Showery Sunny Southwold

Southwold is like Aldeburgh’s older sister; bigger and with its own charms, a sandy beach and a lighthouse, but still with the same old fashioned feeling of Aldeburgh. A shirt drive up the coast, it is a perfect day trip, and perfect it was.

We packed a picnic and parked near the pier. The walk to our favourite picnic spot is alas, all uphill…but is compensated for with the most wonderful sea views, rows of beach huts in a rainbow of colours And knowing the walk back will be all downhill.

We picnic on the green outside a lovely pub. Adams brewery is based in Southwokd and Aspalls cider is another local drink. While we were picnicking, two things happened. Firstly,the lovely Apryl (with whom I was lucky enough to work with for many years and is now my WI companion) joined us along with her equally lovely family. They holiday in Southwold each year and we often find our holiday in Aldeburgh overlaps.

The second and slightly less welcome thing which happened was a shower. On the sunny walk along the seafront the clouds had started to gather, and now they started to rain on us. We packed up the picnic and hurried for shelter and it seemed to ease off.

Carl took Jessica down to the water so she could ‘paggle’ in the sea. A sandcastle was started…and then the rain came down. Summer in southwold is usually very busy, but perhaps everyone else had paid more attention to the weather forecast, because it was very quiet. The benefit was that we could shelter in the porches of the beach huts while we waited for the rain to pass.

Apryl painted pebbles from the beach (I have taken to carrying my paints with me wherever I go) while we all chatted and watched the rain. I went in search of tea, miscounted and had to go back to get one more. Sitting on the stores of a beach but in the pouring rain sipping Earl Grey….well it was actually really delightful. I find hot weather bring out the grumpiness in me, whilst this kind if weather seems to challenge you to be cheerful, and i happily rise to that challenge. There is something so English about drinking tea in the rain at the seaside.

After a while, some of our party went back to the cottage while the rest of us walked to the pier. The pier isn’t particularly long but it has the most amazing views, and is rather good for toddler legs. We had £1 worth of 2p coins each to play in the amusement arcade which kept us entertained for quite a while. When we had finished we went back out into the pier to discover that the rain had passed and it was sunny again.

We walked down to the end of the pier had a cup of tea halfway back and sat soaking up the wonderful views of Southwold.

Another happy day.

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Aldeburgh, Day Two

I had to stop and count for a moment, to check we were really only on day two. In the best way, it feels like we have been here forever.

Today we did what I shall bow think if as ‘The Thorpeness Triathlon’ – a 2 mile walk along the shore up the coast from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness, with a stop at Maggie Hambling’s sculpture of The Scallop; an hour of rowing on the Meare Lake at Thorpeness followed by the 2 mile walk home.

In my mind, we would walk there, have lunch, row, and then Jessica would be tired and nap in the pushchair on the walk back. Ah, but she had other plans. Instead, she grumbled and moaned and grumped, and after climbing on the Scallop fell asleep in the pushchair on the way there. Which was fine for a bit, but the paved path turns to shingle and pebbles and then to sand, so pushing the pushchair becomes harder and then impossible, so we had to carry it a little way.

It was gloriously sunny one the walk up the coast, the sky filled with fluffy white clouds, and a cool breeze coming off of the sea. While we were eating lunch by the Meare Lake, the sky suddenly clouded over and we had a few spots of rain. We waited for a little while for it to blow over, and then took out some rowing boats.

Ours was a sunshine yellow called Trudi. This year, unlike last year I managed to get into the boat without stressing out. We took it in turns rowing, and Jessica helped for a little while. We rowed further than we have before, making it to a little White Castle-fort-folly before we had to turn around and head back.

There is a pub just a few houses down from our little cottage which has a wood fired pizza oven, so we had an early dinner of fennel sausage and caramelised onion pizza before coming back to the cottage to settle the children to sleep (we are here with our godchildren and their parents).

There is so much more that I haven’t said, all the little details and fragments which seem so insignificant to describe but hold more than their weight in meaning. Wild poppies shivering in the breeze. A weathervane, a bedroom balcony door open overlooking the sea. If I am ever ill, promise me you will bring me here to recuperate. Bees drowsing amongst the lavender. The names of the cottages. The back garden of the bookshop. The pebbles, the overgrown house. They jumble together and make the fabric of the feel of here

When I am home, I will sort out my photos to share with you. But for now, I am sipping a gin and tonic, contemplating some crochet, and thinking about all the delights yet to come.

A Postcard From Aldeburgh

So, here we are in Aldeburgh. My soul settles here. We started off early and arrived by 10:00am. It was glorious, my favourite kind of weather. Warm enough that you don’t feel chilled, but just enough edge to the wind to find a cardigan comfortable rather than needful. A good gusting wind coming straight off the sea, choppy waves, and brooding clouds which suddenly part to allow the sunshine to beam through.

There are so many little things to pin down on the page and save to think on later. The hollyhocks growing on the edge between the path and the pebbles beach. The different coloured houses, the latticework gates, the chimneys and windows. Oh, it is beautiful here. It is at once restful on the eye because it is beautiful, and stimulating as there is so much to see.

We walked on the pebbley beach today, and were first in the queue when the Icecream shop opened. Jessica’s eyes sparkled at the sight if so many to choose from. Then I had a solo walk up to the bookshop, as I wanted white acrylic paint and a fine paintbrush (although a bookshop, it has a good small section for art materials). 

They put my purchases in a paper bag, which for some reason made me think of my Gran. Then I went and found Carl and Jessica, and sat painting pebbles on the beach. Jessica chose them, and I painted them. I did stones with letters spelling out (at her request) ‘jessica’ ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ and then I did a myriad of feathers, flowers, spots, striped and doodles.

I laid them all out, and took some photos. Jessica chose one to bring back home, and we left the others there as treasure for whoever might find them. Perhaps the sea got there first, or perhaps someone else found them and took one home.

On the walk back to the cottage, we saw Robert Peston…twice! Then fish and chips at home, and cups of tea. I sat in an armchair in the window crocheting a pair of bunny slippers for my niece. My eyelids heavy, I assumed we must have burned the midnight oil…but it was hardly half past ten.

So just time to send this postcard of sorts, and wish you all a good night,

Love

Mimi

Xxx

Saturday Solitude

It is rather a blissful thought that nobody in the world knows where I am right now. In a room full of people, I am utterly alone, and nobody knows my name.

It isn’t nearly so dramatic as it sounds; Carl has taken Jessica for a ride on thw train and to retrieve the car he left at work last night in favour of a taxi home after a works drinks and barbecue. This leaves me with nowhere to be, nothing to do…except enjoy a few hours of delicious solitude.

The first thing I did was to go to the wool shop for wool for a pair of bunny rabbit slippers for Jessica. She has a real appreciation for things which are made, which pleases me greatly.

My next plan was to treat myself to a sandwich from Marks and Spencer and take it home…but the particular kind I like best they had sold out of. I decided to pop up to the cafe as they sell them there, and however much they modernise that cafe it remains delightfully old fashioned.

Alas they had sold out there too, so I am settled now with my Barbara Pym novel and a latte, waiting for a toastie instead. The windows here are curious, they always make it look grey and dull outside…although today it is grey and dull, and spitting with rain too. Somehow it makes being in here even more cosy.

It isn’t hard to look around and see several months in the future when the cafe will be filled with exhausted Christmas shoppers, reviving themselves with a cup of tea.

When I leave here, it will be home to a pot of tea, a candle, a bath, and then I shall start the slippers. I haven’t quite finished the hat, but excuse myself by way of this being crochet instead.

Wherever you are, I hope your Saturday is similarly pleasing,

Love Mimi xx

Autumn In July

The weather is so curious today…very breezy, which I love, I always feel like maybe if I just lifted my legs up I would be buffeted along like an autumn leaf…and who knows where I might blow to. The skies are heavy and grey. From time to time, a fat raindrop falls, but it doesn’t seem to be able to quite bring itself to rain properly. Somehow the washing dried on the line today. 

And so we have come to my pause on the day. I am sitting at the table with Jessica whilst she eats her dinner. She is so lively these days that it s bliss to just sit still with her. We light a candle at dinner time, and she blows out the match. I put pretty postcards or little watercolours I have done in a picture holder to make the table pretty and spark conversation.

This then, is my view just now:
Ceylon tea in my new mustard mug, our candle burning brightly, and today’s postcard in the background.

Jessica is snuffly with a cold so I have Olbas Oil in the burner, and soon it will be time for her to have a lovely warm bubble bath. But for now, I will sip my tea and watch the candle flame flicker.

The Sound of Silence

If you could have been sitting with me this afternoon, you would have heard the sound of blissful silence. Tuesday afternoons are just for me, and they are blissful. I finish work at 1:00 and don’t have to be at nursery to collect Jessica until much later.

I use most of the time for housework and planning, but try and snatch some time for me too.

So there I was, sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea next to me, and all was silent. Until…my ears tuned in to the rhythmic click click clicking of my knitting needles. I have started the decreasing section on Jessica’s gnome hat at last. I had so hoped to have enough wool left for matching mittens, but it suddenly seems to be eating wool at an alarming rate. 

Then the gentle ticking of the new clock that I bought. The plan is to colour sections to show Jessica when it is dinner time, bath time and bedtime. For now it is just quietly ticking out the minutes.

And my breathing. Sometimes I hold my breath without really noticing it. But between the clock and my knitting, I was breathing softly and regularly.

And so although all was not entirely quiet, it was entirely peaceful.

Now there is chicken stew and dumplings bubbling on the stove, ironed shirts hanging ready to be worn, a sink empty of washing up.

I love Tuesday afternoons.

Book Review: Long Live Great Bardfield by Tirzah Garwood

I was drawn towards Tirzah Garwood’s autobiography, Long Live Great Bardfield, because I live near to and have visited it, and also because she was the wife of Eric Ravilious, who is one of my favourite artists.

I thought it would be lovely to have an insight into his life…but as I read a found myself more and more interested in Tirzah in her own right. 

She wrote her autobiography whilst recovering from an operation for the breast cancer which would ultimately kill her, in the hope that one day her grandchildren would read it. For all that, she does not hold back or sanitise the story of her life.

She is so engaging that I found myself on many an evening sitting up to read just one page more before bedtime. I identified with her as a mother of young children, and there is a lovely passage where she describes fashioning paper birds as Christmas greeting a which really resonated with me, as I have made my own Christmas cards for as long as I can remember.

Then there is the insight into Eric and his work, and the social history aspect too. I also loved that it was gloriously long, really allowing you to settle in and soak it all up.

A lovely additional bonus to her writing is the book is illustrated with  some of her line drawings and prints.

As a Perephone book, it is a delight to look at as well as to read, with the soft grey cover and beautiful end papers.