Retired Martin’s Honest Norwich Reappraisal Part I

17th March 2023.

I’ve been spending 3 days a week down with my parents, giving Dad guided tours of Fenland urbanisation projects and garden centres. On the upside, I get to see my parents and am guaranteed crispy beef and Singapore rice (plus a NEW dish !); on the downside it limits my chances to explore new places, let alone tick GBG23 (IF I am ticking GBG23, of course).

And then there’s the train strikes, blimey. At least they were running to Norwich on Friday.

A change in Ely gives just enough time to admire the knitted rabbit.

while on the train to Norwich the baby doll is being sick as we pass Thetford.

A first visit to the UK’s self-acclaimed “Capital of Beer” (ugh) since Covid times, which must be my longest ever Norwich hiatus.

BRAPA had just returned from ticking 36 pubs in a week, but it was his bonus 37th pub I saw first crossing the Wensum.

The Nelson Premier Inn offered Doom Bar better than many Guide pubs in Norwich according to Si, but it’s also dangerously close to a red light area I stumbled across at 5pm in 2003 looking for the Pig & Whistle, one of only three red light areas I’ve innocently ventured into. You’ll not be surprised to learn the other two were Wolverhampton and Maidenhead.

I digress. I come, if not to praise Norwich, at least to find out if it’s praiseworthy. You see, I have a mixed view of the place formed over 45 years from shopping and gigs and football and pubs.

It’s in part gorgeous, in others hideous. There’s a lot of Premier Inn about it.

Let’s look for the positives, eh ?

I only had three (3) GBG newbies today, but I might just make these visits a regular trip from Waterbeach. Why not ? I might grow to love the place. Or hate it.

The first of those three is a Spoons I’m absolutely certain I’d been to years and years ago, but it’s not on the spreadsheet and I’m here anyway and I’ve still got 32 vouchers to use by 31 March.

The benefit of going to the Bell after Simon is that I can nick ideas off his site and he won’t mind because he thinks I’m giving him a lift to St Agnes or something.

Ask not for whom the Bell tolls, it tolls for thee, blog content thief“.

Simon had bouncers on Thursday in February so it was inevitable I’d get them on a Friday night that was also St Patrick’s Day.

I’m surprised (Si was “shocked”) at how little actual seating there is in this vast rambling barn and take against it immediately,

more so when my (discounted) Green Jack that looks good turns out to be a cool but sharp-tasting dirge (NBSS 2). “It’s your duty to CAMRA to take it back” you say. “Oh, **** off“.

I’m forced to stand at the bar and watch a doomed date on the nearest table. Who takes a date to Spoons ?

A girl swings her legs repeatedly and chats incessantly about her office job to a bored bloke who realised he’s not getting a word in edgeways. On Mumsnet it’s always the blokes who do all the talking.

All deeply unsatisfying, and I leave a good third of my pint. Perhaps the staff will look at that glass and raise a Quality Control report to Spoons HQ and action will be taken. Perhaps.

13 thoughts on “Retired Martin’s Honest Norwich Reappraisal Part I

  1. I take my wife to Spoons, does that count as a date? She hates the food but it’s convenient after the food shop particularly if we (she) can’t be bothered cooking.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s a Spoons hotel which means it’s an old place refurbished rather than a converted carpet warehouse. There’s another one in Thirsk. Both above average for Spoons.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Much has been said about ‘spoons customers but I still believe large open spaces are not good at serving a diverse range of drinkers. Multi-room pubs where everyone can find a space they feel comfortable serve an entire community much better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I tend to only visit Norwich for City of Ale or the beer festival, assuming St Andrews hall doesnt collapse soon, neither of which facilitate needing an extra stop off at a Spoons, but I feel I must visit the Bell again after a 10 year hiatus as I mentioned on Si’s blog it used to be imo the best of the 3 in Norwich (the Glasshouse needing near permanent bouncers to control its patrons and the Iceni being just a giantic greenhouse), but they spent about 4 months refurbishing the place in 2017, supposedly making it better, but I need to check out what they did to ruin it.

    as for first dates in Wetherspoons, you remember they did a special 3 course Valentines meal for two once ?


  4. “And then there’s the train strikes”.
    Yes, and my local branch chose train-strike-day last Saturday for a trip to Stone so it was the bumpy bus, but a double decker back meant a view from the A34 like I’d never seen before.

    Liked by 1 person

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