Springwatch pub to springwatch pub and back

Violet Edged Ground Beetle
Violet Edged Ground Beetle

The Eelsfoot is where the 2014 Springwatch crew stayed as it is close to Minsmere RSPB, the presenters stayed at the Ship Inn at Dunwich, which was apparently to keep them apart after having worked together all day. today we set out to prove that it is not far enough by walking from the Eelsfoot to the Ship Inn and back again.

We headed off at 0930 there was a bit of a chill in the air and a jumper was necessary. We headed towards Minsmere but then headed off the road up the track that goes past Hangmans New Wood, which was a mistake which we figured out later when we got back. We were hoping to the take the path that leads to Saunders’ Hill and then cross the road at Scott’s Hall Farm but we ended up heading towards Westleton so had to veer off before we got there. Then we found that the “open access” area was closed, so we had to walk to Scott’s Hall Farm anyway, not a great navigational start to the walk we have done quite a few times!

We started across Westleton walks and came across a guy watching a Tit flock, the usual suspects were present Great/Blue/Coal/Marsh/Long-tailed tits and for a bonus we spotted Treecreeper and an almost certain Goldcrest. The weather was starting to get quite warm I had to take the jumper off. We carried on passing Grey friars, then the Friary at Dunwich and finally the chip huts down at the beach. My grand mother thought it was the best fish and chips in the world and I got taken there more than a few times when I was at school. We had coffee and shared a bowl of the chips. I’m not sure they were as good as I remember but a welcome snack all the same.

Coast Guard Cottages

Sat on the beach in the sun for a while the walk was a long one so we wanted to take our time. We shared a Snickers bar for an energy burst then headed back up the hill destination the National Trust Coastguard cottages for coffee and cake. Once on Dunwich Heath we scanned the heather for Dartford Warbler but although we had fleeting glimpses I would not add the to the holiday list. We did get great views of a Wheatear but they have a habit of sitting on on prominent perches and their sand colour makes then easy to spot.

I had coffee and a very nice apricot and almond cake, and Helen had hot chocolate and cheese scone. I took a panorama set and managed to get the same bloke in the pictures who was in the one I did at the chip hut he probably thought I was stalking him. We headed down to the North wall at Minsmere and noticed that a twitch was happening in the field to the west of the north bushes, we theorised that it would be for a Wryneck and we were not wrong. We stood around for about 10 minutes but being impatient birders we soon got bored and moved on to the visitor centre for a quick fruit juice before the final push back to the pub via the Island Mere hide, where we hoped for a final chance to see Bearded Tits.

Early mushroom

We had quite sore feet and were quite tired by this point we had probably walked about 8 miles and had another two to go. There were quite a few people in the island mere hide, but we found a seat each at the new windows, which seem to have replace the traditional lift up windows you find in most older hides. We saw a marsh harrier and some ducks in the distance, then a kingfisher was hovering but the Bearded Tits were elusive as the dartford warblers, although a lady nearby claimed she had seen some but despite scanning the area she pointed out we dipped out.

Rather than taking the direct route back to the Eelsfoot along the reserve approach road, we climbed the hill to Scott’s Hall Farm so that we could take the cross country route which is a much more pleasant walk and you don’t have to give way to cars every minute as they leave the reserve. Doing the route that way round enabled us to understand where we went wrong on the way out in the morning, we had left the reserve road too early.

Back at the pub we freshened up and relaxed for and hour then enjoyed Sea Bass and chips and Goats cheese salad. All washed down with the obligatory Adnams bitter. After a long day on foot we retired early to bed.

Southwold Warblerswick and Minsmere

Southwold to Warblerswick ferry

We were awake at a reasonable hour and took our time getting up, watching TV in bed is a real treat. Breakfast was not available until 09:00 Sutherland House clearly does not cater for business travellers, well not the business I work in anyway.

The plan for the day was Southwold first Helen was going to do some shopping and I was going to wander round town and take some photographs. Then we would drive round to Warblerswick for a walk around the marshes there.

I went to the reading room first I thought I might try a panorama. When I got there four locals where putting the world to right. I looked around and noticed that there was a sign saying that if you wanted to take pho graphs you had to apply and put the application in the box on the door, very strange. I asked the locals who could give permissions they all looked at the guy who seemed to be holding court amongst the he asked if I wanted to take general pictures or specific ones, I said general and he have the nod. I think he was a bit surprised she got my tripod out and started taking 24 pictures, but if got the shots I needed, left a donation and made a sharp exit.

Life is a stony beach

Next I went to see if I could have a look around the lighthouse but it turns out it is only open certain days and Monday mornings was not one of them, so I wandered down to the church which is quite large and very light inside. I asked out of curtesy whether it was ok to take photos and was told it was ok but a donation was required, I obliged. The church has a very high roof which is painted in blue and good at the altar end and bare wood at the other, the windows are very large so it is very light inside. I was due to meet Helen at 1100 so headed back to the high street to buy some, shoe laces and found a couple of interesting books, then headed to the free car park to meet Helen.

Next stop was Warblerwick we stopped at the church which seemed to have a very interesting history, it was clearly quite big in a former time as there were parts which were falling down, it looked like it was similar in size to the one in Southwold but the used part of the building was now just one of the side sections, the marks on the tower wall suggested there had previously been a central section and two side sections.

We drove on to the quay side where we parked up for £3 then started with a coffee and shared a piece of carrot cake at the lovely cafe on the corner. Then we headed out towards the sea at the beach hits and walked along the coast for a while then headed in land and though the reed beds back towards the church we realised that we would need to get a shift on if we wanted to get to the Eelsfoot before 1400 so we took the short route back, then drove to Eastbridge getting to the pub with 5 minutes to spare. We dumped our luggage then drove back to Minsmere RSPB.

Minsmere beach

Helen had beans on toast for lunch I had coffee and a packet of savoury cardboard triangles disguised as a health snack, which Helen had for some reason purchased for me. The weather was really quite warm there was hardly a cloud and not much of a wind, as a high pressure system was over the UK and was hold off surrounding lows. We had a good look around the north bushes area then headed out to the seaside it was perfect weather for a gentle stroll. At the scape hide there was a lot to see in terms of waders LRP and snipe the highlights. I had not seen a snipe for quite some time it was almost becoming my boogey bird, one that is pretty common but you never seem to see.

We headed on to the Minsmere sluice and had a look at the bushes there was not the usual activity there, so after twenty minutes of sitting around and seeing not a lot we walked back to the visitors centre, stopping off at one of the hides where we spotted Green Shank and Green Sandpiper which were very unexpected. Then it was back to the pub for a east and time to freshen up before a couple of pints and Adnams and some pub grub.

A final trip to the Eelsfoot Eastbridge for 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The university of life boat race

House in the clouds Thorpeness Suffolk

Up at a reasonable time with plan for a walk and then some messing about in boats on Thorpeness meare. We walked out bast the house in the clouds and then at the disused railway headed out and around the RSPB reserve called North Warren. The reserve is basically a big marsh and reed bed surrounded by woodland. We were not really looking for birds but spotted green woodpeckers, buzzards and kestrel. Insect life included probably most of the dragon flies, and a big caterpillar, it could have been a fox moth one.

Swan at Thorpeness Meare Suffolk

At the far end of the marsh there is quite a lot of board walk, which keeps you off the boggy ground. Once the circuit had been done we ended up back at the Mess the over priced sandwich shop opposite the meare. Suitably full we wandered over to the boat hire place n the meare, we planned for some messing about in boats. The party split in two some got straight in a boat for and hour and a half session, some others including me went back to the hut to dump some technology and change into more suitable clothing.

I was disappointed that I cod not hire a sailing boat, the buggy running the place said he had a bad back so was unable to his out the sailing vessels. He did explain why but I did not really get what he was saying. The three of us rented a boat, and I started off the rowing. It did not take long to get back into the hang of things, we had a couple of races which the other side won then the hour was soon up and we headed back to port.

Next on the list was a beverage, J insisted we get some duck food, which the cafe sold. It meant that we were invaded by swans desperate to get some of the food action. Some of the party retreated to another table whilst I hand fed the swans.

We walked back to the hut via the beach. Later T and I were dispatched to the Golden Galleon in Aldeburgh to get fish and chips, which we thoroughly enjoyed but we will never know if the other place which was recommended (and closed on Wednesdays). Later while I typed the blog post the girls did their piss pots club which involved doing a water colour portrait of me, luckily they were able to do most of the painting from memory as I went to bed early.

A trip to Southwold in Suffolk

View of Southwold in Suffolk lighthouse

We woke up to a glorious day, the sun was shining and there were white fluffy coulds against a deep blue sky, the only slight downside is that it was cooler and there was a strong wind to make it worse. I had toast and coffee for breakfast then we all left the house destination Southwold.

The drive from Thorpeness to Southwold takes about 30 minutes, and keeps you away from the A12. We parked up a the pier car park and even managed to find a free parking space. The pier is an interesting place in particular there is an arcade room but all the games are one offs and involve some sort of mechanical feature. The attraction is called The under the pier show and the link I have included probably explains it better than I ever could.

We then headed towards the shops but stopped off at a beach side age for some lunch I had a lovely fish finger sandwich, and an Americano. The weather made for great photography so when the women went shopping I disappeared off round town to make the most of the light. We al met up at 15:00 at the pier arcade and shoved a pound or two into the tuppence waterfalls and day at the races machines.

On the way home we picked up a mini barrel of Adnams bitter, and some parsley. The beer needs to stand for 24 hours but the parsley would be used in the pasta sauce I am making for the evening meal.

View of Southwold in Suffolk

Aldeburgh and back, then Minsmere

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

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.

Home to Thorpeness via Anglesey Abbey

Angelsey Abbey

The annual family holiday is due this year at Thorpeness in Suffolk, which by all accounts is a strange place. We could get into the rental at 16:00 so there was no rush to leave the house, the plan was to stop at the national Trust property Anglesey Abbey over near Cambridge. We were away at 11:15 and after a pretty uneventful journey via mainly motorway and dual carriage way we arrived at the abbey at 12:00.

Anglesey Abbey was mediaeval priory which was eventually owned by Lord Fairhaven who turns it into a family home. He was find of Dahlias and they feature a lot around the house and grounds. There is also an annual Dahlia festival featuring the best Dahlias you’re ever likely to see on one place.

We walked around the grounds then had a look at the working mill, followed by the main house and then some other of the grounds before having lunch in the visitors centre. The house was one or the more interesting houses in that the contents were relatively modern compared to other National Trust properties. There were also quite a few paintings mainly of Windsor castle. Lord Fairhaven seemed to be a collector of things I noted pictures of birds, jewellery crosses, paintings of Windsor castle, and Chinese stone carvings. After lunch we headed back on the road to the twilight zone that is Thorpeness.

We took the tourist route which is a pleasant drive but not suitable for the VW cruise control as there are too many bends and you have to keep adjusting the speed and it is not so bad when you have some one to follow as when they break so does the Golf, but the road was very quiet so no one to follow.

Thorpeness Suffolk view

When we got to Thorpeneas it took a tour of the village MD a mobile phone call to find the rental cottage which was very nice. Plenty of rooms down stairs and more than one TV to save any arguments over which channel to watch. WiFi was soon found and connected to but the speed was a bit rural at 1.6mb down and 1.2mb up.

Rooms were soon allocated, bags unpacked, food stored away and we could begin to relax. A short walk via the beach and the shallow boating lake was in order. It became clear that Thorpeness was a weird place a subject that I will entire to in a later blog entry. By the time we got back it was time to eat. We had come prepared with Waitrose prepared salads so it took no time at all to take the lids off of the products and get stuck in. We also bought a selection of cheeses amongst which was a wedge of Bleu D’Affinois my favourite new cheese, and it was the only one that was completely demolished.

After a game of Scrabble I went to bed looking forward to a walk on Sunday.

New year at the Eels Foot Inn

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 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

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.