Alma Mater - UEA and Norwich - Day Two

 Day two of our Norwich trip began at Norwich Railway Station just a stone's throw (literally) from our digs ...

Photo 1: Norwich Railway Station (Credit)

With our Senior Railcards (⅓ discount), a day return to Cromer was only £6.85 per person for the 45 minute each-way scenic journey. And who doesn't like a trip to the seaside?

Unfortunately, the bright sunshine we experienced on the journey from Norwich turned to sea mist on arrival at Cromer. The English always enjoy a day at the beach no matter the weather - though I didn't ask the family huddled under their shelter exactly how much fun they were having!

Photo 2: Cromer Beach & Pier (May 2024)

There were times when the mist cleared sufficiently to see people on the pier. I'm guessing enjoying themselves but possibly just hurrying along to the various food establishments serving hot drinks and soup!

Photo 3: One of the Clearer Views of Cromer Pier (May 2024)

But when the sea mist rolls in ...

Photo 4: Cromer Beach (May 2024)

... the pier (almost) disappears from view ...

Photo 5: Misty-eyed View of Cromer Pier (May 2024)

Photo 6 sums up the stoic/stiff upper lip attitude of the English Seasider -  Enjoy no matter what the weather throws at you.

Photo 6: Enjoying a Visit to the Seaside
After a stroll along the promenade (including a fossil hunt) and then the pier, visits to an art exhibition and the North Norfolk Visitor Centre (housing the Deep History Coast exhibition) followed by lunch at Hatters Tea Shop (tasty soup), it was time to head back to the railway station.

We arrived back in Norwich mid-to-late afternoon, where the weather was certainly more clement. We had booked tickets for an evening performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at The Maddermarket Theatre. Before that, time for a leisurely walk along the river path towards the cathedral, passing Cow Tower (an artillery blockhouse built around 1400 CE) ...

Photo 7: Outside of Cow Tower (May 2024)

Photo 8: Inside of Cow Tower (May 2024)

... and stopping at a local Wetherspoons, The Glass House, for a meal and liquid refreshments.

Across the road from the pub is Elm Hill, an historic cobbled street lined with Tudor buildings such as this one called Paston House (see here if you want to read what the Blue Plaque says) ...

Photo 9: Paston House, Elm Hill, Norwich (May 2024)

The Paston dynasty (about 1400 to 1730 CE) was a well-known Norfolk family that owned considerable amounts of property. in the city and the county. They are best known for the Paston Letters, a large collection of letters, papers and correspondence, written between 1422 and 1509 CE, describing the life and times of the Norfolk gentry during the Wars of the Roses.

During our time in Norwich (1971 - 1977), a large elm tree stood in the small square at the top of Elm Hill. Unfortunately, that tree succumbed to Dutch elm disease and was felled in 1979. It was replaced with a London Plane which seems to be doing very nicely, thank you ...

Photo 10: London Plane at the Top of Elm Hill (May 2024)

Time to hurry onto The Maddermarket Theatre for our evening entertainment of Twelfth Night (modern costume with the Bard's original words). Excellent performances all round!

Alma Mater - UEA and Norwich - Day One

Mary & I first met as undergraduates at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in 1971. Mary was studying for her BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences ...

Photo 1: Mary Outside the School of Biological Sciences (May 2024)

... whereas my degree subject was in Chemical Sciences. The original School of Chemical Sciences has been renamed as the School of Chemistry and now shares the building with the School of Pharmacy ...

Photo 2: Ian Outside the School of Chemistry (May 2024)

I left UEA 47 years ago so I wasn't expecting to see any current faculty members I remembered. I did, however, spot a few emeritus professors/associate professors that taught me during the time I was there (1971-1977): Mike Cook, Roger Grinter, and Alan Haines.

I also did my PhD at UEA while Mary kept us solvent by working at the John Innes Institute.

We thoroughly enjoyed our six years in Norwich and might have stayed there if it hadn't been necessary to get a job!

Having revisited Norwich a number of times in the 1970s and 1980s, our return in 2024 was the first time in more than 30 years. Since finishing our first degrees in 1974, both the university and the city of Norwich have increased in size. UEA had around 3000 full time students in 1974 and now has over 17,000. In the 1971 census, Norwich city had a population of 122,000 which had increased to nearly 145,000 by the 2021 census. An even bigger increase in population has occurred when taking into account the wider metropolitan area.

We travelled by train from Hereford to Norwich via Birmingham and Peterborough - a five to six hour journey. If I remember correctly, it was a similar journey time in the 1970s when we were travelling from Manchester to Norwich. We had booked accommodation next door to Norwich station so we could quickly dump our bags and have a stroll by the River Wensum in the early evening sunshine. Invigorated by the strong smell of cannabis along the river path, we made our way into the city centre, passing the Cathedral on the way.


Photo 3: Pull's Ferry (May 2024)

Photo 4: Norwich Cathedral (May 2024)

Photo 5: Norwich Cathedral (May 2024)

Photo 6: Norwich Cathedral (May 2024)

One final landmark of interest, before heading back to our accommodation, was The Assembly Rooms ...

Photo 7: The Assembly House, Norwich (May 2024)

Along with Just John's (Photo 8)**, the Assembly Rooms was a favourite haunt of students. A great selection of cakes (the meringues were especially memorable) and the largest pots of tea you could imagine (at least 5 cups each); did I mention the excellent value as well.

[**filled baguette sandwiches and baked cheesecake along with freshly-brewed coffee. Yum Yum] 

Photo 8: Just John Delicatique (aka Just John's) - Credit acknowledged

Now renamed The Assembly House, the tea room has moved upmarket and, I would imagine, outside the price range of the ordinary student except for special occasions. 

On the way home we passed the National Centre for Writing housed in Dragon's Hall (built around 1430 CE) ...

Photo 9: Dragon's Hall, Norwich (May 2024)

... an archetypal building for Norwich.



Cathedrals and Peregrines

On  a recent visit to our old university stamping ground (University of East Anglia, Norwich), we were walking by Norwich Cathedral when Mary spotted a peregrine falcon perched on the spire ...

Photo 1: Norwich Cathedral (with perched peregrine)

I think you would agree that that was a particularly impressive spot considering she hadn't seen it land!! What gave away the falcon was one of the many decorative (?) stones traversing up the spire had a slightly different shape. Perhaps you can spot the falcon in this close-up (x5 zoom) captured on my Pixel Pro 7 ...

Photo 2: Close-up of Norwich Cathedral Spire

I suppose I should also mention that we had heard there were resident peregrine falcons - hence the presence of the Hawk and Owl Trust display unit nearby (see Photo 1). In case you didn't spot the falcon in Photo 2, I've highlighted it in Photo 3.

Photo 3: Peregrine on Norwich Cathedral

At full x30 digital zoom on the Pixel 7 Pro, the falcon is clearly discernible ...

Photo 4: Peregrine, Norwich Cathedral (22/5/24)

You can see a live stream of the Norwich Cathedral Peregrines (courtesy of the Hawk and Owl Trust) here.

Peregrine falcons seem to have taken a particular liking to English Cathedrals. The reasons are fairly obvious: tall inaccessible structures, akin to their natural cliff and mountainside habitat, where they can safely nest and there is a ready supply of feral pigeons for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The following cathedrals, in addition to Norwich, have resident peregrines - most, if not all, now have webcams operating:


















ABC of Early Seasonal Vegetables

 A for Asparagus, B for Bean Sprouts, C for Cucumber. OK, bean sprouts are a bit of a cheat but Mary has sprouted beans on the kitchen windowsill this year.

The first Asparagus spear popped its head above ground on the 25th March ...

Photo 1: First Sighting of Asparagus (25th March 2024)

... though it was a couple of weeks later before we were able to enjoy our first taste of the season.

It is now the beginning of June and the asparagus season is very nearly finished (in our garden anyway).

Need evidence for the power of a vegetarian diet? Well, stand back in awe at the strength of these two asparagus spears as they defy gravity by forcing their way through the brick path adjacent to the asparagus bed.

Photo 2: Asparagus Spears in a Test of Strength (28/5/24)

They provided a tasty (and not at all tough) meal accompaniment the following day ...

Photo 3: Ready for the Chop (29/5/24)

Asparagus is an early season vegetable that is low in calories yet a good source of Vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, E & K) and Minerals (Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Manganese, & Zinc).

Our small asparagus bed (less than a metre square) yielded at a minimum of 120 spears this year - approximate value £40.

If we ignore the bean sprouts, which can be 'grown' at any time of the year, then our next seasonal vegetable to appear is the cucumber (closely followed by chard). I grow the Passandra F1 variety, a mini-cucumber (15 cm/6 inches long) and of excellent flavour, in my polytunnel using the Quadgrow system. At £0.45 per seed, this variety may seem expensive until you work out that you will be paying less than £0.05 per cucumber. The first cucumber was picked on 2nd June 2024 and was delicious sliced on sandwiches or cut into sticks with a houmous dip.

Photo 4: First Cuke of 2024 (2/6/24)

Cucumbers provide a useful source of vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C & K) and minerals (Calcium Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium & Zinc) though levels are generally lower than asparagus due to the high water content (95%) of cucumbers. 


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