One more pretty beer garden, one more eavesdropped conversation. This time, two young hipsters with ridiculously overgrown whiskers. They were in deep, earnest conclave.
‘Why didn’t you just tell me you were gay when I asked you?’
‘So you go and lock yourself in the toilet for hours? I was really worried.’
‘I know, I know.’
‘Look, we’ve always been mates ain’t we?’
‘So what did you think I was gonna do? Tell you to fuck off?’
‘Well, thanks a lot. What kind of arsehole do you take me for?’
Judging by this and other posts about earwigging, you could be forgiven for thinking we spend all our supping days eavesdropping on the conversations of others. Honestly, we do talk to each other from time to time. Besides, I do like to take a little interest in my fellow man (and woman, of course). If it’s good enough for Her Maj’s secret services…
Now for some pretty pictures of the pretty beer garden at the pretty pub: The Plough, St Benedict’s Street.
Unlike many houses of God poking up through the mishmash skyline of Norwich, the old church of St Giles, so ancient it got a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086, is still saving souls today. At this time of year, it’s ringed by a dripping abundance of wisteria and very pretty it looks too. As the old saying goes:
Norwich has a Church for every week of the year and a pub for every day of the year.*
I took some snaps on the way to my place of worship, the Coach and Horses.
*Sadly, this is no longer true pub-wise though there are still plenty of places to take communion.
It’s our wedding anniversary today. Unlike the resurrection of Christ, it’s not a moveable feast. We celebrated our nuptials a day early with a boozy lunch at one of Norwich’s finest eateries followed by a slow pub crawl back to the loft. The food was divine but the delicious highlight was when an elderly Norfolk broad sitting at the adjacent table said loudly to her companions.
‘The same thing happened to me during my colonoscopy.’
Liam slipped his ring on my finger seven years ago. I suppose I ought to have an itch to scratch, but my senses have been so dulled by yesterday’s excess I can’t feel a thing.
A gruelling morning of shopping and pushing through the madding crowds emptied us of Christmas cheer so we decided to refill it at a local hostelry. Minutes from the loft, the Coachmaker’s Arms is by far the most patronised pub in the vicinity, despite the whiff of damp and the beer flies dive-bombing the kegs of real ale lined up behind the bar. The pub was nose to nipple but we managed to squeeze onto a couple of stools to rest our weary legs. As we supped, it was impossible not to eavesdrop on the animated conversations of the punters. Our ears swivelled like bats to the sound of a couple of Norfolk broads behind us:
“Well, lets face it, you’ve cheated on him loads of times.”
“No I haven’t. That was just a bunch of lesbians.”
Normal for Norfolk?
In the summer of 2012, we parachuted into Norwich on a wing and a prayer. We hadn’t the slightest inkling whether this golden-oldie city of medieval steeples would suit us or not. It was a difficult ask: somewhere we could replant our off-peak life but avoid the workhouse and somewhere within a bearable commute of London so we could keep tabs on our folks.
When we first paddled up the Wensum, we somehow ended up living in a Grade II listed Seventeenth Century brick and flint weaver’s cottage. The place had been through the wars and oozed history. By the Nineteenth Century, weaving had gone the way of the dodo and the cottage was reincarnated as a public house. In the Thirties, the Great Depression depressed ale sales along with everything else and time was called on the Devil’s brew. After that, the building gradually fell into miserable dereliction, boarded up and unloved. The final insult came when the building was gutted by fire; demolition seemed likely. Cue the city elders who stepped in with their compulsory purchase powers, repaired the structure, modernised the fabric and flogged it off. In 1986 the Weaver’s Cottage was reborn as two comfortable maisonettes with all mod-cons. The partially charred beams above our marital bed are the one remaining sign of that near-death experience.
A year and a bit on, those itchy feet are back but this time we’re moving across town, not continents. We’re rather taken with Norwich and have decided to put down roots by buying a small piece of it (while we can still afford to). So it’s goodbye to our pretty weaver’s cottage with its olde worlde beams, toffee-coloured fireplace and drafty halls and hello to our handsome warehouse conversion just beyond the old city walls with big picture windows, views across the burbs and proper insulation. We’re expecting our bills to plummet. Otherwise, that workhouse beckons.