King’s Lynn was originally called Bishop’s Lynn, but became a royal town when Henry VIII dissolved the monarchy – first becoming Lynn Regis before being given its current name. It is a pretty market town set on the river Great Ouse with many beautiful old buildings. The Waterstones in King’s Lynn is set on one floor and has a large children’s department.
Town Hall and Trinity Guildhall
The Corn Exchange
The Custom House
The man in the statue is Captain George Vancouver who explored parts of the North West cost of North America and has several places named after him. The plaque on the statue reads:
King’s Lynn Conservancy Board Offices and Pilot’s Tower
River Great Ouse
There are a couple of branches of Waterstones based in University campuses – this one is at the University of Anglia, situated to the west of Norwich. The University was founded in the 1960s and notable alumni from the world of literature include Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan and Tracy Chevalier.
Although this branch is open to anyone, it felt really weird walking to the branch through the campus – I felt like an interloper!
The architecture of the site is in the Brutalist style and was designed by Sir Denys Lasdun with later additions by Sir Bernard Feilden. This type of building is considered by many to be ugly, the construction material being concrete, but I quite like it!
We left Ipswich on Friday after a lovely couple of days, and decided that as we were in the east of the country we would do a couple of branches of Waterstones before heading west to our next destination. The first of these was in Norwich city centre. The Waterstones here is a large store with entrances on two streets and is set over two floors. The store has signage celebrating people associated with the area including Delia Smith and Alan Partridge. (Ah-haa!).
Castle Meadow Entrance
Castle Street Entrance
Castle Street Entrance
Norwich has a fab cathedral which has some great stained glass, some of which produce stunning reflections when the sun shines through them.
There was a sculpture trail taking place over the summer months (popular in UK cities as they encourage visits from locals and holiday-makers alike) – Norwich were focusing on hares. The hare doesn’t seem to have any particular significance to Norwich apart from the fact that they are “a popular iconic subject for artists and can regularly be seen in the countryside of East Anglia“! We spotted several – Mr Harebean (left) being a rather freaky example!
Norwich Market – one of the oldest open-air markets in the country
Currently Reading: Alice by Christina Henry and listening to A Lesson in Dying by Ann Cleeves
We spent our last day in Ipswich exploring the town. First stop after breakfast was Waterstones, which is split over three levels, one being a mezzanine, and the shop has some lovely reading seats on the top floor with ornate ironwork Ws at the back. It’s quite large store, with an escalator in the middle and feels quite open and airy. The first floor is larger than the ground floor but unfortunately I cut the photo of the shop off so you can’t see the full extent of the top floor!
A friend who lives nearby (more of her later!) suggested we should visit Christchurch Park so we headed there and discovered a rather lovely museum on the site which includes plenty of works by artists associated with the area including Constable, Gainsborough and Airy. The museum is free (donations welcome!) and definitely worth a visit.
The park itself is also a must, especially on a sunny day. They have plenty of wildlife including cormorants and turtles and even a resident owl although we weren’t lucky enough to see her on the day we were there.
We also visited the Ipswich Museum. It has rather a lot of stuffed animals and birds, a World War Two exhibition and an interesting history of the town on the first floor gallery.
We found a couple of blue plaques – one for Charles Dickens who stayed in the Great White Horse Hotel and one on the waterfront to Edward Ardizzone, a children’s author and illustrator who is a particular favourite of mine.
We met up with our friends for dinner and went to a Pan Asian restaurant called Aqua Eight. The venue has a contemporary feel and really pretty mood lighting. The food was delicious and the company great! It was lovely to see our friends and we had a really good evening – the perfect way to round off our stay in Ipswich.
After a delicious lunch with my Aunt and Uncle at the Barnby Swan (well worth a visit – it specialises in seafood, which we love) we decided to whizz across to Lowestoft. We used to visit here when our children were little – it has a lovely beach. We didn’t have time to stop long today, sadly – just time to pop to Waterstones!
On the way back to the car I was amused by all these birds roosting on the top of the Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic church. Having Googled, it appears they are Kittiwakes and are not very common in the UK!
Next up on our holiday was a lunch date with my Aunt and Uncle who live on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, so on the way up from Ipswich we decided to visit Southwold. We thought we’d beat the queues for the car parks by arriving at 10am but despite it being a weekday in term time we couldn’t find a space for anywhere longer than 20 minutes! This just gave us time to visit Southwold Books, which is owned by Waterstones but branded as though independent. The store is in an attractive building (The Olde Banke House), the former site of the local Tourist Information office, and is small but very sweet!
The woman and man pictured in one of the photos were complaining about a chain shop that was going to be moving into Southwold (presumably White Stuff as they were opening the following day) and how chains would ruin the character of the town. Kind of ironic really, when you consider who owns this shop!
After our visit we hopped back into the car and headed to the Pier for a cup of coffee. The pier was built in 1900.
There is a large mural on part of the pier by graffiti artist Pure Evil and dedicated to George Orwell (one of my most-read authors) who lived in the High Street from 1929 to 1935 and wrote one of my favourite of his works of fiction here, A Clergyman’s Daughter.
The sandy beach is very popular with tourists in the summer months, but was fairly quiet when we visited. Southwold is very pretty and definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the East of the country… just get there early!
Still reading – The New Woman by Charity Norman and listening to Knots and Crosses on Ian Rankin on Audio Book
Essex is a county that we don’t know very well so we decided to visit some of it whilst we were staying in Ipswich. We started off with Southend-on-Sea which is famous for, amongst other things, having the longest pleasure pier in the world. The Waterstones here is in the High Street. From the front it is just an everyday glass-fronted shop, but the building above is quite attractive.
Looking towards ‘Adventure Island’ and the pier