Since moving to Norfolk, I have avoided cities whenever possible. I have only been back to London twice in almost ten years, and have also been reluctant to venture into Norwich, the largest city in the county which is twenty miles to the east of Beetley.
However, Christmas is looming, and Julie asked what I wanted as a gift. I chose a new dressing-gown, (robe, for American readers) and regular followers will know how much time I spend in my gown, and how much I love wearing one. I suggested we buy one online, but they are notorious for sizing issues. One version sold as size Large might only just fit, whereas another in the same size could well wrap around me twice.
There was nothing for it, a trip to Marks and Spencer in Norwich could not be avoided.
On Tuesday afternoon, we drove into Dereham, and parked the car for free in the town car park. Ten minutes later, we were on the fast bus to Norwich, heading into the city on a dull and rainy afternoon. I travel for free on my old codger’s bus pass, but Julie had to pay a return fare that was still only half of what it would have cost to park in one of Norwich’s busy multi-storey car parks.
The trip took around thirty minutes in moderate traffic, and the bus dropped us in the shopping centre almost opposite the huge Marks and Spencer shop. We took the lift to the second floor, and emerged in the menswear department exactly at the point where the dressing gowns are displayed. I tried on three different ones, all in the same size. There was that ‘Goldilocks’ moment, with one being too large, (and having an enormous hood that I didn’t want) another only just going around me, and the third being just right.
That third one was a rather luxurious multi-stripe gown of considerable weight and cosiness. The quality was reflected in the price, as it was thirty-percent more expensive than those I had rejected. As Julie paid for it, I quickly bought a new pair of black jogging trousers for dog-walking, and we were back inside the bus station within fifteen minutes of arriving. The next bus was ten minutes away, and coincided with the city’s schools and college finishing for the day.
So the ride home was on a completely full bus, in much heavier late afternoon traffic. But it still only took forty-five minutes to get back to Dereham, and we were in the car and home in Beetley before four-forty.
Considering that we caught the first bus into Norwich just before three in the afternoon, that almost sets a new shopping trip record.
My kind of trip to the shops.