Over the years, I’ve seen a fair number of cities bathed in light, transformed by vibrantly-coloured installations. I remember travelling up to Blackpool for The Illuminations as a child, lights snaking for miles along the front. Years later, I stood in Millennium Square, alone, mesmerised by Light Night Leeds. Since then I’ve seen light shows in Bern, Lyon, London and, now, Cambridge. I didn’t expect much from e-Luminate, but I was quickly surprised by just how good a show my current hometown put on.
Steeped in history, culture and architectural heritage, Norwich is one of my favourite cities in the UK – and not just because it’s home to No. 33, a cake emporium which tops my to-visit list every time I visit the city. I doubt I could ever tire of wandering its cobbled streets and elegantly styled arcades, of browsing its antique sales and independent retailers, of working my way through the city’s many eateries. Designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2012, Norwich’s Business Improvement District (BID) has since commissioned a number of eye-catching murals which draw on the city’s vibrant past. Some seamlessly blend elements of folklore with the fabric of the city; others combine the city’s landmarks with its literary heritage. Here are six of my favourites, from a morning spent wandering the city’s streets . . .
Related: Norwich: Where Old Meets New
January usually has little going for it (unless you’re a pluviophile, that is), so I was naturally rather excited when I spotted a column in Time Out heralding the return of Lumiere London. (We’ll gloss over the fact that they’ve nabbed a French word so as to have an alliterative event name and then butchered the spelling of it.) Commissioned by the Mayor of London, this city-wide event sees installations of all shapes and sizes illuminate the capital in glorious technicolour. Clusters of projections, neons and suspended sculptures bring a new dimension to the capital’s iconic buildings, streets and landmarks (and a fair number of lesser-frequented spots, too).
Commuting, in some shape or form, comes hand in hand with employment – be it a brisk walk or cycle ride spent battling the elements, a journey aboard a moving sardine-tin (sorry, I meant the Tube) or a traffic-jam filled drive. If you’re not using one of those modes of transport, chances are high that (like me) you have experienced, are experiencing, or will one day experience the joys of a high-cost (and often highly disappointing) commute aboard one of Britain’s trains. You’ll come across all sorts of people with habits both amusing and irritating, and more often than not a decent sense of humour (and a stereotypically British stiff upper lip) is all that will prevent you from losing the plot. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to these nine characters from my commute . . .
There are a few things in life worth getting up early for, and the seal pups at Blakeney Point are one of them. Over the months of November, December and January, hundreds of seal pups are born in the sand dunes of Blakeney National Nature Reserve, making this the largest seal colony in England. (And a beachful of blubber – but a cute one at that.)
Sometimes, time crawled; mostly, it flew. 2017 is, in the words of The Proclaimers, ‘Over and Done With’ – or rather, it was three days ago, but I’m late to the party with my end-of-year roundup. (I didn’t join the #bestnine2017 Insta-party, but rest assured this post will contain a sufficient number of photos.) 2017 wasn’t without its low moments, but overall I had a darn good year. Life in the Real World (as opposed to Life in the University Bubble) was a steep learning curve, and I learnt a lot of valuable lessons along the way, most of which are summed up in this post. La Grenouille Anglaise has come further than I thought possible, and for that I owe every reader of this blog an enormous thank you.
If you take the crowds out of the equation, London is truly magical at Christmas. It sparkles, glitters and gleams with festive cheer from Winterville to Winter Wonderland. Christmas, Yuletide, Noël, call it what you will – the festive season is my favourite time of the year, and I couldn’t resist pulling together a seasonal edition of this series. Last week, Laurence and I headed down to London for a day full of touristy goodness; we hit the streets instead of the sweaty underground trains, and clocked up a whopping 30,000 steps in the process. (More than enough to justify all the mince pies we ate later in the day.) Here’s what we got up to . . .