A final trip to the Eelsfoot Eastbridge for 2013

Eelsfoot Eastbridge Suffolk
Eelsfoot Eastbridge Suffolk

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.

Eelsfoot Eastbridge Suffolk from the back
Eelsfoot Eastbridge Suffolk from the back

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.

Minsmere RSPB Reed bed
Minsmere RSPB Reed bed

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.

Lesser Grey Shrike Leiston Suffolk

Last full day of our holiday in Thropeness, the party is splitting into different factions. Helen and I went for a walk hoping to take in a rare bird that has been spotted less than two miles away from the hut. The others went for a walk to Aldeburgh to look at the giant clam sculpture.

Trevor on tour Lesser Grey Shrike picture
Trevor on tour Lesser Grey Shrike picture

I spotted the bird sighting on the  UK400ClubRareBirdAlert site which is run by Lee Evans. Apparently according to the blog “A first-winter LESSER GREY SHRIKE is present for its fourth day in Suffolk after being discovered on Sunday by two novice birdwatchers who eventually notified RSPB staff at Minsmere RSPB after they had enjoyed a few beers in the Eels Foot Inn at Eastbridge. John Grant quickly made his way to the location and confirmed the bird’s identification. It has been showing well in the paddocks immediately SSE of Halfway Cottages, just east of Leiston town (situated on Sizewell Road about a mile down from the main Leiston to Yoxford road) at approximately TM 463 621. Park sensibly opposite the Cottages and respect the privacy of the residents. It constitutes the 9th record for Suffolk following singles at Hollesley Common on 22nd-23rd May 1970 (trapped & ringed), Walberswick Heath on 7th June 1973, Lakenheath on 4th June 1977, Lound Waterworks from 10th-12th September 1989, Walberswick Common on 25th May 1996, Thelnetham Fen in Suffolk Breckland on 29th June 2006 (singing male), Shingle Street from 8th-11th July 2006 (adult female) and at Trimley Marshes on 14th September 2009 (first-winter).”

We are staying about two miles from the cottages so we set out for a walk that would take in the site in the hope that after 5 days it was still there. We came across a couple walking a dog and puppy, the puppy seemed to wary of us and took some cajoling by the owners before it would walk past us and then it did as fast as it could. We covered some ground that we had covered the other day when we walked to Sizewell beach. After having to consult the map a few times we took a pretty direct route to halfway cottages, then identified the paddock by the group of people with scopes. The shrike was sat on top of a bush and was very visible, John Grant let Helen and I have a look through his scope which gave us the opportunity to see the bird in detail. If I had seen it myself I could only have identified it as a Shrike, as it is the first one I have ever seen, so to see a rare Lesser Grey Shrike was a real treat.

Minsmere beach
Minsmere beach

We hung around for 5-10 minutes observing then walked toward the sea just south of Sizewell where there is a cafe attached to a camp site. We had a coffee then headed back along the coastal path to the hut, in time for a cheese sandwich for lunch. Helen and I then caused another split by heading off to Minsmere RSPB for the after noon while another faction went for a walk on the beach and three others went for a £30 30 minute sea blast in a rib boat from Southwold harbour.

Helen and I  parked up at the reserve then headed in land and took a footpath on the right that headed over Dunwich Heath in hope of seeing Dartford Warblers. We were not disappointed we saw two Stonechat and about 5 or 6 Dartford Warblers which the heath is famous for. At coat guard cottages we had a drink and shared a piece of lemon drizzle cake whilst enjoying warm sun. I was down to a single layer just a t-shirt was warm enough. We headed down to the beach and on towards East Hide (our favorite), on the way Helen spotted a single seal out on the water and we had a look at an RSPB sculpture made of plastic found on the beach, which was being used to inform people of the issue that plastic is and how it pollutes the sea, as it gets broken down into smaller and smaller bits, it affects the wildlife, as it gets into the food chain.

There was not much to see from the East Hide just the usual suspects ducks and a few godwit. On the way back we stopped to look for Bearded Tit from the new sea defenses, but failed to spot more that a pigeon and a blue tit. After a look around the shop we headed back to the hut to tidy up before heading to The Dolphin pub for a meal.

Bike ride from Eastbridge to Warblerswick via Dunwich

View of Coastguard cottages Dunwich
View of Coastguard cottages Dunwich

Even though rain was forecast we had booked bikes for 10:00 from The Eelsfoot at Eastbridge, which is a very nice pub to stay for the weekend. We left the house at 09:30 earlier than usual., which was good because the rain was forecast for 14:00. At the pub we picked the best bikes out and T lent us his pump to get the tyres nice and hard.

We headed off keeping to the tarmac road that leads to Minsmere RSPB then took a right at Scotts hall up a shortt slop then took the bridleway on the right which headed over to Dunwich heath. When we hit the road that leads to the Coastguard cottages we went left and headed toward the beach at Dunwich. At the cafe we had tea and coffee and T and I shared a doughnut that they make of the premises when the fryers are not doing fish and chips, which are the main fayre of the establishment. If you are ever in the area I would recommend stopping off for a lunch of fish and chips, I have been visiting the place for over 30 years.

Suitably refreshed we headed back in land then found another bridleway that eventually turns into a tarmac road called Lodge Road, which starts at a fantastic looking house over looking the marshes then over the sea.We soon found ourselves in Warberswick and met up with the rest of the party who had chosen the car for the days outing. We took a look at the harbour and the famous ferry across the river Blythe, 90p for people or bikes dogs go free. The we headed back to the center of the village where a tea room supplied us with a great lunch, I had a tuna mayonnaise baguette.

View of Coastguard cottages Dunwich
View of Coastguard cottages Dunwich

After lunch we decided on a different way back, we left Warblerswick and took a left turn along a bridleway, which eventually dumped us onto the marsh were conveniently there were board walks to make the cycling easier. Then we did a stretch of  sea wall which was new and nicely paved with two layers of different gravel. We left the sea wall and headed towards some trees which formed the only high spot around then we picked up a track that lead back to Dunwich, where we went towards the beach but headed up the hill past Greyfriars abbey ruins, then tracked back the route we had followed earlier, back to Eastbridge. The last 3 or 4 miles were done in the rain pub my poncho served me well and none of us got very wet, so once again we had made the most of the weather.

C cooked her tomato risotto with veggie sausages in it, which was very nice. A game of scrabble followed.

Aldeburgh and back, then Minsmere

Aldeburgh Beach clam sculpture
Aldeburgh Beach clam sculpture

A leisurely start to the day, but we knew we had to make the most of the weather as rain and wind was promised at 14:00. So we left relatively early at 10:30 and headed along the coast to Adleburgh. The wind was against us as the storm which was centred to the west of us was bring winds along the coast. We spotted just above the beach the ideal house for Helen and I it looked quite modern with an asymmetric roof, the the clincher was the vast open plan, glazed ground floor and the bedrooms on a second floor.

Just as we got to the edge of Aldeburgh we popped onto the beach to have a look at the controversial sculpture of the scallop on the beach. Apparently it weighs five tonnes and is made of stainless steel. To me I think it looks like it belongs and is a nice addition to the beach. Further into town we checked out the statue of Snoops a dog near the boating pond. There were no flash boats on the pond just kids with the cheap local sailing boats.

We found a cafe with sats outside (we had the dog in tow) and ordered tea and coffee all round, then we had to put up with the choices of some hooray Henry’s talking about their big night out and how they lived in Chelsea and traveled often to New York.

Aldeburgh Beach tractor
Aldeburgh Beach tractor

We took a less direct route back which had us turn left on the main road out of town then take the footpath thought the church where Benjamin Britten was buried, then onto a disused railway track to the edge of the lake at Thorpeness. The path along the lake ales you pas the disused windmill and the house in the clouds which is a five bedroom follie which our can rent.

It started to rain as we approached Thorpeness but no enough for us to get really wet. Popped to the ullage shop for some lunch provisions, but be choice was limited as it was about to close and their stock control system really worked, Helen and I had boiled eggs.

We decided we would take a drive out to Minsmere then spend a couple of hours bird watching from the shelter of a bird hide. As luck would have it the rain stopped when we got to the RSPB reserve, and we headed out to the South hide. We spotted red and green shank and the usual
ducks. Then we headed out to island mere just in time for it to start raining again. Helen spotted Bittern which I missed because I was tinkering with my technology, but we both saw the three great white egrets and a marsh harrier.

We returned to the hut to find the others were in the Dolphin pub, so we joined them for a great meal, which we enjoyed enough to book another night. A couple in a table next to us turned out to be from near Wobburn, and had connections to Aston Clinton and Halton, it’s a small world.

New year at the Eels Foot Inn

View from Eelsfoot Inn Eastbridge Suffolk
View from Eelsfoot Inn Eastbridge Suffolk

We are off to the Eels Foot pub in Eastbridge Suffolk for New Year. The plan was to spend three nights there and leave on News Years day. We left the house at a reasonable time and stopped off on route to visit my aunt. We arrived at Minsmere by 14:30 and did a quick route towards the wooded area and island mere before heading of to Adleburgh for a quick look round the shops.

We got to the pub at 17:30 and checked in, this time we were in room 3 on the first floor with a view over the pub garden. N&H arrived early evening and we had something to eat and caught up over a few beers.

We are up at a reasonable 08:30 for breakfast, then we headed out for a day on foot H had a bad tooth so we weren’t sure how far we would get,but we headed towards Dunwich heath, on the inland path because we had heard that the path to the sluice bushes was water logged and wellington boots were needed.

The Ship Inn Dunwich Suffolk
The Ship Inn Dunwich Suffolk

The weather was gorgeous and it was great to be out in the sun after the recent bad weather that had kept us indoors. The chip hut at Dunwich was shut for the winter so we went to the Ship Inn which was packed to the gunnels (did you see what I did there?) So we had to take a table in the garden which was not ideal on a sunny but cold and windy day. There was a queue at the bar, we got drinks and ordered for bowls of chips which considering how busy the pub was came fairly quickly.

After a rest we headed back towards coastguards cottages for a coffee then we headed through the reserve of Minsmere the through the reed beds to the Island Mere hide, by which time it was getting dark, and all you could see were the Moorhens  and Coots. The walk back from there to the pub was dark but even so we passed two or three sets of people walking the other way. We had another quiet evening in the pub.

The weather the next day promised to be wet and windy but when the day dawned the forecasts were good up until midday so rather than shopping we walked to Dunwich Heath and then back through the reserve, but where possible we tried to keep on different paths. We tried to get to the north east hide but the path was flooded and Wellingtons would have been needed, so we went to the north hide. There was not much to see other than the usual ducks. Helen thought she had seen a Smew and it was confirmed when we asked at the visitors centre. At the cafe we all had a coffee and something to eat, then we headed straight back as it was getting late and H&N wanted to pop to the Yoxford Antique centre, as it was not open on the 1st January.

Grey and windy North Sea view
Grey and windy North Sea view

New Years Eve in the pub started quiet, we hit the bar at 18:30 to ensure a table for something to eat, I suspected that I would not last till midnight. We had some more great pub grub, then chewed the cud for a few hours. I retired at 23:00 the others stayed till just after midnight. I did not get much sleep for a bit as our room was on the pub side of the building. There were fireworks at 00:00.

The next morning we had agreed with Julian the landlord to have breakfast at 09:30, as it happens he had been up since 07:30 and had not got to bed until 05:00, we did not envy him having to push on through, the pub was open all day and they expected it to be busy as the sun was out and it looked like it would be a great day weather wise.

Helen and I had to head off as we were meeting up with my brother and parents as we had not managed to get together over Christmas. The drive using the tourist route to Haverhill was great. We met up and swapped presents then Helen and I headed home.

We both agreed a pub is a great place to spend a few days at New Year especially the Eels Foot Inn in Eastbridge in Suffolk.

Proper Lakeland weather

Flowering shrub
Flowering shrub

Thursday of our Lakeland holiday saw us waking up to rain, and mist over the hills. We had check the weather report at the pub last night, and already had vague plans to drive to RSPB Leighton Moss, which claims to be the largest reed bed in the North West. The rain and mist made up our minds RSPB would be the destination today.

The drive took about and hour and twenty, on mixed roads, a bit tedious but it was raining and we had the Desert Island Discs archive to while the time away. We (or should I say TomTom) found RSPB Leighton Moss easily. Once parked up I said to Helen “where are the binoculars?” We had managed to forget them back at the hut. In future we must both make sure we do binocular checks before we leave to visit a reserve. All was not lost, the RSPB will loan binoculars to forgetful members, like us FOC.

The helpful volunteer on the desk kitted us out with binoculars in exchange for Helen’s credit card, then gave us a virtual tour of the reserve. We headed out to Lilian’s hide apparently opened by John Prescott, the main attraction is the gull roost. We could not spot any other gulls than black headed, but there were a few ducks about. When we got a sense that the rain had eased off we made a break for the next hide.

Yellow iris
Yellow iris

There was not much to see from the public hide so after a quick scan we moved on to the Low Hide, not much going on there either, but it was a good place to watch the Marsh Harriers, and the Swifts flying past. It stopped raining so we took the opportunity to walk back to the visitor centre for some RSPB lunch. On the way we saw and heard Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings.

At the cafe Helen had from the Kiddies menu beans and a veggie sausage (called sunshine beans on the menu great value at £2.10) and I had a Lancashire cheese baguette. Next we got drove down the road to the beach side hides that over look the marshes.

From the Eric Morecombe hide there were some Black-tailed Godwits, Little Egrets, Redshank, and plenty of Avocets, with chicks. From the Allen hide more Avocets and some Oyster catchers all with chicks. Next it wasa back to thje visitors centre to check out the last two hides.

Great views of Lapwings flying close in front of the hide, and a Gadwall pair. The lapwings were so close we could hear their wings beating against the air. We also saw a flock of 8 Little Egret fly over, which I think is the most I have ever seen so close.

Willow flowers
Willow flowers

The Tim Jackson (died in an accident bird watching!) hide has recently bee rebuilt, and a lovely hide it is. A bit more activity lots of Gadwall out the front with the usual gaggle of Black-headed Gulls. Over the back of the lagoon we could see a Red Deer and a young doe gambling back and forth without any care, the velvet covered antlers of a stag could also be seen in the long grass at the edge of the reeds. On the way back to the shop I noticed a small mammal running towards me on the path I stood still and signalled to He’ll to do so too, the small creature stood and looked at me for a bit then ran into the under growth. Most likely it was a Weasel but it could have been a Stoat. We left the reserve at 16:30, to take a mountain pass home.

The mountain pass through Ulpha and across Birker fell did not disappoint, the climb up was very steep, but once we were up on the fell, the road flattened out and you could see far ahead, and the descent down into Eskdale was quite restrained. The pass had cut quite some miles but no time off the journey.

Reeds abstract
Reeds abstract

We were back bay 17:45 and felt we had made the most of the day by driving whilst it was raining. then doing the wildlife whilst the weather cleared up, culminating with sun as we drove over the mountain pass. We quickly dumped our stuff at the hut and headed back to Brook House Inn at Boot, some of it’s great beer and food.

The food lived up to our expectations, and was excellent, the menu was a fluid as it was yesterday, as we arrived some choices were removed and new ones added. I had the last Deep fried king prawns, with salsa, salad and chips, before that was taken down, and Helen had Feta and Spinach pie with boiled potatoes and a salad. As for beer we both had the Hawshead Brewery Windemere Pale.

A trip to the seaside

St Bees from the coastal path
St Bees from the coastal path

After a couple of days of hot weather it is a bit colder, so with a change in the weather we felt our bodies needed a change of terrain. We decided a trip to a couple of RSPB sites on the coast was in order. First we would go to Millom to look round RSPB Hodbarrow NR, then on to St Bees Head where there is a watch point.

We left hut 09:30ish and headed down the valley road to pick up the A595 that runs north south along the coast.
The land on the coast is very agricultural, I guess it is the only opportunity between the barren lake land and the sea, also being some what cut off they would have needed to be self sufficient in days gone by.

Millom is an old iron ore mine, opened in 1850 and closed down in 1968, and at it’s peak employed 1,000 workers. The old mine explains all the grand buildings in the town center, it now looks a bit down on it’s heal but there is clearly still industry around, which we noticed as we drove around lost looking for the RSPB signs. The shops seemed to be mainly independents, I tried a hardware store to get an imperial nut for my panorama instrument, I had left at home, they were very helpful, but could not find one. They said they knew some one 300 miles away that sold all sorts of imperial stuff, I laughed and said I have a nut but it is also 300 miles away!

View of St Bees coast
View of St Bees coast

The nature reserve is formed by the harbour wall built for the mine, but now flooded and forms a big lagoon. There were lots of Warblers signing we got Chiffchaff, Willow, and Sedge. There is a good hide and the list on the whiteboard was impressive, we got Merganser, Eider, Sandwich and Common Tern, Ringed Plover, Mute Swan, Shelduck, and Tufted to mention most of those I remember.

We stopped off Tesco to get some lunch, then drove on to St Bees where we parked at the beach car park £1.40 for 2 hours.
**stop press as I write this sat on a cliff at St Bees head, I get a message from my phone, that I am roaming, so I want to turn data off? It turns out I am connected to MANX the Isle of Man mobile provider. **

We walked up the coastal path and found a bench for a rest and a chance to update the blog and do a bit of sea watching. There were Guillimots and Razor bills about. The parking money was running out so we headed back to the car to driver to Egremont to stock up on supplies for the next few days walking, we wanted to not be tied to stopping at pubs, for lunch so we got some rolls and stuff to fill them with.

Wasdale valley view
Wasdale valley view

Next stop would be Wasdale we wanted to go and have a look, at the lake. The village of Wasdale seemed a bit more tourist developed than Eskdale. We drove through the village and up to the lake, the views from the lake are stunning even when it is a bit hazy (although not as hazy as it has been). The lake look deep not very wide but quite long, the mountains descend very steeply down to the lake, particularly on the Eskdale side, when you look up the lake it is framed both side and at the end by high Lakeland Fells. There were clouds about so the photo’s should be a bit better than then pones taken in the past few days, with the harsh sun, and cloudless skies.

We took the shortcut back to Eskdale Green, over the hill, had a quick refresh and headed down to the Bowerhouse Inn where there is free WiFi so if you are lucky you may get some photo’s for the previous three posts. They are uploading as we speak.

Tomorrow we are thinking that we need to drive back over to Wasdale and do some walking around the end near Wasdale Head. Perhaps even having a go at Scaffell Pike, but that is quite a big under taking, so watch this space.

Eelsfoot Inn and Minsmere weekend.

The Lord Nelson, SouthwoldFirst I would like to thanks Steve for this post hes texted me to check if I was OK as he had not seen any posts for a while. Angela also gets a mention as she also mentioned the lack of new material. So spurred on by our fans here is a post for our weekend away at the Eels Foot Inn, yes another weekend at the excellent pub.

We left work on the dot and went back to base camp grabbed our luggage and set off to Hotel Baldwin where Kev n kids, had delayed thier departure so we could doa a quick “Say hello and wave good bye”. Mum made an excellent pasta dish despite having been eaten out of house and home.

We were up in good time as the cleaner were due at 09:00 and we had to get to the Lord Nelson by 12:00 to meet H&N, we had our doubts about them being thier by that time but we could not let them get there and us not be their. We decided to take a slight detour via Harleston (where we heard for N&H and yea they were running later than they anticipated) and then Denton to check out the grand parent grave. We did a quick tour of the shops in Harleston and had coffee and cake on the less busy back road that cirecles the main part of town.

We set off again and easily remembered the route to Denton, we we parked up at the church car park and without too much trouble found the head stone. I quickly took a set of panorama shots so watch this space for the results.
We left for the final leg of the journey, which was very pleasant as the weather was fantastic and the country side stunning. We arrived at Southwold around about 13:00 and went for a walk down to the pier as H&N were going to be another 30 minutres.

Beach Huts, SouthwoldThe high street and sea front were packed, it was the end of half-term and everyone seemed to be making the most of the weather. Down on the pier we had a quick look at the Down on the pier show http://www.underthepier.com/ which is a strange version of the traditional penny arcade and consists of machines to take your money but they are all somehow mechanic and brilliantly crass. Neil had a go on the frogger style game involing a zimmer frame crossing the road but the screen image came from a really camera pointing at a model road with moving lanes.

Met H & N at Lord Nelson, for a pint, and something to eat, I also paid for a T Shirt which they promised to post when new stock came in. Next on the agenda was some shopping. Both bookshops closed down and W H Smiths are moving in. N and I stood watching them replacing the wooden floor. Not very successful shopping trip but brought some heidi & cheese onion pies for lunch the next day. I took the opportunity to rtake another set of papnorama pictures, which when I get back to my own house will certainly post if worthy.

We left southwold and headed to The Eels Foot in it was late afternoon, lucky someone was around to let us have our room keys. We quicly settled in then walked a few hundred yards down the road to look at the field where the Barn Owls hunt. We were not let down, it is amazing how you can almost guarantee to see an owl as long as the weather is right. We saw at least two which at one point were both perched on the fence of the house on the bend.

Back to pub where N and Helen headed to the bat at 6pm in order to secure a table. Good job as 5 mins later they were all full. I joined them later and H was already there. Food was the usual fare I had fish n chips, and few pints of Adnams, wisely we were in bed by 10pm.

Desktop backgroundSat am – cloudy, misty. Excellent fry up with veggie sausages, muchrooms, toms n scambled eggs, with beans on toast and a sausage for Helen. We then performed an elaborate car shufffle where by we left my car at Warblerwick then headed back to the pub in N’s. The women watched the Grand Prix qualifying. When they returned, we headed out circa 10.45am, fortunately remembering the pies for lunch.

We walked towards Minsmere but then headed off through the woods behind the reserve. We were hoping that mushroom season would be at its high, however the dry weather seemed to have delayed their growth and there were not as many about as we had hoped, Helen got a few pics though. Excellent views of a goldcrest then turned right towards Dunwich Heath. Wallked past the pie bench of yester year. No sight of Dartford warblers on Dunwich Heath. Crossed the road then into the dark and into spooky pinewoods that lead to the Dunwich cliffs and priory remains. As ever I was determind to peer over the cliffs although H backed up wisely once the word overhang was mentioned. Followed the path down to Dunwich itself. Sun was shining by now so we voted for a quick pint at in the beer garden of The Ship pub (which, should you ever find yourself pieless in the vicinity, does good food).

Windmill in the reed bet at WarblerswickDown to Dunwich beach, where we ate the pies along with some chips from the cafe at the beach. A couple of brave swimmers. Discussion of choice of route for the next leg to Walberswick, where we plumped for the least populated option. So it was up the road past the church (passing several ladies with bodrums, the purpose of which we will never know). Headed up the stony track alongside Dunwich forest, overlooking the marshes. We saw excellent views of a goldcrest, and a jay and chaffinch enjoying the puddles. Past some rather lovely houses to a view over the march at Walberswick, where we saw lots of wildfowl. Through a gate onto the reserve itself and followed the raised path sea defence through the reedbeds back to Walberswick. Drove back to Eels Foot Inn for a rest I was soon aback out thpugh, back to the Barn Owl field, where I saw no less that 3 owls a marsh harrier and couple of unidentified waders flushed by the owls quartering the fields. What a a great spectacle for early Saturday evening, far better than Strickly!

N and Helen headed off to try to make sure we got a table, whilst I had a shower. They were lucky to get a table as the pub was very busy with a couple of large parties but as usual service and food were good. Neil & N had veggie lasagne. A few pints/glasses were drunk, and we ended up chatting to a friendly chap who had a Scottie dog, and who was a frequest visitor to the area, in between climbing the hills and mountains of Britain (including camping in the snowy Lake District last winter!). One last drink and some bemused observation of the rather drunk party who were drinking Zambuca (rather them than us!). Then off to bed and remembered to put the clock back too.

Up for another excellent breakfast at 8.30am, a bit of a record in that none of the party were suffering from hangovers. We must be getting older & wiser 🙂 Watched the start of the Grand Prix then off to Minsmere for another walk. There is a great deal of development happening at Minsmere, on the Visitor Centre, North Wall & sea defences. Off through the woods to the edge of Dunwich Heath. Fleeting glimpses of a bird we would have loved to have been a Dartford Warbler however we just did not see enough of it to be sure. Saw an optimistic mushroomer but he only had one in his basket.

Across the heath sighting a large group of deer grazing in the heather, then a coffee stop at Lighthousekeepers cottages. It was getting a bit chillier with the sea breeze. Another brave swimmer who then proceeded to disrobe entirely. We peered stalwartly at the sea until he had had a chance to gather himself together and then a trudge across the shingle towards east Hide. Saw a small flock of greenfinch and cormorants en route. Hide was busy but we did not have to wait too long for a window seat. Lots of wildfowl and black-tailed godwit, a couple of Berwick swans and three avocet. Then on to sluice bushes. Saw a robin and heard a wren, but no rare warblers unfortunately! Then back towards the visitor centre, admiring a ruff, redshank and little egret on the way.

We had some lunch at the visitor centre and spotted an unexpected treecreeper near the cafe. Then becauses we had’nt eaten our own bodyweight this weekend, thought we should probably have a cake, purely in the interests of supporting the RSPB you understand. Then it was, sadly, farewell to H&N and homeward bound down the very lovely A12, M25 & A41.

A walk by the sea

view-across-reeds-at-minsmere
view-across-reeds-at-minsmere

Got up for breakfast at 9, excellent fry the landlord had got up early to get us some Quorn sausages, we had mentioned the previous evening we are all veggies. Drove to Minsmere RSPB reserve then walked over to Dunwich Heath via the north wall. Saw a suspected Osprey that turned out to be a Marsh Harrier, but no Dartford Warbler. After coffee at the coast guard cottages we headed back down to the East hide where there was not much to see the usual ducks, lots of Lapwings, and just a couple of waders (Dunlin). On the way back to the visitors centre we got superb views of 5 Bearded Tits. Back to the pub to change then off to Southwold shopping. We saw a field of Curlew on the way. Bought some almonds and a Heidi Pie from the foodies shop then back to our accommodation to watch the rugby. Ireland won and as I write I we are in the pub drinking best bitter!