A pleasant and accessible city, ideal to visit on a cottage holiday, Norwich is compact and interesting enough to merit a day’s exploration on foot, and provides a useful service centre for those holidaying on the nearby Broads and in the charming outlying villages and countryside. Keeping watch over the city, Norwich castle is one of the best surviving examples of military architecture dating from Norman times, and its massive, solid keep now houses a museum dedicated to archaeological and artistic exhibits, together with a natural history section. The Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum is also located here, whilst the regional capital boasts two other museums; Strangers’ Hall, which documents provincial domestic life in England, and the Brideswell Museum, dedicated to trades and industries.
There is good shopping to be enjoyed in the city, with antique, quirky and independent retailers congregating around the medieval jumble of both the Norwich Lanes and the much-photographed Elm Hill areas in particular; the latter is all narrow streets and alleyways with half-timbered houses and historic buildings turned into boutique retail outlets, bars and cafes. The elegant art nouveau Royal Arcade houses the shop and museum dedicated to Colman’s Mustard, a famous local condiment, whilst all manner of goods can be purchased at historic Norwich market, running since Saxon times and now noisily plying its trade six days a week in front of the City Hall. Another institution that cannot be ignored is the imposing Cathedral in the heart of the city, with its enormous nave and richly patterned tower dating from the twelfth century. This Anglo-Norman abbey is the largest of some thirty or so parish churches which still survive within the city walls.
Just outside of town, the visual arts are well represented at the superb Sainsbury Centre. Artists as diverse as Picasso and Degas are on display in an ever-changing series of exhibits, whilst the surrounding parkland and lake make a pleasant place for a stroll. Blickling Hall, a Jacobean stately home just outside Norwich is reputedly home to Anne Boleyn’s headless ghost. A more sure- fire sighting for visitors making the trip there include some sumptuous gardens and particularly fine tapestries, rare books and paintings in the house’s imposing Long Gallery.
Those holidaying with children are assured of a ‘monster day out’ at Dinosaur Adventure Park at Lenwade, between Norwich and Fakenham. Children can explore the Dinosaur Trail, discover ancient tribes and creatures on the Neanderthal Walk, cosy up to creepy crawlies, enjoy the Adventure theme park and much more on this action-packed day out. Pettit’s Animal Adventure offers another family day out for those with young children. There’s an eclectic mixture of exotic and domestic animals, with regular petting sessions, as well outdoors rides from roller coasters to miniature trains, a gnome village, bobsleigh, ball pool; just some of fifty or so fun activities on offer. Wet weather days are also well catered for, with plenty of indoor family fun. Banham Zoo, half an hour’s drive from Norwich, is one of the country’s best, offering the chance to see over a thousand species set among thirty five acres of parkland and gardens, from big cats to birds of prey, soft play areas to safari tours.
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