Where to while away an hour (or 10)
PUBLISHED: 16:41 18 March 2011
Whether you've got an hour to kill or 10, there are plenty of ways to take a break from the hectic pace of life. SIMON PARKIN offers a selection of satisfying slow ways to enjoy Norwich.
n Watch the time go by. The Gurney clock is a unique timepiece donated to the City of Norwich in 1975, to mark the bi-centenary of the founding of what is now Barclay’s Bank by the Gurney Family in 1775. Now housed in Castle Mall, it is often overlooked, but you can watch the seconds tick by until the renovated automata, including the roaring lion and rolling balls, which depict the movement of money, spring into life.
n Go round Dragon Hall. Move so slowly you actually go back in time at Grade 1 listed trading hall built in 1427 by Robert Toppes, a wealthy merchant who used the hall to display and store imported goods, a time capsule in which visitors are immersed into medieval life. It re-opens to visitors on April 4. Adults £5.50 (£4.95 cons), £3 children, under-3s free. More details: 01603 663922 www.dragonhall.org
n Play lawn bowls. Chess on grass, the prince of lazy sports. There are loads of bowling greens in Norwich and many of them are cheap or even free to play. Norwich City Council manages 14 perfectly kept greens, including at Eaton, Harford, Heigham and Waterloo Parks. Sessions cost £3.70 (£1.85 cons) from April 5-September 19.
n Go to the cathedral library. All libraries are relaxing as long as they’re not full of children and homeless people, but some are more relaxing than others. The Norwich Cathedral Library is one of the most peaceful and contemplative we can think of — with a small reading room open to the general public and occasional exhibitions of ma-terials from the cathedral’s collections. Open Tues-Thurs, 9.30am-4.30pm. More details: 01603 218443, www.cathedral.org.uk
n Float away on a balloon. Broadland Balloon Hire offers the chance to take in spectacular views over Norwich in near total silence. Flights have just started again and continue right through until October. Bag a ticket from £135, and see the city in way you haven’t before at a stately pace. More details: 01603 495004, www.broadlandballoons.co.uk
n Get knitting. Very relaxing, once you know what you’re doing. Find where and when you can learn the basics by popping into Norfolk Yarn, a shire to all things needle-craft on Aylsham Road, where they hold regular events and courses. More details: 01603 417001, www.norfolkyarn.co.uk
n Get snookered. Given that a single frame can take a professional up to an hour, half a day can easily be wiled away on the green baize by the hapless amateur. And that’s just the first game. Give yourself at least three and half hours for a decent match. There’s a reason snooker clubs are open 24-hours. More details: Canary Cue Club, St Mary’s Plain, Norwich, 01603 627478. Riley’s Pool, Snooker and Poker Club, Magdalen Street, Norwich, 01603 617456.
n Opera on the big screen. Cinema City’s regular lice screenings of opera from the Royal Opera House are the perfect excuse to take in some high culture in a relaxed setting - and they frequently last four hours or more! Next up is Carmen in 3D (March 21/23) . More details: 0871 7042053, www.picturehouses.co.uk
n Gone fishing. Norwich has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to angling venues. From the banks of the urban Wensum to the countryside beauty of the Broads. Barford Lakes has eight perfectly managed lakes holding a good variety of fish. Winter opening times (Tues-Fri, 8am to half an hour before dusk) continues until the end of March. Summer opening from April- September is daily 8am-7pm. Day tickets £7 (£6 cons). More details: 01603 759624, www.barfordlakes.co.uk
n Take a canoe trip. The Broads has so much beauty to offer and yet so very few of us ever get to see a fraction of it…why? Because there are vast areas that inaccessible to motor powered boats – whether it’s because of shallow water, nature reserves or just narrow ‘tucked away channels’. These ‘backwaters’ are fantastically quiet havens for wildlife. Join the Canoe Man for a guided trail. Whole day trails begin on March 20. More details: 01603 499177, www.thecanoeman.com
n Get cooking. The Slow Food movement has made some inroads into fast food culture. If cooking slowly seems too much like hard work, you can get some tips from the top at David Adlard’s new cookery school. More details: 01263 587258, www.davidadlardcookeryschool.co.uk
n Watch county cricket. When it comes to competitive team sports, nothing is as relaxing to watch is cricket. Norfolk County, whose history dates back to 1827, play at Manor Park, Horsford, will begin their minor counties championship matches in June — fixtures have yet to be announced. There are also numerous matches — of all levels and abilities — throughout the summer. More details: www.norfolkcricket.co.uk
n Walk the Wensum. The source of Norwich’s river lies between the villages of Colkirk and Whissonsett and it eventually winds its way into the River Yare at Whitlingham. Between that its navigable length maybe only 2.75 miles but long sections of its banks can be walked, not least the Riverside Walk that follows the Wensum from the city centre to Hellesdon. The walk can be continued by joining the Marriotts Way. In spring, the city centre portion of the walk is a blaze of colour. www.visitnorwich.co.uk/documents/310.pdf
n Pamper yourself. Spent a day being pampered and waited on hand and foot at Sprowston Manor Hotel & Country Club. Spend the day enjoying treatments and relaxing massages, followed by a romantic meal. More details on rates and deals: 01603 410 871, www.marriott.co.uk
n Get into the garden. Despite the best efforts of the Guerilla Gardening brigade to make green fingered activities fast and fashionable, horticulture is really best appreciated at one’s leisure - and, for the sake of your back alone, at a suitably languorous pace. If you haven’t got a garden of your own, see if you can get an allotment. More details: www.norwich.gov.uk