I moved to Mile Cross in 1996. I always, right from the beginning, quite liked it. I mean, obviously when you go anywhere new, it's a bit strange. I live in a terraced house. There's a lot of terraced houses in Mile Cross in the part that I live in and I'm quite used to living in a terrace; I was brought up in a terraced house, so I do like them.
When I first moved here there was a lot of, especially from my work, colleagues who said "Ooh, Mile Cross! There's a lot of trouble there. There's a lot of druggies", and all this sort of thing. And, OK, yeh, when I first moved here, it was sometimes a bit noisy, not very often, but in the road that I live in there was a pub, two or three doors down, which is now turned into flats. But at the time people used to moan about the noise when they came out sometimes, you know, but, being slightly deaf and (laughs) having double glazing that didn't use to bother me. So, yeh, I mean, I think it's a shame that it's got that sort of name because it is a nice, or could be, a really nice area, because we've got two lovely parks. We've got Wensum Park and Waterloo Park, which are both lovely, which we're very lucky. And then on the Aylsham Road further up towards the Coop there's a small area there of garden … don't know what that's called. Not far away there's, is it Heigham Park? The one that's down on the Drayton Road. So we've got lots of things like that.
And also I've noticed just recently that a lot of commuters . . .well not commuters, people that work in the city like having these houses because they can walk in from here. And I like it, because I don't drive, but I mean, if the weather's nice, I can walk into the city quite easily. So it's close to everything from my point of view, a person like me that, because I'm retired, has got time to do things that I want, I've got access to the things that I want in the city, because Norwich is a lovely city.
And even in Mile Cross here, there's lots of different things, there's the Phoenix Centre, the Norman Centre, the Health Shop, all these things. I do feel that the residents of Mile Cross don't take enough advantage of all the things that are ongoing. I do Art classes. It's free, and it's funded by Real Health Action, the Health Shop. They do a Tuesday one, in the daytime, and an evening one on a Friday. And it's really good. And I have to say the majority of people that come, probably come – it's a very informal art class -come for things like if they're depressed, they need more self-confidence, this sort of thing. I started going when I was bereaved and found it a great help because they're lovely. So there's all these sorts of things. As well as that the RHA, the Real Health Action, they do sexual advice, contraception and all that sort of thing for the youngsters, they've got a breast-feeding club, various support groups meet there. They have a gentleman that works in there who does massage and is very inexpensive. I mean, it might be slightly more expensive now, but about a year ago it was £10. I mean, how cheap is that, these days? They have a nutritionist that you can contact. They have, I don't know how many days a week, but they have a counsellor there, which is free. I feel the doctors in the area could send more people, because the more it's used the more funding these projects will get, because otherwise they'll fold. The PCT gives money, so I just think they could take more advantage of these things.
And then, of course there's the Norman Centre at the community itself which has got the gym and various things going on, IT classes, and that sort of thing. The Phoenix Centre, they tend to do more things for the school age children, but they have one or two things like yoga, and that type of thing going on.
And then the Church, St Catherine's on a Wednesday they have a drop-in coffee and chat thing. And the other Church, St Luke's, the vicar there, oh I can't speak highly enough of him, he's so modern, so accepting of everybody's beliefs. He does developing consciousness courses and various things. It's very, very interesting.
And, of course, you've got quite a nice selection of shops. You've got the Coop and there's a post office, various other shops, ooh, two charity shops on Aylsham Road, which I love going into (laughs) Yeh, you get bargains there!
So I think it's got a lot going for it, you know. One's close to the city, you've got lots of green spaces, there's help there if you want it. You've got doctors, dentists in the area.
I know people moan about places, but I can't see the problem. It's more difficult for people on low incomes. There's a lot of underprivileged people, it's a very underprivileged area, but I think if all of the residents of Mile Cross, or a lot more of them got together and used these facilities, and got a more positive attitude, and helped each other, and got a pride in the area. That's the thing, you need a pride in the area, not be frightened to say "I live at Mile Cross" because you think people look down on you. Be determined to make it an area where people think "Ooh they live in Mile Cross. That's a really friendly, busy, interesting place". I think it could happen. I think if more people think it could happen . .. You mustn't be negative. The more negative you are, it won't happen, you know. You got to be positive, and other areas of the country have done it, and we CAN do it. And there have been quite a lot of projects – I think they had a project tidying up that garden on Aylsham Road. They've had things like that which are good. I've talked to people sometimes, I mean, my own son: I said "Why don't you get involved?" but people get so bogged down, and I know what it's like. It's very difficult to get people motivated. You can't make them do it, but I think you can encourage. Yes, I would like to see it become a good place to live, where they're fighting to get in! (Laughs)