Norwich's heart is old; even the marketplace dates back 900 years, and everywhere are casual mentions of hundreds of years of history. The streets are narrow and winding, and the human presence on a Saturday is relaxed but overwhelming. On one corner an old gentleman with an enormous beard strums a harp, while on another a young man with an electric violin busks for spare coins. Shoppers drift by, lost in conversations or looking for bargains, and children press the buttons on a malfunctioning cash machine, probably because it is there
But if you keep walking, the shadow of the city's greatest building looms deep.
Past these incomparably grand cloisters grows an old and drooping cedar tree, sheltering mushrooms in its shade. It is dwarfed by the needle-sharp spire that crowns a cathedral which has seen this city's life for a millennium. That is where the birdwatchers gather, and some of them bring the kinds of lenses which I usually only see in Yellowstone
But there is a good reason. The first peregrine falcon chicks to have been born in Norwich for 200 years are on show
The eggs were laid in April, and although one failed to hatch and the smallest chick sadly died during the recent bad weather, the two biggest siblings have successfully fledged, and are exploring their replica cliff.
The parents are still feeding them. Peregrines largely hunt pigeons, and of course there are many of those in urban environments, so the youngsters are not lacking for prey.
A spire is a reasonable place to perch between hunts, although it is probably just as well that peregrines don't suffer from vertigo
But the family seems to be doing well, and have attracted the interest of many visitors to the cathedral. Hopefully there will be another brood next year