The traditional high street is under seige from a flat-lining economy, increased rents (no, I don’t understand that either during a recession) and the relentless pressure from the big boys with their charmless out-of-town retail parks sucking up all the trade. Norwich seems to have bucked the trend by preserving its novelty. Of course, the narrow maze of city centre streets has its fair share of chains with their identikit offerings but there’s also a treasure trove of independents to graze. Maybe the city’s relative isolation is its saviour (the last section of the dual carriageway from the Smoke is only now being built and the train service is express-less). Perhaps it’s a benign planning environment by farsighted burghers. Who knows? Whatever the reason, long may it continue. Here’s just a small sample to whet the appetite and loosen the purse.

Jarrolds is a Norwich institution. The family-run business has outlets dotted about all over the shop. The Book Hive is the best independent bookshop in town. Both Jarrolds and the Book Hive declined to stock my book. Jarrolds refused (politely). The Book Hive didn’t respond at all. I don’t hold it against them (much).

The Grosvenor Fish Bar on the corner of Pottergate and Lower Goat Lane offers delicious, artery-hardening deep-fried heart attacks. It gets my vote because punters are welcome to finger the fish over a pint in the pub opposite. Personally, I prefer to nibble on a battered sausage (cue Liam). The public house in question, The Birdcage, has been the scene of our undoing many times now.

Fish Bar and Pub

I doubt Meryl Streep ever visited this corner of the Dark Continent when she was attempting a truly terrible Viking accent in ‘Out of Africa.’  Do they really sell slices of crocodile, ostrich, springbok and zebra? Well, if Tesco’s can flog donkey burgers, why not?

Liam spends endless hours thumbing through the sheet music in this old-school music shop as he contemplates a profitable sideline teaching piano. He’s quite talented with his fingers, my Liam. This little gem is right along the street from our weaver’s cottage.

St George's Music Shop

Finally, my personal favourite – not because I’m a cock in a frock at weekends and call myself Jacky but because Pepperberry’s sell ‘clothes designed with your boobs in mind.’  It’s just as well, as I have noticed that quite a few Norfolk broads do look like they’ve eaten all the pies.


16 thoughts on “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

  1. Long live the independents, I say! I think a certain Welsh friend of ours, Jack, should check out Pepperberry. Right up her double G alley!


  2. Very nice would love to have a look inside all those shops. Norwich looks like a nice choice and lets hope they can keep their independent stores. Shopping malls give me the creeps I have no stomach for them, whatever was attractive about them has disappeared as far as I am concerned. I think it was cheap cloths, chain store massacre or something like that but really is it worth the unattractive look of those warehouses ? no is my answer.


  3. Nice to see there’s still so many little shops in existence. When I was at college in Norwich, I used to shop at “Head in the Clouds” … a hippy shop that I bought my hippy skirts from .. somebody should have told me that electric blue footless tights, woolly pink leg warmers, a flowery, flowing hippy skirt, steel toe-cap doc martins and a Norwich City Council Donkey Jacket with Orange flourescent reflectors on it, weren’t as hip and happening as I thought they were. But at least Head in the Clouds gave me an opportunity to step outside of the High-Street fashion norms… no matter how misguided my decisions were!


    1. I’m sure you had buckets of street cred though I suspect the rural Tory ladies in waxed jackets tutted in disgust as they emerged from Jarrolds. How I remember those leg warmers. Yuk! 🙂


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