Yep, here we go again – it’s the school holidays and we’re away in the caravan. I’m enhancing my green credentials too by recycling and reusing the title from last years’ blog. Either that or I’m suffering form another dose of CBA – I’ll let you decide!
Rosie, our red tug was packed to the gills as we headed over to the storage unit Friday morning, stopping off – as has become customary – for some McCholesterol and coffee.
The generosity of the parents of the kids on our school buses has ensured both a boozy and gluttonous Christmas and once again shown how much they appreciate what we do. I’m never adverse to having my er, ego stroked…..
It had more or less stopped raining – and the winds had dropped considerably too as we arrived at the storage unit. Patsy was looking cold and not a little dirty as we’d managed to conjure up enough reasons since her last outing not to go over and wash her.
With pre-flight checks (i.e. tyre pressures) completed we headed off – joining the A24 before cutting across to the M23 and thence on to the M25. Various online sources suggested turning off on the A12 then up through Chelmsford but we’ve been on that road before sans Patsy and it’s a pain in the arse thanks to about 300 roundabouts on the way. Our route – via the M11, A11 and A14, whilst longer was considerably easier and probably used no more fuel.
The site itself – Brighthouse Farm – sits just outside the village of Lawshall about 7 miles south of Bury St Edmunds. Narrow muddy roads – the sort seemingly so favoured by caravan sites – ensured Patsy truly was a mess by the time we arrived. Thankfully a hosepipe was on hand and we gave her a quick once over before pitching up.
The site itself – a pretty grassed area bordered by trees and with views out over the Suffolk countryside to the village was simply too wet to be used so we ended up on the edge of a yard on some reasonably hard standing. Not ideal but we still get fantastic views and to date have been blessed with some gorgeous sunrises.
The light was starting to fade by the time all the usual setting up formalities had been completed. The caravan clock was indicating that it was getting very close to grog & grub o’clock so we fired up Rosie and headed back to the village only to find that the pub was shut and didn’t open for another half-an hour. A glance at the clock in the car revealed the simple truth that Patsy’s clock was still set on B.S.T. Numpties!
A short traverse along the A134 brought with it relief in the shape of the Hare Inn before returning to the Swan discovering that the kitchen didn’t open for another half an hour. Still, our meals of choice – burgers – when they arrived were well worth the wait.
Saturday morning was cold, crisp and bright and rather later than intended we coaxed a chilly Rosie in to life, defrosted the windows and headed in to Bury St Edmunds for our first look around, although first on the agenda was breakfast. It was Saturday morning of course and with less than a fortnight to the big day it was predictably fairly busy. We waited for a table in the Debenhams cafe – hardly surprising of course – but waited even longer in the queue for the various artery clogging components that make up a full English to be replenished. Again, it was worth the wait though. Just as well.
Feeling vaguely human again and somewhat more enthused we headed downstairs and through the gentleman’s department to see if there was anything that caught our er, fancy. Plenty in fact although virtually everything I looked at was labelled ‘slim-fit’. Unfortunately, since the only thing thing slim about me these days is my wallet we left empty-handed.
A large market was in full swing – funnily enough in the market square – with some great looking fruit and veg as well as the more usual Christmas fayre. After a meander around we happened upon the Abbey Gardens – an oasis of calm a short walk away from the centre.
We overheard an American couple discussing – rather more loudly than was necessary – how it came to be that their little one did not have a coat on. It was clear from the wife’s tome where she thought the blame lay but it was less clear where the coat had been left – back in the car or back in America. Hmm.
Sunday morning – just – saw us in the market town of Sudbury for a rather aimless but relaxed wander around the shops. Sudbury’s claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of some little known painter called Gainsborough – a statue of whom can be found in the market square outside the church.
There was also a caravan dealers on an industrial estate just outside of town which was our next destination have drawn up a short list of things required for her ladyship. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing of course and what Google didn’t tell us was that they were closed for three weeks over the Christmas period – something we only discovered when arrived at the securely chained and bolted gates.
What then followed was a cross country rally over to Stowmarket to another dealers where we found what we wanted – more or less.
Late afternoon saw us in Long Melford for some much needed liquid refreshment – sorry, research – and a promise to return during the day to have a better look at what is an extremely pretty village.
Monday morning and we ere back on the coast, visiting for the second time in two years – Southwold. Nicknamed apparently – Kensington-on-Sea these days it’s prosperity is clear from the types of shops scattered around the town although it appears to remain remarkably down to earth and friendly.
In the middle of all this is the Adnam’s brewery. A visit to the brewery shop left my wallet considerably lighter and the car notably heavier….
Further down the coast towards Felixstowe is Aldeburgh, another charming little coastal town. Fishing huts line the shingle beach offering freshly caught fish.
Composer Benjamin Britten lived and worked here and his legacy is commemorated by an impressive metal sculpture on the beach.
The plan was to eat in on our return from the coast but with vital ingredients forgotten on our shopping list we adjourned back to the Hare Inn for yet another burger.
So, there we are – up to date again. If you haven’t had a Christmas card from us it’s nothing personal. There SHOULD be another blog before the big day, but just in case, let us wish you all a very Happy Christmas. Best wishes to those in our favourite watering hole when home – The Rottingdean Club – and in particular to a Mr Turner. There you go Paul, that’s a pint you owe me!
Take care, and all the best until next time.