Sarah Green finds a different side to the seaside
Sara Green heads off to the popular seaside resort and discovers a surprising part of it she’s never explored before
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I THOUGHT I knew Southwold pretty well. Turns out I was quite wrong. We decided on the town as the perfect destination for lunch and a walk one Saturday. It was incredibly busy and all our usual parking spaces were full, so we found ourselves on Ferry Road, heading towards the harbour in search of somewhere to park. I realised I had never been to this part of Southwold before. I’d seen it from the Walberswick side, but hadn’t taken a great deal of notice. This was very unfamiliar.
We parked easily (lots of car parking here) close to the Alfred Corry Museum. The children have always loved exploring the lifeboat museum in Aldeburgh, but we’d never seen the museum at Southwold. The Alfred Corry, built in 1892, was the Southwold No 1 Lifeboat for 25 years and saved 47 lives. She has been lovingly restored and is to be found in the former Cromer Lifeboat Shed, which was brought from Norfolk to Southwold in 1998 to house the museum. It’s well worth a visit – the walls are adorned with beautiful black and white photos charting Southwold’s maritime past, and the lifeboat itself is quite something. The bravery of the 18 men who crewed that open boat, including 16 oarsmen, on the treacherous North Sea really made me stop and think.
We then walked along the harbour adjacent to the River Blyth, where you can take a foot ferry over to Walberswick. On this particular Saturday it was laden with families juggling buckets, spades, crabbing lines and nets. Gorgeous, old fashioned Suffolk. Not for us the Kiss Me Quick brashness of other English resorts – this is Suffolk at its most wonderful. You can also opt for the less sedate Speed Blast, which leaves from here and takes a fairly hair-raising trip along the coast. My stepsons assure me this is a fantastic way to see the coastline.
I was far more interested in lunch, so we headed towards the fish huts and came across the Sole Bay Fish Company Restaurant. Despite dark clouds, we sat outside and were rewarded later with sunshine and some of the most delicious fish dishes we’d ever tasted. I can’t wait to go back there. Note: the restaurant is only open for lunches 12pm-3pm.
Not only was this part of Southwold a lovely surprise, the beach was also a bit different. Sheltered by dunes, sandy, no pebbles at all, very easy to reach from the car park and not particularly busy, it looked so enticing that we went back the following weekend. The town was busy again, but the beach provided more respite than the more popular area near the pier. We swam, picnicked and sunbathed – heaven.
Our Southwold days this summer were really lovely. The walk from the ferry end to the pier is fabulous, and Hebe, the dog, particularly enjoyed it. The beaches near the ferry are dog friendly all year round. With the promise of great atmosphere, views, and refreshments, this is a great place to wander whatever the weather or season. A TASTE OF CALIFORNIA ON THE A12 I took my mother out for lunch at Darsham Nurseries. She had driven past many times, but had never ventured in. She was really taken aback by this wonderful place – quirky, imaginative and very different, it reminds me of somewhere in California. I discovered that this is no coincidence as the garden designer is from San Francisco. The day of our visit was hot, so we headed into the shade of the shop first, which is full of really unusual items, cacti, beautiful crockery, cards and some very interesting books. Next time I need gift buying inspiration I will come here. The café is also an absolute delight – I should have booked, but they managed to squeeze us in. The decor was again reminiscent of a place I visited once near Carmel – bright, white and with flowers displayed in unique arrangements. I hasten to add, I have not spent much time in California – one short honeymoon – but this place brought so many lovely memories flooding back. The food was delicious and very different. As for the nursery itself, full of beauty and wonderful ideas. If you’re used to driving past while on the A12, don’t! Stop – you won’t be disappointed.
Alice on one of Southwold’s famous cannons
DERYH The place to buy fresh fish EHORZ The Albert Corry lifeboat museum is well worth a visit
The sandy beach at Southwold’s harbour end