Click to Visit
It's not just Partridge, turkey and Norfolk Broads! OutUK’s Adrian Gillan checks out queer Norwich, the capital of East Anglia. Bootiful, really bootiful. And I don’t just mean the city itself which is indeed a kind of overlooked York, out-on-a-limb in the forgotten lobe of East England, complete with Norman Castle, Cathedral, walls, arches and spires and old medieval trade street names.
Cruising on the Norfolk Broads.
I naturally also refer to the home-grown boys in this town further swollen by students, all strutting their stuff around its ancient, compact, easily walkable lanes like some rare breed sure to broaden the smile on even one of Bernard Matthews’ jolliest faces.

True: there are no gay saunas; no meaningful inner-city cruising grounds to speak of despite fine parks - just a lay-by in heavy woods on the left-hand side of the A11 dual carriageway, about 10 miles out of Norwich; and no Lord Raglan pub now that old gay stalwart has closed its doors alas.

But there’s still much here to amuse a keen queer chap. You’ll need refreshments after a journey to a town that gave us Delia Smith. So, try the central gay-friendly Take Five Café in arty Cinema City church-conversion multiplex with summer courtyard at rear - a mere five minutes walk from the railway station. Or try the even more bustling and bohemian Norwich Playhouse Bar & Restaurant round the corner on St Georges Street, again, with its sprawling summer terraces out the back.

For something more substantial and upmarket, try the unique, homely, cosy and classy By Appointment over the road. This “restaurant with rooms” eatery and hotel is gay-run by Tim and Robert. Enjoy award-winning food in ornate yet welcoming surroundings.

Stomach filled, hit The Woolpack mere yards away - a colourful pub with spacious yard out front facing onto a gorgeous church - all welcome, no judgments made. Or cross the river to The Ten Bells on St Benedicts Street, another mixed and gay-friendly pub - dark and cosy with lively acts.

The stylish Lounge Café Bar on the same street is gay-owned and offers a modern drinking pad to launch you onto the clubs. But if you want a real booster, you must visit The Castle off Ketts Hill a pub that’s gay through-and-through, very busy and with a youngish crowd. It’s reached via a charming walk through the old-world Cathedral quarter and over the river once more, and has friendly staff and a large garden for summertime boozing.

The Loft on Rose Lane is a packed pure-pop gay club on Thursdays & Saturdays (mixed on Fridays), on two-floors and of 30-years’ standing. It’s pretty much all they’ve got, but those local lads sure make the most of it, a joy to behold. Arrive before 11pm to avoid the queues!

And if you’re still around the morning after to explore this beautiful city and bijou boutique lanes, do pop into three shops near each other in the south west centre. The Greenhouse on Bethel Street is a gay-friendly organic cafe with an interesting array of books, magazines and cards; Bookmark on Unthank Road is a gay-owned book shop with an eccentric selection; and Kulture Shock back on St Benedicts Street, just over the road from the Lounge Café Bar whose owner it shares, is an unusual book, card and gift shop majoring on the Gothic.

Norwich is under two hours away from London Liverpool Street by Anglia Railways.
For information and booking www.angliarailways.co.uk.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Take Five Café (in Cinema City, 14-16 Lower Goat Lane / St Andrews Street; T: 01603 763099)
Norwich Playhouse Bar & Restaurant (St Georges Street; T: 01603 766669)
By Appointment (25-29 St Georges Street; T: 01603 630 730)
The Woolpack (Muspole Street; T: 01603 611139)
The Ten Bells (St Benedicts Street; T: 01603 667833)
Lounge Café Bar (13 St Benedicts Street; T: 01603 667 666)
The Castle (Spittalfields, off Ketts Hill; T: 01603 768 886)
The Loft (80 Rose Lane; T: 01603 623 559)
The Greenhouse (42-46 Bethel Street; T: 01603 631007)
Bookmark (83 Unthank Road; T: 01603 762 855)
Kulture Shock (10-12 St Benedicts Street; T: 01603 625 557)

 

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