The Eelsfoot pub at Eastbridge Suffolk near Southwold, is a gem of a pub we found quite a few years ago when we rented a cottage in the village. We have probably managed about two trips a year since. This year we were there for new year but have not managed to visit at all since. We both had a days holiday to take so just to keep up our records we booked two nights.
We left the house at what for us was a tardy time of 10:00 so we did not get to my aunt’s house until 11:30. After catching for an hour and suitable filled with coffee and cake we headed back onto the A12 destination Minsmere RSPB, and arrived at about 14:00.
We had a late lunch of cheese toasties and hot chocolate. On the way out I was tempted by a small pair of Swarovski binoculars, Helen owes me a birthday present but although the 8×25’s were lovely they were expensive at £400 and I would have liked to have tried a pair of 10×25’s so we left them for another day.
It was the middle of December so the light would be gone by 16:00 so we decided a walk out to island mere hide and back before some Christmas shopping in Southwold. It was raining so we did not spend much time on the way to the hide looking for birds. We joined for other hardy souls who were having to peer through windows covered in rain drops. We were so rewarded by a bittern fly by over the reeds across the water. There was not much else to report home about. The rain stopped so we took the opportunity to walk back to the visitors centre for some RSPB Christmas shopping.
Next stop would be Southwold just 25 minutes drive away. Parking is usually difficult but late on a rainy Friday afternoon in December there were plenty of spaces in the free car park near the top of the high street. We were quite successful on the Christmas shopping front, sometimes things just come together when you don’t try too hard. We just came across thing that made sense for the people we still had to buy for! I saw a male onesie in a shop window coloured grey and red stripes, luckily no one on my Christmas list deserved it. We got to the pub at about 17:30 so we chilled out in our well appointed room till about 19:30 as H&N would not be joining us until after 21:00.
The of first pint of Adnam’s is always the best way one and it did not disappoint. We had some great food I had cod and chips and Helen had cheesy chip and a side salad there was some ying and yang going on there somewhere the salad cancels out out the chips doesn’t it? N&H turned up at 22:00 they had not had the day off like we had. We caught up and discussed where we should walk on Saturday.
We woke up at a reasonable 07:30 and took our time getting ready for breakfast at 08:39. Very precise time you might think, N had suggested 8:30/9 and we thought he meant 08:39, but it was within N’s range. They have changed the breakfast routine at the pub you used to fill out a form the evening before but now they make to order. It does mean you can make up your mind at the last moment. It turns out that we prefer the pre-ordered breakfast. We sat down and had to wait quite some time before we were asked if we wanted coffee or tea, then once that had turned up we waited again before our breakfast order was taken. In all breakfast took over an hour!
The weatherman had offered us sun all day for Saturday and we were not disappointed blue sky horizon to horizon. We took the path from East bridge to the sluices down by the sea. The sluices are being renewed and there is lots of machinery and temporary piping. In the gorse we spotted a pipit but could not decide on water or rock, a stonechat was also perched as usual on top of a bush. from the east hide we saw some waders amongst the usual ducks, including godwit, redshank, and knot. The star duck was a single male pintail. Next stop was coffee at the coast guard cottages, and some of my mums Christmas cake from last year, which we had to freeze on large lumps and take on weekends away over the course of the year, it lasted well and was a much better alternative to an energy bar.
We headed across Dunwich heath in the hope of seeing dartford warblers, it did not take us long to find a few, quite close in and given the low winter sun, the views were cracking. Towards the end of the Heath we took a path which would lead us back round to the visitors centre at Minsmere RSPB where the cafe provided a great late lunch, including parsnip soup, baked potato, spinach bake and cheese and onion toastie. Suitably replete we headed out to Island mere hide where we were hoping to see bitterns, but we failed to see any, but we did get great views of a hen harrier, a bird I have never see before. It was very distinctive with light grey wings tipped with back feathers at the extremities. We left the hide at about 15:30 hoping to see some barn owls over the fields near the pub but they were not out hunting. We got back to the pub at 16:30 and retired to our rooms and agree to meet up at 18:00 in the bar, it had been a long day and we anticipated an early night.
The sweet potato and chickpea curry went down well so did the Adnams, the Eelsfoot won the annual best cellar award, so you would expect it to be good. We were relatively restained and retired to bed at a reasonable 22:30. Next day the sun was shining when went to breakfast at a tardy 09:00, when service was a bit more friendly and swift. We packed paid the bill and headed to the visitors centre at Minsmere RSPB. We did a quick loop along the new sea wall to coastguard cottages then through the woods and back to the reserve where Helen and H did plenty of shopping. The weather had clouded over and it was threatening rain. We had some lunch in the cafe but had to sit outside because a coach party had taken over most of the cafe. We left at 13:30 and made good time to be home at 16:00 with rain all the way. A great weekend with a lucky weather window.