Suffolk, England. Britannia’s bottom.
Geography wasn’t my strongest subject at school, and even though I travel a lot now, I must admit that I have to look at a map before I go anywhere to check up exactly where it is.
It’s lucky that I do. I went to Suffolk recently and I was surprised to find that it’s one of Britannia’s buttocks. I could have sworn that it was on the left, just above Wales!
I think they should change the name to Sufpork. There were pig farms everywhere.
Southwold was our first stop. It’s the jewel of Suffolk’s Heritage Coast. The row of colourful beach huts is a photographer’s delight.
Southwold Pier is privately owned by Stephen and Antonia Bournes. It’s family-oriented and when I went there, it was packed, even though the weather was bad.
The food is all fresh and local.
I absolutely loved the Under the Pier Show. All the machines are built by Tim Hunkin, a completely eccentric boffin. There was a mechanised dog for lazy dog-walkers, a machine to hit crooked bankers on the head, a Beat the Somali Pirates race, and so on.
There are signs of Tim all over the pier, including a No Smoking sign and a water clock, the mosaic tables, and the seats.
The Bournes do a lot of local charity work, including helping the homeless.
All their staff are locals who are well-paid and enjoy their jobs.
I just HAD to divert from our route when I saw the sign for Rendlesham Forest. I’d heard about the UFO Incident that occurred there at Christmas 1980, when many witnesses spotted bright lights in the sky and several men from RAF Woodbridge actually saw something in the forest.
There is a signposted UFO Trail through the forest, and posts in the ground where the UFO tripod apparently rested, but no shop or café to commercially cash in on the incident.
I found the forest really creepy and Hubby John pointed out that there were no bird sounds. In fact there were no sounds at all!
On we went to Sutton Hooe, where Anglo Saxon burial sites were found.
There are 17 mounds.
The soil here is very sandy and acid and rots everything. But the perfect outline of a huge burial ship was discovered there in 1939. And a treasure chamber was missed by Medieval grave robbers by three ft!
Very wisely and forward-thinking, the sites have been covered over and left alone as the archaeologists believe that knowledge will improve greatly in the future.
All the staff are very enthusiastic and helpful. Most of them are volunteers. And the museum’s interesting.
I was given a piece of inside information, which I promised to keep a secret; it’s always been an unsolved mystery where the Anglo Saxons actually lived. But now a Main Hall might have been discovered in Rendlesham, so keep an eye out for Time Team on the TV. And don’t tell anyone!
Next morning we joined the Twitchers at RSPB Minsmere.
As we parked, I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t let me in because I wasn’t wearing a woolly hat!
I can’t tell a bluetit from a blackbird, but I must admit that I’ve had a couple of visits to RSPB areas, and when accompanied by an expert, I thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Hubby John is quite an expert, and he scribbled down in a notebook every different breed of bird that he saw or heard.
Why is it though, that everyone walks around whispering, glaring at anyone who speaks normally, but it’s alright for men to sneeze loudly, then play a tune on their nose? I’m sure they frighten every feathered species away within three miles, unless the birds think it’s the mating call of the Mega-Bellied Endomorph!
We stayed in the Balancing Barn. I absolutely loved it!
Half of it hangs off the end of a hill.
Every item in it is by original designers and the whole building is ecologically-designed.
There’s a glass floor in the sitting-room, so I took some food for any night animals that might visit. I spent a lot of time on my stomach with my nose pressed to the floor (Yes we had a couple of glasses of wine, but not that much!) but not one furry creature paid us a visit. Not one!
On our way home, we spotted a fish & chips shop, with sacks of potatoes being carried in.
I’m allergic to a lot of fish & chips nowadays as they buy their chips ready-cut and treated so they don’t turn brown, and they pour ready-made batter out of containers.
It was an absolute joy to eat fresh fish straight out of the North Sea with a thin, crisp batter. I was interested in a fish called rock eel, which I’d never heard of before. It was huss.
Suffolk’s a beautiful county, not built-up at all. The coast is unspoilt and there’s miles of open countryside. I’ll be returning for another visit – and some fish & chips – very soon, I hope.
Living Architecture is an organisation dedicated to using world-class architects to build houses for rent around the UK. Other recent houses include the award-winning The Dune House in Thorpeness, Suffolk and The Long House in Cockthorpe, Norfolk.