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Vendor City Guide: Norwich

Street secrets revealed by the people who know them best

Our guide this week: Jim Hannah is originally from Hamilton in Scotland but moved south to find work almost 40 years ago. He sells the magazine in his adopted home of Norwich every day. “I needed something to keep my mind occupied,” he says. “The Big Issue and my regulars helped me to get back on my feet.”

Why I like living in Norwich

The locals

The people down here, I got on with them straight away. Norwich is not a big city, it’s small, but for the size there’s a lot in it. You’ve got two cathedrals for a start. Strangers’ Hall museum is a big house where they’ve done all the rooms up to show different periods in history. The museum on Bridewell Alley has different tools and things like that. We’ve got a patch here they call the Norwich Lanes – medieval streets with old churches, old buildings, all different kinds of things. My pitch is right in the centre of it.

The most famous thing about Norwich

Cathedral city

The cathedral is one of the places tourists visit most often. They always want to go to the main cathedral, which is Church of England, but we have two. There’s also a Catholic one up at the top of Grapes Hill and that’s lovely. I’ve been round them all. I like going in and seeing the drawings and stained-glass windows. There’s also an old church just across the road here. It’s called St John Maddermarket and is from the 1500s. You get in there for nothing.

My favourite places

Our parks

There’s a lot of nice parks. Eaton Park is about a 10-minute walk from the city centre. When the fairground comes they put it in Chapelfield Gardens. It comes twice a year, around March and October. They also hold fetes there. Then, of course, you’ve got the Royal Norfolk Show at the end of June for farmers showing off all their machinery, their cows and their sheep and all that. Norfolk is pretty rural so Norwich is where people come.

What is there to see and do

Do you like to be beside the seaside?

Great Yarmouth is only down the road really, about a 35 to 40-minute ride away. It could do with having some money pumped into it but it’s still nice. You’ve also got at the seaside Sheringham, Cromer, Hemsby, Lowestoft – a real choice of places and they’re not too far away.

The best places to eat and drink

A world of cuisine

There’s a good place straight ahead of me. It’s called The Iron House. You get lunches and breakfasts. The gentlemen who took it over put a wee bar in the back. Then you’ve got a pub called The Belgian Monk, in an old building. It sells Belgian beer. The main part of the city is full of restaurants. You’ve got a right good choice of restaurants: Chinese, Italian, Japanese. They even have The Ivy in Norwich now.

This sporting life

Shoots and scores

Norwich is a football town. Most of the people here are football mad. Norwich City just got promoted to the Premier League and the first games are Liverpool, Newcastle and Chelsea. They’ve always got a full house. I went into a charity shop a couple of months back and got myself a set of lawn bowls. I’m going to take it up as a hobby.

Interview: Steven MacKenzie   

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