We headed off to Southwold on the eve of my birthday. The drive to Southwold is quite a long way, more than three hours. Google had us doing a shortcut on country lanes from the A14 to the A12. Disaster stuck behind a large sugarbeet lorry on its way back from Bury.
Arrived at the site, we had not booked as there was plenty of space on the website. We checked in, and there was the response, “sorry no space”. But the field was empty, though looking again we could seek the lakes across the grass. After some consultation, it was decided we could use a hard standing area for the two nights. If we had been staying longer, we would have been out of luck. As it was, the campsite staff were going to have to cancel many of the weekenders.
We parked and quickly headed over to the Harbour Inn for lunch, a light lunch because we were going to have supper later. Despite the sun being out, it was a tad chilly sitting outside, in the shade behind the pub. Would have been better at the front. Anyway, we ate inside.
A walk along the footpath across the fields, over the golf course to Southwold, was somewhat fraught. The far end of the field was flooded, and there was no way through without wading in water. We backtracked and walked along the road, then across the golf course. Arriving in Southwold we seemed to attract people who started to explain where the museums were.
We looked through several shops, even visited FatFace, but ended up not buying anything, other than some chocolate twists for breakfast. Walked back to the campervan along the coast road. We set up for the night. Then we dressed for dinner and headed out to the Sail Loft. The card behind the bar asked if we had booked, we said no, so he, looking at all the empty tables, said fully booked, in half an hour a huge crowd of people were arriving. Damn, what were we going to go, asked him if there was any way we could eat. He relented, only joking. I swore at him calling him a Ba****d. (He laughed!)
We sat down, me with a Ghost Ship and R with a G&T and we ordered out supper. Here we had a large meal, starter and main. R did not do justice to her mushroom risotto. I did struggle with my two-course meal but was not vanquished.
Back to the campsite for an early night.
Next day was my Birthday, opened my cards, ate our very nice Co-op chocolate twists and headed into Southwold. Today it was due to rain, so jackets were required. First on the day’s events was a tour of the Adnams Distillery. When we had booked we were the only two on the tour, today the tour appeared to be full.
Having some time to spare, R pounced upon a market stall and bought a couple of tops, I don’t know who was more surprised, me or her.
We were shown a film, then taken to the distillery. Immediately before entering the distillery, there is a room with several small stills where the distiller experiments with recipes and they also hold their gin making taster courses. There was one in progress when we arrived.
The reflux stills were shown to us and explained. In these, they make the Vodka required for the Gin making process. Apparently they make three Vodkas, one using barley grown and harvested only a few miles away. Their Vodka is not filtered and retains some of the flavours from the malt. This was especially noticeable with the Vodka made from rye. Apparently Adnams has twice won the best Vodka in the world prize, beating the Russians and Poles. There were two more stills to be seen, one still a more traditional whisky type one.
Down now into the stores, where we see the barrels. Their whisky is stored in fresh French oak barrels, so not flavoured from bourbon or sherry. They decided not to compete with Scotch whisky. Now the important bit, the tasting. We started with the different Vodkas, and then the gins. Different gins based upon the different Vodkas, plus some extra botanical differences. Each Gin was tasted neat, and then with tonic. Finally, there were whiskies to be tasted. As the tasting progressed, the conversation turned from almost silent, to chatter and then loud conversation.
Finally over, we headed to the Adnams outlet shop to buy some Vodka and Gin. Now it was into the Swan for the birthday lunch. We were seated in the Stillroom restaurant and ordered our drinks. I ordered a Hopped Negroni, and R a fizzy Rose. My Negroni came with a thin biscuit topped with Marmalade. The full ingredients were Adnams Copper House Gin, Campari, Adnams Port, Cherry, Beetroot, Adnams Dry Hopped Lager & Adnams Broadside Marmalade. Not like a normal Negroni, not bitter, sweeter.
Starters arrived. I ate Local Seared Pigeon Breast, Butternut Squash Parfait and Pickled Girolles. Very nice, though the breast was a little overcooked. R ate a Heritage Beetroot, apple and candied hazelnut salad.
A bottle of Viognier accompanied the starter and mains.
The main course arrived, Seared Halibut, scorched gem lettuce, blue meat radish, chilli, soy gel and mussel broth for S. Very good. R launched into her Suffolk roast pork tenderloin, breaded cheek, orzotto, parsley root puree, charred leek and truffle. While in Suffolk, the Suffolk pig is a must. So much free-range pork in Suffolk these days.
The rain was starting, and Rosemary seeing the market stalls closing, suddenly jumped up, rushed out and bought another top. The alcohol must have been loosening her inhibitions.
We finished with a double espresso and a one Apple & Wild Wave. As we were leaving the doorman suggested we have a drink in the bar, it was hammering it down outside. So another drink. Later we headed on out and back to the campervan for a relatively early night.
In the morning we packed up and headed off. I thought I would drop in on the G…s, friends of my parents from years back. So we headed over to East Green, and as we arrived a vehicle was leaving driven by Robert. Introduced myself and we had a short chat, he was off and could not stay around, but gave us directions to where Tony and Jeanette now lived. Not far away, so we visited them. They were very surprised to see R and me at their door. We chatted with them for over an hour. In their 90s and still very sharp.
It was then back home for us. The next day washed and cleaned the van before putting it away for the next few months.