Four of us stayed in a converted stable in the grounds of a pleasing Dutch Gabled Georgian house called Gildencroft once occupied by one of the Twinings tea family (Richard, between 1799 and 1835). The last few occupants have been doctors, and one of them wrote a history of the village – Horsham St Faith.
From his book I learnt that St Faith was once the centre of a huge annual cattle market, where hundreds of iron-shod cattle driven 30 days down from Scotland by porage-eating cowboys, were sold to local farmers who fattened them up on grass and turnips before selling them 0n to London. During our stay the farming activity seemed less to do with cattle and much more concerned with pigs, and spreading their muck generously over the fields just upwind of our home. Boy could that stink penetrate. It got into the Black Swan where we spent some of our first night (Winter’s Golden Ale and Greene King IPA) and stopped us opening the bedroom window overnight.
Each day we took a bus into Norwich and found a different pub for lunch, as well as exploring old haunts (for me, Steve and Pam had all lived here at some time). The Wig and Pen, close to the river, the Cathedral and the Courts, had good food and Golden Ale by Jackal Brewery and Jiggle Juice by the newest brewery in the city – Northgate. We did some shopping in the big market
and visited the Castle Museum in the last hour, when it is only a pound to get in. There I saw a statue of St Christopher helping a headless man over the river. The river was also carved in stone, complete with fish, but still looked like a guy walking with his trousers round his ankles.
On another day we found a painting of John the Apostle on the side of the pulpit in the village church. He is said to have survived drinking a poisoned chalice (real not metaphorical) by praying and thus casting out the poison – in the form of a devil, or a nice little dragon.
Sticking with the religious theme Pam found a plaque set in the Cathedral floor celebrating its founding by Herbert de Losinga, builder and first Bishop. He looks fine, but who is the clawed character, scuttling away with bags, in the top left?
Saw a peregrine falcon beside the spire – wonder if its related to the one seen not long ago at Chichester cathedral?
We lunched at the Ribs of Beef, beside the river, and I drank a beer from the Dark Horse Brewery, and tried Eldridge’s Black Dog mild.
On our last day in Norwich we joined the workers on strike over ghastly changes to their pensions. Found a Unison board to hold aloft, and joined in the calling and chanting until the rally finished. As we made our way to lunch we heard someone singing ‘Be reasonable – demand the impossible now’, a fine song by singer-songwriter and Brighton primary school teacher Robb Johnson.
We made it to the Kings Head where I had three halves – Fruit Bat from Green Jacks of Lowestoft, Nelsons Revenge from Woodfords and Winters KHB (Kings Head Bitter).
Earlier we had called at City Hall, where Pam and Steve were married just 40 years ago this very week.
Its a ruby wedding so Jackie and I brought them ruby port, and they brought a bottle of champagne – a good evening was had.
On Friday we set off for Cambridge, to look at the Vermeer’s Women exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum. We were lucky enough to park right outside – if its lucky to pay £6 for two hours parking. Vermeer was crowded and I’m not a big fan of 17th century domestic scenes. Elsewhere I found ‘The Judgement of Paris’, only about 12 inches wide and 10 inches high, but worked on by Hendich van Balen in Antwerp, Venice and Rome as well as by Jan Brueghel the Elder in Antwerp, Naples, Rome and Milan. How did that work? And who is the big guy in the bottom left, perhaps sleeping off a session beside a spilling wine jar?