My 14-year Norfolk-iversary is a mere matter of weeks away, so I have been taking stock of all the brilliant things about the brilliant county in which I live. Looking back through my blog (which now has more than 150 posts), there is so much to celebrate. Here are just a few of my favourite things:
- The people: What is a place without its people? Not only have I made some brilliant friends, but there’s an amazing online community of people who are fun, interesting and supportive. Through #NorfolkHour I have chatted with all sorts of people and I have even met a few of you through local tweet-ups – it’s been great to put some faces to names. Thank you all for making me so welcome and being so accommodating.
- History: I am fascinated by history and there’s history by the bucket-load in Norfolk! With two cathedrals in Norwich, Norwich Castle, hundreds of churches, country houses, abbeys (both intact and ruined), and re-enactment days at Kentwell Hall, I can easily fill my weekends searching for medieval graffiti, looking at exhibitions and immersing myself in Tudor life. How could that not be fun for a history geek?!
- Food: As someone that is pretty clean living, food is my weakness – and thankfully there are lots of great restaurants to choose from in Norfolk. From meat feasts to vegetarian banquets, as well as great curry houses, tapas bars, cafes, pubs and fish and chips, I am never short of somewhere to eat.
- Wildlife: Compared to where I grew up, there is a lot of amazing wildlife in Norfolk. For instance, I had never seen a jay in London, or a barn owl for that matter. I’ve seen both here! But there are also seals at the coast, birds at Pensthorpe and all manner of amazing animals at the zoos in the county. Maybe I’d be more blasé if I had grown up here, but I get so excited by seeing animals in the flesh.
- Beaches: What can I really say to do the North Norfolk coastline justice? Whatever the weather, we have some beautiful stretches that never fail to impress. Winterton-on-Sea, Wells-next-the-Sea, Holkham, Burham-Overy-Staithe… there are so many to explore. And no mention would be complete without a nod to Cromer and Great Yarmouth. Yes, they are brash and touristy, but isn’t that sort of what the British seaside is all about.
- Countryside: Within a few minutes’ bike ride or drive, you can be out of town, breathing fresh air, surrounded by greenery. Personally, I love Whitlingham Broad because it is close to my home, but there are so many amazing open spaces beyond the Ring Road where you can escape the hustle and bustle of town.
- The Norfolk Broads: Speaking of countryside, the Broads are stunning. From watersports and bird watching to fishing and waterside walks, a day at any one of them is lovely. I first went out on a Broads Cruiser last summer and had so much fun (especially when I started being harrassed by swans at Thurne) that I can’t wait to get out and do it again this year.
- Shopping: I never struggle to spend money, I will be honest, but there are incredible independent shops, especially in Norwich. You can get something unique from the Norwich Market, Imelda’s and Jarrold’s, for instance, or something practical from Thorns. Yes, I am almost permanently skint.
- UEA: Now, I will admit that I am biased because I went to UEA, but it is a great university, especially for English Literature. The lecturers are knowledgeable and passionate and I also had a great time. The night life was brilliant too and I’ve made friends for life. What’s not to like?
- Dualled A11: Last but not least, it’s easier to get out and about now that the A11 has two lanes in both directions. As much as I love Norfolk, it is useful to to get out of the county occasionally. Being able to get to the outskirts of London in around 90 minutes is amazing. Now all we need is for the A47 to be dualled and the infrastructure will be amazing!
I am sure that I have missed lots of amazing things off the list – what would you add?