Comfort (food) and joy in January

Published 2017

It seems to me that everyone I’ve spoken to this year has been feeling under the weather this festive season. Each “Happy new year! Did you have a good Christmas?” has been met with a fatigued “yeah it was nice thanks but…” followed by a tragic story about how Christmas was cancelled and discarded alongside a mountain of used Kleenex and the promise of ‘getting out the house for a bit’ on Boxing Day.

I suppose this is not helped by the fact that since mid-December, most of us have been surviving on a diet of Chocolate Orange, cheese and anxiety. But things are different now, as the ‘new year new you’ posts on Instagram remind us; it’s time to nourish our way back into our best selves.

We’re lucky in Norwich that it’s a place big on wellbeing, health and sustainability. All over the city there are places to go and things to do that will help us look – and feel – better as we approach 2018 with confidence and armfuls of exotic vegetables that we’re not sure how to cook yet.

Title Image: Waffle House, credit Hamerska Photography

Comfort Food


Image: Benedict’s Restaurant

There is really no shortage of places to visit in Norwich if you’re looking for food that’s tasty as well as healthy. All dietary requirements are catered for city-wide, and Norwich is fast becoming a hub for good, innovative vegan food: Tipsy Vegan  on St Benedicts recently opened as Norwich’s first vegan cocktail bar and restaurant, Tofueri sells great vegan deli produce, and Ancestors coffee on Magdalen Street sells dairy-free frothy coffees and vegan snacks. For vegetarian food, Wild Thyme is a beautiful cafe found just above wonderous wholefoods retailer Rainbow. The Waffle House pride themselves on using wholesome, free-range and organic produce (on their inventive waffles, no less), while Benedicts Restaurant head chef Richard Bainbridge is a champion of creative, locally sourced food.

Norwich Market is a great destination for food too: the largest open-air market in the country is completely charming, and home to some incredible, good-for-the-body-and-soul stalls, such as Indian Feast, Baguettes and Juice, and CJ’s Fruit and Veg for all those seasonal, vitamin-rich ingredients.

Dig out your stretchy pants

Run Norwich

Run Norwich, held in August

January is classically a good time to agree to things you’re not sure if you are fully committed to, so give yourself an added incentive by signing up to Run Norwich the city’s annual 10k road race which takes place on the 5th of August. Having not run since one P.E. lesson in 1999, I don’t have much hope for my own chances of a speedy or elegant finish, but it’s a reason to get off the sofa and burn off all those sneaky prosecco calories. Sign up opens in the next few weeks, so keep your eye out on their website. Norwich is also home to The Oak Circus Centre, where you can lean skills such as aerial silks, acrobatics and Chinese pole. It’s certainly a change from the gym, and a great way to work on your strength and fitness in a friendly and safe environment. As an added bonus it’s also an interesting hobby to talk about at parties. Other things to try could be Pilates (I started last year and found it’s great for stretching out that stressed-at-a-desk tension that accumulates during the working week), Yoga  (they have classes at the library this year!), get on one of the city’s free Ofo bikes, or even join one of The Garage’s many and varied dance classes.

Treat yourself

Park Farm

Park Farm Spa

Norwich and beyond is home to many spas and places to relax, if you too feel like you’ve had enough of overheating on the sofa watching bad Christmas specials and listening to your grandparents argue about the best way to dry laundry inside. You’ll find fantastic spas at Park Farm Hotel and Sprowston Manor,  as well as Barnham Broom (who also are running exclusive Yoga retreats throughout the year). Plus the Assembly House is offering 2 for 1 on their famous (and exceptional) afternoon tea  for all Norfolk Passport holders, and the 4-star city-centre hotel The Maid’s Head  also have lots of special offers for overnight stays and packages over the coming month or so.