Despite a big directional hint in the name and having Anglo-Saxon origins dating back 1500 years ago, a large number of people still haven’t a clue whereabouts in the UK the region is. Deceased Big Brother contestant and fragrance purveyor Jade Goody once famously announced that she thought ‘East Angular’ was ‘abroad,’ whilst others have guessed that it’s half way between Middle Earth and Xanadu. For those who are not au fait with an Ordnance Survey, East Anglia can be located in the easternmost rump of Britain, and is made up of the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk along with large chunks of Cambridgeshire and Essex.
Many people in Norfolk and Suffolk have quirky accents with elongated r’s and an unusual way of saying the days of the week (e.g. Tooz-dee rather than Tuesday). However, most people from outside the area are unable to mimic the accent successfully without making themselves sounds like bucktooth simpletons.
With its agricultural history, Norfolk has an unjustified reputation for being the incest and zoophilia capital of the England, conjuring up images of five-limbed kissing cousins shagging Fresians in the cornfields. Of course in reality, farmers are far too busy doing TV interviews complaining about the price that Tesco pays them for their milk or worrying about the pedestrianisation of Norwich to conduct any kind of deviant sexual intercourse.
How does an Essex girl like her eggs? Fertilised. What’s the difference between an Essex girl and a shopping trolley? A shopping trolley has a mind of its own. Poor Essex girls have been the subject to countless jokes which portray them as vacuous and promiscuous bimbos with legs up to their ears and skirts to match. However, whilst Jodie Marsh and the stars of TOWIE are considered by many to live down to the reputation that the county has acquired, Essex has also produced Olympic champions Sally Gunnell and Laura Trott as well as best selling crime fiction author Ruth Rendell and uber-classy Oscar-winning Downton Abbey matriarch Dame Maggie Smith.
With Ipswich Town and Norwich City having languished outside the Premier League this season with neither team having earned any major trophies for decades, East Anglian soccer teams have been the butt of many jokes around the country for their inability to produce liquid football. However, the region can be proud of producing arguably the world’s best sportswoman in Bury St Edmunds-based Ironman triathlete Chrissie Wellington, who has coasted to victory in the gruelling Kona Ironman Triathlon on no less than four occasions in times that no other woman has ever approached and only a handful of men have beaten.
OK, so East Anglia has some of the country’s most amusing town names such as Feltwell, Prickwillow and Six Mile Bottom. But from Swaffham to Cromer, there are hundreds of picturesque towns and villages all over East Anglia where the folk are as friendly as the places are quirkily named. And for the record, we really do have a town called Diss.
East Anglia might not have the global music reputation of Manchester, Liverpool or London which might lead some people to think that the only drummers produced in the area are from the mashed innards of Bernard Matthews’ turkeys. However, with local acts from the area including Blur (Colchester) and Ed Sheeran (Framlingham) and The Prodigy (Braintree), East Anglia has countless talented musical folk who will knock your socks off.
TV cookery queen and Norwich City board member Delia Smith is famous for a shocking rant at fans during a football match at Carrow Road to become the ‘twelfth man’ which may possibly have been influenced by her evening’s beverage consumption. However, who could blame her for having a bit of a tipple whilst watching the game with the region being home to some of the country’s most popular independent breweries such as Greene King, Adnams and Aspall, all of which are far more preferable than half a bottle of Blue Nun.
Despite counting Delia as one of our own, foodies might not consider East Anglia worthy of the same gastronomic reputation that befalls the Home Counties where Heston Blumenthal serves up mongoose pancreas with an emulsion of mermaid sputum to weekending London folk for a small fortune. However, the region is home to Michelin starred restaurants such as Midsummer House and Alimentum in Cambridge and Morston Hall in Norfolk, where you can eat delicious creations from a big plate.
Being an agricultural heartland of the UK, East Anglia produces a hefty percentage of the nation’s wheat, sugar beet and potatoes. In addition, Cromer produces most of the country’s crabs (of the crustacean varieties rather than of the STD one), whilst Cambridgeshire is the original home of Stilton – so smell my cheese, you mothers!
East Anglia might not have the surf culture of Cornwall, the nightlife of Brighton or the illuminations and rides of Blackpool, but it is home to some of the country’s nicest coastal areas. Wells-next-to-the-Sea and Holkham have huge sandy beaches, whilst time-warp resorts like Clacton and Southend give visitors a chance to experience the quintessential British seaside resort. East Anglia also gives Brits the cheapest way to visit California, although you’re more likely to find mussels rather than Muscle Beach in the Norfolk coast village which shares its name with the US state. For those that like a quieter pace of life, you can also go barging your way through the Norfolk Broads – waterway to have a good time.
For people who find the North Sea breeze a little too frigid for their tastes and yearn for sunnier climes, East Anglia also happens to be home to Stansted Airport, the home of the nation’s cheapest flights. You can grab bargainous tickets on Ryanair and Easyjet which will whisk you off from Essex to one of 176 destinations in 36 countries around the world, many of which are hotter than the sun.
Anyone for monkey tennis?