24th October 2023
My birthday was on the horizon, campsite had been booked, and Rosemary had been working behind the scenes organising a surprise or two for me. We then had rain, and the rain fell heavily in Norfolk and Suffolk as Storm Babet passed through. Sure enough, we received the expected call from the campsite to say our pitch was flooded. A little hasty reorganisation, and we booked a hotel for a couple of nights. The Blyth.
We set off for Southwold, making one stop at Diss to charge the car, not really needed, but if we wanted to use the car for an outing, then better safe than sorry. We arrived in Southwold, parked the car at the hotel and walked into the centre. We had a lighthouse tour booked. This was the first time in several years that tours were on offer. Adnams brewery ran the tours. We asked why, the guide said because they had the guiding resource, it had been agreed by Trinity House they could run the tours. Not surprising really, as Adnams seems to own pretty much all of Southwold.
Southwold Lighthouse was inaugurated in 1890. Since then, it has stood witness to the evolution of technology. Originally equipped with an oil lamp system, it was then modernized with electric lights with the bulbs changing over the years from filament lamps to halogen lamps and metal halide lamps. Those ended up being unreliable and a new solution was sought. Step in MSM, which provided a new light based on their MFR LED reflector, custom-made according to the specifications given by Trinity House. Its light source is composed of high-efficiency acrylic reflectors with dioptric and catadioptric elements and high intensity LED diodes, with an average life of 100,000 hours.
From near the top of the lighthouse, there were good views of Southwold itself, wind farms and Sizewell. The campsite was in full view and there appeared to be many vans parked there. Mmmm??
After the tour, we checked into the hotel, and then I went for a short walk out to the pier, and then up the north shore.
We had a small room at the top of the hotel, rather rotting windows that would not close completely, and a toilet that required a knack to flush which R never grasped.
We met up with Phil and Selina (my surpise; the other surprise being friends joining us at the campsite, but that didn’t come off obviously), they were staying in The Swan, a much more salubrious hotel where my grandmother and Great Aunt Hetty used to stay. It was here we were going to have my birthday lunch the next day. We had a drink with them at the Swan. They nobly arrived with a plate of birthday sweeties the hotel had placed in their room, thinking they were the birthday guests. After a drink, we headed out on our own for a meal; they were booked for dinner, bed & breakfast. We had spotted a nice-looking restaurant called Coasters. We should have booked, because as we walked up to it, we spied a piece of paper in the window saying, “Fully Booked'” Damn. I suggested the Sail Loft, so we headed off to that. Thankfully, as we later discovered, we were waylaid by the Red Lion and popped in there for supper. Excellent choice of good pub grub.
The next day, breakfast in the hotel and then we drove over to Covehithe to see the church and walk to the coast. The Covehithe church is a small church in the ruins of a larger older one. Some of the walls and bell tower of the original church are still used. We then walked down to Covehithe beach where there were a few people exercising their pooches. There is a small stretch of water separated from the sea by sand. Some interesting tree stumps and driftwood.
Driving back, we drove through a flooded road. We had noticed the amount of sand on the local roads, the result of Storm Babet washing off the light soil from the fields.
Back in Southwold, we dressed for lunch and met up with Phil and Selina in The Swan. A lovely lunch was eaten. We bade the others goodbye (bet they went to their room for a snooze) then had a walk to the view campsite, and decided we could probably have camped there. East Suffolk Council was being a tad too risk adverse. But the Sail Loft pub was closed, due to floods. We thought probably in the kitchen which is at the rear nearer the marshes. Walked back along the beach on a lovely starlit evening and back to the hotel.
We again met up with S&P in the evening for a drink. When the waiter came to take their dinner orders, he joked that they probably wouldn’t want much after lunch! He was correct. and we too weren’t that hungry!
The next day we checked out and drove home, stopping at Scole for a small charge, and then Ickworh House for a quick look, and lunch. The place was heaving with people, and we had to park in the reserve car park. I suddenly realised I had something rather large in my pocket. Oh. The hotel room key. Thankfully the restaurant there is well organised. We ate outside, it was so warm and dry in the sun. he next day we posted back the room key, having phoned to apologize for taking it away.