Tag Archives: Norwich

11 Signs That You Might Be In Norwich

Train sign.

Sage advice from British Railways.

UK signs seem quaint to my American eyes. The one above was on the train to Great Yarmouth, but I thought it could make a great header for a blog.  Norwich signs seem wordy and polite, no parking signs start with the words “polite notice.”  While there are signs that say “fire exit,” most other exits are labelled, sensibly, “way out.”  At least they are not “way out, man.”  And dear readers, stay with this post to the end, where there is a royal treat!

Street sign

I like street names in Norwich, but only quiet side streets seem to have signs. They are low on the sidewalk, more for walkers rather than drivers.

Street signs are interesting, primarily because they don’t exist in American form.  Side streets are labelled with signs on buildings or walls, but the Brits assume you already know what a main street is, so you don’t need to be told.  The only place I saw lots of “American” street signs on poles is city centre — in the lanes where cars mostly can’t go.

Speed limit

Speed limit of 30? But, 30 what?

This was one of the only speed limit signs I’ve seen (at least I assume that’s what it is).  For the most part, there must be a set in-town limit that does not need to be posted.  This sign is in semi rural area I saw on one of my bike rides.

Pub fire warning

Warning sign in a pub. Read this when a fire starts.

British signs seem to be wordier than American ones, and also a bit polite and deferential.  This is a tiny detail of the fire warning sign that was in the Norwich pub where I had lunch today.  Among my reactions, besides thinking anybody would burn to a crisp trying to read this while flames licked at them,  I just also find the tone very cute.  Save everyone if you can, using “the appliance provided,” and only if you can do so safely.

Easter sign

Oh darn. I'll be back in Iowa and will have to miss oyster day.

Some signs reflect traditions that don’t make sense to American eyes.  For some reason, I just don’t think “oysters” when I think “Easter.”

Meet the sign.

Get it?

And some signs just have bad puns.

Mait logo

Side of mail van. What do commoners use?

Technically, not a sign, this is the side of a mail van.  Mail boxes look like giant red mushrooms.

Coffe shop.

"Americano" is espresso with water added.

I put this one in just because I like the name of the business.  And food is not “to go” here, it is “take away.”

Norwich restaurant.

"American" is a fairly common brand in Norwich.

One more eatery sign from city centre.  Who knew Captain America had a shop here?

Do not queue.

How nice. A park, just for cars.

A sign with a long explanation.  In Cedar Rapids, it would say “no line.”

Miss LIzzie.

Miss Elizabeth with some appropriate informal signage. One letter she does know is capital E, and any she sees makes her think a signs says "Elizabeth."

Finally, Miss Lizzie with a bit of graffiti, complete with a dropped H so it “sounds” English.  And no, none of us wrote it.  My theory is the Queen was feeling feisty and just happened to have a Sharpie with her, so ….



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The Flowers of Chapelfield Gardens

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At least I think that’s the name of the park we were at near City Centre in Norwich today. We’ve been there more than once — Saturday, a charity sports race was going on, and there were dancers, racers and trampolines.

Lizzie saw the dancers doing some variation of break dancing, and promptly did her own version, which mean bending down, sticking her butt high in the air, and waving one leg around.

Today was a big tourist day for use in Norwich, but it began with a quiet play trip. Amanda had a book group at the library, so while she took Juliet with her, Audrey and I took Elizabeth to the park.

I think she thoroughly enjoyed having two grandparents to boss around and play with, although she did spend a little time pointlessly wandering around, looking for the trampolines that were not there.

Anyway, due to our tourist plans — we visited the castle, the cathedral and the river walk today — I had my good camera and, naturally, shot a few flower photos.

Tomorrow? Great Yarmouth, so I’ll have a report then from the North Sea.

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Heading Down the Big Slide

The big slide

Lizzie starting on a ride down the big slide on the hill at a park in Norwich, England.

I don’t recall the name of the park, but it was in Columbia, Missouri. When Audrey and I were in graduate school, now and then one of us would end up having to spend some time with the kids in Columbia, or we would meet for a picnic lunch, and this park was a favorite place.

It had a small lake, but that wasn’t the park’s true attraction. It also had a tall play hill. A slide with three chutes had been built into the hill, the longest chute going from the summit down into a sandy play area at the bottom.

I thought of that park today in Norwich. We spend part of the day at several different parks, the final one being a quite neighborhood play area with a slide built on a hillside.

The advantage of this design is you can have a pretty steep slide, but also not have it far from the ground, since if follows the slope of a hill.

This particular slide had a paved area beside it, and besides riding the slide, Lizzie liked to pick pine cones and sticks and send them tumbling down the area beside the slide.

Slides are an interesting plaything. They are a test of children’s climbing ability and their bravery. Kids learn early how to go down, sometimes on their tummy before they learn to sit.

There was a young English girl at the park today, a bit younger than Lizzie, I think. She watched Lizzie going down the slide, and it took some time before she was ready to go down herself.

But, eventually, she did. And she liked it. Like so many fun things in life, slides appear more scary than they are.

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This is Norwich …

Lizzie and Audrey

Audrey reads a book to Lizzie at the children's section of the city centre public library in Norwich, England.

Fortunately, no blitz to report. It’s day two of your correspondent’s visit to Norwich, England.

As expected, playing with the grandchildren has been the highlight. Lizzie apparently remembers Grampa Joey, as she calls me, and Mama, and her grandmother is called.

Juliette isn’t sure who I am yet, but she is a social and agreeable baby, and can easily be coaxed into a smile.

So far, the trip has featured several satisfying walks, as well as playtimes and various parks. If the whole plant scientist gig goes south, Matt and Amanda could open a very nice restaurant—the eating has been good. I tasted borscht for the first time, and have decided that beets are edible.


Roof line in residential Norwich--closely packed townhouses are the norm.

Some other observations on life on the eastern side of the pond:

  • Houses in Norwich are tiny, by American standards. Matt and Amanda’s three-bedroom townhouse would fit in some basement rumpus rooms. Yet, it feels quite large enough for a small family—in architectural terms, I suppose I think it’s the American standards that make less sense. The houses in Norwich are mostly connected in long rows, with tiny fenced front gardens and small fenced back gardens. Despite this, there is more trees and open space than I expected in urban England, which is a pleasant surprise.
  • Buildings here are older, interesting and much more muted in hue. Brick is a very dark red—common American red bricks are brighter and redder. The sidewalks here are either very dark grey cement blocks or, more commonly, what appears to be road tar mixed with rock. The streetscape is just a lot darker, as a result. Not in some unpleasant, dour way—the darker hues don’t seem somber, just different.
  • Park equipment is sturdy and serious looking. They go in for more metal and thick wood. Swing sets here look like they are built to withstand gale force winds, which in this part of the world, they probably are. The equipment looks “old school” to American eyes—but not overly dangerous. In fact, I’ve been impressed at the number of parents and kids at playgrounds—parks are smaller here, but much busier.
  • Drivers seem more polite here. Streets are very narrow, so when walking, you’re very close to traffic. But, if you step into a crosswalk, the cars all stop for you. Bikers are common, and sometimes can whiz by and startle you, but for the most part, bikers are considerate of pedestrians, too. Norwich is more compact than Cedar Rapids, and people here walk more. City Centre, what the downtown of Norwich is called, is small shops and busy sidewalks, plus an ancient and colorful central market. It would be hard to visit Cedar Rapids and not have a car to get around in. While I’m sure there would be times when an auto would be handy, doing Norwich by foot is fine.
  • The city library is nice.I liked the system they have in their children’s section—there are bins of unsorted children’s books around the walls. That would not aid you if you’re looking for a particular book, but it’s meant for kids to browse in. Having such accessible books for kids makes sense. Book reviews by 8 and 9 year olds were posted on the wall. The kids illustrate like kids, but have excellent penmenship and are very literate.
    Amanda and Juliette

    Amanda and Juliette, out for a stroll in a play area near a school.

    Anyway, no doubt I will write more later. The visit and the company and the food have been excellent.


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Spring For Hobbits in Norwich

Lizzie looking like a hobbit

In the mild climate of the Shire, hobbits enjoy snowdrops in January. If they weren't so darn cute, we'd hate 'em, but luckily, they are so darn cute.

OK, I officially suffer from a mild case of Norwich envy. Note the photo that Amanda recently uploaded, taken last week at a park in Norwich, England, where she lives.

I see a lot of green going on. The photo looks to me like Lizzie and her “push chair,” as the Brits quaintly put it, has been inserted via PhotoShop into a scene from “The Hobbit.”

But, it’s real. There is already green in the world somewhere as light is starting to slowly return to the northern hemisphere. Amanda reports that snowdrops are already blooming in Norwich, and the natives are acting as if that’s a normal thing.

Well, it’s not in Iowa. We’re still in the Siberia phase of the year, and it’ll be 6 weeks before we have a shot at seeing snowdrops here.

Then again, it’s only six weeks until we start to see snowdrops here. The sun is starting to ooze up the ladder of the sky, and we’re more than halfway done with mean old winter. Just keep telling yourself that in February, a month with only 28 days because in Iowa we couldn’t take any more.

An American would pronounce Norwich to rhyme with "witch," so the witch of Norwich would be a clever title--but in England, they rhyme Norwich with porridge. Well, they would. Lizzie still looks like she's casting a spell. This and other photo uploaded by Amanda to Facebook, photos used with permission.

I saw a book about flowers today in Busse Library and grabbed it. I’m watching for Morning Glory seeds to appear at Target, and I want to snap them up and get them started soon.

I like having 4 seasons and I don’t mind snow, but I’m starting to feel ready for a little Norwich green in Iowa any day now.


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