Flowers in the park

Bellis Perennis

Bellis Perennis

The last full weekend of the year before we put the clocks back to GMT. It’s a little after 8.30 and I’m already in Catton Park, early bird and all that.

The season continues to change slowly. We’ve got some strong wind coming in on Tuesday so that’ll nudge things along a bit and after the recent heavy rain there’s always the danger that we could lose some trees. But that’s all for next week.

Three dachshund run barking along the path. Their owner, in a rather unfitting pair of blue rubber gloves, is not far behind, also barking. “It’s OK, they’re just a bit frightened.” Like I wasn’t, seeing all this head towards me.

After yesterday’s trip to Thetford, I’m determined to find things other than fungi this morning. Even though we are nearing the end of October there are still some flowers around and the rose hips are continuing to ripen.

Inevitably there’s fungi. Inevitably I photograph them. I’m aware that two beady little eyes are watching me. A robin. He ‘ticks’ a couple of times and disappears in an instant.

The sky threatens rain, but the forecast doesn’t. I’ll take no chances.

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Guns and fungi at Thetford

Magpie Inkcap or perhaps a Lawyer's Wig

Magpie Inkcap or perhaps a Lawyer’s Wig

I’m no expert when it come to fungi and I’m very much from the school of only eating mushrooms bought from a shop. But there’s no getting away from the fact that at this time of year any visit to a woodland is going to end up as fungi foray.

When I was at Thetford a couple of weeks ago I spotted my first Stinkhorn. It was an exciting moment. But little did I know that awaiting me on this trip would be something far more spectacular.

On the Beech Trail just after crossing over the driveway, there’s a open area where the Forestry Commission workers must chip felled trees and branches. There, standing proud was a… well I think it was a Magpie Inkcap, but it could have been a Lawyer’s Wig. I did say I was no expert. But what ever it was one thing is certain, it’s the most amazing thing I’ve seen, mainly due its size. It was at least a foot (30cm) tall and on its own amongst the chippings.

Along the Beech Trail the colours on the trees are starting to change and are obviously more noticeable than in the conifers, but the true stars are the fungi at the moment. I plan to return in a couple of weeks when I suspect the full technicolour of nature will have a hold.

One of the pleasures of visiting Thetford is that despite the large numbers of visitors, the place is so big that yo can walk for hours without seeing or hearing anyone else. The only noise that spoilt the peacefulness was the occasion rapid gun fire from the shooting (paintball) range. The birds seemed noticeably quieter too this time and I wonder if they two things are linked.

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Morning after the storm

Catton Park

Catton Park

Last night’s electric storm over Norwich has left Catton Park feeling fresh and green this morning. There’s a slight mist but no sign of the fog we were warned about.

The wet grass doesn’t put off the Sunday morning dog walkers, a group of which are gathered near one of the dead trees. The humans are exchanging doggy tales and weather observations while around their feet their canine friends wait impatiently for a ball to be thrown.

On the walk through the woodland next to St Faith’s Road the dew drips from the trees. Suddenly I’m in a downpour as two squirrels run along the branches shaking the leaves above my head.

The bench I’m sitting on writing this is damper than I thought so I’ll continue by walk around the Park and concentrate on the changing colours.

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Sloughbottom Park, Norwich

It’s Saturday morning. The team in the blue and white striped shirts and black shorts are playing the team in the white shirts and black shorts. I sit and watch a while. I’ve no idea who they are, what the score is or how long there’s left to play. While I’m there the blue and white striped team score twice. The white team never look like scoring.

Elsewhere in the Park children are playing on swings and roundabouts, people are walking dogs and other games of football are being played. There’s a girls game just finished and over in the distance I can see people on bikes riding the waves of the BMX course.

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Friday night in Norwich

The Murderer's on Timberhill

The Murderer’s on Timberhill

5pm on Timberhill and I’m in the The Murderer’s with a pint of Redwell beer. I’ve tried a few fancy bars in Norwich, but always seem to gravitate back here where there’s always a great atmosphere and a variety of beer. The only problem is that sometimes it’s awkward to see what’s on the bar as the area where the pumps are is a popular place for sitters and leaners.

A cheer goes up marking someone’s arrival. The couple opposite me kiss and sip their drinks. Another couple play the quiz machine and lose. So they play again and lose.

Behind the bar the Landlord pulls a pint. It’s Friday night and all this is his.

I empty my glass and head for the Grosvenor Fish Bar on Lower Goat Lane.

McDonalds on Hay Hill

McDonalds on Hay Hill

The queue winds its way a little down Pottergate. Their Friday night Fizz ‘n’ Chips is popular. You can grab a portion of sausage and chips and head over to the Birdcage to eat them with a glass of Prosecco. I’ve no time to queue tonight so rather reluctantly I make my way to McDonalds on Hay Hill where a very different type of customer order their burgers and fries with coke.

6.30pm and time to move out of the warmth of McDonalds and into St Lawrence’s Church on St Benedict Street for Sounds of Silents – Gothic Film: Gothic Fiction.

Gothic readings at St Lawrence's Church

Gothic readings at St Lawrence’s Church

The first hour is taken up with five reading of Gothic literature and poetry. The authors struggle with the dim light and need assistance from someone with a torch. It all adds to the atmosphere and a chill runs up my spine and down into my legs and toes. There’s no heating. There’s no plumbing either. We were warned to ‘go before we came’, which I did. My only mistake is not getting a seat closer to the film projector’s fan of warm air.

The second part of the evening is a showing of the 1922 film Nosferatu with live music from Minima. Percussion led guitars and a cello. A superb and sometimes musically amusing accompaniment the the restored Dracula based film. You can get a taste on the Minima website.

To add to the atmosphere of watching such a classic film in a dark, disused church on a cold night in Norwich, for the final ten minutes or so the moon appears through the stained glass windows high above where once there was an altar.

A little after 10pm and I’m outside again and regretting that I didn’t queue for sausage and chips earlier.

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