There’s something about this slogan – it’s the city tag-line that greets you as you arrive.
It’s the word ‘fine’. There’s something about fine, it feels like it could be readily interchanged with ‘so so’ ’adequate’ ‘don’t care’.
“How was your day?” “Fine.” (For fine, read “pretty bloody average but I’ll keep it to one syllable as we both know this is just a staple in the world of pleasantries and it’s not socially acceptable to give you the blow-by-blow account.)
Fine has connotations, it sets the expectation level. I love fine-dining and regularly over indulge in fine wines but when it comes to a city, I’m not sure it’s my adjective of choice.
Norwich is not a fine city. It’s a great city. It’s an inspiring, inclusive, culturally-rich, pretty and vibrant city. I’ve lived here a few times on my travels around the UK and chose to come back here after living in Australia. Anyone who leaves Bondi for Norfolk needs a rather strong catalyst.
This weekend, I’m stepping out of the front door and taking in Norwich city through the eyes of a tourist and I hope to show you why it’s far from fine.
Visit the Norwich 12 – the city’s most iconic buildings are joined together in an integrated family of heritage attractions showcasing urban and cultural development over the past 1000 years.
Norwich Castle, The Cathedral, Dragon Hall, The Forum, The Great Hospital and many more fascinating and stunning creations of architecture and decor, many of which are open to the public.
Riverside, close to Norwich train station, is home to bars, restaurants, a cinema, bowling alley and more. Nice place to relax and enjoy a drink in the sunshine and a hive of activity after dark.
Take the riverside walk from the train station and walk all the way along past Pulls Ferry, Norwich Cathedral, Cow Tower and St James’ Mill to arrive at Fishergate and Fye Bridge.
Tombland is another area that you cannot afford to miss, it’s stunning in any season and affords great photo opportunities. On a sunny day it’s hard to beat sitting outside La Tasca and watching the world go by.
Take a walk up Elm Hill to see Tudor houses, antique stores and little coffee shops nestled away. I took this picture early in the morning on Sunday and think it’s one of the prettiest streets I’ve ever photographed.
Wind your way through the Norwich Lanes district to find pretty, narrow streets and alleyways. Uncover hidden boutiques, cafes, restaurants and traditional pubs. It’s also the place to watch a band in the Arts Centre, catch a show in the Maddermarket Theatre or pass a few hours in the Bridewell Museum.
My Norwich Top 5:
- Beer Garden: The Belgian Monk (7, Pottergate) A sun-trap garden, great mussels and chips & a range of fruit beers.
- Roast Dinner: Roccos (Prince of Wales Road) Amazing carvery with obscenely large plates and very generous chefs.
- Take a Break: Biddy’s Tea Rooms (15 Lower Goat Lane) English tea & home-made cakes. Divine. Make a reservation if you can.
- Dancing: Revolucion de Cuba (7-9 Queen Street) Free entry, well-priced food, cocktails in teapots and often a live band.
- Tourist: Norwich Castle (Castle Hill) Loads to see, great views and fun in the dungeons. Adult entry £7 for the museum.
Next on the must-try list: Norwich Punting – only found out about this last week and can’t wait to try it!
So, that’s Norwich. Don’t take my word for it though. You may disagree and you know what? That’s fine.