Sandy toes and salty kisses

Walk­ing the dog at Felixs­towe Ferry

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - Mike Trip­pitt is a jour­nal­ist who en­joys ex­plor­ing the county, espe­cially with his Clum­ber spaniel, Far­ley

Is that a Clum­ber spaniel?” With just 265 Clum­ber pup­pies reg­is­tered with the Ken­nel Club in 2017, com­pared to 35,068 Labradors, and 23,317 Cocker spaniels, no won­der peo­ple are not sure what Far­ley is, as we walk along Felixs­towe’s prom­e­nade.

We have come to Suf­folk’s gar­den re­sort to walk north to Felixs­towe Ferry. This saunter, from the war me­mo­rial to the mouth of the River Deben, takes in his­toric seafront gar­dens, sand and shin­gle beaches, a clas­sic golf links, a time­less boat-build­ing ham­let and, for some, ar­guably the best view in Suf­folk. In­evitably, for part of our walk, there are some re­stric­tions.

“Felixs­towe is a great place to come for all the fam­ily, in­clud­ing with our four­legged friends,” says Steve Gal­lant, Suf­folk Coastal District Coun­cil’s cab­i­net mem­ber re­spon­si­ble for com­mu­nity health. “It’s im­por­tant how­ever that we bal­ance the needs of all. In the cen­tre of the re­sort of Felixs­towe, there’s an area of beach that is des­ig­nated as dog-free be­tween May and Septem­ber.” Steve, a Felixs­towe res­i­dent and dog walker him­self, says that at Land­guard Point dogs are wel­come but must be kept on a short, fixed lead to pro­tect the valu­able wildlife and habi­tats in this area. There are no re­stric­tions on the rest of the beach, other than for own­ers to clean up after their dogs.

In the year that we’ve been walk­ing Far­ley around Suf­folk his man­ners have im­proved. At three years old, he walks beau­ti­fully for the short dis­tance where

dogs are to be kept on a lead on the prom­e­nade, and are not al­lowed on the beach. Once we leave the re­stricted zone he’s off into the sand head­ing straight for the sea. It is mid-sum­mer, and al­though there is a gen­tle south­west­erly breeze, the sun­shine be­tween fair weather clouds makes for a pleas­antly warm morn­ing. Hol­i­day­mak­ers, day vis­i­tors and res­i­dents are mak­ing the most of the ice cream kiosks, chalets, beach huts and wind­breaks.

But among this de­light­ful essence of English sea­side there is, at least for me, an aber­ra­tion. As an is­lan­der and keen sailor I love all things boat­ing, and be­lieve there is dig­nity in a ves­sel com­ing to the end of its life as scrap or a wreck. But to end up as a flower bed? I loathe row­ing boats and sail­ing dinghies filled with soil and plants. I call them ‘Dead Boats’, and there’s one here on the seafront at Felixs­towe. It will be the first thing to go, if in my re­main­ing years, I ever be­come Prime Min­is­ter.

There is no deny­ing, Felixs­towe wa­ter­front looks re­ju­ve­nated and feels alive. Be­hind us, the re­de­vel­oped pier is a vast im­prove­ment, and the Fludy­ers Arms Ho­tel ahead looks ev­ery inch a fash­ion­able and pop­u­lar boutique ho­tel and restau­rant. Steve agrees.

“There is a real buzz about Felixs­towe at the mo­ment. The town is re­ally on the up and at­tract­ing more and more vis­i­tors. In re­cent years it has ben­e­fited from sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment from both pub­lic and pri­vate purses. The Seafront Gar­dens are a real mag­net for vis­i­tors and res­i­dents. The new pier head build­ing and board­walk is an im­pres­sive sight and the Spa Pavil­ion pro­vides a di­verse range of en­ter­tain­ment from pan­tomime, sum­mer spe­cials and trib­ute bands.”

High above us on the cliff line, the for­mer Felix Ho­tel, now lux­ury re­tire­ment apart­ments, looks out ma­jes­ti­cally over the ap­proaches to Har­wich and the River Deben. Be­low, a Thames barge un­der full sail, sil­hou­et­ted against a bright hori­zon, pushes gen­tly against a ris­ing tide. We pass

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