Sunday, 8 January 2017

Scenes from South Denes

It's a still, cool January morning with a murky mist bearing down. Where better place to head in such weather than to Great Yarmouth...

Yes Great Yarmouth. Yarco. Yarmouth Town.

I actually love this place. It has a reputation now for amusements, deprivation, greyhound racing, cheap seaside holidays and cruising along the sea front - but there is so very much more to this place. Yes it has all those aforementioned things, but it also has a very rich history.

Great Yarmouth was a hugely important fishing port, the biggest herring fishing port in the world in fact. It was a prosperous place to be and people travelled from all over the country to work catching, landing and processing the herring during the season. South Denes was where a lot of the herring were cured and packed. Alas the herring fishing industry saw massive decline during and after the war, and has today all but ceased. The popularity of white fish saw a huge drop in consumption of smoked and pickled bloaters (that's where GYFC's nickname The Bloaters comes from).

And so now the South Denes is a quieter place, with oil, gas and energy companies now operating here, interspersed with local businesses. The place is weathered, untidy and in some places practically falling down. But in amongst all this is a beautiful example of a gas tower, some fantastic buildings and the grade 1 listed Nelson's Monument, with Britannia on the top looking out across towards Nelson's birth place (rather than out to sea).

As you head past the historic South Quay towards the South Denes there are two places that always catch my eye. The first is the alloy and wheel shop with brightly coloured wheel decorations, and the second is Ivy's Noted Tea Shop. I have no idea if it is still open, and really should stop for a cup of tea there sometime. It's good apparently.

This wonderful gas tower marks the divide between housing and industry down on South Denes. There are some great alleyways providing interesting viewpoints of this prominent landmark.

There are still some signs of fishing in South Denes.

And plenty of offshore companies. Grass was growing in the roof of this one.

If you don't want to go to Ivy's noted tea rooms, then you could try Bernie's Bites. It's not going anywhere fast judging by the state of the wheels!

G.Y.C Electricity Dept. With any vandal drain cover.

South Denes is home to another kind of refreshment too. The still thriving and successful Lacons Brewery. Lovely.

The largest collection of NO PARKING notices can be found on South Denes. Some have been playfully adjusted at some point... er NO... what?

Yep that too.

Ah. No Parking!

If you're interested in the history of Great Yarmouth then a great place to start is the Time and Tide Museum.

To see the full set of photos from my trip to South Denes, visit Flickr

Friday, 30 December 2016

St Andrews Street, Norwich

A few photos from St Andrews Street in Norwich.

Never noticed the face on this building before.

The end of this red phone box, and a lovely reflection of St Andrews Hall

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Merry Christmas from Anglia Square

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from Anglia Square!

I spent an hour or so here the other day. It's a bustling and busy place - a real hive of activity - but has become increasingly worn and weathered. There is talk of redevelopment again, and hopefully some good plans will come forward as so much of it outside the main square is empty now. Despite all of the shortcomings, most people from Norwich do have a little soft spot for this place and the many people frequenting it. There is a huge amount of street art around the back, but I didn't venture that far this time. Here are some of the things that caught my eye on my short trip around this iconic place.

1. The lights were a dim twinkle here. Good effort elsewhere in the square though!

2. Planet of the Vapes. I see what they did here.

3. I really loved the line up of shopping trolleys here. Polka dot is in this year.

4. The stairwells are something else. I've never seen and smelt so much piss. 

5. Upstairs in the car park where there is no parking. There are some interesting views of the city through the frame of the exit ramp. To the right of where I was standing is the Hollywood Cinema with the great mural of Alan Partridge by Gnasher.

6. On the way in to Anglia Square is a lovely record shop, one of a couple along Magdalen Street. I will always love a good record shop.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Mr Turner

You may remember my blog in June this year about Turner's Shoes, the rather worn looking shop on the junction of Esdelle Street and Edward Street in Norwich. Following my blog, a lot of people told me stories about Mr Turner and the shop, which by all accounts has a lot of happy customers.

Yesterday I passed by and found the lights were on and somebody was home! I got to meet Mr Turner himself. I thanked him for giving me some photographic inspiration and I told him how much I'd found out about his shop from the people of Norwich. His hand has healed well from his June surgery and he is very much back in business. He said he is busier than ever and doesn't seem to have any plans to retire just yet. We shook hands, wished each other a Happy Christmas and said our goodbyes. I was so happy to follow up the story behind my last photos here... What a lovely, welcoming chap.

Monday, 21 November 2016

A weekend at the oldest hotel in the UK

Following on from my previous blog, Alice Does Cooking, our annual family weekend reunion also involves finding a suitable place to stay for 20 or so people. The pressure was on to show the best of the fine city of Norwich this year to those traveling from far and wide so I approached the lovely folk at The Maids Head Hotel to see what they could offer. Located on Tombland between the majestic cathedral and historic Elm Hill, the hotel offers great access to lots of local activities and adventures - perfect for our reunion weekend. A tailored package was soon crafted with the group bookings team and the addition of a couple of extra people for dinner on the Saturday night wasn't any trouble at all.

The Maids Head is actually the oldest hotel in the UK, over 800 years old and still looking fabulous. Queen Elizabeth I was once a guest and the recent refurbishment of the foyer has made the hotel look really smart, but still very welcoming and all in fitting with the architecture. The staff were brilliant in sorting out the 2 nights for our group, with all the rooms we booked having great views of Norwich Cathedral. Our stay included breakfast both days and dinner from the Wine Press A la Carte menu on the Saturday night. It all offered excellent value, and with the Wine Press recently being awarded a second AA rosette, dinner on the Saturday evening was a delight too. We were given a whole section of the restaurant on one gigantic table, perfect for catching up with each other and just a small totter to the atmospheric hotel bar when needed. There was a slight mix up in the evening at the restaurant but this was more than made up for by the restaurant manager, who went above and beyond anything I expected.

The staff were really friendly and accommodating over the weekend and nothing was too much trouble. Everyone in our group was really impressed with the food service in the Wine Press, and how we were looked after over the weekend in the hotel lounge too. Umbrellas were even handed out on loan on the rainy Saturday which was thoroughly welcomed.

If you're looking for somewhere lovely to stay in Norwich, or live in the city and have friends coming to visit, I can recommend a stay here.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Alice does cooking...

Last weekend, 20 members of my family met for the traditional annual get together. This year the location for the occasion was Norwich, and plans were afoot for a lovely time for those who had traveled from across the UK and Europe. The weekend was a great success and it wouldn't have been nearly so good without a special evening hosted by Alice does Cooking in the wonderful setting of Olive's.

You may have seen my previous blogs about Olive's Supper Club. The popular Supper Club now takes place monthly, and Alys who runs it is diversifying following growing demand for her wonderful food. For this rather special event I therefore turned to the new and exciting venture that is Alice Does Cooking. A specially created best of Norfolk Supper Club was the order of the evening for my dear family at the beautiful, intimate venue of Olives. After a few discussions about requirements in advance, this menu was promptly suggested and was just right - supporting local food and business and showing some of the best Norwich and Norfolk has to offer.

On the menu to start -
Norfolk Tapas (Sharing platters for the table) consisting of
*Marsh Pig chorizo with chickpeas and Banham cider
*Norfolk Black Turkey empanadas
*Celeriac and brown butter purée
*Beetroot and walnut hummus
*Home-made focaccia

Main dishes –
*Confit gressingham duck leg and venison sausage cassoulet served with creamy mashed potato and braised chard
*Thai style Cromer crab cakes served with an Asian style seafood, watercress and rice noodle chowder
*Mr's Temple's cheese and Colman's mustard rarebit tart served with a warm salad of pickled red cabbage and roasted squash

Puddings –
*Norfolk treacle tart with Lakenham creamery ice cream
*Honey and lemon posset with lavender shortbread
*Apple and Norfolk dumpling cobbler with proper custard

Everyone loved the food and the atmosphere on the night, and if I'm putting on an event again where I need something a little special, then I'll be heading straight over to Alice Does Cooking... a welcoming, friendly response leading to tasty food, tailored menus AND all at an affordable budget.

To find out more visit

Saturday, 3 September 2016

North Norfolk Coast: Heacham

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of glorious days on the beautiful North Norfolk coast. I haven't been on a beach in 18 months, and the beach at Heacham was just perfect. The skies were a bold blue, the sea breeze exuberant, the sea itself warm and very pleasant. A lovely time away from the bustle of the city.

Here are some landscapes I took whilst away.