My Favourite Places – Ruth Davies
Local blogger and journalist Ruth Davies gives Muddy the lowdown on her top Norfolk haunts. From bowling 'up the city' to fireworks on Cromer Pier, Ruth has a whole lotta love for our county.
Back to the city I go and having spent my youth meeting my pals outside Pilch or Top Shop I actually feel sad if I visit and don’t bump into a friend these days. Everyone knows everyone if they grew up in Norwich so thankfully faces of the past and present pop up when I shop, and boy are we lucky to have such a wonderful centre to not only flex the plastic but to simply enjoy beautiful surroundings too.
Elm and Timber Hills with their cobbled streets and independent shops and restaurants are two of my most favourite people watching spots and though the high street has taken a battering over the recent past we have the most glorious independent department store in Jarrolds which is opposite Captain America’s, the restaurant I worked in on and off for many years as a teen.
The Lanes (home to Biddy’s Tea Room), market, a castle, two cathedrals and our wonderful theatre, night and foodie scenes add much to a city which has always been famous for having a pub for every single day of the year – my most loved in the city itself are The Murderers, The Adam and Eve and even The Lamb (just because it takes me back). Eating at The Waffle House steals my heart but really we have so many lovely choices to dine out. Being in the “city” is absolutely a happy, happy place for me and if you haven’t visited Norwich then you must – remember, it’s a destination!
I was born and brought up in Norwich of course but I feel almost like Cromer has more of my heart than the city because I spent so much time there as a child and indeed still do to this day. A youth of drinking at “The Welly”, dancing in “The Pit” and beach partying under the pier was every bit as exciting as a night at Peppermint Park in Norwich (oh boy, if you know, you know) and even as a kid I knew Cromer was just a little bit special. It’s the beach I gravitate to when I am happy or sad or anything in between and the air I breathe there feels like the finest in the world.
My children now adore it as much as I do and spend many hours surfing or turning over rocks looking for crabs. I know every inch of Cromer like it is almost a part of my soul and one day… Oh one day… A house on Cliff Avenue will have to be mine. There were no Cromer New Year’s Day fireworks due to COVID this year (they are more amazing than the 4th of July display over the Hudson, trust me) but Cromer still pops 2021 and stays my favourite for another year!
The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
Based on the UEA campus the Sainsbury Centre always felt very cosmopolitan to me growing up and even now it’s an oasis of sophistication with a bit of an air of other world about it. The art in and around the museum is both familiar and old as well as new and exciting. I find treasures every time I visit and the resources on offer to both children and adults is staggering.
Lockdown number one and we took up family bike riding like it was going out of fashion with our most chosen destination being a 12 mile round trip to Ketteringham Hall. The village is so pretty while the hall sits on the bank of a river which looks straight out of a painting. We spent many hours playing in the woods next door, picnicking on the river and once things began to open up, enjoying sweet treats from their tea room to reward ourselves for a bike ride well made. We had some of our most loved family moments while close to Ketteringham Hall in a world which had closed in so many ways and yet opened up our family to such enjoyment.
The Bowling House
Close to the city centre in Norwich this is an independent business of epic proportions which offers happiness to all generations. A boutique bowling experience is first and foremost on the bill of delights (Norwich has come a long way since I was a teen) but it’s also a real hub of entertainment with karaoke for private hire, a performance area for comedy and music and the food and booze are perfectly delicious for any celebration. Just enough pretention to be stand out from the norm (think jam jars for cocktails) but still with that welcoming wink you will only find in Norfolk and being here proves that Norwich is rival to any other city of sophistication in the country. My daughter enjoyed one of her birthday parties here singing karaoke with her 10 year old friends just as much as I love to have a date night with my husband (when we were first together this venue was a Wetherspoons Pub – quite different to today) and when friends visit this is the place we take them.
Norwich, Norfolk, we have it all here and I could make a list longer than you’d have time to read of my favourite places to be, see and do in the county which will always be my home. I have gone and left a couple of times, most people I know have done the same, but just like me, we all came back in the end because really, there’s no place like home.