Monday, 7 January 2008

Wedding Anniversay

Saturday was our wedding anniversary (28, in case you're interested) and we went to Norwich for a night, staying in the Annesley House Hotel, part of the Best Western chain. We've stayed there before, and thought it OK. It was certainly convenient for the centre of Norwich and also for the Sainsbury art collection, which is housed at the University of East Anglia.

We'd planned to check out the hotel restaurant before deciding where to eat, but when we arrived, found the AA recommended part was closed, and the abridged menu didn't appeal much, so the receptionist booked us into the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. The Cambridge branch of LFOB is excellent, so we were quite hopeful.

In the end it was rather disappointing. I ordered a quite expensive bottle of white, but when it arrived the waiter apologised that the main fridge was broken and the bottle hadn't had long in the secondary one. He didn't offer to let us choose an alternative, though there was ice in the cooler. Sadly, it wasn't until we got to the last half glass that we had wine which was adequately chilled.

I had let him get away with it because white wine is often seriously over-chilled, but in the event this was pretty close to room temperature. Shame, because it was potentially a really nice wine, and being warm spoiled it rather.

Then the queen scallops were really gritty. Delicious, but gritty. The rest of the meal was OK. Not particularly wonderful, but adequate. And the service was decidedly slow. I didn't complain, but didn't leave a tip.

But still, we were old and in love, and we weren't that bothered. It really didn't seem worth getting exercised about.

On Sunday we walked across Norwich to the cathedral to check out what music was being sung for choral evensong in the afternoon. We were very tempted by the Rose responses and the Effing Wood (Mag & Nunc by Wood in F, of course!), but in the end decided to stop off at Bury St Edmunds instead, as it is about half-way back, so we'd be home earlier.

Then on to the Sainsbury Collection at the UEA. Lord and Lady Sainsbury of Sainsburys fame collected lots of bits of carving and sculpture over the years, with no real theme at all, just stuff they liked. In 1973, when there were about 300 objects, they donated them to the UEA. They have continued to donate to the collection, which now numbers about 1300 objects, though Lord S died in 2000, I think. In the mid-70s the UEA put up a building designed by Norman Foster to house the collection. It looks for all the world like a warehouse, but inside, the sense of space and light are simply perfect. It's warm and calm and still, even with a cafeteria full of families.

Letting myself get slightly out of sequence, when we interrupted our art-fest for lunch in the cafeteria, a jazz trio started to play - keyboard, acoustic bass and sax. It was just a perfect added gloss to a really wonderful day!

It was a bright, sunny day, and we started with coffee in the cafeteria area, then set about looking at the art. I first visited it in 1998, when Jenny was in Greenland collecting fossils and I was at home nursing a slipped disc. My back was so poorly that I could barely hobble round a quarter of the collection before I had to give up. We did try to visit it a few years ago when the choir was singing in Norwich Cathedral, but it was closed for refurbishment, so I've been keen to return for a long time now.

OK, time for some pictures! Once again, there's going to be some guesswork on the layout front!

This is a reliquary from the Fang tribe in Gabon. I think it was used to guard the bones of their ancestors. It looks as though some sort of libation has been poured over it, which is not uncommon. It had a big impact on me when I first saw it in 1998 and I was delighted to remake the acquaintance.

The next pair of photos show a couple of African masks, one with a curiously owl-like face, and accompanying it is a crayon drawing of how the dancer might have looked when dressed up in a grass cape and wearing the mask.

The next photo is of a Cycladic head. This is neolithic art from the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean and you can read a bit about it in wikipedia.

We did look in their modern art gallery, but there wasn't much there, and we weren't too impressed by what we saw. However, looking down from the balcony, we could see a Henry Moore through the glass curtain wall at the end. Lovely.

Finally, we visited the ceramics room. Most of it didn't do much for me, but a fantastic "geological" plate hanging on the wall was exactly our sort of thing! Absolutely brilliant!

It looks rather like wood in this photo, but in reality was much more rock-like.

Leaving it rather late, we tore across country to Bury St Edmunds, magically finding a parking space very close to the cathedral and slipping into the pews at the back just before the choir processed in at 3.30. Actually, there was less urgency than we realised because the services around now are structured slightly differently from normal, so there was some stuff and a hymn before the music started, so I needn't have driven quite so fast!

Choral evensong is the best Anglican service. There's enough music and little else that you can treat it as a free, half-hour choral concert, and some cathedral choirs are excellent. We had the Byrd responses, which they did rather well, Brewer Mag & Nunc in D and a curious Victorian-sounding anthem "Lo the star led chiefs" by Crotch. We weren't sure whether we just chose our seats poorly or whether the choir was having an off day, as some of the singing didn't seem to be all that together. Maybe if we'd gone closer to the front it would have sounded better. And I wonder if it's the same for us when we sing there.


DJ Kirkby said...

All in all it sounds like you had some golden moments together. The pics were great, helped me understand what you were talking about. I adore the owl mask, striking!

Rob Clack said...

I was particularly struck by the crayon drawings of dancers all frocked up and wearing the masks - put it much more into context.

Polgara said...

Happy Anniversary! I hope i sound as happy when i get to 28yrs!
We are currently at 6 months lol
Pol x

Rob Clack said...

Thanks P, and good luck to you!

Pixie said...

thanks very much for tagging me Rob.
But the only thing I can find is the blog award and i don't think this is what you would have tagged me with. So could you let me know sometime what and where the tag is to be found.
love the pics of Sidmouth .

Rob Clack said...

Oh dear. Creating the chain of links of people I'd tagged took much longer than I'd expected, so I didn't finish the post until quite a while after putting the comment on your blog.

Or is there more to this tagging business than I realise?

But Why? said...

Congratulations! And great pictures.

And thanks for the restaurant tips - I'm off to Norwich myself in a few weeks to catch up with some friends. I'll try somewhere other than Loch Fyne. Perhaps we could develop this into a meme - visit and review your home branch of LFOB, or nearest equivalent. In many cases, I think it would probably be a chippy. Actually, come to think of it, it's not a bad idea. I might start it with my local chippy, and what better day to start than a Friday?

Rob Clack said...

I thought I'd found you a restaurant guide that would help you, but a) the Norwich Loch Fyne (apparently now called Restaurant, not OB) doesn't appear and b) although it lists brazillions of Norwich restaurants, none has an actual review, so that's completely useless!

Hmm it is time I went to the Cambridge Loch Fyne, now you come to mention it!