It’s easy to become disillusioned with your local area, particularly if you’ve lived there your whole life and have far-flung ideas of seeing the world. But, given that my next major trip probably won’t be until after my wedding next year, I thought I should feed my travel bug by becoming a local tourist instead.
A Fine City
My hometown of Norwich comes with the tagline “A Fine City”, and it’s easy to forget that it is. It’s the largest city in the region, it has not one but two spectacular cathedrals, and is a true cultural hub with plenty of entertainment options – not to mention some of the best shopping and dining options outside of the UK’s key cities.
Norwich Castle is central to the whole thing, and sitting high on a mound in the city centre, it’s never far from view. I spent many happy childhood hours wandering the halls, checking out the Egyptian tombs, Boudicca exhibition and natural history displays, and it’s my mission to return there this year. My other half has never been (shock horror!!) so I intend to fully educate him about the history of the city as soon as possible. Complete with battlements and dungeon tours.
It’s home to plenty of other museums, too, but Norwich is also chock full of culture of a different variety – the bookish kind. It was named the UNESCO City of Literature in 2012, and it’s certainly got the heritage to back it up: Julian of Norwich wrote the first book to be published by a woman (in English at least) in 1395, and the city’s rich literary tradition has continued ever since.
For starters, the University of East Anglia, one of the top universities in the country, is home to the renowned MA in Creative Writing, which boasts several literary greats among its alumni (including Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro, to name but two). Then there are the author talks, The Spring Literary Festival , and the more recent addition of Noirwich, a crime writing feast every autumn.
Or, for those who want to merely delight in the written word rather than study it, the city is also home to plenty of chain and independent bookshops – The Book Hive, one of the latter, is said to be a particular favourite of Stephen Fry. Which leads me to a couple of other famous faces of Norwich: Delia Smith is synonymous with the place, as is Alan Partridge, so much so that a campaign was launched to get the premier of his recent film screened here – and it worked!
Then there’s the myriad theatre and entertainment spaces dotted around the city, from the Theatre Royal to the more intimate Playhouse (my favourite of the lot), and the creative spaces of The Garage and Norwich Arts Centre. Not to mention the annual Norfolk and Norwich Festival, a two-week itinerary full of everything from dance and drama shows to music performances, comedy and even a modern circus act.
And that’s just for starters! We haven’t even touched on the fabulous bars and restaurants, the dancing, breweries and annual Cocktail Week; nor the green spaces, the markets, the river, quaint cobbled streets and the architecture, all combining to bring it alive. Looking at it like that, I think it’s about time I got out and explored on a more regular basis.