City to sea

I have had two or three forays into Norwich this week and have now, thankfully, worked out the route to and from. It is not difficult at all once you know where to go! Car parking is expensive and they all tend to be full by late morning. Consequently, I have timed my visits so that I go in after the rush hour but before the car parks are full. I am then able to return in time to watch Wimbledon. One has to get one’s priorities right!

Some very wonky Mediaeval buildings
Some very wonky Mediaeval buildings

Apart from shopping and getting a much needed haircut in a backroom, upstairs, out of the way salon where I was the only evident customer for a very talkative hairdresser of Moroccan origin, I also had dinner with Nick and Maddie, whom I met in Colombia last year. Maddie and I took an early evening walk first and then they cooked dinner for me at their house. It was lovely to catch up with them again.

The mornings have been spent wandering aimlessly, trying to familiarise myself with this historic city. Whilst relatively compact and easily walkable, it is a labyrinth of small streets (one area of which is appropriately called The Lanes), pedestrian areas and road works.

Along the riverside walk
Along the riverside walk

There is a lovely riverside walk, not one, but two, Cathedrals, a Castle and an infinite number of Tudor and Victorian buildings. These are all jumbled up with the modern, the most dominant of these being The Forum, which houses a very smart library.

At present, there is also a Dragon Trail around the city, which means that 120 of these brightly decorated creatures pop up in all sorts of unexpected places. They have been sponsored by various local businesses and the concept is “designed to showcase the heritage, architecture and creativity in Norwich.” It certainly adds a lot of colour!

On Thursday, I decided that as I needed a break from the city, I could miss one afternoon of Wimbledon, and took myself off to Wells-next-the-sea, which is about an hour’s drive. The enlightened lady in my phone, who occasionally deigns to work, issued directions along the way and took me along some interesting country lanes that I may not have found on my own.

On the way, I stopped at Fakenham, which, I had read, had a Thursday market that was worth visiting. I didn’t think it was particularly but maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, having driven round for a while trying to find somewhere to park. This seems to be a perennial problem in England as I took even longer in Wells-next-the-sea to find a place. It is not something I could tolerate on a long term basis. It did, however, give my phone lady something to work on as this was not on her agenda so, in addition, to country lanes, I was also treated to one or two housing estates that I certainly wouldn’t have visited otherwise!

Waterfront at Wells-next-the-sea
Waterfront at Wells-next-the-sea
Walk along the stop bank
Walk along the stop bank

Wells-next-the-sea was beautiful. It has been a while since I have been to the beach (Peru not having too many nice ones, particularly in the south and especially not in the mountains!), and I had forgotten how much I love being by the sea. The small town itself was very busy and, as mentioned, the car parks were full but once parked, I enjoyed a long walk along the stop bank out to the sea. Or, should I say, the sand for, in true British seaside fashion, the sea itself was some distance away and that was with the tide in!

There appeared to be a number of school groups visiting as well as families with pre school children, obviously taking their holidays before the main rush. I walked all the way along the bathing area, passed all the beach huts, until I reached the actual sea. Here, I sat on the dunes for a while watching the many, many dogs being walked and listening to the waves. Very restful!

The drive back took about an hour through some fairly flat farmland. The sky was still blue and the sun warm. It was a most enjoyable day.

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