Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Great Roman Coke Disaster

Yesterday was our my awaited trip to Norwich Castle to see the Roman exhibition I'd heard so much about on the news and radio. I was so excited I couldn't sleep the night before (I don't got out much) and was up dressed and ready to go by nine. Despite the dire warning of bad weather it was actually dry and calm outside if overcast and a little dull.

The trip was going well until Peter hit a bump on a corner.

On Monday we had been out shopping and had lunch out. I'd got a coke in one of those cup things with the lid and straw but couldn't finish it. So I'd put the cup in the cup holder in the passenger door and promptly forgotten about it. I was about to be reminded in the worst way possible.

As though in slow motion I saw the cup rise out of the holder as Peter hit the bump. Then I heard a 'pop' has the lid came off before the cup neatly upended itself into my open handbag. There was then a mad scramble, hampered by the cornering, as I rescued my phone Zen music player, similar to an ipod, purse, spare contacts and anything else I could think of. Luckily I keep a few cloths in the car to wipe fogged up windows etc so I wiped everything down and then dared to look inside my bag. There was a mass of old receipts, sweets, lipsticks and general handbag gunk floating in a pool of brown liquid. My bag is leather so I had to get it out of there before is began to sink in. I stuffed the cloths and a fabric carrier bag into the handbag to soak up as much as I could, depositing the sodden cloths in a plastic carrier bag. The result was a very damp handbag and lots of loose items that couldn't be returned.

I stuffed as much as I could into the glove box and deposited the valuables in various pockets and in the spare spaces in the camera bags that we would be taking in with us. The handbag was pushed in the glove box where hot air comes down to warm your feet and soon a sickly sweet smell began to fill the car.

We arrived at the castle and was able to drive right up to the main doors to park in the disabled bays there. Just as well really as the slope into the castle is really steep. Peter put together my trike while I was busy stuffing my bits and pieces into the camera bags and then we were all set to go.

The first disappointment of the day came when I was told there was no wheelchair access to the dungeon tour in the basement. I couldn't go up to the balcony in the Keep due to building works and there was no wheelchair access to the battlements. However the battlements were not open anyway due to the high winds.

First stop was the loo, all that coke sloshing about had had an effect. Then we stopped off at the cafe for a bite to eat. Very, very expensive. If you are thinking of visiting take your own sandwiches. Then off we went. We made a beeline for the Roman exhibit, after all that is why we went, and met with the second disappointment of the day. No photography allowed. Damn it! Still not really a problem if I really wanted some pictures I'd buy the special guide on the way out.

The exhibit was the biggest disappointment. Filling only three rooms there was very little there and almost none of it was from Britain, let alone Norfolk. It was supposed to be an exhibition of Roman artifacts found in and around Norfolk. What was local could have fitted in half a room. Most of the stuff I'd seen before in the British Museum and, although I didn't mind seeing them again, I was hoping for something new.

We moved on the to the other exhibits and found ourselves competing with several school trips as kids raced in and out of the rooms all shouting at the tops of their voices. I was annoyed that none of the teachers even bothered to try and quieten them down.

The other exhibits were much better than the one we'd come to see and I was delighted when moving around to see a few paintings I recognised from two of my favourite artists. I found two Gainsboroughs and two Lowrys and they made my day. Unlike some galleries where you have to stand behind barriers we could get up close and personal and really take a good close look. The kids didn't like the art galleries so we mooched around in them for most of the time until they began to leave.

We then headed for the Keep and this was breathtakingly beautiful if not a little drafty. Actually by now the wind was howling outside and the roof creaked alarmingly with every gust. The windows had been glassed over but it was easy to understand how cold it must have been in the days of no windows at all. We looked around and then Peter went into the basement for a quick look so I found a radiator, parked up and waited while firing off a few photos. We were allowed camera's here but no flash photography so it took a great deal of control not to shake. I think I did quite well as I'm naturally shaky anyway.

A quick coffee and we headed home. We had agreed before setting off the leave early enough to allow us to do the journey in daylight. The weather had taken a definite turn for the worst and the journey home was slow, tedious and, when the wind tried to blow us off the road , sometimes scary.

We made it home just after five and spent the evening watching the news reports about the atrocious weather. Despite our difficult journey we had escaped very lightly.

Today is going to be quiet, though we do have to run some errands this afternoon. Hopefully the weather will stay away until we finished.