I'm home again after a trip across southeast England. I started in Great Yarmouth.
Great Yarmouth certainly defies its adjective--lacking in "Greatness" in any capacity. It's not much of a place for history-oriented people, but even though the history isn't readily apparent, that doesn't mean that there isn't any at all.
The shore itself is nice. Once you get past the tacky fun-parks and gambling establishments, you can walk for miles down the beach. I found that in comparison to New England beaches, the sand was far more glassy and there were an abundance of rocks smoothed over by the tide. It surprised me just how quiet the walk was--only a few other people, residents I suspect, were taking advantage of the nice weather and the beautiful scenery. Something I didn't know before arriving was the existence of a wind farm on the water. There is a controversy on Cape Cod over the installation of a similar wind farm off the coast in the Nantucket direction--apparently this will "wreck the view out there." Frankly, the wind farm was quiet and graceful--certainly the only power-generating system I have ever seen that is easy on the eyes.
On my second day, I took a walk around the town to get a look around. I came across the local parish church, St. Nicholas. It's kind of a Victorian "re-do" of the Norman Church. When you go inside, the arches are original, but the walls have clearly been rebuilt around them. It also "said something" that the nicest place in the whole town was the cemetery that spread out from the "nucleus" that is the churchyard. It was very quiet and well kept given that a huge town effort is focused on the maintenance of it. At least if you keel over while playing at a slot machine, you first, won't have far to go, and second, you'll be on a quality piece of real estate.
I was walking around on the "Quay"--and I have no idea what that means even though I am from a coastal area originally myself. I actually had stayed on the Quay, which is by the River Yare (on the other side of the town from the coast), but I didn't actually stroll down the street until after I made my seaside stop.
When I did, I came across a ruin of a Greyfriar's Abbey. It wasn't visible from the road at all. I turned down a side alley and literally walked into it while I was inevitably getting myself lost. Anyway, it would have been outside of the city proper in its time--about fourteenth century or so. The picture of the brick structure with what looks like a chimney protruding out of it is the ruin. On the other side you can see the arches a little better. It isn't very big, but you can still get a sense of the turns and almost tunnel-like network of rooms that would have existed there when it was a whole building.
It may sound odd, but one of the most interesting features of the town was the remains of the town wall. There isn't much of it around, but every now and then, you'll look at a row of houses and spot the tell-tale arches or tower remains. Apparently most of it came down in the 1840s, but there are still sections around. There is a whole section still existing in the graveyard with a very cool tower at the end of it. I was walking down a street, desperate for the Sainsbury's nearby, when I turned and saw the tower you see in the picture sticking out from a bunch of commercial buildings across the street. The curious thing about it was the direction it faced in--it was facing to the water. Today, the majority of the town is apparently outside of where the original town would have been encompassed by the old wall.
Well, the trip was worth stopping there for a day, but I certainly wouldn't recommend actually travelling there for a prolonged period of time. The few things I managed to capture is the city's history--and that's all there is. The rest of the waterfront looks like a British version of Atlantic City that is even more tacky. I visited in the "off-season" so I can only imagine what it is like down there during the summer. It is windy down there--putting the wind farm to good use, of course, but that makes it hard to sit for a long time by the water. I noticed a lot of the "in the know" folks had these odd reems of tarp that they posted in the ground around where they intended to sit in the direction of the wind to block it.
One final note--I stayed in a place called the Star Hotel. It wasn't that far from the train station, which was an advantage for me. However, I was reminded of the "Royal Imperial Windsor Arms" from the movie "National Lampoon's European Vacation." If you don't know what I am talking about, the movie is well worth watching. At any rate, for those of you who do, I got two TV channels, one of which was a 24 hour run of news (the "Cheese Show"), I got no hot water from the shower head, but I got as much of it as I wanted to take a bath (sans whistling robed stranger), to make the toilet flush, I had to hold down the weight inside of the back of the bowl (that has no specific equivalent, but is just typical), and the bed, a "double" was actually two single beds put together.
Thus far, Durham will get 7 points out of ten, York gets 5, and Great Yarmouth will get 3 and a half.
On to the next location...