The day after I arrived I awoke reasonably refreshed. I didn’t really have jet lag so I was pleased about that. Having seen most of Newmarket already, we visited neighbouring towns over the next 10 days before I jetted off alone on my grand adventure through Europe. I had 8 weeks or so planned of travels before I would come back to Newmarket and settle down with my girlfriend.
The day after I arrived, we went to Moulton. She had talked often of this place and came here to walk her dog or have some time to herself amongst nature to escape the dreary work life in an industrial district. I had heard about this place a lot over the last few months so I was looking forward to seeing it. I didn’t really know what to expect, but we came to Moulton and it was a gorgeous little country English village. It had an old stone bridge running over a small creek that split the town in two. Mole hills were plentifully scattered along the waterside and beside the road. Having come from Australia where Moles are not introduced, I had no ideas at first what these “lumps of dirt” were. She laughed at me in adoration of my naivety, and laughed again when I asked if you ever see the moles, as apparently this never happens… ever. The air was crisp and clean with the cold country air. The frost was hanging around until well past lunch time. Her dog sniffed everything he could, and we chatted as our breaths were visible in the air. We walked past old cottages made of stone with thatched roofs. It had a very typical feel of what you would expect old English villages to feel like, and I loved it.
Three days into our 10 days together, I came down with a plane-flu for the ages. I quickly registered with a GP first thing in the morning in the local area under the NHS and was found to have been struck down with a ghastly infection. It had spread to my lungs, I was feverish, slightly delusional, and on the verge of passing out just from getting to the doctors office, so I was given antibiotics. I usually don’t like them as I prefer natural remedies but being this ill, I was going to take what ever was deemed necessary. I got home and slept until lunch time where I was awoken with food. I didn’t want to eat, only to sleep, but she made me sit up and eat what I could. I slept again to dinner time where again, I was awoken to a meal. I was so grateful that I was not on my own on this day.
A couple of days later, I was as fit as a fiddle, except for a nasty cough that actually hung around for another two weeks! With my rediscovered zest for life, we went out again to Bury St Edmunds, or as the locals just call it “Bury”. Here they have the Abbey Gardens, which is a beautiful ruins site of an old Benedictine monastery built in 1020AD. A huge 14C gate that was added still stands as the entrance way to these ruins / gardens. If anyone is around the Cambridgeshire or Suffolk areas, I recommend you take the time to head out here. In warmer months, a picnic here would be a treat.
I had a date day in Cambridge and wandered some of the streets and shops, before heading to lunch at a new Sushi place that opened. This was my first sushi experience in the U.K. and to say it was disappointing was an understatement. Australian sushi is incredible in comparison. For any Aussie sushi eaters – you know those cheap and nasty sushi chains in supermarkets that don’t sell all their product so they just sell it to you the next day? Think of that – dry, tasteless, sometimes cluggy, with limited choice and put that quality in a Japanese restaurant, then charge you as much as dinner at Circular Quay on the steps of the Opera House. If you are going to do sushi in the U.K., be prepared to be thoroughly disappointed and out of pocket. Despite this, we enjoyed each others company and then headed to the cinemas. We went to the next movie that was showing after we arrived that wasn’t a superhero movie, and it happened to be a GLBT film about a trans woman back when it was rather taboo. We spent have of the film kissing, but still saw enough to know what it was about. Our date day came to a close.
I kept waking to cold and frosty mornings and I would look out of the bedroom window upstairs to see the late sun rising over the identical houses that lined the streets. Of an afternoon, I would see the bright orange and golden sunsets light up the sky before plunging us into darkness that lasted much longer than I had ever been used to before.
We spent a few days around Newmarket, spending time with each other, her family, and friends. She took me up to the heath early in the morning to see the horses training. It is what makes Newmarket famous. While I dont agree with the racing industry, it is interesting to see. Horses have specified walkways / lanes on the road, and horses have right of way at all times through the town. You can spend a solid 5 minutes at a standstill waiting for a trail of horses from one stable cross the road in front of you. Ive never seen that many horses in one place at one time, and I grew up in a saddle, frequenting pony clubs and gymkhanas!
One of my final days before jetting off to Norway was spent in Norwich (pronounced more like Norridge). We had a spa day booked in where we were pampered with massages, a relaxation room with calming music and heated stone beds, a spa, a swim, and a sauna.We spent our morning here and had lunch, before moving on through the town. Norwich is a quirky little place that has a very free-spirited vibe to it. Its just the kind of place I could see myself living. The town itself was beautiful and old, but the people were eccentric and the shops were alternative. I was also taken out to her old university, which is on the outskirts of Norwich. There is an art gallery onsite, so we went there, for a walk through the campus, and then for a lovely stroll around the lake. There were swans on the lake, and birds chirping in the trees. It was rather muddy, from the almost always wet ground thanks to the frost and cold, but was a lovely day. Norwich has a real charm to it and I would happily go back there any day.
My first 9 days in the U.K. was finishing up but I had seen a lot of amazing things, and been totally overwhelmed by everything new and different. I was so happy for where I was, and grateful for my journey.