Trip trap, trip trap over the bridge I went to explore the more urban side of the river. Crossing the bridge was the easy bit. After that the carefully salted pavements and cycle tracks had iced over again and reset as black ice.
The sapphire blue sky and dazzling sunlight was the cue for blue tits to sing. They have a delightful vocal salutation to the Sun and I find their constant movement a joy. I find it most remarkable that they are able to go from fleeting flight to stock still on landing.
Other birds that were about included a grey wagtail in close to the door at Morrison’s. A young man was able to get quite close to take a good picture of it – the bird even stopped wagging its tail for a moment to help the photographer.
I wandered down a side road, under an old railway line bridge and on towards Common Lane, but I decided not to pass across the Yarmouth railway, as a woman was returning after seeing how flooded the lane was further along. I then took a left that ran parallel to the Yarmouth Road and found myself in a little bit of countryside. Mud and ice notwithstanding, it was a delightful diversion, which led me past the local scout HQ with its St. Andrew’s shield on the gate. They seem to have a great set up there, with a green and various bits of climbing equipment by the wood.
When I got back onto the road towards the city I noticed that the church has a tiny campanile of its own just inside the arched gate to the churchyard. The footpath to the church door passes through the bell tower, which is not even as high as the church roof. The church itself is an impressive structure for this the first town outside the city on this side of the river.
There are a couple of bank side pubs, both which have riverside terraces that are always busy in the days when pubs were open. The train journey on this line gives a good view across the river to the south-facing pub gardens and they look very attractive prospects for better times ahead.
There is also a narrow public garden with plenty of benches, some arranged around a war memorial that has the look of an anti-war memorial, (to which I have no objection at all). There is a more traditional war memorial more centrally located at the back of the park with the names of the local men lost during the two world wars of the C20th. The poppy wreaths were ringed by luminous red, backlit as they were by the Sun.
There is a point where the road and the river are very close and a way to the water’s edge has been provided for horses to get a drink. This access is called Horsewater. Like all those Norfolk roads named The Street, one gets the sense that not a lot of time used to be spent on getting creative with naming things around here.
I passed a cut through between houses. Here it is known as a loke, something that is is known by the name twitten in Sussex.
Closer toward the city is a car park, opposite the Broadlands District Council offices. This is for visitors to the Cary’s Meadow. Again this was badly affected by flood waters and instead of plodding around the meadow I spent some time standing in the car park talking to a woman who I had waited to go through the wooden gates before me. She advised that the ground was not easy walking at the moment, at least not for my trainers.
She told me a bit about the meadow and we soon enough got onto the pandemic and life as we now know it. She had been allowed access to the cathedral to light a candle in commemoration of her late husband, whose second anniversary it was last Wednesday. She was the only visitor inside that massive, celebrated building at that time. It was an important quiet moment for her. Life goes on, just differently these days.
I walked home past the east side of the football stadium and its car park. Coronavirus testing continues there, or are they vaccinating there now too? I did not ask. There were as many staff there as people visiting.
Crossing the Novi-Sad Friendship Bridge I saw the last flash of sunlight from the weather vane set on the point of the cathedral spire. Is it one of those proud brass cockerels that were once all the fashion? From the distance, in that moment, it seemed like a golden star.