Monday, 30 August 2010

If I had the wherewithal ...

... then this is somewhere I would consider living.

This is part of the Riverside development in Norwich, and I've just worked out why I like it ... it reminds me of the canal-side buildings in Brugge, a city of which I am very fond, and not just because of the beer and chocolate.

It's just a really beautiful city.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Gathering

I love it when the harvest is almost over, and the fields are filled with great rolls of straw. It's like living in the middle of a large open-air work of art.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A wet Tuesday in Brighton

There's something rather special about Brighton in the wind and rain - turning it from a frantic holiday destination back into a city for the residents as the trippers shelter under the promenade or seek the warmth and noise of the amusement arcade on Brighton Pier.

A tour was taken of the Royal Pavilion, and it is some years since I last went round. Newly-restored rooms are open, and the audio-guide gives a fairly good description of each chamber and its history. Indian on the outside and Chinese on the inside, it's a unique building, and it captures the essence of the seaside town - extravagant, over-the-top and camp.

The walk along the Pier was decidedly blowly, and shelter was found on the windward side of the central divide. In the arcades people were thrusting coins into the machines with barely a pause, whilst at the far end the brave clambered onto the rides to be flung about like rag dolls. Looking westwards the skeleton of the old West Pier stood amid the churning water as another squall blew in.

A damp but delightful day, with the drive back to Suffolk taking three and a half hours with one short refuelling stop at Ipswich.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A National Trust excursion

More wonderful sunshine, and a trip up to north Norfolk for two National Trust properties, Felbrigg Hall and Blickling Hall. But first a drive into Cromer to see if there was a parking space near the beach for a short walk along the sands. However, it being sunny and the holidays the place was heaving and not a space to be found, so it was a drive around the centre and back to Felbrigg.

Felbrigg Hall is perfectly formed from red brick and decorative render. The interior not only has good furniture but also interesting glass and superb plaster ceilings.

The Tea Room has a pleasant courtyard, though the wasps made the break for a hot drink a bit energetic, and the Walled Garden is also worth looking at - though there is a separate charge for entry. With a National Trust membership you are waved through with a smile.

Blickling Hall is altogether on a grander scale. A massive imposing entrance leads you into the numerous richly-furnished rooms and then down the back stairs to the servant quarters and a display of domestic equipment along with voice recordings of those who actually worked there.

Once again there is a Walled Garden, but this was not visited on this occasion.

Two quite different Stately Homes, and whilst Blickling is imposing in its grandeur I quite liked Felbrigg for its homely atmosphere. Its Library is superb, and I even found a book (for £2.50) in the second-hand bookshop afterwards.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Sunshine and salt breeze

A beautiful morning and a trip off to Southwold. A walk along the promenade, along the pier, and then a tour up the lighthouse. The quintessential seaside resort activity.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

A trip back in time

Into "Narfolk" today for another day out, and the first stop was Oxburgh Hall. A wonderful red-brick Tudor mansion with beautiful rooms and interesting displays, each area being introduced by a volunteer helper. Amongst the documents on view was a letter from Henry VIII to Lady Bedingfield telling her that she was to be the chief mourner at the funeral of Katherine of Aragorn. After watching some of the BBC series "The Tudors" I looked at this letter with a somewhat cynical eye. A climb up the circular stairs and the view from the roof of one of the turrets was lovely.

Then to the nearby Iceni Village which promised so much but failed to deliver. I don't doubt the time and energy spent in building the replica huts and stockade, but using badly-dressed shop mannequins to populate it was an error of not only judgement but also taste.

They were crass, and what could have been an interesting display of farm equipment and old carriages was destroyed by the ramshackle outbuildings used to house them.

The 17th century cottage was better, but again spoilt by a dummy seated at the table in the parlour.

So much more could have been made of the semi-ruined Saxon church, but it just looked abandoned.

The whole set-up place has seen better days, and it wasn't really worth the entrance fee. Actually, thinking about it, it was rubbish. In these days of interactive displays and audio-visual technology, a wooden hut with a few printed signs and a dummy standing lopsidedly in the corner really doesn't cut it.

A swift drink at the interestingly named village pub - "The Twenty Churchwardens" - no food available as we were too late, and the liquid libation was accompanied by the telling of a tale by an elderly gentleman at the bar .... "'ee were alroight the night before. Oi'd been sitting with 'im in the pub and 'ee were very merry and enjoying 'isself ... the next day I saw Bert and 'ee said that oi'd miss me old friend ... oi said what do 'ee mean? and 'ee said that he'd topped 'imself during the night - taken prussic acid, 'ee 'ad....."

From there it was a visit to Grime's Graves on the return route. A wander across the undulating ground and a descent into the only open flint mine down a long ladder. An interesting venture, and no doubt great for children to run around, but not a lot else to see.

In fact, Oxburgh was the best of the bunch, and we got in free with our National Trust membership.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Birth-day Away-day

I spent today in the beautiful city of Cambridge, sight-seeing, and threading my way through hundreds of Japanese tourists. Only having been there for church meetings, this was my first chance to take some time to look at the place.

I started with King's College Chapel - where else? - and the fourth most photographed building in the world. Wonderful architecture and despite the visitors, still a place of faith and peace.

Then it was a short walk down to the Fitzwilliam Museum - a venue recommended to me by a parishioner. It was superb. What a collection of art - Pissaro, Monet, Degas, Constable, Picasso, Augustus John, Millais, Holman Hunt, Seurat, Van Dijk.

There were also two special Exhibitions - one of Japanese prints, amongst which was a print from the woodblocks of "The Great Wave" by Hokusai -

and the other, a whole wonderful gallery of oil paintings of wave forms by the East Anglian artist Maggi Hambling.

After all that culture it was time for a ride along the Cam in a punt, passing seven Colleges and under their bridges - including Clare bridge ...

and the so-called "Brideg of Sighs".

And not a drop of rain all day!