Friday, 17 June 2011

Last day

Yes, today is our last full day here. We have to be out by 10am in the morning, so that will mean an early start!

This morning started out reasonably bright, but the clouds looked threatening, so we made an early start, going into Cromer to begin with to pick up a few bits and bobs that we had seen earlier in the week.

We also investigated probably the only street we had yet to go down, and found a craft shop there that had some bargain priced balls of wool, so Sally stocked up on colours that she liked. We also found a tiny bakery that makes all it's own products on site, and bought a couple of freshly baked Chelsea buns that looked rather nice.

As we walked back to the car along the seafront, taking our last look at the pier and bidding Cromer a fond farewell, it started to gently spit with rain. Making our way along the coast road, we went through Sheringham and carried on to Cley on Marsh, which has a Norfolk Nature Trust shop and cafe overlooking the marshes and out to sea.

They also have a shop there selling binoculars and telescopes, which was my main reason for wanting to visit it. I was a bit disappointed to discover that they didn't have any Leica binoculars in stock, as I was really hoping to have a play with some, but instead had to settle for a go with a pair of Zeiss ones. The large viewing window allows you to really try them out, and I have to say, they were rather good - a significant improvement over mine.

As I handed them to Sally to try, I said "don't drop them", and I'm glad to report that she didn't. At this point, I knew the price of them, but she hadn't seen the tag just yet. She tried them, and was very impressed with them. Then when she looked at the tag, I'm not sure whether she almost dropped them in shock or held onto them as though her life depended on it! They were £1,220!!! (mind you, that was a special offer price, they should have been over £1,300!)

The very friendly and helpful chap in the shop then passed over another pair to try, this time by a company called "Meade" I think they were. These were £299, and you know what, there really wasn't that much difference in the quality of the optics, and certainly not a grands worth of difference. He then let us try some Minox ones at less than £200, but for me, these were definitely not as good.

We left him to go to the cafe to "have a talk about it", saying that we would see him later. Sally was quite happy for me to have them, but I have to confess that I really don't see the point - it's not as though I get much use out of the ones I have, (less than £50 from eBay!), and unless I do take up bird watching or suchlike, I am happy to make do with my cheapo ones. It was certainly an experience though, and it was very interesting to compare various products at such extreme prices.

We had a drink in the cafe and spent some time admiring the view. It was pretty busy in there, and I can imagine that it does get quite crowded with bird watchers when the weather is not so kind - the view from inside the warm dry cafe is almost as good as being on the marshes themselves.

The drive back to Sheringham saw a bit more drizzle, but this had stopped by the time we got to the car park. A quick wander around later, and we had picked up a few more bits that we had spotted earlier in the week, and also had spotted a few alternatives for our last dinner on the coast.

By the time we got back to the van, it was raining heavily, and this continued for quite a few hours. We made a start on packing our bags to make for a quicker get away in the morning, and I had a little doze on the sofa while Sally carried on with her crocheting.

It was still raining very heavily when we went back to Sheringham in the early evening. The roads had large puddles in them, and there were very few people out and about. We found the chip shop called "Dave's", and I nipped out of the car and got us both cod and chips. We parked up in the cliff top carpark, and ate the large and delicious portions. The rain continued to hammer against the windscreen, doing its best to spoil our view of the sea.

Driving back to the van, there was no let up in the rain, and I did wonder if someone had forgotten that we are not actually in a tent this year. It always seemed to rain on our last night when we were camping, making packing the tent away a real pain, and getting it dry once we were home almost impossible.

So, here we are now, warm and dry inside the caravan as the rain patters away against the roof, a mug of black coffee in front of me. Most of our things are packed away, and all that remains is for us to have one last sleep in the cramped bed, one last shower in the tiny cubicle, one last breakfast in the kitchenette, to cram all our bags into the car and head off home, back to our "real" life and our "real" home.

Yet again, we have proven that you don't necessarily miss all the home comforts (not that we have roughed it yet again this year), you don't need all those clothes that cram the wardrobes to bursting point, all those "things" that clutter shelves and cupboards. You don't even really need a television. Yes, we have watched some things while we have been away, but very little that I would have minded missing. Radio 4 has been our companion for most of the time, certainly while in the car and during the early evenings and in bed. Are we showing our age or just growing up? I will let you decide that one.

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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Wet, wet, wet

We tried something different last night, bedroom wise. Oooo, errr, you are thinking, do I need to know this? It's ok though, I'm only talking about which room we used.

Having decided that the double bed really isn't that comfy, and not quite big enough for us (!), we tried the other room with the two single beds. This meant that we wouldn't be fighting over the duvet and bumping into one another. I have the advantage of being able to sleep anywhere, so it was no big deal to me.

I slept fine thanks very much, but Sally had a bit of a fight with her bed, managed to unmake it with all her fidgeting, and ended up going back into the double bed during the night. I was blissfully unaware of all of this until I woke up, wondered where she was and saw the devastation of her bedding.

The day started quite brightly, but did dull off as the morning progressed. Today we decided to go to Mundesley, which is little more than a village, but being right on the seafront has a couple of cafes and gift shops. The last time we came here, we discovered the Beach Cafe on our last day, and had probably the best cream tea of our holiday there. I had my fingers crossed that it not only was still there, but would come up to our expectations.

I'm glad to report that it is still there, and although it wasn't quite as good a cream tea as last time, it was still pretty darn good. The view from the windows is right out over the beach and sea. There was a lone swimmer ploughing back and forth across the view a few yards out to sea. I can only assume that he was in training for a triathlon or something.

After this pitstop, we had a wander along the beach for a while, but it was trying to rain a little, so we got back into the car and headed back to Cromer.

We found a space to park on the seafront, and made our way to the pier via the amusement arcade. Sally was less successful there today, and won me no prizes.

The pier has little on it apart from the theatre, but at the far end is the RNLI lifeboat station. This was closed to the public last time, but was open today, so we took advantage of the opportunity to look around. There is a viewing gallery above the boat, and lots of information and videos to watch. The boat is much bigger than we expected it to be, you don't get the chance to see many boats out of the water up that close, and it was quite a shock to see just how big it is.

The videos showed how they launch it and then retrieve it back up the slope afterwards, and the whole experience was really interesting. When you consider that these people are all volunteers, it is quite amazing, and one can only salute their bravery and dedication.

When we came out of the station, we discovered that it was raining quite hard. We had elected to leave our coats in the car when we arrived in Comer as it had brightened up no end. What a mistake that proved to be!

We sheltered on the pier for a while, but decided that it wasn't going to improve any, and seeing as how skin is waterproof, just went for it and walked back to the car.

It wasn't too bad, and while damp, we weren't soaked, and the rain had also washed some of the bird poo off the car, so alls well that ends well.

Back at the van, we chose to go swimming. Well, while we were still a bit wet, we might as well stay wet! There weren't many in the pool today, though there were a few parents and toddlers again. Grrr. Once they had got cold and cleared off, we had it to ourselves. Sally did 30 lengths, and I did 26, which when you consider that this pool is probably 25% longer than the one we are used to, is pretty good. My technique is definitely coming along nicely.

Once back in the van, a lovely pot of tea was followed by a dinner of fishcakes and beans. Tomorrow is our last full day here, and we have got our plans set out already, although they are somewhat dependent on the weather and what time we get up in the morning.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Some you win, some you lose

Another bright start the the day led onto another warm day, slightly less sunny and a bit more humid, but very pleasant never the less. The original plan had been to go to the Saxon cathedral a few miles north of Dereham.

I knew nothing about the cathedral, only having spotted it on the map on our way here from Suffolk, but assumed that it was a ruined one. It turns out not to be a ruin at all, and not exactly pretty either, so that the "one we lost" today.

We continued along the road into Dereham itself, struggled to find a car park , but when we did, it was free. This has always been a bit of a worry in the past, as quite often free parking is a sign of a rather rubbish town. This was not the case with Dereham though I am glad to report.

Despite being a bit run down and in need of a bit of TLC, it was actually quite an impressive little town with a very good selection of shops, both independent and multiples. We spent a couple of hours there, and it proved to be quite productive.

It is also the first time that I have ever seen public toilets where the toilet rolls were padlocked into place!

The sight of a "sharps bin" outside of the toilet block also indicates that Dereham has certain problems, which is a shame, as it really did seem like a decent town. Being inland, it doesn't have to try to cater to the seaside tourist brigade, and can concentrate on being a real town for real people, which I felt it did a superb job of.

It was also quite shocking at the house prices there. Looking in estate agents windows was quite an eye opener. A four bedroom detached house with a 50' wide by 80' long garden for just over £200k !! There were lots of other places too that fell more into our price range, and there was a flat that we could almost have bought outright! Clearly this is not as sought after a place as others in Norfolk, and probably does mean that it has plenty of problems under the surface. Shame.

A vert scenic drive along B roads and narrow country lanes brought us to Aylesham. I thought that we had been there before, but it turns out that we hadn't. Another free car park, another very pretty little village. It turned out to be their half day closing, so not all that many shops were still open, but we did find a lovely tea shop and had a late lunch. Sally had Brie and cranberry sandwiches, and I had a bowl of chilli sprinkled with cheese. They were both absolutely delicious, and the pot of tea was rather special too.

Another scenic cross country drive brought us back to the van, and we went for a swim again. It was busier than yesterday, with quite a few parents in the pool with babies. I know it is great that they are teaching them so young, and wish that I had had the same opportunity, but why oh why do they insist on taking up most of the blooming pool?! They seemed to have no thought for others in the pool, and we didn't get as much swimming down as we would have liked to, but did spend a long time in the super jacuzzi, which was warm and relaxing.

Back at the van we had sardines on toast, something that we haven't had for ages, and very tasty it was too. We are watching the Miss Marple on TV now, and it must be time for another pot of tea I think, so please excuse me ending this here, but needs must......!

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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Stephen Fry was here

Another beautifully sunny morning turned into probably the best day of the whole holiday so far. Very warm, very sunny, hardly any breeze - simply smashing.

I drove us to Wells-next-the-Sea, which is where quite a lot of the tv series Kingdom was filmed. We went there on our last visit too, and were a little disappointed in the lack of shops, but this time, there actually seemed to be a few more open, and perhaps because we knew what to expect, we actually really enjoyed it this time. Sally was especially pleased when we found some bargain craft stuff in one of the shops. She is having a play with them as I type this!

We had lunch at one of the many cafes in the main street - just a roll and a drink, but the rolls were absolutely lovely. We caught the little train from the car park into town, and also on the way back. It is a very cute narrow gauge railway, and turns a 25 minute walk into a 5 minute train journey.

The last time we were there, we spent a couple of hours on the beach, but this time we didn't have time for lazing around! Next up on the grand tour was Little Walsingham. I knew very little about this village other than it has a lot of religious connections, including a famous shrine.

It turned out to have a lot of old Buildings, and abbey and sweet little cottages, tea shops and stores selling various religious trinkets. We had a cream tea in one of the teashops, and it was very tasty. While we were there, two ladies came in, and the older of them managed to trip over and fall flat on her face. She was shaken but unhurt thankfully, and once she had got herself together myself and another male customer helped her up. It all happens in Norfolk doesn't it?!

We needed to do a little bit of food shopping before getting back to the van, and made our way to Fakenham. I was sure that we had found a supermarket on the outskirts before, but we failed this time, and a drive through the town centre only showed a Tesco - we would rather go hungry than line their pockets anymore than we have to, so ended up going to Cromer instead to the CoOp.

Back at the van, we put the shopping away, gathered our swimming gear together and went to the pool for a swim. The hot tub was LOVELY! Very warm, and very relaxing. The pool itself is a bit longer than we one we are used to, and I was very pleased that I was able to swim lengths of it without a problem.

Dinner tonight was bacon, mushrooms, beans and toast, and was very yummy indeed. Maybe after all that exercise anything would have been, but this combination was very enjoyable.

I think we will sleep well tonight. Tomorrow looks as though it may well be the last good day weather wise, so I am currently thinking about our plans, trying to decide on our best bet. I have a few ideas. I will let you know what we get up to......

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Fond memories proven correct

The rain finally stopped at some point during the night, and we awoke to a clear day, mostly sunny with a bit of cloud. We decided to head off to Cromer today for a look around. It turns out that Sally can't remember much about it, but my fond memories were proven correct, most of the town was exactly as I recalled it, with a few shops having changed hands, but the majority of it being just as i picture it when I close my eyes.

There was a moment of disappointment when we discovered that our favourite Italian restaurant had changed to an English one, but we will get over it. I was surprised to find the tobacconists open - the last time we were here it was always closed, which was a bit of a shame as that as the year I broke my pipe on the first day here. This year, despite it being open, I had no use for the place! It was good to see that at least one traditional shop has managed to keep trading.

It was a shame to discover that the camera and telescope shop has found it necessary to reinvent itself and has changed to mostly selling mobile phones. It is inevitable I suppose, but it does seem such a shame the way the high street has changed beyond all recognition over the last few years.

We had fish & chips from the same one we used 3 years ago, and ate them on the seafront at the same spot we used before too. Then we went into the same amusement arcade, and Sally won some key rings just like she had before! Spooky. It seems as though Cromer likes us just as much as we like it.

It felt wonderfully familiar to be walking along the little side streets near the sea front, truly like being at home. This is definitely my favourite place. Apparently I had a silly grin on my face as I gazed upon the pier and seafront. It is a view that I can conjure up anytime I want when I close my eyes. I love it here! (just in case you hadn't worked that out yet!)

A lovely pot of tea and Norfolk shortbread when we got back to the van was much appreciated. A series of texts and phone calls from back home brought a modicum of reality back to proceedings, but I am going to do my utmost to ignore work while I am here. There is nothing I can do about it here.

The evening seemed to fly past, dinner was a soft boiled egg and soldiers - not had that for so many years! There was nothing on TV that tickled our fancy, so we watched a couple of episodes of Dexter on DVD instead.

It is midnight now, and just having gone to bed it occurred to me that I had neglected the blog today, so here I am with this update. Just hope that I can get a connection to send it!

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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Humber, Dogger, German Bight....

After a week of luxury in the most comfortable bed in the world, we came down to earth a bit last night with a bed that while not uncomfortable, is a little on the small side. Well, when you are our size and younger used to a king size bed......!

We slept well enough despite the lack of room, and awoke to a bright, sunny Sunday morning. We decided to go to Sherringham today, if only to discover if the fondness I think of the town with is deserved, or has my judgment been clouded by memories of our last visit three years ago?

As it turns out, the fondness is well justified. It is pretty much as I remembered it, most of the shops remain the same, but we were horrified to learn that it seems as though Tesco have won their long battle to get permission to open a store. It hasn't happened yet, but we gather it is signed and sealed. I just hope it is not the death of the rest of the town, as that would be a great pity.

We had a look around the town, but about a third of the shops were closed. Sunday opening has still not become the norm there despite the large number of tourists. It was busier than we ever saw it last time.

We got back to the 'van around 3pm, had a pot of tea and some biscuits, and I had a look at the photos I had taken of the steam trains at Sherringham Station. Due to the lousy Internet connection, I have not been able to upload many to Flickr just yet. Sally had bought a craft magazine about knitting and crochet, complete with a starter pack of wools and needles. She can knit, but has never learnt o crochet properly, so was hoping this would get her started. Between us we decoded the so called help sections, and she made a start.

While this was going on, it started to rain. Gently at first, but then the wind picked up, and it got progressively worse. It has now been hammering down for a few hours, and the wind has blown a few bits off the trees. It is also cold enough that I have put the central heating on again. Thank goodness we are not in a tent! It is almost as noisy as being in a tent mind you. We have had Radio 4 on the TV, and have had to turn it up couple of times. There is a program on ITV we want to watch soon, so I hope the volume will go high enough for us!!

Right, let's see if I can get enough of a signal to get this onto 'net. Goodnight, hope we sleep tight.......

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Saturday, 11 June 2011

Second week

We awoke this morning to the sound of rain. Quite heavy rain in fact. Thank goodness we didn't have a tent to take down and pack away like in the old days!

We have got most of the packing done the night before, so there wasnt too much left to do, so we were able to take our time and relax instead of rushing around. I even had time to make a little video of the cottage.

By the time we left, it had stopped raining, but the huge puddles in the roads showed just how much it had rained during the night.

As we headed north, you could see that they had had virtually no rain at all. As we had to make the journey last five hours, we took a scenic route towards Norwich, and made our way to an out of town retail park where we knew there was a branch of "The Range". It was a massive store and we managed to spend quite a lot of time there. We also had a look around another shop there and then went into Sainsburys for a spot of lunch.

Another slightly scenic across country route brought us to kelling Heath and we got here around 3:15pm. After we had booked in and found our way to the caravan, I held my breath as Sally had her first look inside a static caravan.

Thankfully, she was suitably impressed. After all, they even have double glazing and central heating now, not like when I had caravan holidays as a kid!

The van looks brand new, is pristine, comfy and nicely set out. It is in the woods a bit, and we even had a squirrel come inside to visit us at one point! He was cheeky enough to have to be chased off. He didn't seem afraid of us one bit.

Once we had unpacked the car, we went to Cromer and did some food shopping. Back at the van we had a lovely pot of tea. We also discovered that our phones now had a signal, but that the Internet on the iPad was not great and didn't work very well. Hence I am typing this on the iPhone.

We had a wonder around the site, remembering how things had been three years ago when we were here before. Some things have changed, but by and large things are just how they used to be. It is very busy though at the moment. Much much more so than when we were camping here.

I had soup for dinner, Sally made do with some bread and jam. We settled down to watch a DVD after we had eaten, only to discover that the DVD player built into the telly doesn't read home burnt discs. Seeing as most of the discs we have with us are things that we have videod off the telly, that is a bit of a bummer! We ended up watching an episode of Dexter.

Bedtime, and it was a bit chilly, so I worked out how to get the central heating on for a while to warm the place up, which it did very quickly.

Time for sleep now. Lots of options available to us tomorrow and the weather could help us decide what to do......

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Location:Kelling Heath, Norfolk

Friday, 10 June 2011

Seriously, don't feed the gulls!

Well, here we are on our last full day in Aldeburgh. That week has flown past, but also, strangely, seems to have lasted for ages. I know that doesn't make sense, but I think you know what I mean.

Yesterday was a dull drizzly day with a bit of hail thrown in for good measure. In the end, we decided to have a lazy day and stayed in. Sally crafting and watching the food channel on TV, me reading and sleeping. (well, with the Olympics only a year away I need to get as much practice in as I can, just in case they do add sleeping to the list of sports)

The lack of activity should also explain the lack of a blog entry yesterday, there really was nothing to report!

Today we have taken advantage of the washing machine here to get a load of washing done, and that is currently in the tumble dryer. We have packed the majority of our clothes already, and in the morning there will be a minimum of things to de before we have to leave by 10am. I really want to make sure there is enough time to do a video and some photos of the cottage before we leave, but don't want to do it with all our clutter still in it!!

We have walked into town and had fish and chips in the sit down part of one of the chip shops. It was very good, but still not stunning. I think we have been spoilt by Bispham to be honest.

On the way back we walked along the front, and I spotted this sign. There were quite a few of them along the front, and I can't believe that i Hadn't noticed them before. The don't want you to take your dog on the beach, but they REALLY don't want you to feed the gulls. They are serious about it. We saw a couple feeding them, and wondered if they knew just how much trouble they were inviting for themselves. They are now on the run from the beach police - expect to see their faces on the news tonight as most wanted criminals!

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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Even Santa needs a break.....

It is the end of a long day, I'm tired and don't have much literary creativity about me at the moment, so I will make this brief.

The weather was pretty kind to us today, sunshine with a few cloudy moments, warm but with a nice breeze. Without the breeze it would probably have been too hot to be honest. We did end up going to Lowestoft today, around 30 miles up the coast from where we are. Strangely for this area it was well signposted, and we had no problem finding a carpark in a sensible spot right on the seafront.

The whole aura of the town is remarkably similar to Great Yarmouth, which I suppose is not that surprising as they are so close together. The beach was pristine, beautiful clean sand, and the promenade was litter free. The public conveniences were 10p to go in, but they were so clean and graffiti free that you actually felt that this was a bargain.

We wondered along the front for a while before heading into the town centre, which was not a particularly pleasant experience, much like that of Yarmouth. The town has a lot of empty and very run down shops, as well as the usual suspects that you can find in any town centre, but there are also more than the average number of Cash Converter, Money Lending shops and such like as well as the Bright House type shops where they ask no questions as long as you come in and pay you five quid a week for goods on the never never at horrendous interest rates.

Needless to say, we didn't spend too long there before making our way back to the seafront to find lunch. While doing this we spotted a very unusual sight - a photo shoot involving a man dressed as Santa on the beach! We settled on a fish and chip establishment calling itself Aphrodite, and claiming to have a five star rating. It was superb, among the best fish and chips we have had, and it was spotlessly clean, everything was cooked to order, and I can only recommend it. Full marks to them!

On the way back we stopped off at a small craft centre at a farm, which was only small and had nothing much of interest, but at least it made a change. We also made a very quick pit stop at the CoOp for a few supplies before getting back home.

We went for a walk along the front again this evening. It was such a lovely evening and the weather forecast is not great for the next few days, so we made the most of it, and I took some photos.

Not a lot else to say about today really. It was a good day, and we enjoyed it!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Nowt so queer as folk

Well, today turned into a slightly surreal day. After a lovely sleep and lie-in, we headed out on the A12 south towards Ipswich. That wasn't our destination though. We turned off the A road towards Woodbridge and then followed the brown signs to Sutton Hoo, the ancient burial site.

The way the visitor centre is set out is excellent, and very informative, a seven minute film introduces the whole thing to you, and then the exhibits and photos tell the story of what was found and what they have surmised it to all be about.

They believe it was the burial site of the King Radmael and dates back to the mid to late 600s. The quality of some of the artefacts they unearthed is astonishing. Although I didn't used to be particularly interested in history, as I have gotten older I have found the enthusiasm and interest that I lacked at school.

While the exhibition was very good, the walk to the burial mounds themselves was a bit of a let down - it really is just a field with some lumps in it. Quite what it was that made them think there was anything unusual about those particular mounds compared to any others you see all over the country is a bit beyond me, but thank goodness they did.

During the walk back to the visitors centre the day took a surreal turn. We were stopped by two old ladies who asked if it was worth the effort of taking the walk to the field. We told them that there wasn't that much to see, and that they may well be disappointed if they did. They walked back with us towards the centre. We got chatting, and it turned out that they were both originally from Warwickshire, and one of them still lives fairly near us. The other now lives in Rendlesham (which might explain her eccentricness!)

Despite telling us not to go at their very slow pace and leave them too it, they kept talking to us, meaning that we had to go at their pace or be very rude. They were nice enough, but definitely on the eccentric side. Our only escape lay in the second hand book shop on the site. (being a national trust site - quite a few NT sites have them now)

Some escape that turned out to be! We were accosted in there by the NT valunteer who was looking after the bookshop, who was a lovely old guy, obviously quite lonely, and spent the next hour listening to his life story! This was not helped by his thick local accent and the fact that he didn't seem to need to draw breath. Some of it was very interesting - I was especially intrigued when he mentioned that he collected and repaired old fountain pens. I elected not to mention my interest in the subject as I fear we may still have been there now! (I had also made the very clever decision NOT to make any comment when one of the ladies had told us that she was a crafter and watched a lot of the create and craft channel on tv. Sally later told me that she WOULD have killed me if I had, thereby dragging her further into conversation with them!)

When we finally dragged ourself away with our legs aching from standing still for so long, I made the decision to not go to the NT cafe for something to eat and drink (because I could see our two lady friends in there!), and we instead drove the couple of miles into Woodbridge.

By now I was a little grumpy around the edges, so the lack of decent road signage was just about the final straw as far as I was concerned. If they don't actually WANT visitors, why don't they change the sign as you enter the town from "Welcome to Woodbridge" to "Look, if you're not from around here and don't know your way around, just ****off now".

I am happy to report that once we had found the car park and found our way from there to the town centre (more by luck than judgement), the town was actually rather good. It was by far the best place we have been to thus far, having a good range of shops and a decent Costa Coffee to refresh our weary bones. We spent a couple of very pleasant hours there before heading back to the cottage.

Despite the lateness of our arrival back, I managed a power nap before dinner! Tonight we had a new Quorn "BBQ style" burger in pitta bread each. Very tasty they were too, and we can recommend them. We then watched the second episode of Injustice before heading off to bed where I am writing this.

Tomorrows plans have been slightly altered, as I have realised that i misread the opening times for Orford Ness, and at the moment it is only open on Saturdays, so we can't go there tomorrow as planned. The current thinking, weather permitting, is Lowestoft. The weather forecast for Thursday and Friday is not quite as good, so we need to take advantage of whatever it throws at us tomorrow.

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Monday, 6 June 2011

Monday morning blues

I awoke in the early hours of the morning to the sound of rain on the windows. The weather forecast had predicted this, but I was hoping for their usual lack of accuracy. No such luck. When I woke up fully at a sensible time, it was still raining. Not heavily, but steadily, and enough for it to be a nuisance.

Monday is the rubbish collection day here, and someone across the road had put theirs out in a black plastic bag. This had been ripped to shreads and the contents spilt out across the street, whether by cats or seagulls I don't know. The puddles showed that there had been quite a good downpour during the night. I'm sure the farmers and gardeners were very pleased with this, but us holidaymakers were less so.

After breakfast, we decided to go out anyway, and brave the weather. After all, it wasn't too bad, and skin is waterproof, so what was the harm? We headed out to Southwold. I had been told and read plenty about this town. Everything I had heard was positive, that it was a beautiful and quaint little place that everyone fell in love with.

Maybe it had just been overhyped, or maybe it was the rain, but I have to say that I was a little disappointed with it. The lack of decent signage made navigating ones way around the town very hard, and then, when you did find the carparks, they were full to bursting. One thing that seems very common around here is the large amount of parking spaces, but that few (or indeed none) are actually free of parked cars! I know the whole point of them being there is for them to be used, but sometimes, WE want to use them too!!

Initially, we parked close to the pier, and despite the rain had a wonder along it, taking in the views, the amusements and the shops. There is a very odd water clock which caused great amusement to all those watching it on the hour and half-hour. The gift shops had a good selection of things that no one actually needs, but some of them brought a smile to our faces, in particular some very funny drinks coasters.

The small, but very busy amusement arcade saw us waste a bit of time, and a whole £1 of our money in 2p's on the obligatory coin pusher machines before we attempted to make our way into the town itself. This proved frustrating due to the car parking situation mentioned previously.

We finally did manage to park down a narrow side street very close to the Adnams Brewery, and had to walk past it on our way into the main town.

Many parts of Southwold seem very run down, even more so than in Aldeburgh, and again, a great many of the cottages seem to be holiday lets. (the key boxes by the side of the front doors give them away)

The range of shops was a bit surprising. Quite a few of them being upmarket clothes shops aimed at the well heeled country set rather than us mere mortals. We bought a snack to munch in the car before we left this odd little town with a lighthouse in the middle of it.

We took the scenic route to Saxmundham, going along narrow country lanes, through tiny hamlets, past the "lost" village of Dunwich, past farm land and woods that reminded me of parts of the New Forest.

Saxmundham has a Waitrose store, and much like Kenilworth, this seems to have given the town a new lease of life. While it wasnt exactly bustling, for a Monday mid afternoon, it was fairly busy. Nothing much attracted us there apart from the Waitrose though, and after a quick wonder around the town, we did the all important food shopping.

Once we arrived back "home", we made a pot of tea and indulged in an Eccles cake. Both of which were lovely. Sally then did some crafting while I went to the upstairs living room to read.

Dinner tonight was to be jacket spuds, and while they were in the oven, we went for a walk along the front. Tonight it is so calm, hardly any wind at all, what a difference a day makes! What a difference a couple of hours makes in fact, as it was now sunny and virtually all signs of the rain have gone. It is a beautiful evening in fact, and very pleasant to be wondering around. The town still seems to be deserted though, and it definitely has a strange feel to it.

The jacket spuds were quite nice, a bit of cheese on them and a drizzle of brown sauce to give them a bit of flavour. Hardly haute cuisine, but pleasant enough and filling too.

We retired to the upstairs living room to read, and at 9 o'clock to watch the new series on ITV called "Injustice", which bizarrely is set in this area. The police are based in Ipswich, a murder has taken place in Framlingham, and one scene was shot on Southwold Pier exactly in the spot where I took a photo of Sally this morning. One of the characters is called Martin Newell. Spooky!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 5 June 2011

It can be done in 39 steps...

The initial idea was to go to the local car boot sale, but a slight wrong turning meant we missed the school field where this was taking place and ended up instead driving along the coast road to Thorpeness. The dome of the nuclear power station grew ever larger as we got closer, but I tried my best not to worry. After all, at this range, if anything happened, we would be goners whether we were there or in Aldeburgh!

Also on the skyline was the "House in the Clouds", which is a converted water tower that is now a spectacular and unusual holiday let.

We followed the road inland a bit and ended up going in a bit of a circular route to Snape Maltings. I had been told about this by a customer. It turns out to be an old mill type place that has been converted into shops and galleries. I have to confess that I was a little disappointed with it - I had imagined it to be an outlet village type place, but it seemed to be just one huge shop split up into different departments. It was pleasant enough though, and we did see plenty of kitchen gadgets that we never knew we needed, and thankfully couldn't afford.

We had a pot of tea and a cake each in their teashop. The coffee cake was very tasty though rather dry, but the marzipan fruit cake was absolutely delicious and a recipe is already being sought online. You could really taste the rum in it.....phew!

A brief trip down the road to Orford followed, with a view to going back later in the week to investigate Orford Ness.

There are some stunning properties around here, some huge houses in large grounds, and others that are just cute little cottages or unusual modern designs. The prices of them are scary though. A three bedroom flat just along from where we are staying is on the Market for £550,000. A four bedroom house directly opposite us has just sold for £695,000. Mental!

A brief snooze this afternoon was followed by us cooking dinner of spaghetti with quorn sausages chopped into a tomato and chilli sauce. It was delicious but rather potent, leaving your Tongue tingling rather. We then put the dishwasher on and went for a short walk along the front again. Oh to be able to do that every evening - sheer joy.

We very deliberately counted the number of steps to the beach, and I did manage it in exactly 39 by walking like some kind of freaky monster or robot. It can be done, but would be much easier with longer legs. I reckon that Stuart could do it in about 25 steps.

The wind has dropped a little, and it is still comfortably warm even through the wind. It was very odd walking out this evening. We hardly saw a soul. It was almost as though the town was deserted. There are a lot fewer cars parked, and you do get the feeling that it is very much a weekend bolt hole for a lot of people. It was quite earie walking along the deserted streets, you felt that everyone was hiding from you and watching from behind twitching curtains.

While a lot of properties in this part of the town are well kept or are being renovated, there are also a lot that appear to be very run down and in need of some TLC. Mind you, at the prices they are asking for the ones for sale, you would have to have rather a lot of spare cash available to give them the love they deserve and crave.

Back indoors now, Sally is busy crafting as I write this, and we await 9 o'clock for the tv program we watch. There was a bottle of wine waiting for us when we arrived, and we opened it this evening to go with our meal. I have slightly reluctantly partaken, am drinking my glass slowly, and have yet to fall over, so far so good. Will I be able to manage the stairs at bedtime? I will get back to you on that one.

First night nerves

I always say that no bed is as comfortable as your own, but I think I may have to alter this. The bed here is just as comfy as our own, and may actually be even better. The pillows are definitely better than our own, and we have have to smuggle them out when we leave!

So, instead of a first night trying to make the best of an unfamiliar bed, we both had a really good nights sleep, and feel well rested, nicely relaxed and looking forward to our first full day in Suffolk.

A mug of tea in bed, a quick check of the weather forecast online (am very impressed with the BT broadband here - have been considering it at home, so it is good to see how fast it is), radio 4 in the background keeping us up to date with the world - life seems very good at this moment!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Fish n chips

We had fish n chips for dinner. Well, you simply have to when you are at the seaside don't you? It would be rude not to. Especially when the chip shop is about a minutes walk away! The queue was quite long, probably 20 or so people in front of us - it really is that popular.

Was it worth the wait? Well, kind of. They were very nice, not as good as the ones from Bispham, but very very good indeed never the less.

Afterwards we went for a brief walk on the seafront just as it was getting dark. My goodness it was windy! We didn't stay out for long, just long enough to get a few photos.........

Sally on the seafront - yes, it really was that windy!

39 Steps - our home for the week.

Just across the road from us is this alley through to the seafront.

We're here!

Well, we are here! We left home at 10:20, made a quick pit stop for petrol, and then hit the M6 and A14. The roads were surprisingly quiet, and the journey seemed to whizz by. We made a brief stop in Bury St.Edmunds to eat our sandwiches, which proved to be a bit more interesting than was expected due to the lack of parking.

There was plenty of parking in fact, but there was none empty. Strangely, the signs that pointed to the carparks had the digital displays showing how many free spaces were available. The short stay one showed over 500 free spaces on the display, but when you got there it was full. One of the long stay ones only showed 8 free spaces but in actual fact had quite a few. Most odd, and a little frustrating.

The SatNav took us across country for some of the way, down narrow B roads - this turned out to not only be a bit of a short cut avoiding Ipswich, but was really pretty, taking us through some beautiful picturesque villages with chocolate box thatched cottages.

Arrived in Aldeburgh at around 2pm, or one hour before we were supposed to be able to get into the cottage. We gave it a try, and it was ready for us, so we moved in and had a look around.

It is REALLY nice!! It is small, but doesnt feel it due to the way it is laid out. The front door leads you straight into the lounge dining room and open plan kitchen. There is a very comfortable two seat sofa, a wooden dining table with four chairs, a wall unit which has storage and a large tv and DVD player and a Bose iPod docking station.

The kitchen, again small, is nicely laid out, has a gas hob with electric oven, microwave, toaster, kettle, dishwasher and fridge freezer. All of the units look to be very new, and the light colour scheme does make the best of the space, and despite the slight lack of windows, it doesn't seem too dark in here.

Finally, downstairs is the bathroom. This has a large shower cubicle, toilet and washbasin. Again the light colours and the layout works really well. Hidden in a cupboard in the bathroom is a washing machine and tumble dryer. Ace!

The stairs take you up to the first floor where there is another living room, complete with two seat sofa, chair, coffee table, another large tv and DVD player, telephone, bookcase filled with books, DVDs and board games. They really have thought of everything.

The bedroom has a king size bed with two wardrobes, a chest of drawers and a dressing table. Again, all well laid out, beautifully decorated and thought out. There are some ornaments and wall art throughout the cottage, all of which make the place even more homely. It is spotlessly clean, and at the moment we can't find any faults with it!

Having unpacked, we went for a walk along the seafront. I can report that it is NOT 39 steps to the beach. I made it 46, but I do have quite short legs, so guess I can't really take them to task over this.

It was very windy, but sunny, and quite warm, surprisingly so when you got out of the wind. The beach is all stones, and seems to have a lot of small fishing boats on it. It would seem that there are quite a few local fishermen who catch and sell fish on the seafront. A number of photo opportunities shouted at me, and I am looking forward to getting out there with the camera during the week.

After walking along the seafront we investigated the town, which seems to have a lot of interesting little shops, plenty of cafes and eating places and pubs as well as two legendary fish & chip shops. Plenty to see and investigate a lot closer. We went to the Co-Op and got some provisions, made our way back to the cottage and had a mug of tea while typing this up.

There is no signal on the iPad or mobile phone, but thankfully there is wifi at the cottage, and I managed to get that working, hence you can read this.

Time for another mug of tea before the England game.....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Holiday info

Well, it really IS getting close now - only two more days at work before we "jet off" to Suffolk!

The first week we are staying in a small house in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast. The house is called "Thirty-nine Steps" - supposedly as it is only that number of steps from the beach.

We have never been to Suffolk before, and are looking forward to having the opportunity to investigate Constable Country for ourselves.

You can check the house out for yourself at:-

The second week we are staying in a "luxury holiday home" (a large static caravan to you and me!). This is at the Kelling Heath site where we camped three years ago when we first went to Norfolk. This is near Holt, in a lovely setting full of wildlife and beautiful scenery. Sherringham is close by and Cromer is the nearest "big" town. We love it around there, and are so looking forward to getting back there.

The webpage with the details is:-

The plan is to blog as usual, and hopefully put photos on too. It does depend on the "3" signal where we will be - their coverage map shows that the signal in Aldeburgh is not great, so it may be that we won't get a good enough signal while we are in the house - it remains to be seen. The info on the house says that it has wifi available, so maybe that will work for us?

Whatever happens, i will do my best to keep you all up to date with what we are up to.......