Whilst I’m out of the country on a trip to a mysterious undisclosed location, the daily blogging will be achieved through a series of travel-related posts, thanks to the kindness of my friends and family, and the wonders of post-scheduling technology.
This installment of The Travel Diaries is brought to you by Bethan Brown. Bethan is a graduand of Newcastle University’s English Department, and comes from the delightfully named town of Saffron Walden.
The Great British Holiday
For the past forty years or so, the people of Britain have holidayed abroad in search of warmer climates, turquoise waters, sandy beaches and good food (or perhaps ‘a full English Breakfast’ on a street café in Greece, complete with a side order of deep fried feta cheese if you’re feeling a bit of home from home comfort). With the onset of cheap flights provided by a certain orange coloured airways, many Brits have ventured to warmer destinations when choosing their holiday.
For the most part cheaper flights are great and can provide a great means of escape from the drizzle of the British weather which can usually be fittingly described as ‘grey’. However, call me mad but part of me loves the spontaneity of English weather and the way our plans revolve around the erratic personality of the English ‘summer’. It’s exciting – one minute you’re planning on a day doing errands around the house, maybe a trip to the supermarket or a catch up with a friend, and then the sun comes out from hiding and -BAM- you get a stream of texts from friends saying something along the lines of ‘Sun is out – BBQ in ten minutes?’ or ‘Let’s make the most of it and go to the beach – quick’ (it all has to be quick in case the Sun feels guilty about getting us burned and recoils back into the clouds; then we have ‘grey’ again).
I guess what I’m really getting onto is that holidaying in (sometimes ‘grey’) England can be fun and exciting: I have fond memories of a particular seaside location on the South Coast of England that I want to tell you about. Each summer for as long as I can remember, my family and I would pile into the car with a tent and five bikes laced onto the boot (Kudos to Mum and Dad for packing so well over the years). Two hours later we’d rock up at the campsite, open the car doors and tumble out. The distant crashing of waves, the faint smell of a BBQ getting underway by neighbouring campers, and a campsite manager whose accent would put J.K. Rowling’s Hagrid to shame all meant that we’d arrived in Southwold, a charming seaside town in Northern Suffolk.
You might have heard of it, as it has come to fame as the host of the music and arts festival ‘Latitude’. Alternatively, if you happen to be a lover of good ale it will probably ring a bell as the proud ‘birthplace’ of Adnams Brewery (which was established in 1872).
So anyway, if you haven’t heard of it let me fill you in, and if you have heard of it (or have ever been) – let me allow you to sit back and reminisce while I detail some of my top memories of my childhood excursions to Southwold as a child.
Probably top of the list of things I liked to do whilst in Southwold was go to the Chippy. This may seem daft, I hear you cry, ‘you can get chips anywhere’ or ‘it’s like going all the way to Italy and getting a Starbucks’. But no. This chippy is no ordinary chippy. These chips are no ordinary chips. This batter is no ordinary batter. Before this turns into an M&S advert let me tell you about ‘The Harbour Inn’; it’s a pub. And a fish and chip shop – rolled into one. Handy – have a beer, then get peckish and have some chips. Anyway, the fish and chips are exquisite. And so is the beer (but I only found that out recently – don’t worry I wasn’t drinking at the age of seven). But seriously, how cool is that? How many Chippy’s do you know that are a pub as well. Besides the food, what makes my memory of fish and chips at ‘The Harbour Inn’ so great are the walk back. Sounds odd, but Let me explain. Staying up later than ten is ‘really cool’ if you’re seven year old me. Even cooler is being allowed to stay up late and eat minstrels and jelly beans from the 20p machine as dessert while Dad finishes his pint. Anyway, back to the walk back – all the e-numbers from the ‘dessert’ must have made me particularly hyper because I distinctly remember a bit of an ‘adventure’ on the way back from the pub to the campsite one evening. Walking back late along the harbour was essentially like walking through dark fog. There was a distinct lack of lighting, so that I could only really see a few metres in front of me. I remember seeing a figure in the distance. Linked onto Mum and my little brother, I didn’t voice my concern initially. However as we neared the figure, I decided it was a werewolf, out to get us on this summer evening. I jumped out of my skin and ran, and the werewolf ran away. I’ll never know whether it was a werewolf or not, but hindsight nudges towards the fact it may have been a dog. May have been.
As I continue to reminisce about Southwold, one thing which is prominent in my memory is the pier. The pier at Southwold has a personality of its own and I don’t think I’ve come across one quite like it since. It has all the usual pier stuff like the copper coin slot machines, the gaming section, and a little café. However it also has a ‘hydro-clock’ where each time the hour strikes, copper men will stand up and ‘wee’ water into a toilet, which will trigger off copper baths to fill up with water, and then overflow and tip into a large basin, and then set off a noise to tell passers by that it is 4’o’clock in the afternoon. Frankly I can’t do it justice with words but hopefully this picture will give you a taste!
So anyway, there’s my bit on Southwold I hope that if you do happen to be in England this summer, don’t let the weather put you off making the most of the good ol’ seaside destinations.
In summary: British holidays.