Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Visit Norwich - the alternative guide for wanderers

I have lived in the same city all my adult life and that city is Norwich, Norfolk, UK. I came here originally to study at the University of East Anglia and stayed. I know several people that did the same as me and a few more that left and then came back. Those of us that love it, really do love it. 'Not too big, not too small and enough to keep you entertained,' is a common mantra. It's also beautiful to look at.

Something I always do when I see someone in Norwich holding a map, is to stop and ask them if they need any help. Usually I find myself in a conversation that results in me listing many of Norwich's 'worth seeings'. I know there are websites that list attractions, but they are often the things you have to pay to go and see. Some of these attractions are great but Norwich is also a wonderful city to just wander around too. So here is my alternative list of 'experiences' for visitors to Norwich.

Riverside Walk A stroll along the river takes you to some great historic sights. We usually walk from Fye Bridge (the ducking stool bridge) to Pulls Ferry (the point from which Caen stone left the river and was transported up to build the cathedral) but you can go further both ways. Between Duke Street and Oak Street there is a wall covered in white writing - I believe it's an art installation! This is a picture of Cow Tower - one of the medieval city's defences found on a 'corner' of the river.
The Plantation Gardens. This really is like a secret garden. It costs next to nothing to get into. You leave a non-distinct part of the Earlham Road and the track opens up into a network of paths in a garden cut into a large hollow just next to the Roman Catholic Cathedral. It's striking - although this photo - taken mid-winter does not do it justice.
The shop 'Head in the Clouds' has existed in Pottergate for decades. It's a shop full of hippie stuff. It's quite an experience. I fell in love with it when I first came to Norwich. But I am a hippie.
The Waffle House is pretty unique. Those with huge appetites tend not to like it but the waffles and all their savoury and sweet toppings, delicious salads (with a choice of dressings) and thick shakes have kept me happy for many years. It's reasonably priced too and family friendly.

Elm Hill A beautifully preserved Tudor street. If you stand at the top and look down it - it's adorable. I also like the view of the back of the Elm Hill houses from the riverside walk: a higgledy piggledy array of add-ons to some houses.
The Cathedral Close It's beautiful! Don't just visit the cathedral!

The Cathedral I was recently given an alternative tour of the cathedral that included a musket ball lodged in a grave that dates back to the civil war, a statue of a nun with a slightly 'pregnant' bulge (scandalous), very old graffiti including a picture of a ship and Elizabethan gentleman and many dates carved into the walls, a grave showing a baby died before he was born - due to the Gregorian calendar shift, the grave of the man that paid to be buried upright in the wall so he would have an advantage come judgement day, the green men in the cloisters, the damaged tomb of an unpopular man...etc
Jurnett's Bar If you're in Norwich on a Friday evening and you like live music, go to Jurnett's bar, Wensum Lodge on King's Street (King's Street is an interesting wander in itself). Every Friday (excluding the main school holidays), several local musicians perform a 4 or 5 song or tune set. Jurnett's bar is in one of the oldest and grandest Jewish Houses in Norwich.

The Forum A huge modern thing! It invariably has an exhibition or craft fair in its atrium. There's a library at the back too. There's usually a pleasant buzz here.
Tombland Alley (and Tombland) Worth looking at for the wonkiest house ever!
The Market Open every day except Sunday, the market has some fantastic stalls and contains some pretty funny Norwich characters. Try the spice stall to be served by Gareth: whose humour many find insulting(!), the cheeseman stall for a huge range of cheeses, Follands Organics for very reasonably priced organic fruit and veg, a leather stall (many hand-crafted leather goods that make great gifts), bag stalls, underwear stalls, haberdasheries, second-hand goods, and much, much more. The food stalls at the back of the market are great for a quick, cheap, stodgy, filling and scrummy snack or lunch!

The 'Lanes' Head in the Clouds is found in the lanes. It's definitely where most of my favourite shops are found. 'The Lanes' includes Pottergate, Lower Goat Lane, Bedford Street, Bridewell Alley, Dove Street and St Benedict's Street etc and is full of one-off independent shops.

Anglia Square The budget shop centre of the Universe! Not particularly pleasant to look at but great for numerous bargains.

The Aviva Building on Surrey Street. It's used as an office building but the occupants don't mind if you pop in to look at their somewhat grand marble hall. If you're lucky the security guard will take you upstairs to see the ornate clock and the unused historic boardroom.

The Arts' Centre on St Benedict's Street, set in an old church. It's a venue for lesser known national bands. The bar also hosts lots of gigs for local musicians. Check out the programme if you're visiting - you might catch something great.

UEA The strange ziggurats and the Sainsbury's Centre are worth a look from the campus lake ('the Broad'). The concrete architecture isn't to everyone's taste but there's a great atmosphere during term time. It's also near Earlham Park (and Earlham Park Cafe).

The Adam and Eve I used to work in this pub when I was a student. You have to be small to work there! Founded in 1249 a.d., it claims to be Norwich's oldest pub.

Mousehold Heath, near the prison on Britannia Road, is worth a climb for the views of the city.

The pedestrian streets Central Norwich is pleasant to wander around because of the number of streets that are closed to traffic and as the streets pretty much follow the original medieval road plan, it makes quite a labyrinth.Bridewell AlleyLondon StreetDavey Place

Rosary Cemetery. Rather beautiful and atmospheric. The entrance is close to where Rosary Road meets Thorpe Road.

Foodcycle Friday Meals I was one of the original project leaders that launched this project that take surplus food from food retail businesses that would otherwise have been thrown away and uses it to cook a free meal for all that attend on Friday nights at 7 p.m. in the Friends' Meeting House on Upper Goat Lane. My experience is that people seem to think FoodCycle should only give meals to those really in need but we always believed it was more about preventing food waste and demonstrating what people could do when they came together - with a little effort and time. We saw it more as a community builder. It currently attracts a diverse mix and often serves great food.

The Brain I don't know who put it there, but it has always tickled me that there's a brain outside Next.


  1. Well done, since I really get a sense of the place, but the brain makes no sense.

  2. I love the brain. But, like mine, it's wondering where you are. Please advise.

  3. French sculptors anne and Patrick Poirier were commissioned to create public sculpture about sir Thomas Browne on the occasion of his 400 th birth-date anniversary. I should know as I performed in costume as Sir thomas Browne at their unveiling in 2005. i quite like the 2 white marble pieces, however, because NCC commissioned a Frenchman using a French edition of Browne without bothering to proof-read his text, several titles of Browne's literary works have been spelt wrongly. The pieces have not fulfilled their commission as only a very few people are remotely aware of their connection to the statue of Sir T.B. !

  4. i wondered where i left it

  5. Thank you for the suggestions. Very helpful.


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