Wednesday, 30 September 2009


I’ve been to Norwich a few times and done some sight-seeing, but today I was going to meet up with someone who has lived there for a few years, so this time I might see other things that are not so obvious. I started out mid morning to catch the bus, the X1 that runs across country from Peterborough to Lowestoft - my part of that route takes just under 2 hours. It’s an interesting trip in its own right, going across the open Norfolk farmland and into the tree lined villages and busy towns.

After about 45 minutes of the trip, I begin to wish I’d used the bathroom before I left, and by the time we arrived I could only manage a quick greeting to my friend before I had to rush into the rest room. (Some may think that Too Much Information, but I like to be real in my reporting!)

Once those immediate needs were met, I went out to meet my friend again, and then we set off to visit The Forum - this is a very new building and is on the site of the burnt down old library and it’s kinda reminds me of the shape of a Roman amphitheatre - a very round building with the entire from wall being of glass. It has the library and a restaurant in it, as well as the studios of one of the local TV stations. Leaving this ultra modern building we see the 15th century St Peter Mancroft church - a very striking contrast in architectural styles!

My friend tells me I need to see this shop she has discovered - it’s in a building that was once a skating rink. We walk past the fire station, and into turn into the area in front of the building - and the entrance is guarded by two Chinese stone lions. Walking into the store I am amazed - is this a shop or a museum? The walls are covered with oriental art and intricately carved wooded panels and fine statues - oh, and yes, some goods for sale too!! We spend some time admiring the fine historic items, all the time trying to look like we might want to buy something!!

Leaving there we went down through the market - and Norwich market must be one of the nicest I’ve ever been in - unlike most markets I know of, the “stalls” are not temporary structures that are moved at night, but fixed wooden huts, brightly coloured and bustling with people. I stop to look at The Cheese Shop before we walk on through the Victorian Arcade and then climb up past the castle and then down again and now we are out of the city centre itself, the place is roomier with lots more trees everywhere - the architecture is not as inspiring, more modern and utilitarian than old and interesting, but the general space and greenness makes it pleasant enough.

We head down towards the river and here we fins a gem of a building - called Dragon Hall it’s a medieval trading hall dating back to the 1400’s and restored wonderfully - not modernised, but still accessible. The main thing we go to see is the first floor Great Hall with an amazing crown post roof, and a carved dragon which, I guess, gives the building its name. Around the hall a lot of the buildings are derelict, and my friend tells me that you used not to be able to see the hall very well, as it was next to an old run down warehouse, but that is now demolished. And signs of regeneration abound in the area, the most striking being the new bright white foot bridge over the river here. Walking over this gives us a good view of the hall behind us, and in front there are new shops, restaurants and apartments - this riverfront are looks to be really booming! We head out to see the Norwich City football ground and then follow the river back to the riverside development, and stop lunch in an Italian restaurant.

This chain restaurant is very quite at this lunchtime - the places in the City itself will be bustling at this time of day, but out here the real busy times are evenings and weekends. Following lunch we stroll along the river some more up towards the Cathedral.

Norwich Cathedral is splendid in its Norman architecture, but both of us have been here before, so for today we just walk around the cloisters and discuss the air of silence that prevails in these places, even when there are many hundreds of people coming and going. My friend tells me that even the children attending the Cathedral school seem exceptionally well behaved! We spend a few minutes in the nave, then set out through the front entrance - where I notice for the first time that the archway of the cathedral gate frames a building that appears to be leaning over! Getting closer I see that this is true - this one building is at an angle to the others in the row of shops across the street.

We walk across the road and up over another of the hills that Norwich is built on, and through some quaint cobbled streets. And it is not just the road that is charming, all along the shops are small antique shops and similar nice places to browse.

By this time it is getting late, and we head back to the Bus Station, but stopping once more to have a coffee before heading our separate ways. By the time I get to the bus stop, there are a lot of people queuing for the X1 back towards Lynn, with more people arriving after I join the queue. In fact, I get a seat, but there are standing passengers by the time we leave the stand.

It’s only after sitting for a while that I realise how much I’ve walked today. And although we’ve only scraped the surface of the city, I feel glad to have seen some of the places that not everyone will have seen on a day trip to Norwich, as well as some of the more well known areas.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Palms and Kestrals

Whilst I was away on vacation, Autumn seems to have arrived here in West Norfolk.

Yesterday morning I came up to my living room here and was entranced by the early day-break scene - the sun was just rising behind me, and lighting up the roofs on my side of the bank. But out on the river, a morning mist was rising over the water - just swirling lightly as the breeze caught it almost like a reflection of the water as it slowly moved out to sea. The season of mists has indeed arrived.

Today has been a joyously autumnal day, and this afternoon I took a bike ride downstream for a couple of miles - I actually chose a bad time to be going out, as the local junior schools were just turning out, and the pathways were full of mum and prams and small people! But I was soon out on the top of the dyke, and was away from people for a while. I notice that the sunken ship is still there - the buoys around it now have a feeling of permanence.

Under the main road, and I come to the new - huge - paper mill that is nearing completion - the company operating it is called “Palm Paper” and as I ride past I’m amused to see that part of the landscaping they are doing is to plant palm trees!!! There is a lot of ground here, and hopefully the planting they are doing will alleviate the bright blue of the building itself - well, I live in hope! As I ride on top of the dyke, I see that on my left - between the raised path and the fence around the building - they have put down a layer of earth over the existing grass - this is flattened off and I’m not sure if they are going to plant this as well or..... well, I can’t see why they have done this at all!

I ride about 2.5 miles down to where the cycle path joins a country road, and decide to turn around here and turn back; sometimes I take the road home, but today it just feels right to keep to the off road paths. On my way back, I spot what I’m sure is a Kestrel hovering against the wind and watching for pray. As I get closer I’m sure it is a Kestrel, but each time I stop to take a picture it’s swooped away somewhere else. I stop a number of times to watch this bird of prey hover and swoop, and then it flies away from the river, over the path I’m on and up, up until it’s above the towering Palm Paper building. And then it lands on a small ledge way up at the top of the building - and I realise that this is not a just paper mill, to the kestrel it is a cliff face where he can perch and watch for pray!

I ride home smiling, that once again nature is turning what we humans do to its own advantage - how cool is that:)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Temporally challenged

This is the thing - I don’t know what time it is. OK we all say that from time to time - or at least I do - and when I’ve said it in the past I’m thinking is it 11 o’clock, or 11.45? What I mean right now is, my body does not understand if it’s day, night, evening, morning or next Wednesday afternoon. So this is just because of 2 days of nights (you see - even my language has gone to pot!!) and I’m sure I’ll adjust - at least I sure HOPE I’ll adjust.

I got one of those e-mails in the post today - you know the sort - an inspirational live-one-day-at-a-time sort of thing, all about how each day we wake to a present of the present (I’m making it sound glib - it was good and thanks to the person who sent it). But my reaction was - I don’t know when my day starts. To the general population, it’s early in the morning, when they wake up - but early morning is when I get in from work and go to sleep!

Thursday evening I went into work at 9pm, finishing Friday at 7am and I came home and went to bed, and woke around 1pm, and got up then - was that the start of Friday? Then I pottered around the cottage for a bit, went over to Wisbech in the early evening (and, incidentally, kept falling asleep on the bus!). I got home and dozed in a chair for a bit, watched some internet TV, and then went to bed again at 3am, and woke today (Saturday) at midday. So as far as I’m concerned Thursday, Friday and Saturday all sort of merged together into a continuum of waking and sleeping, with no clear definition of “THIS is where the day starts.

And meals are another thing - during the Thursday night-shift, I had a meal at midnight (not sure if to count that as Thursday’s last meal, or Friday’s first meal), then an apple and a yoghurt at 3am. I ate again Friday around 3pm, and then after I got back home at 10pm. Today, after I got up at midday I was hungry and had a meal that might be lunch, or breakfast, or something else. All this is messing with my head!!!

And now, I don’t have another shift until next Friday starting at 9pm - it is great to think of 7 days off - but do I try to get back to “normal”, or stay with this “odd” sleep and food pattern? As I said when I was on vacation, maybe the best thing is to tune my body-clock to the Mid West time zone, which would mean I’d start work at 3pm:)

As I say it’s early days yet - maybe I’ll get used to it. Or maybe I won’t. Either way, the solution will become clear, somehow:)

Friday, 25 September 2009

What time zone am I in?

It’s been odd these last few days, with getting back from the USA and my new night shift job all mucking around with my perception of time of day. Here are some thoughts and impressions so far:

1) Going to work at 9pm just feels wrong - last night I was standing outside the store waiting for the door to be opened, being told by this slightly inebriated person that the shop was closed - repeatedly being told that - like I really didn’t understand the concept of “closed”.

2) Walking home at 7am is really cool - there are all these shops getting ready to open, people arriving at offices, and I’m going home to bed!

3) “Meal times” are extremely arbitrary. We get a break at midnight, and another at 3am. I knew I’d need one of my 3 meals during that time, so the first day I packed a salad to have at the midnight break, and found myself really hungry again at 3 - they do have vending machines in the store’s canteen, but they were almost empty of anything other than rattlely bag goods and sweets- which is something that went into the comments book!! The second day I took a fruit and yoghurt to have on the second break, and that seemed to work OK.

4) Sleep is a beautiful thing:) I’m grateful I live alone right now, so sleeping from 7am to midday, and then again from 3 to 5 is not a problem to anyone else

5) I’m really catching up on listening to podcasts!! Well, l’ve listened to about 18 hours of arts reviews, science programs, discussions and stuff like that - maybe I could learn a new language or something useful in the time I’m stacking shelves!

I’m feeling kinda disconnected from the world right now - some of that is because I’m awake when others are asleep and asleep when others are up, but more than that physical thing - I’m spending a lot of work time alone in my head. But these are early days - and my next shift is not till next Friday, so I get to have a lot of play-time till I need to wear socks again.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Back on the dock

Well, I arrived back in my cottage by the river yesterday afternoon - and my luggage turned up today as well:) I've been away about 3 weeks, during which time dusk has come forward a lot - it now gets to be sun-set around 7pm - the picture here is from my window just now.

The vacation was great, thanks for asking:) I had an exciting busy time in Missouri, and a restful and quiet time in Texas; now I'm back in Norfolk and tonight I start my night shift - hmmmmm - this will be "interesting" - just coming back here from Texas my body has no idea what time zone it's in - and this may well be a good thing for starting this now I guess - I slept good last night and then had a couple of naps during the day - we will see how I feel tomorrow!

One thing I have had to think about is - do I pack some food for my breaks? I'm working 10 hours, so I've decided that, yes, I need to do so, and so I've packed a salad, and will have coffee too during the night.

SO - wish me luck:) Maybe I'll write tomorrow - if I have the energy!!!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

away from the "dock" for a while

For the next 3 weeks, I'll be wasting time on sitting on other Docks:)