I’ve left you for far too long. I was only going to take a week or two off, but then – you know how it is – you get into holiday mode and you say to yourself, ‘just a few more days’ and days turn into weeks and before you know it September is looming, and torrential rain is pouring down, determined to spoil what remains of the summer holidays – and I realise it’s been two entire months since I last posted.
To be fair I was utterly exhausted at the end of June. I’d been working hard and needed a holiday – and then Artbeat just about finished me off. I got a heavy cold on the last day and had to cry off going to a panel event on ‘writers talking about writing’. So I was only too happy to be going away the following Saturday. The car we hired was not quite so bristly with functions as the previous one, and I almost got the hang of the handbrake before the week was out. But I was never quite sure that when we parked, say, by the river to have our fish and chips * from the excellent Harbour Inn in Southwold, the car wouldn’t roll gently forward and upend itself in the water.
I had a terrific time. Southwold is lovely: it’s sort of like Clarendon Park on Sea, with all its independent shops; plus there’s a brewery (Adnams) which we visited, and some excellent pubs, which ditto. The town was destroyed by fire in 1660-something and was rebuilt around a series of greens, so that it seems to be all triangles with the sea at the end of every street. We had really hot weather (remember that hot week?) and I swam nearly every day. On the Friday I hired a bike and cycled over to Dunwich.
Dunwich is a creepy place. It’s a tiny village now but was once an important port; and since the 13th century it has been falling into the sea: Southwold was destroyed by fire, and Dunwich by water. In the pub, The Ship, there’s an enormous fig-tree which claims to be the oldest in the world. It could easily be true: it takes up half the garden.
We also went to see the so-called ‘Cathedral of the Marshes’, the church at Blythburgh. If you catch it at the right angle it’s very impressive: a massive building on a promontary looking out over the marshland. We tried to find out some more about it, but all we found was a sign saying ‘Please Shut the Door to Keep the Birds Out’.
They don’t seem to go in for information much in Suffolk.
On the way home we discovered a tiny village called Long something in Cambridgeshire, standing right next to the A1 on the old Great North Rd. The first pub we went to advertised food but didn’t actually do any; but the second, a frighteningly expensive hotel dating from the 16th century, did.
So after that I came home and spent at least a fortnight staring out of the window before we were all propelled into a frenzy of activity preparing for a house inspection which, when it came, was all sweetness and light and over in about five minutes.
Oh, and there was an arts festival on in Southwold – but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s a photo of the beach which was just over the road from our flat.
So, that’s enough about me. How have you been?
* I had deep-fried haloumi and chips