Tuesday, 24 June 2014

English Seaside Weekend Pt 2 – Great Yarmouth

Sunday dawned another beautiful, sunny day. Again, we started with breakfast and a quick shopping trip to Norwich – my boyfriend bought a few things for Glastonbury (which is TOMORROW! Pray to the weather gods for me, people), and I wanted to see if I could find any Tanya Burr products in Superdrug (I couldn’t – boo).

Afterwards, we still had loads of time before we needed to be home, so we decided to head to another Norfolk seaside resort. 

Great Yarmouth is pretty much the opposite of Cromer – but in a way, it’s just as British! It’s a proper, full on seaside town – long, sandy beaches lined with kids theme parks, bouncy castles, crazy golf, huge, bustling amusement arcades, shops selling crappy souvenirs, candy floss stalls, ice cream huts, donkey rides, horses pulling carriages.

It’s a big, tacky seaside resort, basically – but it’s still quintessentially English. All the shops sell tea. I sort of love it.

I remember Great Yarmouth as a child – we must have stayed in Norfolk for a holiday, and I can vividly picture driving through the streets at night, dazzled by the bright, flashing lights of the arcades spelling out their exotic names – ‘Pink Flamingo,’ ‘The Golden Nugget,’ ‘Silver Slippers.’ We had gone for dinner and on the way out I had asked my dad if we could play mini golf – not ever expecting him to agree- and he said yes! We played crazy golf – at night! It was one of the most exciting things you can ever imagine as a 7 year old, or however old I was. (We weren’t allowed in the arcades!)

On my return visit I was happy to find most of the arcades I remembered from my childhood were still there. Out of nostalgia (and because I hadn’t been allowed in when I was little) we went into the Golden Nugget. Isn't it just an explosion of lights and colour?!

Roughly £10 later, we had won one strawberry lollipop, and I sort of saw my parents’ point!

Next up on my list of childhood excitements-  crazy golf. The pirate one really appealed to me – the blue water just looked so refreshing in the heat!

It was really good fun, but busy, so we kept getting stuck behind families – and 18 holes is, it turns out, quite a lot! 

(Never smile at a crocodile...)

Maybe I’m getting old…

We had an ice cream, then went down to the beach ‘for a look…’ where we promptly fell asleep for half an hour on the sand. What was that about old?!

When the old pensioners eventually woke up, we managed to walk the (miles, it seemed) down the beach, to paddle in the sea before we finally had to get into the car and start our journey home.

I would really recommend a little break by the English seaside. These places are becoming more and more neglected but they’re lovely and they have so much more character than some plastic place like Malia or Kos. If you get the chance, go, even just for the day – go and have fish and chips, lose money in an arcade, have a big ice cream, play crazy golf and wander about barefoot on a stoney beach, saying ‘ouch! Ow! Oh god, was that a crab?’ You’ll be surprised how good for the soul it is!

I’ll be a bit quiet for the next few days, but after that will be back with a Glastonbury review –see you on the other side!


Monday, 23 June 2014

English Seaside Weekend Pt 1 – Norwich & Cromer

Glastonbury countdown: T minus 2 days. I’m frantically gathering together last minute bits and pieces, checking the weather forecast every five minutes and avoiding washing my hair until the last possible moment – I’m so excited!

In preparation for six days of eating fast food, drinking at 11am and sleeping in a muddy field, my boyfriend and I decided we needed a good, wholesome weekend of quality time spent away from London – especially as he has just finished taking exams, so needed to relax! I wanted an old fashioned English seaside resort, and to be honest, I picked Norwich almost out of a hat – it’s not too far away, we hadn’t been since we were children and there is a beach nearby! We booked a town centre hotel, hired a car, took Friday off work (why not) and off we went for our healthy weekend away!

Starting with prosecco and chocolates in the room when we turned up. Well, okay, not that healthy!

It was such a beautiful afternoon so we went for a wander round Norwich. Our hotel was near the cathedral so we started there, then followed the winding roads up into the town.

I didn’t know anything about Norwich and I was really surprised by what a gorgeous town it was! It reminded me a little bit of York, with chocolate box shops and cute little houses, shady streets dotted with green trees and flowers.

My brain is this size...right?
We had dinner in the hotel restaurant, which was nice but I forgot to photograph it, then had drinks at a neighbouring Wetherspoons (exotic) before falling into bed for a long, deep sleep!

The next morning, after a gigantic hotel breakfast, we went back into Norwich because obviously my boyfriend had neglected to bring any spare socks…so we hit up Primark!  Afterwards we headed to Cromer for a taste of the traditional British seaside. Cromer, unlike neighbouring Great Yarmouth, has kept its old fashioned feel – it’s a little seaside town with a proper pier, little independent places selling fish and chips and Cornish ice cream, a couple of amusement arcades and one of those stoney beaches that only English people like! There’s no Starbucks, no Mcdonald’s – no chain shops at all.

Take a look at the view!

If you lean over the sea wall the roar of the waves blocked out the shrieking children and sea gulls below. It was so peaceful.

It was a beautiful day and we went straight down to the sea. No matter what the weather, if I’m on a beach I always have to see how cold the sea is. 

Some brave souls were surfing in this, but just putting a toe in was enough for me – it was freezing!

We quickly retreated onto the pier. It was pleasantly busy (not packed) with couples curled up together on benches, families eating ice cream and crabbing with long nets, old men fishing, people walking their dogs in the sunshine. We sat down on a bench and just people watched for ages…

Before getting a bit peckish. The smell of salty, vinegary fish and chips on the beach is just intoxicating and led us up the cliff path to No 1 Fish & Chips. They do sell the crab that Cromer is famous for, but I just went for a box of chips, while my boyfriend had sausage and chips (and curry sauce, which I always think is unnecessary!)

We sat on the wall, watching the sea, to eat them.  They were so good, so hot they almost burnt my mouth, and salty and full of flavour. Just plain old chips with salt – one of the best meals I’ve had in ages!

Satiated, we wandered around the pretty little town and wasted about £5 winning a drumstick in the arcades before heading back to Norwich. 

I put my new Primark shoes on – do you like?? I swear, I can't go into that shop without buying something. It's so bad.

We had dinner in a Mexican restaurant which was so bad I’m not going to bother to name it – but here I am enjoying a strawberry margarita as the night came to an end! More tomorrow...


Friday, 20 June 2014

Work Life – Birmingham Business Trip

I got back from Manchester on Sunday night, exhausted, feeling unhealthy and hungover. The last thing I wanted to do was wake up at 6.30am to catch a train to Birmingham – but that’s exactly what I had to do, as I had a three day business trip to face. I couldn’t think of anything worse – I wanted to go to a health farm for 3 days, not  a busy city centre!

However, I have to admit I cheered up when I saw the gorgeous apartment I would be staying in for the week. My company do treat me okay sometimes. I grabbed a couple of biscuits and enjoyed the view of the city.

Sometimes I do feel like my life is a series of amazing balconies. Still, it makes for good photos!

I was there with a lot of colleagues, so after we got the boring business part out of the way, we had some good nights out. We were staying right by the canal, where we mostly went to eat – it’s so pretty, and the weather was gorgeous so we had a great time.

On the first night we went for dinner at Carluccio’s – I had a lovely seafood risotto, which sadly I forgot to photograph – before heading back, perhaps slightly tipsy, to one of the other girls' apartments. Which had a balcony even cooler than mine!

We settled down with wine and chocolate fingers to watch the football.

Unfortunately for the sole boy amongst us, we didn’t find it very interesting, so we quickly flicked over to the Made In Chelsea final. Only one thing I can say – ‘oh, Binky.’

I was still shattered from the weekend (and pretty sure I was getting a cold) so once the show was over I bowed out of anymore drinks and took myself to bed with a book (Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Be A Woman’, which I have just finished and couldn’t recommend more) and a bottle of water.

I bounded out of bed fresh faced and awake the next day, whereas some of my colleagues had been out till 3am! I enjoyed some breakfast on the balcony and wandered about my apartment a bit more...

Those of us who could face it headed to Bodegas for Mexican food, to watch the Mexico-Brazil game. The nachos were incredible – if you live in the area, you have to go! We had tables downstairs and the vibe was really cool and relaxed (although the Brazilian supporters were a bit loud – of all the places, why would you pick a Mexican restaurant to watch that particular game?!)

The margaritas were beautiful and reminded me of my amazing holiday in Cancun (oh, if only). Bearing that in mind, I might’ve had a few too many.

Once the game was (uneventfully) over, we ended up in town at what I can only describe as the world’s worst club. Now, bear in mind it’s a Tuesday night, so that might explain how wild and crazy it was…


Despite that, we managed to have fun – mostly consisting of plastic hats of cocktails, pretending it was various people’s birthdays, and requesting the Spice Girls!

Last night I was finally allowed to go home, for two days rest before a weekend at the beach, and then Glastonbury next week…do you ever feel like you never stop?! I suppose at least it makes for an interesting blog!

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