April 2022
More photos here

Tuesday 19th

After my first visit to Norwich in 2017 the subsequent visits,  in 2019 and 2020, became something of a microcosm of the Covid experience. Eat Out to Help Out was the thing in 2019, which proved to be a big mistake, and no little contributor to the subsequent resurgence and need for more lockdowns that year, into 2020, which we were tentatively emerging from when we visited Norwich that summer, and were still experiencing restrictions and suffered from the pingdemic. This year I'm here on my own for a short spring break, with encouragement added by a sudden obsession with tracing my family back, and thereby finding that the original 19th-century Cottons came to Shoreditch from Norwich, bringing their shoemaking skills with them.

The 11.00 train from Liverpool Street was empty and 12 carriages long, with no children or smelly food eaters in my carriage the whole journey. The habitual why-no-fruitcake conversation was had with the refreshments trolley person, and the Victoria sponge alternative was made do with. I got to the Premier Inn 1.00ish, and as the check-in time is now after 3.00 I was prepared to leave my bag, but was able to check in and settle in to my superior Premier Plus room, before heading off for some initial church visiting, eating a Pret cheese toastie, checking out some churches, finding one churchyard cat, buying a cinnamon donut, three books on Norwich and a very tasteful big mug, and returning to my room for tea and cake and a snooze. Norwich was populated, but not overly or underly so, as it had been during the between-lockdown days, the sun was out and the cathedral and its close were full of spring blossom, daffs and stuff.

In the evening I walked along the river and then over it to explore crannies and find pretty churches where some of which my 18th-century relations were baptised, married and buried. I'm appreciating these churches more for realising that not finding them open means I can more admire the outside, and the inside will probably be a bit plain anyway and certainly will have no frescoes to speak of. Very few people about, which suited my need to wander lonely.





Wednesday 20th
The breakfast at the Premier Inn is back to buffet, after the Covid-period table service. The continental breakfast is still fine, if not unusual. The croissants were good and fresh, but the coffee machine being broken was a bit of a blow. The instant alternative was acceptable, though, I quietly confess.

A morning of favourites To the Rosary Cemetery first, with the spring sunshine, birdsong and complete lack of fellow visitors making for a fine uplifting wander. To the cathedral after, of course, also sunlit and sparsely populated, followed by a toastie lunch and a little light book and bun buying. On the way back to the hotel I finally got to sample the gelateria near the castle. Sometimes you choose flavours and sometimes flavours choose you...coconut and hot cross bun! And no disappointment.

Out in the evening over the river again and further into the area where my shoemaking ancestors worked, it would seem, and got christened, married and buried, a lot of them at St Mary Coslany and St Martin at Oak. One is now a book warehouse and the other a music study centre. Both got their photos took in the spring evening sunshine. Back to the hotel for a restaurant booking, made due to the temptation of the vegan Filled Yorkie - veggie sausages, gravy, mash and peas, served up in a Yorkshire pudding. As a big fan of the Yorkshire pudding back in my meat-eating early years I was keen to revisit a childhood Sunday treat, and was not disappointed.

Thursday 21st
To Great Yarmouth today, to visit the huge Minster church of St Nicholas and also Great Yarmouth's cemetery, which is handily attached to the churchyard. The train from Norwich takes only a little over half an hour, so I was soon making for the church, the streets surrounding which were full of funfair rides. I obviously said the right thing mentioning this to the attendants in the church as they were much discommoded by it washing up to the church, this situation evidently being caused by the market square where the fair usually takes place being redeveloped. The church sure is big - the guide inside, who wrote the book, put it down to excess wealth. The man in the traditional sweet shop I patronised later (for raspberry ruffles) thought that the Bishop of Norwich, Herbert de Losinga, who built St Nicholas in 1101, must have had some major sins to expiate, which got us onto the subject of Jimmy Saville, but let's put all that behind us and visit the cemetery. I concentrated on the older half, and found it lawny and well kept, comparatively, with no big mausoleums, but some nice stones and monuments and vistas.

I then headed towards the centre of town for some lunch. There being no Pret I found myself in a large cafe on the way down to the seafront, which served toasties but was so retro they didn't even offer non-white bread, and only had non-artisanal crisps. But trad can be good, so I also had a stroll along the pier, admired the donkeys, and got myself a vanilla ice cream in a wafer cornet on the way back to the train.

An evening visit to the Cathedral was a solitary joy, followed by a wander in town and then booking myself into the hotel restaurant for 7.00 on my return. I had the veggie burger and skin-on chips this time with, I kid you not, cream soda - another trip down memory lane after last night's Yorkshire pudding.

Friday 22nd
Dithering between a last morning in Norwich and getting home before lunch I finally decided on the latter, caught the 9.30 and was home
soon after 12.00. Getting myself a coffee and a Kit Kat on the train I had to wait for the two blokes ahead of me to get served with many cans of beer, 40-odd quids worth, at just gone 10.00am. It turned out they were part of a stag party, but that's no excuse, I hope you'll agree. The why-no-fruitcake conversation was had again, with the woman serving admitting to many people asking and complaining - and so not just me - one only yesterday.



Venice // Florence // London // Berlin // Trips