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Southwold beach

Maybe this wasn’t a good day for a frolic in the sea!

I have had a heavy head cold since last Wednesday and on Sunday Richard thought a trip to the sea was in order.  We had mist first thing in the morning and on the way to church with my mother the sun was trying to break through.  We thought it would be fine when we got out of church but sadly it wasn’t.  The mist had risen slightly but cloud had descended and the rest of the day was very gloomy indeed.  The temperature was about 7 degrees centigrade but when we got to the coast the strong on-shore breeze made us feel very cold and our ears started to ache.

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The car-park by the pier

During the winter months, owners of these beach huts get them lifted up from down by the beach to here, in the car-park, where there is less chance they will get battered by storms.  Those that can’t afford to move their huts have to hope that we don’t have too many high tides and gale force winds.  You may wonder why the owners would want to pay to have what looks like a shed moved to the car-park.  You may be surprised to hear that last year one of these huts went on the market for £100,000 and it was thought that it might have sold for more than that.  For this price you get a painted hut with no electricity or running water but in a ‘prime location’.  You also get a 30 year lease from the council but you have to pay non-domestic annual rates and other charges.  Last year the rates were £720.

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The view looking inland from the car-park.  Buss Creek.

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The boating lake

The seagulls appreciate the calm waters here.  Seaside resorts are a little sad in the winter-time I think.  I like the sadness.

There is only one road in and out of Southwold which is almost an island, bordered by the North Sea to the east, the River Blyth and Southwold harbour to the south-west and Buss Creek to the north.

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A Punch and Judy performance on the sea front

A few views of the sea.  I expect you wish you had been with us!

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Southwold pier

The pier was built right at the end of the 19th century and was approximately 810 feet long with a T junction at the end to make a landing stage for ‘Belle’, the steamer bringing holiday makers to the town.  The T junction was swept away in a great storm in 1934 and was only replaced in 2001.  The pier was further damaged in 1955 and 1979 and had to be closed to the public in 1998.  Restoration started in 1999 and it is now an award-winning pier with a pavillion, restaurant, bar and amusements.  When we were in Southwold on Sunday we could hear a saxophonist playing from the pier.  We didn’t venture onto it because of the wind-chill.

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Southwold lighthouse

The whitewashed tower of the lighthouse can be seen from afar but is very difficult to find when you walk round the town with its narrow winding streets.  It is 101 feet tall and commenced operation in 1890.  It was originally illuminated by paraffin but was converted to electricity in 1938.

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A couple of small cannon near the sea front.

Southwold does in fact own six 18 pound cannons which were given to the town by the Royal Armouries as protection for the town and to shipping from pirate raids in the 18th century.  We didn’t get as far as Gun Hill on Sunday.

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Southwold cottages

There are many second homes and holiday cottages in the town which most of the year stand empty.  Local people can’t afford to live in these tiny cottages.

A couple of grander houses.

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Richard and Elinor walking in Southwold

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Richard and Elinor in the shelter and behind it some examples of the interesting architecture to be found in the town.

I am often reminded of ‘Mary Poppins’ by P L Travers looking at the platform above the shelter and think that Admiral Boom would find it ideal for firing his cannon from.  ‘The Ghost and Mrs Muir’ comes to mind when I look at one of those grander houses I showed above.

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More Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) with some new leaves of Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) in front

I joined Richard and Elinor in the shelter for a while and just in front of us on the grass slope that descended to the beach was this large patch of Heliotrope.  It really shouldn’t be there and shows how invasive it is.  Since seeing the Heliotrope last Sunday that I included in my post ‘Weekend’ I have seen this plant everywhere.  It does have a wonderful scent though and in spite of my cold I could smell the vanilla perfume very well.

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A chilly little Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) was walking about near our feet.

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The Sailor’s Reading Room

This was built in 1864 in memory of Captain Charles Rayley RN a naval officer who served at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar and who died in 1863.  Its purpose was as a refuge for fishermen and mariners when not out at sea and it was hoped it would keep them out of the pubs and would encourage them in Christian ideals.  The Reading Room still provides daily papers and a place to read them and continues to be a social base for local fishermen, lifeboatmen and coastguards.  It is now a Registered Charity and contains a museum with exhibits showing the town’s seafaring past.

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East Green

In 1659 there was a devastating fire in the town and most of the buildings were lost and many people were made homeless and destitute.  In the rebuilding of the town, it was decided to incorporate a number of greens as fire breaks.  This is East Green.

Some of you may remember a film made for TV in 1987 by Michael Palin called ‘East of Ipswich’ which was based on his own memories of seaside holidays in the 50’s.  It was filmed in Southwold.

Best wishes to you all!