, in a quiet spot by the River Wensum, with a little row of outside tables. With a nice summer sky it was pretty much perfect. We did also manage to find the oldest pub in Norwich at one point too, but it wasn’t as nice.

Help We’re Lost

We couldn’t stay there forever though, so, promising to return, we journeyed on. There were probably more pubs. There was certainly the Woolpack, from which we emerged and began to wander down the road; only to realise we weren’t entirely sure where it was taking us and wisely back tracking. Having become a little lost it turned out to be a little late to find food. Having a fully equipped apartment turned out to be a good idea as we wandered into Tesco to acquire pizza!


Sunday was the first day for proper exploration. With a little list of possible places to visit, we headed out the door to find the first of them.

Plantation Garden
Photo of the Plantation Gardens

The lovely plantation gardens

The Plantation Garden is somewhere I’d seen the signpost for a few times on previous visits but never investigated before. I’m glad we did though as, nestled amongst the hotels and guest houses, it provides a little island of quirky tranquillity. Originally created in the mid-nineteenth century from a chalk quarry by the upholster/cabinet maker Henry Trevor, the gardens are these days restored and cared for by their own trust. The trust have managed to restore much of the once abandoned gardens to reveal their strange and interesting features, with gothic style fountain and “medieval” style walls created from locally produced “fancy” bricks. The whole thing has a charm of its own, that even the light rain couldn’t dampen (the few other visitors at that time in the morning seemed to have anticipated this and all had umbrellas).

The Forum

The Forum, Norwich

Having delighted in the garden we headed down into the town proper. There we investigated one of Norwich’s newest buildings, it’s centre piece of modern architecture. The Forum contains the central library, as well as the local BBC and other facilities. As well as my almost distractedly wandering behind the counter in the little shop (form where we bought postcards to send ourselves and others) we were somewhat surprised to see a bunch of artificial christmas trees and smoke. The wardrobe with children passing through suggested that this was Narnia related, though what the apparently bright pink thing on the far side of the wardrobe was I have no idea (all part of the Norfolk Children and Young People’s Film Festival, it seems).

Getting over that little surprise the cafe did reasonable cups of coffee and tea while we got a breath back and decided where to head next. Of course next was shopping, We visited the little shop we’d seen the day before, and wandered through the Royal Arcade. There we managed to avoid buying anything in the toy shop but just had to get some mustard from the Coleman’s shop. Enough shopping though; on with being tourists!

Photo of Norwich castle keep

The exterior of Norwich Castle

Of course we couldn’t visit Norwich without visiting the castle!. We started in the museum/art gallery part (housed in what was once the prison buildings which came to occupy the site). There we could wonder at paintings, the array of stuffed birds and animals (why is it stuffed birds always seem creepiest?) and the vast collection of teapots. By sheer coincidence we’d discovered from the advertising around town that there was a photographic Beatles to Bowie exhibition also on, which kept Jan happy even when we realised we’d actually seen pretty much the same thing at the Laing in Newcastle (we seem to be following the exhibition tour around the country). We weren’t prepared for the Retrospective of Bridget Riley at the back of the Beatles stuff though. Don’t stare at those paintings for too long! Made us all wobbly it did.

Having taken in enough art and teapots we stumbled upon the castle proper. The little model is still there, along with the suit of armour. Standing in the main area one does get a sense of how large the keep is, even if the feeling of how the castle would have been is lacking due to the lack of floors. The fact it is only the keep means it doesn’t take too long to wander around as well, though next time I think we’ll definitely have to do the battlements tour (feel cheated to have been there and never made it to the top). Having waved goodbye to the dragon it was time to set off again.

Along The River

The grand plan called for a stroll along the riverside, as the morning’s drizzle had faded away and it seemed like a pleasant enough thing to do. Armed with map I promptly got us a bit lost trying to find our designated starting point of Carrow Bridge, but eventually we were able to wander across and look down on Norwich’s boom towers before turning along the river bank.

Swans swimming on the river

The swans show off

The walk started pretty well. First there was the Dood. He was sat chilling in some sort of barn like building by the river, with Oasis blaring out loudly. It looked the sort of pad and relaxing Sunday we’d all love. Then there was the family of swans who swam by. They acted as if they knew they were the perfect little family, the two adults and two cygnets. The adults even turned their heads in unison to look straight at my as I took a photo, as if to say "Yes, we are beautiful, aren’t we?"

Photo of Pull's Ferry

Pull’s Ferry—the prettiest spot in Norwich

Making it along the river to the station we stopped for refreshments in the Complete Angler before continuing along to something I was sort of aware was there but had managed to not remember. Pull’s Ferry is as picturesque as ever. Originally a water gate, with a canal running through to transport stone to build the cathedral, the flint building as several later additions. It was restored with money partly raised by the girl guides and now operates as tea rooms. I did start to wander up inside but was scared off by the sense of wandering into an old lady’s kitchen and backed out!

Cow Tower

The peculiar Cow Tower

Speaking of old buildings a pleasant walk further along the river brought sight of the Cow Tower, one of the earliest purpose built artillery blockhouses in England. It was placed to augment the defences of Norwich, rising up to cover the high ground on the opposite side of the river. Today it is an impressive but empty shell occupied by nothing but pigeons.

More refreshments required we were able to follow the river even further round to our favourite pun, the already mentioned Ribs of Beef. Had we not had dinner planned for later that evening we may have lingered much longer but we finally dragged our weary feet onwards along the Wensum’s course, passing the strange rendition of Utopia on a riverside building to finally find ourselves wandering back up the road to the apartment, thoroughly tired and happy.


Utopia written on a building

A Good Night
Janet in Figaros

Janet in Figaro’s

After a well deserved rest it was time for dinner. First though we randomly popped in to admire the catholic cathedral on the way into town. They certainly don’t build churches like they used to, with its impressive architecture soaring upward. Onwards though, to Figaro’s (their flash doesn’t seem to load in Firefox, try here to see. When even the pixie is happy you know it must be good. We both had the Funghi Al Figaro to start and while I followed with the excellent Spaghetti Alla Reggiana Jan had the equally good American Hot Pizza. Jan doesn’t do pudding very often but I happily had a pretty damn fine tiramisu (having ummed and arrred because I know Antony’s Portion is good). Suitably stuffed we managed to wander home to rest at the end of a second packed but very enjoyable day


All I can say to the people of Norwich is please get a bloody left luggage office. A check out time of ten meant dragging bags around for the day, as apparently the station contains no such place. Ahhh. Never mind, we worked our way down the list of things to see regardless.

Dragon’s Hall
Dragon Hall

The Dragon Hall

First up was Dragon Hall, a medieval trader’s hall close to the river. It’s an interesting look back at Norwich’s history but did feel a little small for the admission price (given it was only £6.20 for all we saw in the castle £5 here seemed a bit steep). Still, we did get to try on silly hats, and the dragon had to go to his hall.

The author looking silly

Ian wearing a silly hat

Back Along The River

We’d actually passed by Dragon’s Hall on the way to the river the day before and so decided to more or less follow our steps from that day again. The Dood was obviously busy on a Monday, for there was no sign of him. We were passed by the two days late people though, just before reaching the station. By now we felt we knew our way around quite well, so there was no worry of getting lost heading towards Pull’s Ferry where we could turn for our second cathedral.

Cathedral Photo

The more famous cathedral of Norwich

We wandered round the cathedral cloisters, watching people work through the easiest maze in the world until we found a very friendly old lady who insisted on forcing a leaflet upon us and ensuring we weren’t lost. Having successfully negotiated such gatekeepers we entered the cathedral proper. It doesn’t have as intimate a feel as its catholic counterpart but that can’t be helped when it is built to an even grander scale. I have to say cathedrals always confuse me a little with there profusion of alters—why so many? We did have to avoid wandering into a service at one of them as we looked round. At least Janet’s candle didn’t go out.

Bell Hotel

Hungry we wandered back towards town, passing leaning buildings and ornate gateways around Tombland (named after open space I’m told, not graves!). The Bell Hotel is a familiar Norwich landmark by the castle and there we ate, whilst listening to some old man and his daughter(?) complaining about none arriving food (caused, as best we could make out, by his having given his age rather than their table number). Always entertaining.

Back to the Ribs
Swans on the river

Swans on the river by the Ribs of Beef

We really couldn’t leave without one more trip down to the river though, so we decamped to relax a last time in the Ribs. The family of swans even swam by as if to say goodbye. We didn’t particularly want to leave when we heaved the bags on and back towards the station, but leave we must. A hurried and half finished pint in the Complete Angler saw us rushing to leap on the train home.

Next time we must see more of Norfolk’s surrounding countryside and little villages but for this little weekend we had much jollificearshuns.

More Photos: I’ve uploaded more photos of the little trip.

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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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