Summer in Seven part 10 – Suffolk

Not just part 10 either – it’s the end. Yes, those who have been paying attention will know that Suffolk is the seventh county on our list. In fact we are now home and Trev is already back to work in his role as caretaker of the Pre-Prep School clearing up whatever mess has been made over the summer holidays. School proper starts in just over a week but I’m back on Friday for INSET day when the entire staff are ‘invited’ to hear our dear leader a.k.a the Head Master make his customary address. I can hardly contain my excitement……

So, It’s fallen to me to catch up on the washing and ironing and having done just that – more or less – it’s now time for a bit of blogging.

The 60 ‘ish mile journey down from Norfolk to the Suffolk coast was largely trouble free apart from a half hour delay on the Great Yarmouth bypass and we pulled on to our penultimate site of the trip just after midday. Beach View Holiday Park also sits on the coast though it’s unlikely you’ll get a sea view from your caravan. Luxury lodges now occupy most of the pitches facing the sea, the two remaining being taken up by massive RV’s that look well set. No matter, it was a pretty site, particularly around the edges where you could pitch pretty much anywhere. What you DO get a view of to the north – is the nearby Sizewell A nuclear power station. Redundant since 2006, any remaining nuclear fuel has been removed, but fear not, behind it but not visible from the site, Sizewell B with it’s massive white dome is still pumping out the volts. Neither can be described as pretty but they do provide an interesting contrast, much like the two down in Dungeness in Kent.

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We did little else on Wednesday apart from a quick visit to nearby Leiston and it’s Co-Op for some bits and bobs and feed pound coins in to the sites washing machines in an effort to get caught up with the laundry. The on site and beach side club house got a visit later, though just for the one. Honest.

Thursday was fairly grim weather wise. The forecast was depressingly accurate but I took the opportunity to get the blog up to date – again. In the evening we ventured out to the nearby pub – The Vulcan Arms - stationed almost opposite the entrance to the powers stations site. This was purely for research purposes obviously as my cousin was to be joining us the next day and we anted to check out dining options.

Friday was, as promised, much much better. My cousin Andy & wife Janet turned up with their van just after midday and by 2:00pm we were on the beach, with me trying out my inflatable kayak for the first time since I bought it two years ago.

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At the top by the edge of the site it’s grassy, giving way to sand and then shingle as you descend towards the sea. It’s a lovely place to sit and relax and we did just that, at least until we got thirsty…..

Dinner was at ‘our place’ although Jan had brought all the food and was busy preparing the veg in-between topping up the jug of Pimms. Us three sat around thinking how awfully civilized we all were, not realising quite how much we were getting through. The roast veg and spuds were gorgeous and by some miracle, so was the steaks that I offered to cremate. With the Pimms now a distant memory, the wine came out and all thoughts of an after dinner stroll to the on site bar were abandoned. It was nice though just to sit outside, watching the sun set surrounded by family. In an uncharacteristic display of common sense I declined Andy’s offer of a wee dram knowing that it certainly wouldn’t be wee and it certainly wouldn’t stop at one.

Saturday saw us pile in Andy’s car and head a few miles down the coast to Aldeburgh to meet up with Sarah & Derek - Andy & Jan’s daughter and new son-in-law along with kids Braydon and Esmae. The early clouds had lifted and it was looking suspiciously like summer as we lounged about before sauntering into Aldeburgh town and a little refreshment in the shape of a pint and sustenance in the shape of pizza, freshly cooked to order. Very nice too.

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Braydon was to come back with us to spend a couple of nights with his Nan & Grandad in the ‘van.

Tea that night was at the Vulcan Arms – and very nice it was too – before pausing at the site bar on the way back for a pint with a view and a wee dram in Andy’s awning

The five of us took to the beach again Sunday morning and although it wasn’t sunny it was pleasant enough and as we sat there I pondered again how great it was that caravanning had brought my cousin and I together.

Lunch was pretty much the same as the day before – beer and pizza – although this time at the on site bar before we adjourned to the ‘vans for a snooze, before we met again for another cremation – and considerably less liquid refreshment than our gathering on Friday.

Monday and it was time to say goodbye again as Andy, Jan & Braydon headed back to Colchester. It had been another great weekend and I was sad to see them go but buoyed by the knowledge that all being well we should be meeting up again on our October half term outing. In the afternoon we fired up Rosie for a little trundle around. We weren’t worried about seeing anything in particular – regulars will know that we’ve done a fair bit of Suffolk – but called in on Saxmundham, then the malting's at Snape – home of art galleries, shops, restaurants and concert hall. We also discovered that we’d just missed the last boat ride of the day up the Alde river.

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On the way back we stopped at Thorpeness, home to a lovely meare or boating lake and mock Tudor and Jacobean holiday homes. The ‘House in the Clouds’ that overlooks the area is in fact a converted water tower.

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The cream tea back at the site bar had come highly recommended by a fellow caravanner on Twitter and it was approaching that time of day so we indulged ourselves and wow, was it nice. I’ve put a few scones away in the time we’ve been travelling in the ‘van but we agreed these were about the best. The weather, the setting and view just made it nigh on perfect.

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Tuesday was our last full day at Beach View and we were back on the road again to the malting to catch the boat trip up the Alde. On an overcast day the 45 minute round trip was pleasant enough but didn’t really excite. Thanks to the shallowness of the water the boat has to take a rather circuitous route, making wide sweeping turns but you don’t actually travel that far.

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Back in Leiston near the site it was the turn of the Long Shop Museum to welcome the Blogger in Black and Portly Partner. Set on the site of the Leiston Works, owned originally by the Garrett family, it’s a wonderful and varied collection of steam engines, artefacts and appliances produced by the factory during it’s operation from 1778 all the way to 1981. It tells the story of the works and it’s part in, and impact on, the small town which surrounds it. Anyone interested in engineering and it’s history will love it.

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Wednesday saw us make the shortest journey of the trip with Patsy – just 25 miles across to Broughton Hall Farm at Stonham Aspal for our final stop of the trip. We stayed here last winter and whilst it was pretty then it looked really stunning now. We had a lovely pitch in a clearing amongst the fruit trees and it was going to be a great place to spend the last few days of the holiday.

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The end of the trip was to be tinged with sadness though, as on the Friday we drove to Cambridge to attend the funeral of an old friend and colleague of Trev’s. Mel Slack was at one time a professional footballer who helped our old home town team of Cambridge United gain promotion to the football league at the beginning of the 70’s. After retiring he ran a very successful pub where Trev first met him and their paths were to cross again many years later as cabbies.

The service was lovely – warm and heartfelt. There were no hymns but poignant songs brought the tissues out for many. He was clearly much loved and will be sorely missed not least by his Mum, who was well into her nineties but travelled all the way down from County Durham to say goodbye.

And that was pretty much that for our summer trip. It’s been interesting and varied. A lot of the places we’ve been to before – although some not for many years. We’ve met up with friends, taken numerous trips down memory lane, been filmed – thanks again Dan - and enjoyed more than ever before the company of family too.

Getting connected: Beach View Holiday Park offered site wide WiFi at a tenner a week per device with shorter and longer terms available. We didn’t utilise it but a note on the payment page warned of slow speeds of 200-300k. The hotspot on my ‘3’ Windows phone worked well. When I’d used up my data allowance we switched to our EE powered MIFi which indicated 2 bars of 4G. Again it worked fine. Trev reported no problems with calls or internet use on his Vodafone HTC.

Broughton Hall Farm offered free WiFi but we were a little too far away to pick it up successfully. Again, the EE MiFi worked well.

Before you go, some video’s for you. First the site arrival video for Beach View Holiday park is HERE. The one for Broughton Hall Farm is HERE. And the final slideshows of our trip are HERE and HERE. Enjoy.

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