Yesterday was supposed to be the hottest day EVER. So Mr Chick and I decided to make the most of our flexible working life, hop on a train, and spend the day in Great Yarmouth.
Great Yarmouth is a classic British seaside town. All faded glory, seaside kiosks selling fish and chips, piers and slightly ropey pubs. I had other plans for our visit other than putting money in 2p machines, though obviously I DID put some money in 2p machines, because what on earth would a trip to the seaside be without 2p machines?
First though. I made a very poor life choice. Or more accurately, a very poor wardrobe choice.
Faced with the sort of day on which people fry eggs on car bonnets and the roads melt and stick to your feet I opted for a lightweight skirt and crop top, and flat shoes. All the better for walking and not having uncomfortable feet.
Looks ideal, right?
And you might have been right. Except you are not accounting for how very, very stupid I am when it comes to dressing myself.
I looked in the mirror after putting on the light floral skirt and thought “Hmmm, it looks a little flat”. So I put on a petticoat.
If there’s one thing you need on the hottest day of the year it’s 3 extra layers of stiff netting gluing themselves to your legs every time you sit down.
Our first port of call on arriving in Great Yarmouth was the Time & Tide museum. I’ve been there a couple of times before, but Mr Chick hadn’t. It’s a fascinating museum that used to a herring processing plant.
Just be thankful these aren’t real fish.
We learnt an awful lot about Herring, and I completed this beautiful herring stencil that I imagine the museum will want to auction off to raise money.
Or possibly they will just throw it in the bin when they clear up.
As well as Herring, the museum features a fascinating reconstruction of what the streets of Great Yarmouth were like, back when they were “The Rows”.
Right up until the early twentieth century Great Yarmouth was mostly long narrow alley ways running parallel to each other. These rows were mostly destroyed in bombings during WWI and WWII and were never rebuilt as they just weren’t suitable for the modern world. They were narrow, dingy, and unsuitable for cars.
There were 145 Great Yarmouth rows. All had different names, but in 1804 they were all given numbers to simplify navigation. You can still see row numbers painted on the ends of several alley ways between buildings.
The reconstruction in the museum is great to explore as the “houses” are open and contain reproductions of chemists and sail makers, as well as family homes.
The Time & Tide also contains other, less educational amusements.
We spent a couple of hours in the Time & Tide, before a brief break at the gorgeous Winter Gardens for more traditional seaside amusements (Fish & Chips and 2p machines)
Then we went on the hunt for the REAL Great Yarmouth rows. Most of the time when people visit Great Yarmouth they stick to the sea front, but there are some amazing treats back in the “real” town. At first glance the High Street is a normal boring High Street. All pound shops and charity shops. But the old rows still run crossways and if you duck down them there are some treats.
We found Kitty-Witches row, the narrowest of the Great Yarmouth rows, but it was full of scaffolding, so not very exciting. The Time & Tide museum contains a few theories on the name of this row. Including the story of a fascinating tradition where apparently on one day of the year local prostitutes would dress up as men, smear their faces in blood and go door to door demanding money. Which sounds less like a tradition and more like robbery to me, but what do I know?
Some of “the rows” are now little more than alley ways between shops. Others have been transformed into a shopping destination full of small independent businesses.
Think the Brighton Lanes, but less cool and trendy.
Finally, down a tiny little row, we located a pub called the Back to Backs, which we decided we had to have a drink in.
It was tiny and windowless, with low beamed ceilings. It was very much an old school pub, with a pool table and a dart board and lots of locals on stools at the bar. Also, weirdly, it had a lot of fairy lights up, which if it hadn’t been so darn hot would have made me feel like it was Christmas.
We consumed an inadvisable amount of beer and I took this photo hiding behind a wall because I felt silly taking photos of the pub. How cool is that dimpled glass panel though?
By this time most everything that wasn’t a pub was closed, so we tottered back to the train station, and back to Norwich.
And that’s how we spent a stupidly warm September day. In a seaside town, but not by the sea!
You can find out more about the Great Yarmouth rows here, where I have just discovered you can actually visit some row houses, so I’ll have to save that for another trip!