April 27th, 2010
I have now left the city and I’m making my loop of the main land U.K.. This is of course due to the volcanic ash cloud that left me in Germany about a week longer than planned, however I feel extremely happy about what I did see there. Thus, I have had to change some of my plans but all in all I feel it will still be a successful trip, I actually already feel I’ve accomplished so much in the 2 ½ weeks I have been gone from the states.
Yesterday I awoke at 5:30am to take the train from London to Diss here in East Anglia. Now you may ask what is there that is so interesting? Well first and foremost my mom took a grand 3 week vacation there in 1985 with some family friends that were originally from there. While my mom was here she went into one of the local cathedrals and met a very sweet woman by the name of Ann Flynn. They exchanged their information and began writing back and forth on holidays and other times and have kept at this for 25 years. So, when I decided to do my little grand adventure, mom wrote the Flynn’s and it was decided I must come and visit for a day or two. So here I am in the beautiful area of Norfolk in East Anglia, and don’t think differently for a local will tell you if you get the area wrong! Sussex is the border to barely south of here and the river is what divides the two areas and they make sure you know that there is a mighty big difference between the two. Anyway, more on the “tribes” as one man was calling them yesterday a bit later.
A little after nine after a beautiful train ride through the countryside I arrived at Diss station, or rather Diss platform in a more literal depiction. There was Mr. Micheal Flynn to greet me a very sweet gentlemen and immediately I felt quite at home from the second I met him. We hopped in the car, this being my first British car ride (opposite side of the road and driver side). I took after my mom when she rides with me while I’m driving, she slams on imaginary break pedals in her passenger seat, and that’s exactly what I was doing because my mind went bonkers at this! I was really a bit in a panic though I KNEW that this was the only proper way to drive here it freaked me out for a while. None the less we arrived at the house only a few minutes later and I was calm again.
We then came into the house Mrs. Ann Flynn was in the kitchen fixing herself breakfast and I was sweetly greeted again, enforcing the idea that I was oh so very welcome. I also sat and had a great bit of breakfast with them and it was discussed how long I could stay. I ‘hated to break the news I only had the one night, and it sort of broke me a little. I had all intentions on coming Saturday morning, but the train service decided that they had to do construction and I would have to take a train here, ride a bus there, take another train somewhere else and hope to make it to Diss in 4-6 hours. So, I opted for my early morning arrival.
A very old pub! from 1249!Adam and EveThe Gateway to the Broads
After a couple hours of chit chat and pictures we went off again to Norwich, remember if you come here the “w” is silent and if you don’t you get funny looks. Also, someone will likely correct you for such an American like foible. Another beautiful journey through the country, with trees and beautiful green fields and so many flowers. It then really hit me I wasn’t in Germany or the states or France, I was in England and I must say I had a very big smile on my face. Not to mention that the Flynn’s make for great tour guides, talking about painters, writers, bird specialists etc. etc. and they also talked about all they had seen and done in 52 years of marriage. It only took around 45 min. to an hour of driving, all of which went quite fast so we were in Norwich in no time. Oh and on the way I saw my first thatched cottage, also reenforcing the whole “I’m in England” bit.
Our first stop was Norwich Cathedral which dates back to the 12th century and has been very well preserved. It’s very much like Notre Dame in Paris, the Gothic architecture and layout, not as big of course. Though I would say, and I personally like this better, the lighting was just so much more cheery, grand stained glass windows just made it open up a lot more and this also is probably due to the mass restoration that just took place to remove the soot accumulation. One interesting thing about the cathedral were the old graves in the floor, which I suppose is they all dated to about the 18th century and had black marble placed over them marking it.
Though, probably the most powerful things in the entire church were the memorials to those lost in the world wars, including a piece of lace made showing the bombing of Britain by Germany in WWII. It sort of got the Flynn’s talking about their experience and really just broke my heart hearing about it. You can read all you want but when you really hear what someone who was there went through it changes a lot. Both of them were fairly young children at the time and though they were young they remember so much of what happened and how horrendous it was. I truly believe no one in this world should ever have to go through something like that but unfortunately humanity doesn’t tend to agree. A final note on the cathedral and the memorials, I really wish that in the states we had that a bit more for our lost men and women. Here it’s everywhere and it’s truly done the way it should be and no one forgets those lost.
After the cathedral we decided lunch was in order, and where Mr. Flynn parked the car was right next to this old, beautiful, Flemish style pub called the Adam and Eve that dates back to 1249! This makes it the OLDEST pub in Norwich and one of the oldest in Britain! Of course it was small but you could just feel the hundreds of years of life it had seen. I had a wonderful lunch of fried brie with cranberry sauce and a salad along with tonic water and great conversation with the Flynn’s.
After lunch we went to Norwich Castle, which in the traditional sense isn’t really set for a castle tour but instead has been made up into just one of the best museums I have EVER seen. The museum had stuff on the castle including the great hall still open with bits on that including a very good model on what the working castle would have been like. This castle was built by William the Conqueror’s son, Henry and had been, castle, prison and a few other things when it was turned over to the public in I believe the 1300’s.
Then there was room after room of art done by local artists, in oil, watercolors, sketches on and on. This area is famous for artists and they say that the light is what makes it so appealing and I believe there is truth in that. After seeing all of these pieces and the sort of magical, whimsical world that is created in it it’s oh so very true.
After art we went to the exhibit on Boudica, who led a rebellion against the Romans and was a woman doing so! Her story is fascinating and I now believe I must read some more about her.
Now the tribes thing that started a few thousand years ago, well that attitude still exists today, and people stick very much to say a very specific part of say Norwich and usually it’s only a couple of streets there. Some of them really even had distinct accents to their few streets of select people. Oh and to be considered a local, you must live in one area for about 30 years before you’re a local! It’s truly amazing to me how such things exist, definitely a surprise to me!
The museum, as I mentioned, has a truly wonderful selection of exhibits for really any interest, and after Boudica we found the room on more craft art of the area. They had a few gowns, one dating to the 1770’s! Among other things, and this was all very great to see! I also took a quick step through the natural history part with the stuffed animals and saw the wide range of birds and animals in the region.
We sort of stayed in the museum until we were literally kicked out at closing, so then Micheal and Ann drove out to what everyone calls “The Gateway to the Broads” which is this beautiful national park with all of these rivers and streams and amazing trees. I now must come back on another trip and rent a boat and just sort of float for a few days out in the water, it would be truly a great experience.
We couldn’t doddle too long in the broads, Ann had dinner cooking for her daughter and son in law to come by. We really had a lovely dinner, Mrs. Flynn catered very sweetly to my vegetarian diet and we all had some great conversation on various subjects. From ancient Egypt to the exportation of work or “Made in china” I also learned about the contracting that they do. Oh and Kate and her husband live in Spain a good amount of time, doing work and living in their nice home in this old village in the mountains. Which I came to find out is where they filmed many a Clint Eastwood film, or the “spaghetti westerns”. They also had many questions on the states and how it was different or what we thought on this or that. I will always remember this great British Meal of vast quantities of great food and good conversation oh and plenty of fun jokes and comments.
So here it is about 9am and I have to catch the train this afternoon to York, I am sad to leave the Flynn’s but I know I will simply have to return to them in the next few years, oh and with my mom says Ann.
So I must say goodbye, they are taking me to a castle not far from here and then I will be going to York for the night. At the Ace Hostel not far from the train station or major sights.
Peace and Love,