Norwich, England, isn’t a place many people have heard of or at least not spent their free time dreaming about. When I said to people that I went (boohoo, past tense) to University in East Anglia, they stared at me blankly. “Norwich?”, I try, to at least be visualising the same region and convince them that yes, I am on the same planet.
Well. PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR SOCKS KNOCKED OFF PEOPLE AS I GIVE YOU… NORWICH!
It’s a city with a lot of churches, but more importantly (sorry religious folk), a lot of pubs and bars. It has beautiful quirks and I’m about to let you in on the little well-kept secrets that are my favourite places in Norwich.
I recently took my family here for my post-graduation ceremony drink as it’s only on Unthank Road, a 5 minute walk from where I lived in my 3rd year. The moment my sister saw it, she started taking pictures, and I had this feeling of pride that I had showed her a place quirky enough to summon that reaction.
Because that’s what The Mulberry is, very quirky, and cute. The bar and tables are made out of a wood painted to look distressed, and there are colourful buntings hanging from wall to wall. One of the best features, I have to say, is the giant clock that instead of numbers (how mainstream and traditional) has teacups and saucers – elegantly mismatched patterns, of course.
It sells delicious food – I love their fish and chips – with portions an American couldn’t complain about. Want an afternoon tea? The Mulberry has it for you. Prosecco? Sure. A nice pint of Aspall’s cider? Glad you asked. I have found very little (in fact, none at all, but I have to keep the view of some sort of person to impress) to moan about in The Mulberry. Lunch or drinks, this is the perfect little place, and I’ll go out of my way to go back there whenever I return to Norwich.
The Bicycle Shop
One of my loveliest friends, Emma, and myself made it a task to go to unique little bars in Norwich. We found in each other the preference to go to a nice, a-bit-different bar and chat rather than get wasted at a grotty club on a night out. So we went to The Bicycle Shop, and I’m going to be honest, it felt like we were on a first date with the intimate setting and new friendship a-blossoming.
I feel I should explain the intimate setting. It’s dark, but in that sultry and charming way, with candles and fairy lights, and this general idea as if you’re in some forest or jungle somewhere (there is leafy decor). It’s kind of as if you’re in a hipster Tarzan and Jane’s treehouse.
You can also go to gigs there, but because of its small appearance in the room you initially enter, you tend to think this is a lie. It’s like the Tardis though, you can fit dinners, drinks, gigs and even a gallery of art or photography or two. And you’ll probably still spot a bicycle or two. Basically, it’s a lovely cooped up magical looking world.
I was saving this til last, because I’m a bit emotional about it. There are a lot of feelings attached to this pub/bar. It was amazing. It was unlike any place I’ve ever seen. Then came the refurbishment. And I will admit, I’ve not been back there since. It’s a matter of pride, but my nostalgia of what once was is too strong not to talk about The Birdcage.
It was so busy in terms of interior design. Classy and tacky came together to create some strange love child I knew and loved. Neon lights – a red heart, the green ‘smile or die trying’, a disco ball, butterflies hanging from the ceiling, fairy lights twirled around a stag’s antlers (or was it moose? Pretty sure it was stag…). And then flowers displayed in Hendricks gin bottles, a piano, birdcages (I know you were waiting for me to say that) and old furniture that shouldn’t be seen with the naked eye, but just worked. Best of all, of course, was Maraud the resident cat (don’t worry, Maraud didn’t go in the refurb).
Now… sigh. If it was a pub that I saw for the first time, I’d like it. I’d still think it was cute and a bit quirky. It’s essentially white, with some features from before, like the butterflies and pink neon heart (and Maraud). But to go from so busy to completely minimalist, knowing what was there before made it lose its spark for me. One day I will go there again, once I get over my stubborness. It does have some great ideas, like the ‘Ballroom’, which showcases art temporarily, and small gigs and comedy nights. You can even do life drawing. The Birdcage hasn’t lost its quirky character, that’s for sure. But will it ever be as good to do a 1920s style photo shoot for UEA’s newspaper, Concrete, like this again?
I’d also like to say, I don’t have the best photos as last year my hard drive and silly me didn’t back up, so have lost some good photos – but all the places are linked to their websites, so please have a look on there for pictures and more information!