|The beach at Aldeburgh|
“The Royal Oak doesn’t count. It hasn’t got any legs.”
That was my definitive answer on the subject. We were playing ‘The Pub Game’ on our journey to Suffolk and after only a couple of rounds we were already squabbling. Rory wasn’t even playing. This was a front seat competition between husband and wife, taking it in turns to spot pub signs, gaining points by the number of legs indicated on each sign. Dougie was already in the lead, spotting The Brewers pub with a sign showing two beer-making blokes. This gave him a handy four points. My pub was next and was called something obscure and limbless: The Foldgate Inn. You can therefore understand how I was never going to let him have The Royal Oak which, for me, was a tree and not a king, even though there was a picture of a regal person in the middle of said tree. Thankfully he grudgingly accepted nul points and I was rewarded, a few miles later, by a sign showing a four-legged creature and the unequivocal, if somewhat uninspiring name of The Dog.
The hotel, Kesgrave Hall, was, as you will know from my previous post, an absolute joy. We spent a couple of hours relaxing, having long bubble baths and flicking through the TV channels. The boys, whilst getting changed for dinner, watched an interview with the new Ipswich Town football manager, Mick McCarthy. Dougie stated he was sure Mick would be staying at our hotel. “Bound to be, he’s only just been appointed, won’t have anywhere to stay yet”. Rory and I raised our eyebrows but were quite amazed when, an hour later, Mr McCarthy did indeed saunter into the dining room of the hotel. Damn my husband for being right.
Next morning was cold but bright and sunny; ideal weather for a trip to the coast. Aldeburgh, birthplace of Benjamin Britten, was our first stop and I let Rory loose with my camera as my fingers were too cold. I think he did a grand job with the photos. Here’s a selection which give you a much better feel for the town than my words probably could.
Rory was delighted to discover the town had a Jack Wills shop so we spent an inordinate amount of time standing outside the fitting room before he chose a shirt for himself. We found a busy and warm coffee shop called Munchies where we had lunch before wandering back to the car, passing the famous queues of people waiting outside the town’s fish and chip shop.
A very short drive up the coast took us to Thorpeness, originally a small fishing hamlet before a Scottish barrister, Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, who had made his name designing railways around the world, bought the land and turned the town into a private fantasy holiday village in 1910. He created a country club and golf course and many of the houses were designed in mock Jacobean or Tudor style. To disguise an ugly water tower, he covered it in wood and it became the famous House in the Clouds (See photo below left) served by the water-pumping windmill nearby. A huge boating lake, the ‘meare’, was also created with inspiration coming from a family friend, JM Barrie’s work, ‘Peter Pan’. It was a very pretty village and I can imagine it’s a fantastic place to come in the summer. Even on a cold November day it was kooky and delightful.
A quick visit to Snape Maltings, home of the Aldeburgh Music Festival, on the way back to the hotel, before more lolling about was had before dinner. Rory wore his new shirt and looked lovely in it until his mother, whilst trying to stop husband and son being childish flicking bits of paper on the table, managed to elbow her full glass of gin and tonic which landed all over new shirt. Rory was surprisingly calm about it. Dougie, having helped mop up most of the spillage, turned to me and asked the stupidest question ever:
“Would you like another one?”