Why I love Norfolk: Gary Newland

Gary Newland and his wife Micaela on the north Norfolk coast 

Gary Newland and his wife Micaela love the north Norfolk coast - Credit: Gary Newland

Memory 

Four wonderful years spent at the UEA School of Development Studies. I moved up to Norfolk from Colchester for this course - and never moved back! My life would have taken a very different trajectory had I not made this life-changing move. Since my time at UEA I have travelled around the world, working with the most amazing artists and found the love of my life, my wonderful Cuban wife Micaela. She now works at the UEA so I continue to have a bond with this wonderful institution.

Landmark

Blickling Estate woodland and lakeside walks. I spend as much time as I can here. It is the place I most like to be with my family.  I can find a certain grounding and sense of calm with this space more than any other – I guess it’s a place full of deep rooted memories and happy times spent with our children.

Beach

I often take walks along the coast between Sheringham and Wells. It’s a wonderful and unspoilt part of Norfolk where you can enjoy miles of near-empty beaches.  

Town/city/village

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I spent the first 10 years of my Norfolk life living in Heydon. It is one of those jewels in the crown when it comes to villages in Norfolk. A timeless place. I was very lucky to live there spending many an afternoon enjoying a beer on the village green or walking around the estate. We used to put on a lot of gigs on at the village hall too. I remember, in particular, the time when I was touring a group of 10 Senegalese artists. We took them to the village hall for a warm-up gig. They performed an ear-splitting concert of traditional African drumming and dance for the locals. I don’t think any of the villagers will ever forget that evening.

Place to eat

Whenever I had visitors to stay I would always take them to Bar Tapas in Exchange Street, Norwich. A wonderful venue and great atmosphere, sadly closed now following the first Covid lockdown. Turtle Bay seems to be my go-to restaurant when out with a group nowadays, but I'm still finding little gems springing up around the City like Harry’s Bar in Chapelfield Gardens.

Pub

Recently I was invited to go to attend the finale of the Norfolk Black History Month programme with Jose Ferrera and his Cuban Band. This was held at the Last Pub Standing in King Street. I've often walked past this pub, but never entered until this occasion. What a find, what a night – danced my socks off. A lovely space out the back to watch live music and a superb cellar of fine ales. Great friendly staff too. Will definitely go back again for another event – loved it, loved the friendly welcome.

Attraction or day out 

I've been going to Norwich Arts Centre for the past 30 years and seen so many bands, and put a few on myself, over the years. I love the vibe at this venue, intimate, friendly and unlike any other venue for music in the city. I am glad they have endured and continue to put on an eclectic mix of music.

Something that happens every year 

Seeing the bluebells at St John’s Wood, Blickling.

Shop

Living a short distance from the city centre, my walk into town takes me over the Grapes Hill bridge into Upper St. Giles. Here at No. 91 you will find the Plant Den. An independent, exquisite and exotic little shop full of original art and the most amazing plant specimens. Every season there is a new display which simply stops me in my tracks and entices me in.

Export

Undoubtedly it has to be the City of Norwich. ‘A Fine City’ is an understatement. I can’t think of any visitors or artists I have introduced to Norwich over the years, who have not sensed the warm welcome and atmosphere it provides. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else to be honest.  

Music Worldwide will bring a series of six world music concerts to Norwich between February 28 and March 11 featuring musicians from Bulgaria, India, Venezuela , Zimbabwe and the Middle East. Tickets can be booked via the Theatre Royal Box Office, Norwich.