They say times flies when you’re having fun – the infamous ‘they’ again – and it’s certainly true in our case. The Christmas jaunt is over and I’m typing this back at home to the accompaniment of the washing machine as I try and get caught up.
Trev is back at work already – and no doubt so are many of you – and believe me you have my sympathy, because it’s my turn tomorrow when school starts back.
In the spirit of solidarity I got up at the same time as Trev, not least to prepare the body clock for tomorrow, but it seemed a good time to start chasing letters around the keyboard again to bring you up to date on our final few days in Suffolk at the lovely Run Cottage touring park in Hollesley.
Wednesday ushered in with it a chilly but crisp bright morning, so after a fry up we coaxed Rosie into life and headed back down the A12 and along the A14 towards Felixstowe. The town centre was first in the hope of getting some ideas on what to replace our broken illuminated globe with. There WAS a lighting shop, and it had an interesting selection of lights in the window – both contemporary and classic. It was also shut. Until the new year. Oh well.
Next up was a trundle through Old Felixstowe and down to Felixstowe Ferry – on the opposite side of the river bank to Bawdsey – where we were yesterday. It wasn’t until we hit the road that passes through the golf course that we remembered we’d been here before – just over four years ago in our first year of caravanning. It gets a mention in my blog of the time here. As you may see from the photos it was considerably sunnier this time, although the light wind coming off the north sea ensured we didn’t stray far and the lure of some warmth and sustenance in the busy café was too much too resist. The tea cakes had sadly run out so we had to have chips with our coffee. It’s true, honest!
A meander through country roads barely wider than the car eventually brought us back to the A14 and thence the A12 as we headed back to base, instead though going straight over at the crossroads and finding ourselves at Shingle Street on the coast.
Now just a few houses remain, right on the beach, which as you may have guessed from the name does not incorporate much sand. The landscape reminded me very much of Dungeness in Kent – and there’s something about these stark rugged landscapes that I like.
According to excellent The Deben Peninsula leaflet, there was once a pub here, but Barnes-Wallis – he of bouncing bomb fame - took care of it when one of his prototypes demolished it during World War Two.
Something unusual happened that night – we ate in – and even more unusually we didn’t go our for a pint either. It was so cosy in Patsy that neither of us fancied venturing outside, even as far as the car.
Thursday and it was time for the train to take the strain, at least after we had driven the six or so miles back to Melton, for a journey north - to Lowestoft. Having read up a little the night before – some proper ‘research’ for a change rather than the liquid sort – expectations were not very high. Lowestoft has suffered from the decline in the local fishing and engineering industry but tourism is still an important part of the towns economy along with renewable energy thanks to a massive wind farm 14 miles off the coast.
The journey was just over an hour, passing through some of Suffolk’s picturesque countryside, many areas still white with frost.
On arrival we headed first inland through the main shopping area. Whilst not exactly heaving it was busy enough as we made our way up to the original High Street. This was once the thriving hub of Lowestoft and while it was pleasant it was also very, very quiet – many shops had shut up for Christmas and the market was closed. The little alleyways or ‘scores’ are a feature here, running between buildings.
Back on the seafront, the icy north sea wind was doing it’s best to deter visitors but there were plenty of hardy souls around and the sun at least took the edge off. The understandably deserted beach looked great although Lowestoft's main beaches and holidaying area is further south. We didn’t explore further this time but I’m glad we came and look forward to seeing more another time – when it’s warmer!
Lowestoft has a quite few claims to fame – it is the most easterly town in the UK for a start. Benjamin Britten was born here and is probably Lowestoft's most famous son. Many writers have made the area their home as well as a number of distinguished seafarers.
Back on the train, the Suffolk countryside looked no less impressive under the fading light – this really is a pretty county, even at this time of year.
Normal service was resumed in the evening as we availed ourselves of the services of a nearby hostelry for grog and grub – navigating through some thick patchy fog on the way. The Sutton Plough was the no doubt ecstatic recipient of our patronage on a quiet night and we were rewarded with some great tasting grub – chili with rice for me and cottage pie with veg for Trev. Three or four hand pumps with one real ale on , although they normally keep two during the winter. Being a proper Freehouse, they vary their range but the Victoria Bitter from the Earl Soham brewery was superb. The Landlady loved a chinwag and we would probably have stayed a lot longer if the pub had been within walking distance.
The fog was still hanging around Friday as we emerged to stock up on some groceries from the supermarket that reckons every little helps, down in Martlesham. My blood pressure soared as we joined the queue to get in to the car park but thankfully its wasn’t as bad as it looked and we returned to the car a short while later with sanity still reasonably intact – as intact as it ever was anyway.
In the afternoon my cousin Andy and wife Janet from Colchester joined us and after tea and biccies we repaired to the village pub for the evenings sustenance. The Shepherd & Dog is easily walkable from the campsite although you do have to walk on an unlit road some of the way. Again, grog and grub were good with four real ales on offer and a happy hour – well, two hours – as well.
New Years Eve was quiet for us – we did little other than enjoy Patsy’s comforts during the day and were quite happy to see in the new year doing the same. Once again we ended the year as we began it – cosy and snug in a caravan.
With an early start home on the second planned much of new years day was spent sorting out Patsy – and a fair potion of that was taking down the Christmas lights. This is always the worst bit – everywhere looks so bare afterwards. Still it has to be done I guess.
The 155 miles back to East Sussex was straightforward, interrupted only by stopping for some McArtery Clogger at Colchester. Patsy was emptied and back in storage by lunchtime but we did leave her badly in need of a wash – for that she’ll have to wait. There’s no tap at her new storage site, so I’ll have to haul over an Aquaroll full of water at some point.
Right, that’s almost it for this trip – do check out the links to our Lowestoft Slideshow and Run Cottage route & arrival video if you are planning on coming here – and why not, it’s a beautiful part of the country.
Next up – in our February half-term, Bristol beckons! So, until then…..