Saturday, 31 August 2013

There is more than Macarons....

Norwich Covered Market
The historic City of Norwich reminds me of several things: 

a) The famous Acronym, "Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home". You should see the one for Ipswich!
b) Delia Smith 
c) The Canaries 
d) Alan Partridge 
e) Coleman's Mustard

Interestingly, none apart from the mustard, appeared or presented themselves on a recent visit to the capital city of East Anglia. 

If you like mustard in your chocolate you must visit the Coleman's Mustard shop. Foolishly, I did not pick up a bar!

Norwich is not usually a place that sits on my cultural radar. A place often described as cold, in the middle of nowhere and renowned  for interbreeding. I occasionally dial into it when their football team lose to their arch enemies the Tractor Boys (Ipswich) or when Delia is filmed screaming at supporters after one too many or perhaps when Alan Partridge releases his latest film. Good on him for putting Norwich on the cultural map.

The city centre is a mix of modern high street shops interspersed with cobbled streets. One minute you are in the 21st Century and next you are walking in something close to medieval times, Elm Street being a prime example.  The populace seems to be made up of pensioners with a peppering of young, hip things and a smattering of street people. Tattoos are must have body art and all shapes and sizes are on display. Some more beautiful and intricate than others. 

Norwich boasts one of the best covered markets in East Anglia. Well, that does depend upon whether you are looking for camouflage from the army surplus, chunky chips, fresh fruits or artisan breads. All very handy if you are planning a short expedition into the Broads for some duck shooting!

Fresh Fruit from the market
Norwich covered market
Lunchtime pulls out the punters in their droves to enjoy some street food, well Norfolk's version. Chips and more chips seem to be the carbohydrate of choice and I note one vendor who has 10 ways to eat your chip! Sadly, the queue for the delicious looking roast pork, crackling and apple sauce was looking slightly under par in comparison to the chip queue.  

Coffee shops are not in short supply and I'm not talking about the omnipresent Starbucks and Costa. A hint of Bohemia seems to be working its way into the City's underbelly with buskers and arty types appearing on a few corners. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to visit all the coffee shops but many are full to the brim whilst others are just lacking bodies. Apparently, The Window Coffee is a must place to visit especially if you enjoy your coffee and a friendly chat.

For those seeking peace and tranquillity there is always the stunning cathedral which is a must see regardless of whether you're into all that praying stuff. Rather alarmingly, two minutes into our visit an announcement asks us to recite the Lords prayer. Fortunately, my Sunday school attendance wasn't all in vain.

Pensioners, adorned in green sashes are on hand to answer questions and if you donate a few extra quid they will take you on a personal tour of the cathedral. Entry is 'free' but donations are encouraged and you really should put your hand in your pocket otherwise you run the risk of being hit by a thunderbolt as you leave the Nave! The stained glass windows are amazing. What is slightly frustrating is that you cannot go up to the next level or climb up the fantastic spire, health and safety at work probably....

The Castle from a distance
The Castle is also a good bet especially as you can visit for just a £1 if you queue up before the last hour of opening. The Castle Mall is just odd! Did they really need to build this?

Macarons and More by Tim Kinnaird recently opened this lovely shop in the Royal Arcade in March 2013. The shop front is be-decked in colourful spires of macarons and trays of soft plump marshmallows. 

Macarons and More
For some strange reason I chose a bag of marshmallows which on reflection was a disappointing choice. They were very well made, scrumptiously soft and squidgy. However, even though my bag of goodies contained several flavours I could not really taste any difference between them and did feel a bit let down. 

I should have gone for the macarons! Well worth a visit though. Read more about Tim's macarons on The Snack Review

Norwich is blessed with great history, fantastic architecture and friendly people. Don't be taken in by some of the negativity that surrounds Norwich. The river seemed to be under exploited if that is the right word and I imagine this may change in time. 

It has so much more to offer and you get the feeling that it is in a process of evolution. One day just isn't enough to take it all in so its safe to say, that we'll be back!

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