Norwich Castle – in, err… Norwich…

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Norwich canal, just by the train station

Last week I cashed in my holiday before I leave for my next trip (which I hope goes better than the last one!) and went to Mersea island on the first day. I also went to Cambridge to meet up with my former students that are living in Guildford at the moment, but on the Tuesday after hearing rave reviews about the place I made my way up to Norfolk, to see Norwich and what it had to offer…

I got there and was greeted by stunning historical buildings. To be fair I’ve noticed the history that England has to offer far more since I’ve been back, however I made my way through the town and started asking directions as to where the castle may be.

Me: Excuse me mate,

Waiting for a mate: <Looks at me in pure panic>

Me: Sorry to bother you, you wouldn’t know where the castle is, would you?

Waiting for a mate: Yeah sure, it’s just there <points behind him to a huge building about 150 yards away from him>

Me: <smiles> Oh, you mean that big thing that looks like a castle?

Waiting for a mate: <laughs> Yeah, that’s the one!

So I headed off to the monsterous castle-like building and went in, only to find it had been converted into a study centre. I walked in disappointed and saw only a couple of bits of historical interest displayed. Eventually the lady behind the counter told me that the museum had moved and was in the actual castle (apparently it was the castle but it wasn’t the castle…), and the main castle area was a 100 metre walk down the road.

It wasn’t hard to find, and I wasn’t disappointed either. It cost around £7 to get in and I could have paid an extra few pounds for the dungeon tour, which I was interested in, but I would have had to wait an extra 2 hours before it started. So I bought a basic ticket and started exploring…

The castle was of historical interest twice over; not only because of the obvious fact it was a castle and was used as such (to house royalty, to fend off attacks from overseas and from West Ham’s GSE firm on matchday, etc…) but it had also been converted into a prison for 500 years before it finally became a museum, and the downstairs part of the castle showed how people lived in the castle while it was a prison, and had many displays of prisoners, what they had done and how they were treated.

Back to the main castle area, There was one corner of the castle that had originally been intended to be a spiral stairwell, but the idea was abandoned half way through building it and was used from then on as a large open fire to cook food that needed reheating. On this open fire display you could look down and see the staircase where it had been half built.

The final part of the museum was interesting to say the least, because it was a far more modern part of the building and had all sorts of things on display, from statues of animals to old crockery to rare rocks that geologists would go mental over. I took a final look around everywhere and then headed off to find some food.

I fancied something nice and easy, something like a McDonalds, except I couldn’t find a McDonalds in the town centre (Maybe Norwich is too upmarket for peasant food like McDonalds…) Eventually I stumbled upon the market, and thought I’d grab myself some proper Thai food cooked by Thai people who would be amazed by my broken Thai, only to find there were no Thai food stalls, only burger huts.

A quarter pounder with cheese and onions was only £1.70 though, and I enjoyed the fact I was eating something that wasn’t mass produced, it was from a basic stall that some lady rented and was trying to make an honest living. You can’t hate something like that. One thing I learned about living in Thailand is how everyone supports each other and local businesses, so if I’m contributing to that even if it’s ever so slightly, then I’m happy that people like her are using their initiative and making a living rather than feeding more money into the worldwide chains. If only this thought process was the majority then it would create so many more jobs for people, as more shops would open as opposed to everyone cramming into Gregg’s everyday…

I was knackered, so I headed to the train station and went home. Before I got there though I popped into the pub I work in on weekends and gave my boss a box of Belgian chocolates for helping me get this week off (I had no idea I was entitled to it, and I would have left without cashing it in). As I was walking to the pub I walked past a group of schoolkids and one girl moaned, “Awwwww… He’s got Guylian…”

“Yes I do…” I smirked to myself as I walked past them. Then when I got to the pub and gave my boss the chocolates she not only gave me a free drink but gave me the pool table keys so I could play free pool whilst I was there. It may be hard work there but there’s no denying that they treat you like you are part of one big family there, which I think is one of the main draws as to why the place is so successful.

Then I went home to write some more of my book and finally get a well earned sleep. I’m about a third of the way through this book, so I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the year, but we’ll see what happens. As long as I don’t lose the entire file like I did with my seventh book I don’t really care to be honest. It’ll be done when its done…

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