Final day in Suffolk

On the beach
On the beach

We woke up to a glorious but cold morning, with some regrets at having booked breakfast for 08:30, perhaps in future we should go for 08:30 on the Saturday and 09:00 on the Sunday? Break fast was up to the usual standard. We had the bill sorted by 10:00 and headed over to Minsmere for a short walk before heading back home.

All the sun was shinning there had been a deep frost and add to that the wind meant that it was quite bitter out. Accordingly we decided to keep the woods and avoid getting too near the sea or other exposed places. We headed out of the reserve to catch the footpath that leads to Dunwich Heath in the hope that the sun may have tempted the Dartford Warblers out. There was not much movement about and we did not hold much hope, but we did decide to give them one last go by standing still and scanning the heather. Helen could hear some calls and did once see a bird hovering but no concrete evidence. Just as I had decided in my mind that we were not going to see one, I saw a bird fly out from a heather plant. I quickly god my binoculars onto it. It was sat right on top of a low gorse, although distant the views were cracking as the sun was just in the right direction relative to our position.

By the time the bird disappear again (5 minutes later) we decided that a celebratory beverage was in order, and with NT Tea room within sight we soon had that sorted. Whilst there we did have a quick look from the sea watch room at the Red Throated divers. Suitably refreshed we headed down to Minsmere Helen and I set off home, and H&N went round to the South hides for a look before they set off.

Eight Goldcrests and three treecreepers

Snowdrops
Snowdrops

We went for the earliest breakfast 08:30, as tghe weather forecast suggested that the best weather would be at the start of the day. The delicious veggie fry up was up to the usual standard. We were ready to leave by 09:30, the plan was to dump a car at Blythburgh and the other at Dunwich Heath NT car park, then walk from Dunwich to the first dropped off car.

We had wrapped up quite well beacuse the weather man said it would be a cold wind, but were soon taking layers off. in the mixed wood towards the friary we cam across a flock of several Gold crests and at least 3 Treecreepers, quite an unusual count. We headed on towards Dunwich car park checking out the snow drops which were in bloom everywhere. H was fascinatedby them and stopped regulalry to look at the inner petals. Some were quite sparse and others had layers of smaller petals almost rose like inside the outer petals which is the part you usually see. We all agreed that the more simple ones were more attractive.

At Dunwich car park the chip hut was closed so we went Ship Inn for coffee and crisps. The firewas on so we removed more layers. We took over one end of the pub with all our gear, luckily there were few other people in the bar. Suitably refreshed we headed out towards wood that overlooks Dingle marsh then Warblerswick marsh. There are some lovely remote properties at the far end of the wood.

We crossed the marshes and then ended up at Warblerswick village near the shops. There was a hint of rain in the but luckily there were some sheltered seats where we could have lunch. The Heidi pies were up to the usual standard but my alliegance has now changed and now the cheese potatoe cream and garlic ones are my favorite. In case you were wondering the puiesare made by Pieminister www.pieminister.co.uk

On the beach
On the beach

Suitably refreshed again, we headed out of Warblerwick in the direction of Blythburgh, we were more out in the open on the heath and in addition the wind was against us. The path then headed into a Pine wood which was a welcome relief from the wind. Once almost back to where we dumped my car,we came across a great hide which looked over the estuary. We spotted Shelduck, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, and Golden Plover. we were in no rush to leave the hide as it had started to rain hard. We got out some snacks bars and chocolate and relaxed until the rain slowed a bit.

The final half a mile was miserable it was raining and cold, we were all jus intent on getting back tothe car and inti the warm. Despite the last stretch being cold and wet we had a great walk probably not far off 10 miles in distance.

Eelsfoot Inn Suffolk part XXII

Mushrooms
Mushrooms

I’m not sure how many times we have now we have been to the Eelsfoot Inn at Eastbridge in Suffolk, but we love going there because the beer and food is great and we have yet to hear of or find more reasonable priced accomodation near great countryside. So here we go again off round the M25 and up the A12.

We headed off at a reasonable 10am and were soon on the M25, just to make a change we headed off up the M11 then swung a right on a road to Colchester. We had to stop at a service station to check out a tyre warning light but they were all in the correct range of pressures.

We got to RSPB Mismere at around 12:30 and headed for the cafe for a bite to eat. Turns out they are rebuilding it and the temporary cafe is very tight in comparison to the old one, old 6 tables. The work on the new one seen to be well progressed so we look forward to coming back to have a look round later this year, (August bank holiday?).

Storm clouds over the reed beds
Storm clouds over the reed beds

After a bite to eat we headed off to do a tour of the reserve, the wrong way round! From south hide we saw Smew, Ringed Plover, Pintail. From the sluice Seal, Red throated diver. Whilst in the east hide N phoned to say his car was at the vets and they would be later than anticipated, so we would have to buy the Heidi pies for tomorrows walk.

It did not take long to get to Southwold, but we managed to add Curlew to the day list. The tide was out at Blythburgh waders could be seen in the distance. It was the end of the afternoon and parking in the main car park was easy. Helen’s mood was soon restored back to “happy go lucky” by hot chocolate and a toasted tea cake. The menu at Buchenham Coffee House (in a cellar of the high street near the bus stop) includes a whole section devoted to the “Hot Chocolate Collection”!

The Deli that sells the Heidi pies was also now selling a cheese and potato version which I opted for. Once pied up we headed round the Adnams kitchen shop where I purchased a finger guard for use with the mandolin. We then headed back to the car, the sunset over Warblerswick was stunning. We got to the Eelsfoot inn at about 17:40, I went to have a look for the barn owls with out luck before having a rest before we hit the bar at the inn

H&N arrived at 19:00, good food and beer followed swiftly afterwards, followed by a fairly early bedtime so we were suitably refreshed for a good long walk on Saturday.

Day trip to Southend on sea, Essex

We are off to Snape, Suffolk, for the new year with friends, so we thought we would take to opportunity to drop in on an ageing relative in a nursing home near Southend on sea.

We were up and about with plenty of time to spare, so we had a leisurely breakfast then headed off at about 0900 and arrived in good time via the M25. We found the home easy enough as we had taken a peek on Street View the evening before. The home seemed to be well run and the staff were friendly and helpful. P seemed to be happy enough but it took some time before she figured out who we really we’re. We chatted for about an hour and got a few laughs out of her.

The Barge Inn, Battlesbridge
The Barge Inn, Battlesbridge

We then headed off in the direction of Snape but not before I gave Helen the official guided tour of Southend. She seemed very impressed. The highlights included Shoeburyness beach huts, St Mary’s church and school, and the infamous Priory park in Prittlewell. We tried toi spot the restaurant with the wooden revolving door that P loved so much but it seems to have gone.

We headed out via Rayleigh and stopped at The Barge Inn for some lunch, I had a Adnams Fish burger with chips and Helen had a Goats cheese salad with chips. Both were tasty and good value.

We got stuck in a jam on the A12 which meant we got an unexpected tour of Witham as we tried, in vain, to bypass the queue.

Arrived at Abbey Farm, just outside Snape at about 1620, after some confusion over which building we were in Helen called the owner who sorted us out and gave us the guided tour. Very nice property will serve us well for New Year.

Absolutlely Peeing it down

Just to prove we can be predictable we are off to The Eels Foot Inn for the August bank holiday just like we did last year. However this year we have no excuse we are just going because we want to and we can.

We left my folks at about 11ish after having spent the night. Dad now has iPlayer via the Wii I gave them.

The famous Minsmere blocks
The famous Minsmere blocks

We stopped for a comfort break on the B1120 at the South Suffolk show ground which was a collection of shacks trying to be a village of shops. I was not convinced but the broccoli, stilton and sweetcorn pastie was lovely. We got to Minsmere at about 14:00 parked up and headed the wrong way round because the north wall is shut till February 2012. We had ticked off most of the waders on the what’s about sheet from the west hide, then headed off down towards the bushes around the sluice, for some reason they call them the sluice bushes.

We saw some little brown jobs then headed on to the east hide where some RSPB staff were adjusting a pump to stop something flooding while the north wall works progress. We had some great views of godwit, sanderling, and ruff.

On the way back retracing our steps it started to rain so we popped back in the first hide to wait for it to stop. We finally spotted the ringed plovers that had evaded us up till that point.

We were in the hide for about an hour and it looked like the rain was really set in, but eventually we noticed that it had stopped. We headed back to the car park then were soon back at The Eels Foot Inn.

Thistle
Thistle

We were in the bar early it guaranteed a table and means we would be in bed early and therefore ready to get up and go early in the morning. I had fish and chips again and Helen had veggie lasagne both were very good. There is a new chef and looking at the specials the food is getting better. Not that it was lacking previously, just that apart from the usual pub fare there are some more unusual dishes, tomorrow I may have smoked haddock, leek, saffron and pea risotto!