Trip down memory lane

Filed in Personal

When I left Norwich 17 years ago, I never thought about if I’d go back again. At the time, I was moving to a new place (San Diego in the States) and it was exciting and took up all my time thinking and planning for it.

Going back to Norwich in April had been a pilgrimage of sorts. Can it be called a “pilgrimage” ? Cuz pilgrimages are done to places one’s never been. I’ve been to Norwich before, in fact lived there 3 years, called it home, still think of it as home, this is where I lived three of the best years of my life.

No, not pilgrimage, but trip down memory lane. One that I wasn’t disappointed at all.

I’d been told over and over again (mostly by Mel) that both the city and the campus have changed. So I visited knowing a lot of things are not how I remembered them. Trips down memory lane are usually trips not just to a physical place as it is now, but a trip through our memories of that place. Such trips have often been disappointing because for some people, the places are not how they remember them to be.

Well, I wasn’t expecting everything to be how I remember it. But I was pleasantly surprised. Like coming through the city from the train station, I recognised a lot of places. And walking around the city, the surprises remained pleasant. Despite the physical changes, which are mostly add-ons, a lot of the places I used to frequent are still there. Including the shops, the businesses occupying the shops. I was pleasantly surprised to still see a lot of familiar store fronts, from big names like Marks & Spencer (still at the corner and serving as a landmark), Debenhams, Jarrolds to smaller ones like Millets, an outdoor store where I bought a sleeping bag cover that I now use as a laundry bag.

The marketplace is still there, still with its colourful awnings which are new and clean. The place is organised, with transparent awnings in-between stalls to protect from the rain.

And the most pleasant surprise? I walked to where I used to live in the city, and it is still there. Mary Chapman Court. From where I stood (at the start of the short bridge going over the river), I could see the flat where I used to share with three other women. It was a pleasant surprise, but in a way, weird, too. As a university city, Norwich’s students graduate and move on. Some of the city hasn’t. For some reason, that’s a comfort to me.

The movie shop is still there, as is the tobacco shop Albert used to buy his tobacco from. I walked down St Benedict’s Street all the way to the junction but it wasn’t the one with the bridge going over to Su Kappeler’s old flat. And I was too tired to keep walking and turned back instead.

I kept coming to places that were there during my 3 years in Norwich. The ice cream man was there at his usual place, altho I’m not sure if it’s the same person. The one I remember used to sell roasted chestnuts in the winter and ice cream in the summer.

I remembered a burger joint Anne Bevan and I went to one time and wondered if it was still there. I remembered it was across the road from Jarrold’s so I went there, looked at the shops, and there it was!

I didn’t take many pictures, mainly because the places still look the same, so a picture taken now and taken 17 years ago don’t look all that different. Including the campus. It still looks the same, including the steps where I fell and cut my left shin badly.

There was at least one place I couldn’t find – a corner shop in the city selling coffee and a little cafe upstairs selling coffee and a fresh scone with butter for 90p. The coffee cost 60p and the scone 30p.