I made this!
Continuing the exploration of the British Isles, this year for our anniversary I took my lovely wife to the equally lovely Hadleigh in Suffolk. To get there we travelled south from Northamptonshire, anti-clockwise around the M25 and across the bottom of Essex towards Clacton-by-Sea before heading north towards Walton-on-the-Naze before heading Northwest to Hadleigh. We also visited Ipswich and Felixstowe.
Clacton-by-Sea out of season is, as should be expected, quiet. A typical British seaside resort town with formal gardens, a pier, amusements and former guest houses and hotels along the promenade and a once grand, now deteriorating due to lack of investment, town inland. The pier was undergoing refurbishment so access was only permitted into the large newly regenerated pier amusement hall but one can see how the area once was very popular with seaside visitors from London who now gentrify places like Southwold to the north or further afield like Cornwall.
Being by the seaside is enough to make anyone hungry and the urge to binge on Fish and Chips at the seaside is akin to the urge to binge on chocolate at Easter. Sadly, with it being out of season and not being Yorkshire, most of the good fish and chip restaurants were either closed for the winter or just in hiding. So after failing to find a recommended fish and chip restaurant in Frinton-on-Sea, we headed futher up the coast towards Walton-on-the-Naze. We stopped at Yates’ Fish and Chips in Walton-on-the-Naze who do a splendid fish and chip dinner (I highly reccomend them)
Walton is a polar opposite to Clacton. Yes, like Clacton, it is run down but there is less of a seaside feel to the place despite having the finest collection of beach huts and the second longest pier I’ve ever seen.
Again, being out of season meant that few people were around and the fairground rides that were in operation on the pier played their hauntingly merry jingles to the ghosts of former holiday makers and anyone who would listen. Aside from this, the pier was eerie. The sea was uncannily still, the light unusual for the time of year. The afternoon sun making vivid colours of blue, orange and purple in the cloud base and far away the echos of shipping and road traffic almost inperceptable.
Hadleigh is a gem of an English town. It is a former coaching, market and strip town, as in it is laid along a long High Street and, at some point in its history, provided a welcome overnight stop off for horse-drawn coaches bound for other destinations like Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds or Lavenham or much further afield. Moreover, it provided an ideal location for a market place for Lavenham wool merchants, Ipswich traders and other travelling mendicants to vend their wares.
Indeed, casual reference sources claim that Hadleigh once was home to well over twenty inns, evidence of which is clear from the architecture and names of houses along the High Street. Furthermore, the wealth generated from the coaching inns, the market and the local industry is clear from the surviving buildings in the area, a selection of which you can view below.
Of course, Hadleigh is a small town and despite having a great selection of eateries, there is little to entertain for a sustained period of a long weekend, so we also explored a few local places too.
Ipswich was the first. Taking advantage of the park and ride we soon found ourselves on the bustling streets of Ipswich. A delightful port town in which the keen eye can distinguish the signs of a seafaring history. From the locations where there would have been huge warehouses along the harbour side, to the numerous hidden churches and chapels and buildings that scream wealthy merchants lived here, Ipswich is a lovely place.
After stopping at Casablanca, a Morroccan restaurant, for a splendid lunch and headed to Felixstowe for our third seaside fix of the weekend.
Felixstowe is not, in my mind, one of the first places that come to mind when someone says “Seaside” to me, however if you said “container port” I’d probably think immediately of Felixstowe. However, the suffolk tourist board are obviously trying to do a service to Felixstowe and get people to disregard the militaristic and logistical past and re-embrace the seaside there once more.
First point of call was the former fort at Landguard Point. Former MOD land littered with the remains of concrete gun placements, bunkers and radar points. From there one can watch the huge container ships enter and depart the neighbouring port of Felixstowe. For a logistics nerd its kind of interesting watching the huge cranes pick up a container like one might pick up a matchbox and drop it on a precarious looking stack of containers on board a ship. For a history nerd, it is equally interesting seeing how much value the port held for Britain through history and why it was so well protected from Napoleon and Hitler.
The seaside though, not what I had in mind. Much flatter than Clacton and, obviously as a result, much more weather beaten, the seafront at Felixstowe is more akin to Rhyl than Scarborough on the Seaside scale. The buildings and seafront goings on set further back from the beach than at Clacton and the pier looking a little more practical than its cousin at Walton-on-the-Naze.
Sunday came and we began our return journey, stopping at Lavenham along the way. Lavenham was once a bustling town of wool merchants but later reduced to village status as fortunes leaked elsewhere. But that is not to say wealth did not leave Lavenham. Evidence of a market place, a guildhall and coaching inns show that before bus loads of tourists were the norm, the village was very prosperous throughout the following centuries. Indeed, it appears that many of the old wooden framed houses are now holiday lets aimed at those foreign tourists who think all villages across the whole of the UK look like Lavenham.
Finally our route home took us through Bury St Edmunds. Redevelopment has given the town a Milton Keynes feel but once past the modern eyesore of the Debenhams district, one can find the more picturesque and traditional sights.
In the heart of Bury St Edmunds lies the ruins of a priory. The scale of the priory ruins just show how wealthy the church had become before Henry VIII had his hissy fit and formed his own. Moreover, it appears that there are houses built into the walls of the ruins and indeed, to me at least, the walls themselves look quite old, almost Roman in places.
Its when you see history like this juxtaposed against the history of other places you begin to form a different appreciation of events. Over Christmas, Mrs Gnomepants and I went to Cartegena in Columbia where we visited the Inquisition Palace and learned about what was going on elsewhere in the world just before good old Henry threw his toys out of his pram. In both the New and Old World, Inquisitors were torturing those who didn’t agree with Papal policy. I’d not really connected the dots before but now think that maybe our jolly polyamorous monarch had other reasons for forming his own church than those taught to us by historians.
Dear Sticky Toffee Pudding with Hot Custard,
I’m so sorry I can’t eat you at the moment. You’ve been calling me for two weeks now. Quiet at first. Almost a whisper. Maybe once a day. Now you’re calling me every hour. Sometimes several times an hour. Unfortunately, we can never be as one. Well not at the moment.
I know we’ve had meetings several times in the past and they were fun. We had so much fun. The pleasure you gave me. The satisfaction of spoonsful of your hot creamy goodness being ladled into my mouth. The feeling of your moist, sweet and sticky sponginess on my tongue making me groan in adoration and delight. But no more. At least not for now.
We must wait. Wait for the time to be right to recreate our union. For now, I must share moments like those we once did, however fleeting, with two chocolate hobnobs and 10 salt crackers washed down with a hot cup of chemically sweetened tea.
They’re not as good as you. Nor will they ever be. It is my lot. My penance for our previous overindulgences in your brown oozy goodness.
It will pass. Like a really difficult poo. Eventually. If we’re patient.
Until then, we must accept the situation we find ourself in. Please stop calling me. Allow me to mourn your passing like a 12-inch pepperoni pizza with pineapple and anchovies, 5 finger cream cake selections and custard doughnuts. Allow me to transition through the eating regime I now must follow. Taunt me no more you sweet seductive Enchantress of Confection.
Who’s is that?
It’s not mine
Who’s is this
That’ll do fine
Presents are passed
Around the room
The defrosted turkey
Senses its doom
The family sat round
All festive with cheer
Our Chris got five pound!
All I got was beer
And in the kitchen
Mother doth toil
The Christmas dinner
She hopes not to spoil
With cabbage and carrots
And potatoes to cook
While in the front room
I get a new book
After dinner we sit
All stuffed to the gills
A flurry of snow
Gathers on the (window) sills
Our trousers are bursting
With our bellies girth
And father relates
A story of mirth
Then on with the telly
At three o’clock
The Queens festive speech
Live from Albert Dock
“Good Season my subjects”
“History and Math”
“I lost my virginity”
“To Lord Bath”
Autumn is here
The leaves leave
The nursery of branches aloft
Free at last
Falling gracefully to the earth
There to become part of history
Or swept and burnt
To become free again
Airbourne in spirit
Their fragrance warming
Their brothers forming
Mountains to walk through
Kicking skyward feebly
Fruit abundant falling
Feeding dying wasps
Crushed under foot
Or gathered by the wise
As nights grow darker
Embers glow brighter
Warming and scenting the air
Autumn is here!
The Cup of Tea by Stegzy Gnomepants
You hot brown liquid of contentment
You that taunt me with your fiery heat
You that doth callest me to imbibe
To savour your sweetened juice
Mock not me with your heat of denial
I should leave you to cool
But then a fool you would make of me
For thou wouldst be too cold
Ravish me! Burn my gullet and gut
I cannot resist
I raise my wrist
And swallow you whole
Yea you doth give me bliss
Nobody likes you at all
You’re far too short
If I could cut you out
of the year I would
But I cant
to put up
Just dont duplicate
Like you did
I’m always keen to have guest writers on my blogs, Stegzy’s Music Project especially. As many of you might already know, I’m off getting married soon, so I am keen to have someone take care of the postings while I’m away.
If you would like to review any of the albums listed below, please message me (either in comments, email or DM) with the album you’d like to review or comment on and I’ll set you up as a contributor.
I’m happy to make the music available to you too if you haven’t got it already. I find that the project has meant I’m often listening to things I’ve never heard before and it’s fun writing musings about things as you hear them for the first time.
There are a small number of albums that I’d like to do myself (marked with an asterisk) but I’m happy to have guests review them too if they want. As long as you can commit to submit before or on publication date (in brackets) that’s fine. I don’t usually post on weekends but if I get significant interest, then I’ll fudge the dates accordingly.
So, coming up is:
Worn out? Tired? Miserable?
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