Our celebration of so many (FORTY!) years of marriage started in June with a trip back to Norwich where Jan and I met. This could have involved a bit of soppy nostalgia but the city is so darned vibrant and interesting that, whenever we visit, we have no need to mush over student days.
Instead we discover what has changed (Oswald Sebley Jewellers ceased trading a while ago) or what is brand new. We did include familiar ground by visiting the university campus. The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts opened four years after we left but we have explored it since and this time viewed the latest in a fine series of exhibitions which are aimed at distracting from the fabulous regular collection.
It was terrific to see the Cartier-Bresson photographs lined up. Many of them are iconic images but having the chance to view them outside the pages of a printed book was refreshing.
The Giacometti 'Line Through Time' was our favourite of the two exhibitions. As a 'retired' history of art student, I found out much fresh information about an artist whose work, although comfortably familiar, had all sorts of nuances which had previously escaped me. Alberto's work is shown world-wide. You can see how transfixed Jan was by a quintet of the sculptor's figures when we walked round the Maeght Foundation seven years ago. I still insist that her expression here reveals a magnificent pout rather than a scowl.
At the Sainsbury Centre our visit was supplemented and enhanced by a hugely knowledgeable attendant. He also alerted me to a lovely publication, giving a fascinating, sometimes rambling, history of the building itself... on sale at a knock-down price in the SCVA shop.
Both exhibitions are finished now but the Centre, along with the rest of the city of Norwich will continue to offer lovely things for any visitor.
We had already tried one of the newest, loveliest things in Norwich last November. We rounded off our summer 2016 trip with a revisit.
'Benedicts' is now a year old and has developed at breakneck speed into a compulsory place to book for anyone who loves great food. Our bill tells very little about the delights which we enjoyed a second time round. I will provide a link to my proper review as soon as it's ready. Suffice to say that, after making impressive first impressions back in November, the Bainbridge Brigade still managed to raise the bar with the quality of food and service.
We wandered around parts of the rest of the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk and made good use of our National Trust membership. One of their properties proved to be the source of a special item which we took home. More of that in a future post.
We haven't had any break beyond five days so far this year but that's not been a bad thing. Spring in Barcelona was vibrant and intense. Different areas of Britain have provided new bursts of historical, artistic and geographical interest but Norwich will remain most likely to draw us back again soon.
It's a great place to meet someone very special.