It's not often someone says "Let's go to the University for the day" but that is what you could do in Norwich - and have a great day out, whatever your age.
The University of East Anglia (or UEA as it is fondly known) boasts an amazing Sportspark, which is open to the public, countryside walks, its own Broad and an award winning museum and art gallery.
So, where to start?
Indoor and Outdoor Sports:
The Sportspark is a destination in itself, being the UK's largest indoor sports facility, with pay as you go facilities that include an Olympic size swimming pool, climbing wall, gym, outdoor pitches, and a new gymnastics and trampolining centre.
More information on this Sports Centre here
There are a number of walks which can be accessed from most areas of the University. There are plenty of car parks, although you will need to pay in most of the car parks.
There is free parking at certain times of the day in the Earlham Park car park - this is the car park to the right as you turn into the University but check the signs carefully.
There are also plenty of Buses to the UEA from central Norwich.
Earlham Park has a cafe which is ideal for walkers, kids and dogs. From Earlham Park you can do short or long walks which will take you along the river, or across the meadow, through woods, and eventually around the University Broad. I believe that there is also a path that will take you to Cringleford/ Eaton.
In the Summer, you can often see children paddling in the river near the bridge at the side of the park nearest the University entrance. There is a shallower part here. The River and Broad further up, however, are not good for paddling. Swimming is prohibited in the Broad because it is dangerous, but it does have a lovely boardwalk and fishing platforms.
There is more information about this walk here .
Museum and Art Gallery: Sainsbury Centre For The Visual Arts
Drive through the University and follow the signs to the Sainsbury Centre and you will come to a fairly small car park. The charge when we visited was £1 an hour, but check when you visit in case the pricing has changed.
If there is no space in this car park, there are large car parks in the main University area which are only a short walk from the Sainsbury Centre.
The centre itself, when accessed from the car park, doesn't at first sight do itself justice, but the full architectural elegance can be seen both when viewed from the University grounds, and when entering the building.
What immediately catches the eye is a Henry Moore sculpture to one side of the building, framed by a vista of trees and parkland. In this setting these works of art can really be appreciated.
If you want to add a walk to the visit to the museum, you can just wander down to the woodland and Broad from here. There is a circular walk around the Lake or you can wander into Earlham Park.
Once into the entrance of the museum, there is a friendly reception desk. Entry is free, but you can pay to visit certain exhibitions. There is a staircase leading to a high exitway, and it is worth walking up this stairway and looking out over the interior of the building, just to get a feel for the layout.
The building was designed by Norman Foster and opened in 1978.
The main exhibition area is housed in the large open space of the main building, with further exhibitions, study areas, the School of World Art Studies and Museology, workshops, offices and conservation laboratory housed in various adjoining areas and in the newer wings.
What impressed me was the quality of the exhibits. I had not realised that this Norwich gallery housed:
Henry Moore's Mother and Child,
Edgar Degas' Little Dancer aged 14
Figure of a walking hippopotamus from around 1880BC (Egypt)
Pablo Picasso's Female nude with arms raised
A number of works by Francis Bacon
Some of my favourites were the Mummy-portrait of a youth dating from the Roman Period, around AD 100, a collection of figures by John Davies that were so life-like, I had to look in their eyes to check it wasn't someone pretending to be a statue, and the collections from Egypt.
After browsing the main gallery, we walked through to the other side of the building, and stopped in amazement as we entered a large airy cafe, with massive floor to ceiling windows looking out onto a grassy area surrounded by trees and another Henry Moore sculpture.
I could have sat there all day, just looking out of the window!
Author: Sara Greenfield
Member since: 10th July 2012
We own thebestofnorwich and are always on the look out for interesting things that are happening in Norwich, great local businesses and your views about anything local.