Great Britten: and so much more besides
& Sunday SUNDAY DRIVER Jeremy Taylor tours the Suffolk coast beloved by one of our great composers in a Rolls-royce Ghost
If there is such a thing as the Rolls-royce of takeaway food then I’m probably eating it. The Suffolk coastal town of Aldeburgh has a reputation for highbrow classical music, but fish and chips accompanied by a seagull soundtrack is sometimes hard to beat.
That said, everything tastes good sat in the pomp and circumstance of a Rolls-royce Ghost. A £268,000 homage to everything that is gloriously British, this uprated Black Badge version is also one of the world’s finest saloons.
Having parked by the beach at Slaughden, just south of the high street, seagulls have already eyed my chips through the whopping sunroof. Of more pressing concern is how to keep my greasy hands off the hide seats as I listen to local boy Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes.
The dark tale of a neurotic fisherman is belting out through a Bespoke Audio 1,300-watt music system, engineered and tuned in-house by Rolls-royce. The 18-speaker set-up sounds so good that the arias almost smell like the sea. First performed in 1945, Peter Grimes won the composer critical acclaim.
Britten loved this place. He was born in 1913 just up the coast at Lowestoft but it was the pebble beaches and pretty cottages of Aldeburgh that stole his heart. Britten lived here for many years before his death in 1976. He is buried at the 16th-century parish church next to Peter Pears, his longterm partner.
Britten liked to walk along the promenade and would swim most days. He lived at Crag House in the heart of the town for 10 years, inspired by sweeping views out to sea.
Later he moved to just outside Aldeburgh and would entertain such luminaries as Yehudi Menuhin, novelist E M Forster and philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post.
I’d like to imagine all of them sitting in a Roller by the beach, pontificating over a bag of steaming chips while listening to Britten’s latest composition. Possible? Well, yes. Aldeburgh Fish and Chips was taken over by the Cooney family in 1967 and has been expanding ever since. The good-natured queue often stretches around the corner.
The much-walked Britten Trail passes by here and allows opera buffs to
home of the visitor centre for Sizewell B – the most modern nuclear power station in the UK. If you want to visit, you’ll have to book in advance via edfenergy.com.
Further on past Saxmundham is the busier A12 route that runs between Lowestoft and Ipswich. Head north for a few miles before turning left at Yoxford, where it’s impossible not to stop and have a rummage at the antique centre, or enjoy a hot chocolate at the Flying Goose Café.
Nearby Heveningham Hall is a Grade I listed house that was gutted by fire in 1984. The ruins were bought by Jon Hunt, founder of Foxtons estate agency, who poured millions into a major restoration project. The work included returning the grounds to the original Capability Brown design.
Heveningham is now a private home but, once a year, the Hunts serve up a fantastic country fair and concours d’elegance for classic cars and aircraft. A mini Goodwood Festival of Speed, it is an enchanting motoring event that hopefully won’t outgrow the surroundings.
The return drive to Aldeburgh shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes – unless you happen across Emmett’s Store in Peasenhall. The shop is easy to miss but the food alone is worth the drive from anywhere. Ham and bacon has been cured here since 1820, making it the oldest artisan producer in the country.
Its owner Mark Thomas is a oneman tour de force. Hugely enthusiastic about his food, it’s impossible to leave without a medley of goodies in one hand and a dented credit card in the other.
Music might be the food of love but the way to a man’s heart is always through his stomach.
How to play Basics: Griddlers are solved using number clues to locate solids (filled-in squares) and dots (empty squares) to reveal a picture.
Each column and row has a series of numbers next to it. These refer to the number of adjacent squares that should be filled as solids. If more than one number appears, that line will contain more than one block of solids.
The solid blocks must appear in the order that the numbers are printed. For example, a row that contains the numbers 11.5 would contain, somewhere, a block of 11 adjacent filled-in squares (solids), then a gap of one or more empty squares (with dots in) and then a block of five adjacent filled-in squares.