I lived in England for the last year. Americans in England will identify several things as peculiar. One of the most prominent is that the same language is different.
What will trip up many Americans and quickly identify them as foreigners, besides the accent, is that Americans make valiant attempts to include every letter when pronouncing words. English speakers ignore half of them. Leicester, Worcestershire, Gloucester are a few that come to mind. Also, the seemingly innocent vocabulary choices that Americans make Brits can’t help teasing us about (sidewalk makes more sense than pavement, ALH).
But this post will not be about language apart from the one short pronunciation tutorial.
During my year abroad I lived in Norwich, a city two hours by train northeast of London. Whenever I told my friends back in the states where I was, they proceeded to say Nor-witch, or Nor-which, depending on your preferred word association (unless you’re one of the few traditionalists still fighting the good fight to retain pre-aspirated H sounds, and I commend you, then refer to witch).
Unsure what I’m rambling about? Watch Stewie and Brian’s debate from Family Guy.
But which/witch is wrong altogether. People in Norwich like to run all the letters together as though the word has one syllable, sounding like Norritch, as clarified in this handy YouTube video. It made me giggle.
So now that your internal narrator’s voice understands the proper pronunciation, we can proceed. Details are important.
When I arrived in Norwich, just like many Americans, I was excited to see the castle.
My English friends? Bored of castles. They’ve seen castles all their lives. Castles are literally everywhere.
A year in England and I still like castles.
Norwich is proud of its castle. Norwich Castle stands in the heart of city centre and on important occasions, like Remembrance Day or during Christmas for example, images are projected onto the castle’s exterior. The castle keep is a worthwhile attraction for anyone visiting.
From a former resident of Norwich, here are 3 additional attractions which hold an affectionate place in my heart.
1. Plantation Gardens
This one took me by surprise. Norwich is lovely in general, but this spot is straight out of A Secret Garden. Henry Trevor fashioned his garden in a medieval-style, mimicking those which belonged to the grand country houses of his Victorian contemporaries.
Plantation Garden is the perfect place to come for an afternoon stroll, read a book in the sunshine, or take loads of photos for Instagram.
Click on the photos to see a gallery with captions 🙂
I imagine Victorian ladies would spend their Sunday afternoons here amongst the flowers. I’m a sucker for anything Victorian or medieval, and this place combines both. I’ll need to work this location into the novel I’m writing; it’s too perfect to pass up.
Best time to visit: May to September.
To get here: Take the 26 Bus to Earlham Rd, get off at the Catholic Cathedral.
2. Cow Tower
During my time in Norwich, I spent a lot of time exploring. One random April afternoon I bugged my housemate, Moles, to go on a walk with me. England has a mild winter and spring. So if you’re from the northeastern coast of the US, like me, it’s a vast improvement.
Norwich is especially picturesque in April when cherry blossoms adorn the trees and daffodils add personality to green spaces.
For that day’s adventure, Moles and I walked the City’s River Walk, which passes by this 14th century tower. Cow Tower in the spring reminds me of one of my favourite poems, Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott:
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
There’s no entry inside the tower, but the low foot traffic means no strangers to crop out later. Moles, with her keen eye and unwavering good humour, took some really cool photos of me.
Best time to visit: March or April if you share my love of daffodils, but it’s open year-round.
To get here: From Norwich Cathedral, walk east to Bishopgate then follow the river walk path north.
3. Eaton Park
I often walked through Eaton Park on my way to University of East Anglia. There is a lot of personality packed into 80 acres: there’s a bit for sports (including a skate park), a rose garden, an awesome pond where people race toy boats, crazy golf, and then this architectural gem smack in the middle.
And that’s my favourite. The bandstand.
It just feels cinematic. Walking there I could imagine myself on the movie set of a Jane Austen novel adaption.
For outdoor exercise enthusiasts, it’s perfect for a run (or as I do: a slowly paced jog with plenty of rests to catch my breath). And there are lots of opportunities to see cute dogs.
Best time to visit: year round!
To get here: Take Bus 25 to North Park Ave.
Norwich was a lovely place to spend a year of my life. It’s positively picturesque with its cobblestone streets and preserved medieval buildings. I could write countless posts about it: top cafes, churches, pubs, shopping…the list goes on. Overall, Norwich merits a visit, even though it requires making a specific, out-of-the-way trip there.
It’s worth it.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it.