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Norwich & The Yare Valley - A view from our expert author
Norwich Castle © mum62, Shutterstock
It is probably true to say that Slow philosophy has its heart in the villages and market towns rather than the cities, but Norwich is hardly your average city.
The general image is that of a city out on a limb that is out of step with modern times; a place of gauche, unfashionable attitudes and a plucky, if sometimes unpredictable football team; Alan Partridge, Delia Smith, parochialism, mustard, banking and insurance.
Naturally enough, the reality is somewhat different: Alan Partridge is a fictitious character (although there really is a Radio Norwich these days), Delia Smith lives in Suffolk despite her regular outings to Carrow Road to watch football, and Norwich Union have re-branded as Aviva and outsourced to Sheffield and India. Contrary to expectations, the city is increasingly cosmopolitan, has a thriving university and is one of the fastest growing cities in England. Simply put, Norwich punches well above its weight.
The River Yare that flows from central Norfolk to Great Yarmouth (a large, slightly threadbare sort of place that some might prefer to avoid although it, too, has its own story to tell) is a natural conduit for river trade between Norwich and the coast. This same river also connects with the Broads at Breydon Water, and even has a couple of important minor broads of its own at Surlingham and Rockland.
The modest River Tas, which joins the Yare just south of Norwich (having quietly meandered up from south Norfolk), has no urban centres, just a few likable villages strung along minor roads in pretty rolling south Norfolk countryside. There’s some interesting history and unsung places half-hidden away here in what is effectively Norwich’s commuter belt.