Friday, 4 January 2013

Good evening Westleton

Greetings 2013. I write in a brief window between vacations – let’s hope the year continues as it has begun. 

We’re only just back from five truly lovely days gallivanting through rural Suffolk and are now staring down two days of work before we fly to Mexico to celebrate Lovely Boy’s fortieth birthday and the small matter of our first wedding anniversary. Bring. It. On. I’ve been mentally packing for weeks (ok, ok months) and am giddy with anticipation about all the margaritas, guacamole, ceviche, Caribbean surf and sunshine and general down time with my LB that lies ahead.

And Suffolk was the perfect opening act. Even without the sunshine.

The trip away was the brainchild of some friends of ours – they of the organised and motivated variety – and it is to their immense credit that it ever moved beyond that initial, slightly boozed, stage of “Yes! Let’s TOTALLY do that!” several months ago.

In the end there were six of us (three pairs of smug marrieds/may-as-well-be-marrieds, so very grown up of us….) Each couple would take turns cooking a meal, we’d go for long walks through the Suffolk forest, explore the local area, drink too much and play just enough rounds of competitive board games.

Frankly I was happy to be anywhere so long as we weren’t in London for New Years Eve and thus obligated to Do Something Fun That Would Inevitably Be Crowded and Noisy so sleepy Westleton was ideal as far as I was concerned. Everything else was a bonus. And a delightful one at that.

Dunwich Beach, Suffolk
On our first day we went for a long amble through the forest, heading in the direction of Dunwich Beach. No clearly plotted path, lots of muddy, satisfyingly squelchy puddles to negotiate (the childhood joy of jumping in puddles in a good pair of gumboots thankfully doesn’t recede with age) and lots of moody, beautiful woodland to appreciate.

Dunwich Beach was a rocky, grey, rather uninspiring locale. Apparently Turner used to paint around here but at this time of year he clearly got his inspiration elsewhere as there was nothing romantic about those bitch-slapping winds. Thankfully a recuperating ale at the very cute pub went some way towards making amends before the walk home against the creeping dark.

Beachfront houses in Aldeburgh
The next day Lovely Boy and I went for a drive through some of the local villages, me mostly on the look out for open antique or junk shops and LB reasonably happy to oblige. We didn’t find anywhere open but found ourselves eventually in Aldeburgh, where we enjoyed another bracing walk in the wind along the beach, poking our heads into the fish shacks and cute shops before beating a retreat home. 

There was certainly a stark beauty to Aldeburgh and a lot of charm to the village, with it’s independent book shops, family-run pharmacies and Keep Aldeburgh Tesco-Free petitions.

fish shacks on the beach at Aldeburgh
Sunset from Aldeburgh
We were en masse again on New Years Eve, spending the day in Southwold, again battling the winds, this time on the Southwold Pier to almost comic effect, before a walk along the beach in search of excellent fish and chips for lunch.

Southwold beach shacks
In the evening we took to the local pub – the posh one – where we had several drinks while wearing festive hats before moving on to the not-posh pub. If we hadn’t already announced our outsider status by turning up still wearing the hats from the last pub, our collective enthusiasm for the karaoke and Rob’s enthusiastic “Good eveeeening Westleton!” probably gave us away. 

After several rousing anthems we had most of the locals on our side (I opted wisely to document the occasion, rather than really participate in any sort of aural way) and then, just as things were getting a bit lairy, we went back to the cottage. c.10pm. #sensible

The gang en raine...
The last two hours of 2012 were spent playing a rowdy, highly competitive board game and eating cheese before watching the fireworks on the tele. Perfect really.

And then it was 2013. New Years Day and the rest of the gang spent it in Ipswich – girls wandering, boys watching football and I spent the day by the fire doing some last dregs of book stuff and trying not to have an anxiety attack about what the year has ahead (mostly because I don’t know.)

That night, those of us who hadn’t had to return to London for work enjoyed a huge bonfire on Westleton Common with the rest of the village. Which was accompanied by a pretty impressive fireworks display.

And then, well, it was back to London.

An artistic interpretation of fireworks and bonfire...
That was yesterday. Today I went to work, tomorrow I’m going to work and then on Saturday I’m going to Mexico. I still have no idea how this year is going to unfold but I’m looking forward to contemplating it over a margarita or four.

Best get packing.

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