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Thu, Sep. 2nd, 2010, 11:50 am
Not Very Flat It Turns Out

The only thing I knew about Norfolk, before I visited, was that exchange in Private Lives: "Very flat, Norfolk." / "Don't be unpleasant." I was going to spend three days in a place noted primarily for its flatness! I was pretty excited.

But it turns out, Norfolk isn't really all that flat. It's flattish! There are flat bits. There are no obvious mountains. But there are slopes, and undulations, and a couple of undeniable hills. This is a bit disappointing! If you're interested mostly in things that are very flat, I can't wholeheartedly recommend Norfolk.

If you're interested in things other than extreme flatness, though, there's plenty to choose from, and it's all very good:

• For the first day, I thought there were no young people in Norwich all, but there are! They're all gathered in one place: outside the Forum, one of those big glass millennium buildings, where they sit on the steps like pigeons with angular haircuts.

• Norwich is super-fond of superlatives. There's not a plaque in the place that doesn't claim to mark the somethingest something, no matter how specific those somethings have to be: "oldest pub" or "first provincial newspaper" or "one of the most interesting streets in the country" or "one of the best sprung dancefloors in the county" or "largest six-day a week open-air market in Europe".

• They have cleverly segregated all their generic high-street shops (for when you want to quickly buy a swimming costume, having left yours at home) from all their interesting shops (for when you want to look at overpriced bunting, books, board games, chocolate, and giant moomins, or drink coffee accompanied by cheerful 1950s music).

• There are so many churches! There is a church on pretty much every block. I can't imagine what they did with all these churches, before half of them turned into art galleries and cafes. Church crawls? Giant games of sanctuary-themed hide and seek?

• The sea in Cromer has undertow! I'd forgotten about undertow.

Fri, Sep. 3rd, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)

I grew up in Norfolk, and given Londoners general reaction to that, I'm always happily surprised when someone actually take a holiday there. It's a lovely place though! Also, I seem to remember reading that it's the county in England with the highest amount of churches per people, or per square mile, or something. (More superlatives, I know!)

Sat, Sep. 4th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)

It was very good fun. And I certainly believe you about the churches. My Australian city, Adelaide, is occasionally called the "city of churches", so although I'd heard that Norwich had lots of them, I thought I was prepared - but nope, turns out I wasn't!

Fri, Sep. 3rd, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)

I love Norfolk, and particularly Noprwich. Hope you had fun.

By the way, if you've seen Stardust, did the recognise the location in Norwich?

Sat, Sep. 4th, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)

I did! It was really lovely. I haven't seen Stardust, but if I do I'll look out for Norwich sights.

Fri, Sep. 3rd, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)

Church crawls? Giant games of sanctuary-themed hide and seek?

I love these images.

Sat, Sep. 4th, 2010 07:55 am (UTC)

Oh! I've been to Cromer! It's fun!

I have to disagree about the flatness, though. It is, comparatively speaking, very flat indeed. You're driving along, right, and you can see really far. I hate it, it's creepy, and I think it increases the likelihood of an alien attack. Just saying.

Give me MOUNTAINS. Proper craggy landscape, that's what it's all about.

Sat, Sep. 4th, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)

I'm not saying it's not quite flat, compared to, I don't know, Sussex or a crinkle-cut chip. But compared to, for example, really flat places, it's nothing to write home about!

Your point about alien attacks is unconvincing - Australia has many parts that easily outflat Norfolk, and canonically is the only place to survive almost all alien attacks.

Sat, Sep. 4th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)

HAH. You could not be more wrong. What is actually happening, understand, is that the aliens are practising on the hillier terrain in preparation for the massive, all-out, complete domination that will be the outcome of the alien attack to commence in Australia on an unspecified date.

And that is why I have never been on holiday to Australia. Far too stressful. Also, cockroaches.