Sunday, 11 November 2012

Mum's Gone to Suffolk: Aldeburgh and Thorpeness

Beach at Aldeburgh, Suffolk
The beach at Aldeburgh
"The Royal Oak doesn't count. It hasn't got any legs."

That was my definitive answer on the subject. We were playing 'The Pub Game' on our journey to Suffolk and after only a couple of rounds we were already squabbling. Rory wasn't even playing. This was a front seat competition between husband and wife, taking it in turns to spot pub signs, gaining points by the number of legs indicated on each sign. Dougie was already in the lead, spotting The Brewers pub with a sign showing two beer-making blokes. This gave him a handy four points. My pub was next and was called something obscure and limbless: The Foldgate Inn. You can therefore understand how I was never going to let him have The Royal Oak which, for me, was a tree and not a king, even though there was a picture of a regal person in the middle of said tree. Thankfully he grudgingly accepted nul points and I was rewarded, a few miles later, by a sign showing a four-legged creature and the unequivocal, if somewhat uninspiring name of The Dog.

The hotel, Kesgrave Hall, was, as you will know from my previous post, an absolute joy. We spent a couple of hours relaxing, having long bubble baths and flicking through the TV channels. The boys, whilst getting changed for dinner, watched an interview with the new Ipswich Town football manager, Mick McCarthy. Dougie stated he was sure Mick would be staying at our hotel. "Bound to be, he's only just been appointed, won't have anywhere to stay yet". Rory and I raised our eyebrows but were quite amazed when, an hour later, Mr McCarthy did indeed saunter into the dining room of the hotel. Damn my husband for being right.

Next morning was cold but bright and sunny; ideal weather for a trip to the coast. Aldeburgh, birthplace of Benjamin Britten, was our first stop and I let Rory loose with my camera as my fingers were too cold. I think he did a grand job with the photos. Here's a selection which give you a much better feel for the town than my words probably could.

Aldeburgh, Suffolk


Rory was delighted to discover the town had a Jack Wills shop so we spent an inordinate amount of time standing outside the fitting room before he chose a shirt for himself. We found a busy and warm coffee shop called Munchies where we had lunch before wandering back to the car, passing the famous queues of people waiting outside the town's fish and chip shop.

A very short drive up the coast took us to Thorpeness, originally a small fishing hamlet before a Scottish barrister, Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, who had made his name designing railways around the world, bought the land and turned the town into a private fantasy holiday village in 1910. He created a country club and golf course and many of the houses were designed in mock Jacobean or Tudor style. To disguise an ugly water tower, he covered it in wood and it became the famous House in the Clouds (See photo below left) served by the water-pumping windmill nearby. A huge boating lake, the 'meare', was also created with inspiration coming from a family friend, JM Barrie's work, 'Peter Pan'. It was a very pretty village and I can imagine it's a fantastic place to come in the summer. Even on a cold November day it was kooky and delightful.




A quick visit to Snape Maltings, home of the Aldeburgh Music Festival, on the way back to the hotel, before more lolling about was had before dinner. Rory wore his new shirt and looked lovely in it until his mother, whilst trying to stop husband and son being childish flicking bits of paper on the table, managed to elbow her full glass of gin and tonic which landed all over new shirt. Rory was surprisingly calm about it. Dougie, having helped mop up most of the spillage, turned to me and asked the stupidest question ever:

"Would you like another one?"

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28 comments:

  1. 'Lolling about..' oh I am so glad we are not the only folk who do a bit of nothing very much sometimes...however fabulous the place, and it does seem like you had a great time in such a pretty part of the world.

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    1. Absolutely! We love doing not very much. In fact every day we would come back to the hotel at about 4pm, chill out until 7, have dinner, then waddle back to the room for a bit more lolling. We had no compulsion to go out again. It was lovely to be cosied up, made it such a relaxing break.

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  2. Sounds like you had a great time, and Rory made some wonderful pictures! I particularly like the spiral staircase shadow :). Some wonderful architecture there... and I'm always a fan of pictures with signs. Well done him!

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    1. So pleased you like his photos. Unlike me, who stops a lot to faff about, Rory took all his while walking, he didn't break stride. I didn't even notice the shadow on the staircase!

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  3. I've always fancied visiting Aldeburgh and you've reinforced that now with Rory's fab pictures. Lucky the G&T wasn't a glass of red wine!

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    1. Such a neat little town. A walk along the beach then a walk back along the high street. Perfect size.
      Thank god it wasn't red wine: he would have killed me!

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  4. We have been going to Suffolk at Easter for the past couple of years and absolutely love it. Such a pretty place. You clearly have children beyond the thrall of CBeebies though, as you fail to mention Jason MAson's House (Grnadpa in my Pocket) which we are obliged to pause outside every year. Fortunately we are not the only parents who do this.

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    1. You're right, my 16 year old son didn't mention Grandpa in my Pocket, funnily enough ;-))
      I am now going to have to google Jason Mason and see where he lives.

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    2. ooh! Where does Jason live? I always assumed Sunnysands was on the South Coast...?

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    3. I looked it up. His house is in Aldeburgh and other scenes are shot in Southwold,

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  5. This sounds lovely! We went to Aldeburgh once after being told how fantastic is was. We arrived and it started to pour. And pour and pour. We found a nice F&C shop and stayed there most of the day. They were very patient with us because we ordered a lot, but I will have to revisit to see the town properly!

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    1. Being somewhere when it's raining can really colour your view of a place. Thank goodness you found the chip shop. I will need to go back and visit it as I hadn't appreciated how famous it was until after we'd left!

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  6. 1. Rory did indeed do a grand job with the photos.
    2. I LOVE the games you and your hubby play.
    3. It looks like a delightful place to visit.
    4. I LOVE the Gin and Tonic story too.

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    1. 1. I agree. He's family photographer now.
      2. We are idiots.
      3. It was, with perfect cold but bright weather.
      4. I loved the gin and tonic.

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  7. Thorpeness!

    Proust had madeleines. I have Thorpeness. Did you see the big red water tower in the middle of the village?.

    I lived there. I did... Or in the left hand side at least (it's a semi-detached water tower), and only in the holidays. But still. Formative years spent in Thorpeness, playing with the Ogilvie kids (still there, all these years later).

    First snog on Aldeburgh beach.

    Like I said. Madeleines aplenty... So glad you loved it. I haven't taken the children, because I'm not sure I could bear the reminiscences.

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    1. So you lived next to the House in the Clouds? The one in the photo above? Wow, how amazing is that. And you played with the Ogilvie children too. So thrilled to have brought back some memories for you.
      I didn't have a snog on Aldeburgh beach - bit nippy for that kind of thing, though, saying that, it might have warmed me up a bit.

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  8. Nice to "meet" someone else who plays the pub game...!

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    1. Wouldn't you just love to get The Fox and Hounds one day?

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  9. Thank God you explained the pub game. I was really confused about the legs at first.
    Well done on the photos, Rory! You can tell him for me that I suggest you start paying him for any of his photos you use on the blog. (you know how we Americans love to encourage that entrepreneurial spirit!) ; )

    Sounds like the perfect getaway - lots of scenic-ness combined with good food, bubblebaths, and gin and tonics.

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    1. The pub game only works on decent country drives. It's no good when scooting up the A1 or probably anywhere in Korea so that's your fun scuppered.
      I told Rory about your idea. His little eyes lit up. I think that's a great idea.

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  10. I love lolling too. We did some of that during our very recent trip to Spain.

    Rory took some great photos, well done him. I've sung at the hall at Snape Maltings (a long time ago, natch). It was pretty impressive.

    Sounds a really cool trip, and playing silly games in the car is great fun. We used to play games on long trips when I was a kiddie, like car colours until it got too boring - they were all mostly white (at that time).

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    1. Oh, Sarah, you've sung at Snape Maltings? Puts all my little parochial gigs into perspective!

      I was really impressed with Rory's photos - he took them all very quickly, as he was walking along, and just seemed to have an eye for things which, once uploaded, caught the vibe of the place.

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    2. How did you get the 3x3 effect for the photos?

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    3. I use a free photo-editing site called Picmonkey. You click on 'collage', upload your photos and choose a design. The 3x3 is called Square-deal. Initially you think it's just four photos but clicking on each design shows more options. I've used Picmonkey a lot lately as it's difficult to get blogger to position photos in a group. The collage just gets saved to your normal photo files.

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  11. Just gorgeous pictures! It looks like such a beautiful place, and actually reminded me of the US somewhere... Can't remember where though. Which is not helfpul... :D

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    1. Ha! Right, that's a puzzle for me then. Just a few towns to work through!!

      I'm chuffed you like his snaps as I think you have a great eye for detail in your photography. Rory did well just clicking away at what took his fancy and not over-thinking as I do.

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  12. Sutton Hoo? What a great name - what does Hoo mean? I'm going to preface every beach town here with "hoo" now. I love that sweeping picture of the beach, blow all your cobwebs away (and your kids!) What's wrong with Tesco by the way. What would they prefer?

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    1. Hoo means the spur of a hill apparently. Isn't it a lovely word?
      The Tesco which is planned is a small one. I think there is already a big one out of town.

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