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A record of our adventures between Pipit and her successor...

Suffolk Mini-break

2nd December 2017

The Orwell Bridge

We've had a busy number of weeks recently with two visits to Cornwall (both related to the new master plan) and me (Ann) being at CA House for two weekends, but we have also managed to squeeze in a fantastic mini-break in Suffolk.

Our mini-break was built around attending one of the CA Suffolk Section's weekly talks at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, to be given by Captain Ian McNaught, about his current career as Deputy Master of Trinity House and his former career as a Cunard Master. We knew we would find his talk interesting, in particular with Andy's interest in Cunard, that being his namesake great uncle having been a Cunard Master, most notably of the Queen Mary.

Neither of us had ever visited Suffolk, with the exception of Andy's brief visit when passing through Felixstowe during a school trip, so we planned a four night break, booking into 'The Little Barn', self-catering accommodation at the Red Lion in Chelmondiston, just a few miles from the Royal Harwich Yacht Club at Woolverstone and just inland from Pin Mill.

'The Little Barn' was beautifully appointed with tasteful décor throughout and everything we needed for our stay, complete with the best 'Welcome Pack' we've ever encountered including delicious local produce to cook a full English breakfast. Just the ticket before the walks we did on Friday and Saturday.

We ate at the restaurant in the Red Lion on Wednesday and Saturday nights, where we were warmly welcomed by Mandy and her staff and enjoyed delicious meals in the lovely relaxed atmosphere. The other two nights we cooked in the barn, using tasty treats from the Suffolk Food Hall - the smoked olives we bought as a pre-dinner snack were particularly memorable - must track some of those down!

The talk on Thursday by Captain Ian McNaught was interesting, entertaining and well worth our little mini-break on its own and it was lovely to meet some fellow CA members, some we knew and others we met for the first time. With such a nice bunch of people, the convivial atmosphere, the stunning setting of the yacht club on the banks of the River Orwell and great speakers, it's no wonder the Suffolk Section events are so popular with members.

The River Orwell reminded us of parts of the Fal Estuary, that is to say very sheltered sailing waters with gently rolling hills sloping down to the water's edge.

The Carrick Roads? No, the similar tranquility of the River Orwell

We drove to Southwold, home of Adnams Ales, on Friday, strolled along the pier and promenade under bright blue skies, rugged up against a bracing North Sea wind. Ideal really as there were just a few other folk doing the same and without the crowds that undoubtedly abound during the summer months. As it happens it snowed there this week...

Southwold Pier

A clever and cheeky clockwork waterworks (literally, see the close-up below) on Southwold Pier

A walk along the banks of the River Orwell on Saturday took us from Pin Mill to Shotley Marina (where we enjoyed an Adnams or two at The Shipwreck) and back. Lots of birds were busy feeding on the mud flats and in the fields, flocks of Canada geese and other migratory visitors. The terrain was as expected, flat, but the vistas were beautiful.

Perfect autumn serenity - yachts pottering up and down the river


Cheer up - you can have a pint of Adnams at Shotley

We'd glanced at the Imray chart in the barn before we left, working out that we had about 5 miles to walk from Pin Mill to Shotley, making a good 12 miles for the day by the time we walked from Chelmondiston to Pin Mill and completed the return journey.

What we'd not taken note of on the chart, and found an oddly pleasing juxtaposition when it seemed to suddenly appear as we rounded a bend in the river, was the proximity of the Port of Felixstowe.

Who put that there?

Gently winding river in one direction...

...Port of Felixstowe in the other

We broke our return journey home on Sunday by meeting up with an old friend of Andy's in Long Melford. Andy and Dave did several driving holidays to Italy with the Alfa Owners' Club and numerous walking holidays in the UK and Spain. I ( Andy) haven't seen Dave for over 10 years, but we picked up where we left of as if it was last week - surely the sign of good friendship and the laughs were as plentiful as I remember them.

So a wonderful 4 night break in a place to which we'd definitely return, although with plans hopefully to be revealed soon, we're not sure when we'll have time!