The Chapelfield Shopping Centre, but a hop and a spit from our micro-loft, has been invaded by a herd of elephants in multi-coloured livery – all courtesy of local artists and school kids. The parade of florescent nellies is on international tour and aims to raise awareness of the plight of Asian elephants. Can’t argue with that, I suppose.
The exhibition is similar in theme to the last year’s gorillas in our midst but with a more modest spread and duration. These nellies though, have something the guys never had – their very own gallery and shop. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of facts and figurines. Okay, the little ceramic elephants are a bit on the pricey side but it’s all in a noble cause.
Judging by the hordes of hyperventilating kiddies, the nellies are proving much more popular than the knuckle dragging guys. Must be the cute Dumbo factor. Follow the herd before it migrates to pastures new on 5th May. What next, I wonder? Tigers? Pandas? Rhinos? Howabout Dodos?The Elephant Parade The Chapelfield Shopping Centre, but a hop and a spit from our micro-loft, has been invaded by a herd of elephants in multi-coloured livery - all courtesy of local artists and school kids.
Yesterday, I left Liam indoors slaving over the final pre-edits of the new book and tootled into town to catch the bank holiday vibe. The crowds were drawn to the Easter parade of stalls flogging fast food with an international flavour – German bratwurst competed with Cumberland sausages, French fromage with the Great British Cheese Company, savoury Indian street food with overflowing troughs of sweet treats. It was as if Borough Market had parachuted in for the day. Naturally, I was drawn to the stall selling Turkish delight, baklava, olives and mezes. The swarthy geezer with tombstone teeth behind the counter wasn’t bad either.
In nearby Chapelfield Gardens, a travelling fair rose up above the neat borders. As I drew closer, the fatty aroma of fried onions and cheap burgers mugged the senses and my arteries hardened with every nostril-full. Distant memories flew me right back to my adolescent stirrings for the tattooed oiks who spun the waltzers, the kind of randy highwaymen who would take you round the back of the ghost train and relieve you of your pocket money (or at least, that’s what I imagined at the time).
There was a time when I would jump on every attraction with gay abandon. Alas, I am Braveheart no more. Not since my nephews dared me to hop on the Detonator at Thorpe Park a few years back and I nearly lost my lunch. Risk aversion comes with age, I suppose. These days, the rickety rackety rides seem way too Heath Robinson for my liking. For me there’s little fun left at the fair. Still, the tattooed oiks still manage to get my loins stirring.Fairground Attraction Yesterday, I left Liam indoors slaving over the final pre-edits of the new book and tootled into town to catch the bank holiday vibe.
I took up pole position outside Pret a Manger on Haymarket to sip my usual tipple, rest my gym-tortured limbs and people-watch. It was a bumper crop. School’s out and the Easter break delivered bus-loads of bumpkins and charabancs of tourists to sup, shop and promenade along Norwich’s cobbled streets. Dutch lowlanders mingled with landed gentry and the children of the corn while Chinese happy snappers brought up the rear. As I gazed into the crowd, I spotted two middle aged men wandering past the crooning busker outside Top Shop. The pair sported the neo-clone whiskers that are all the rage right now. They were also holding hands so I guessed they were more than just good friends. My, how things have changed since the secret encounters of my wonderfully misspent youth.
Haymarket Down the Years
With thanks to the late George Plunkett and his marvellous photos of old Norwich.I Wanna Hold Your Hand I took up pole position outside Pret a Manger on Haymarket to sip my usual tipple, rest my gym-tortured limbs and people-watch.
A sunny spring day saw us on a double decker cruising cross-country past gilded fields of rapeseed. We were on our way to Loddon, a picture postcard market town of 2,500 souls, ten miles outside Norwich at the headwaters of the Norfolk Broads on the River Chet. We had a taste for a speciality brew and a clotted cream fancy in the Vintage Tea Rooms at the Eighteenth Century Mill, quite the thing to do in these parts. Neat and tidy Loddon is stuffed with quaint little Georgian and Victorian buildings lining its gently winding high street and is dominated by the Sixteenth Century Holy Trinity Church sitting in a sea of tombstones. The town also features the smallest fire station I’ve ever seen with room for just single truck and no fireman’s pole to slide down.
We made it to the Vintage Tea Rooms, only to find it locked up with the following message:
“Closed for 2014”
We got the bus back to Norwich and went to the pub instead. Every cloud…Closed for 2014 A sunny spring day saw us on a double decker cruising cross-country past gilded fields of rapeseed.
I was busying myself with morning admin when my tippy-tappying was interrupted by an old Seventies tune on Radio 2, the summertime hit ‘Beach Baby’ by the group First Class.
The great castle keep of Norwich dominates the city’s skyline. At first sight, it looks too twee to be authentic, its walls too sharp, its stonework too white and its decoration too untroubled by the march of time. No wonder Liam and I assumed it to be a folly, a romantic Victorian nod to a more chivalrous age (if such a thing ever existed). As it happens, we were entirely wrong. While most of the sprawling castle has disappeared, the old keep and its handsome white Caen limestone walls have endured for almost 900 years. Its conversion from a royal palace to the county gaol in the 14th Century stood the imposing building in good stead: the hanging, flogging and incarceration continued with great gusto for 500 years until the building opened as a museum in 1894. There’s a lesson there for us all: adapt to survive.
I’d passed around the keep many times but had never bothered to pop in for a gander. When a new exhibition caught my eye – Roman Empire: Power and People – a British Museum tour, I persuaded Liam to accompany me and a week later, dragged him out to take a look. While it didn’t quite match up to the scale and glory of the Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selcuk (one of the highlights of our Turkey years) it was a beautifully formed diversion for a couple of hours on a crisp sunny day.
The remainder of the museum is given over to an assortment of galleries mostly dedicated to local history (Boudicca, Anglo-Saxon and Viking East Anglia, prison life). There’s even a small Egyptian gallery with its very own mummy (the excuse being that Howard Carter of King Tut fame grew up in nearby Swaffham). And only in England would you find a gallery dedicated to teapots – all 3000 of them. Sadly, the Teapot Gallery was closed (for a tea break, presumably). Generally, the exhibits had a school field trip about them. Oh to be twelve again.
The keep itself is impressive and certainly wowed Liam. The Victorian renovators removed the cell blocks to open up the building’s shell and installed a galleried balcony at the level of the original Norman floor. Two massive arches support the roof. The ‘new’ look gives a real sense of the scale, a scale which sent a strong message to the defeated and downtrodden Anglo-Saxons in their tiny thatched hovels. There was no doubt who was in charge. These days, aircraft carriers convey the same powerful message.When in Rome The great castle keep of Norwich dominates the city’s skyline. At first sight, it looks too twee to be authentic, its walls too sharp, its stonework too white and its decoration too untroubled by the march of time.
Twitter Ye Not
If ever there was cast-iron evidence for limiting the number of terms in the top job, it’s the Prime Minister of Turkey’s current spat with Twitter, an unedifying squabble that makes Erdoğan look autocratic and self-serving. Is the Twitter ban on or off? Who knows? Are the tweets about Erdoğan accurate? Who knows? Twitter is in good company. Lazy censorship is the norm in Turkey. A ban on…
Today‘s the day that same sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales. Scotland follows suit in October and it can only be a matter of time before Northern Ireland falls into line. Both England and Wales have now joined a select group of civilised nations that believe in marriage equality for all. I awoke to find my world just as I left it. We have not been smote by a vengeful God, the sun…
I first compiled my expat glossary in 2011 to be a tongue-in-cheek classification of the various expat types Liam and I encountered during our time in Turkey. The idea started with ‘emigrey’ – to describe silver-haired retirees living out their dotage in the sun. It was a play on the loan word from French word, ‘émigré,’ the past participle of ‘émigrer’ –to emigrate. The glossary caused quite a…