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Southwold Sign

Sep 2020+

sūð Old English south + wald Anglian forest.

Population - 3,906.

Southwold Sign

Just four miles off the busy  A12, this coastal time warp is a little bit cut off. Not just from Suffolk but from the rest of the wherever the 1950s went. It's a very popular haunt, however, and with every other home a holiday let, the daily population can swell sixfold in the summer.

Southwold - Primrose Alley Southwold - High Street

The high street still trades largely independently and Costa™s had to overcome 600 objections including the Town Council to bag a spot.

It has been noticed recently that many of your maritime-themed clothing providers[1] now have a presence here but you can still buy an exotic looking gourd from the posh greengrocers if you manage to dodge the 4x4s.

With this somewhat snooty reputation, this kind of opulent opportunism is normally deplored but a little bit of disclosure... WE BLUMMIN' LOVE IT HERE! but it's not really known why.

[1]  FatFace™? Better lay off the Adnams™, then, but more on that in a minute.

Perhaps it's because there's an architectural twist at every turn where the Art Deco rubs up against the ornate Italianate?

Southwold - Architecture Southwold - Architecture

It's not just the buildings that clash and at weekends, the buzzing pubs are a lively mix of boozy locals and out-of-town media types.

The  Adnams™ brewery is the town's largest employer and the tour was maltily informative even if the tastings were a little stingy. Despite a modest, national presence, they dominate proceedings in these parts and have a hand pull in just about everywhere to eat and drink here.

Their offerings are decent, though, so you can take your pick of the places to carry on sampling.

 
The Red Lion (South Green)

Wash down that whale of a haddock with whatever Adnams™ they've on today. It gets packed at weekends, mind, so nab an outdoor table and eavesdrop on who is, erm, 'difficult' to work with in the world of the media.

Perhaps it's the countless[1] greens that create captivating and appealing spaces? They were put here as fire breaks when this would all once have been wood and remain thankfully free from the developers. The cannons on Gun Hill Green point to Sole Bay, an area of sea that was home to some old naval  ding-dong with the Dutch.

Southwold - St James Green Southwold - Gun Hill Green Southwold - Gun Hill Green

There's an octagonal hut here that used to be home to Blyth 105 FM Valley Radio...

'From Lowestoft to Leiston, it's twelve minutes to one so call me with what you're having for lunch. I'm having bananas, here's the  Dickies'...

[1] 10,  they say, but at least 11 on this watch.

 
The Sail Loft (Ferry Road)

There are two dining options in Southwold, decent and dependable pub grub or slightly stuffy with a reservation required. This relatively-recent addition is looking to fill the gap, when in season, with a modern-looking menu and no full ties to Adnams™, neither.

Southwold - The Sail Loft

That's not to say you won't find their palatable offerings alongside a crafty, local selection and all on Ferry Road on the way to the caravan park. That means you might have to walk home briefly in the dark but the cracking sunset they laid on earlier more than makes up for that.

Perhaps it's the ramshackle but really rather marvellous harbour? It's the perfect spot if you're running low on  chandlery or just looking to pick up some fresh fish.

Southwold Harbour Southwold Harbour

A couple of the no-frills huts even fry it but you'll have to keep an eye on your chips. The resident gulls show scant disregard for indicators of acceptable behaviour.

If you can't be fussed with walking nearly a mile from the mouth to the bridge over the River Blyth, there's an alternative way across to Walberswick.

Southwold - Walberswick Ferry

A seasonal  foot ferry or, if you like, a  lady off the telly in a rowing boat. She knows her tides and will set off at sixty degrees to adjust for the straight hop across. Now that's what's thought to be called doing a 'proper shift'.

 
Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum (Ferry Road)

There's a free distraction at the river mouth in the form of an RNLI 'museum'. They shipped the shed here from Cromer in 1998 when the pen pushers at City Hall refused the plans for a new building.

Southwold - Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum

It's home to the Alfred Corry, Southwold's oldest surviving lifeboat, built in 1883 and launched 41 times saving at least that many lives. She ended up down in Essex before returning for restoration and there's a load of photographic evidence inside if you don't believe it.

Perhaps it's the turn of the century but very much still-standing  pier? The handrails have been covered in celebratory plaques with most messages more touching than those advertising the services of care homes.

Southwold Pier Southwold Pier

If you're in doubt about the popularity of Southwold, there isn't a single gap and there's a guy here with a drill adding another layer.

Local nutjob and artist  Tim Hunkin's  Under the Pier Show is a collection of home-made arcade machinery that's housed halfway along the pier.

Southwold Pier - Under The Pier Show

Assume the guise of Kim Jong-un and shoot and destroy those works of art or zimmer frame across that busy road, your reward? The Bingo Hall! It's that kind of thing.

They're mostly based on the original video game cabinets with Tim tinkering with the electronics and soldering on in his shed to nail the playability. He is, quite frankly, a genius.

His work has a deservedly bigger audience with more of his crackpot contraptions now space invadering into Holborn, in that London.

 
The Electric Picture Palace (Blackmill Road)

 Michael Palin, no less, used to holiday here as a boy and his parents even retired to a house overlooking Southwold Common. That's why he's got some hand or other in the charitable trust who run the old-skool cinema he was invited to open.

Southwold - The Electric Picture Palace

When it's said open, it's not meant re-open since it's not that old, actually, and was only converted from some kind of stables in 2002. It's not known if there was a special screening of  Citizen Kane that night, directed by and starring Orson Cart, sorry,  Orson Welles.

Perhaps it's George Orwell, daubed on the café wall behind the pier's entrance? This 2014 piece 'celebrates'  Eric Arthur Blair's association with the town and  Charlie Uzzel-Edwards AKA 'Pure Evil' AKA 'The Welsh Banksy™' did the doodling over a long weekend.

Southwold Pier Southwold Pier - George Orwell

You'll have passed the family home on your way in, it's at the top of the high street, now next to Marks Fish & Chips. Orwell had a couple of spells here, which is why he nicked the name of the river that flows through Ipswich, probably.

Being a bit of a big old Socialist he reportedly hated the small town conservatism and, unlike this pair, was said to have loathed the place.

This comes as a surprise since Marks' plaice and chips were really rather good.

 
Little Fish and Chip Shop (East Street)

Recently opened alternative to Marks although you'll have to get to both early since half of the caravan park seem to have the same idea on your first Friday night here.

Cooked to order, it's a bit of a squeeze so you wait outside until they shout your name out Starbucks™-style although how this operates if it's raining isn't known.

Perhaps it's the brightly coloured beach huts that line most of the long promenade? These can sell for skywards of £100K and that's without running water, at least not until the next storm surge. Some are more elaborately adorned than others, Jabba the Hut, for example, will set you back £30 a day.

Southwold - Beach Huts Southwold - Beach Hut

No prices listed for this one, currently owned by Netflix™. Entrance is gained by simply knocking on the door...

Who's there?
I am the one.
I am the one who?
 I am the one who knocks.

 
The Swan Hotel (Market Place)

Southwold's luxury lodgings provider with a nightly price in the mid-two hundreds. There's a formal restaurant that's not actually that steep and after a recent revamp, they'll now feed you in the bar with no reservations. What's that you ask? Of course it's all overseen by Adnams™.

Perhaps it's just a sunny, early evening sitting outside the  Sole Bay Inn, working your way along the Adnams™'[1] having shunned the, admittedly decent looking, grub?

Southwold - Sole Bay Inn

The Adnams™ brewery is just behind and over the road and while their empire isn't exactly crumbling, the former King's Head pub opposite Orwell's still sits wastefully boarded up[2].

The only thing this town is possibly missing is a sit-down tandoori and a similarly aged couple from Kessingland agree. Anybody else in? What's that? Yer  oot?

[1] Ghost Ship (9/10), Explorer (8), Mosaic Pale Ale (8), Spindrift (7), Broadside (6). Hic!
[2] Recently found to be dealing in antiques.

 
Sailors' Reading Room (East Street)

A small slice of salty dog, Southwold history. When work wasn't available, this mid-19th-century building was an attempt to stimulate the idle fisherfolk through the provision of the printed word.

Southwold - Sailors' Reading Room

It was to keep them off the Adnams™, really, but you've no such concerns and can nip round to the Lord Nelson when you're done here.

Perhaps it's the creek? Yes! The place even has a creek and you can walk along Buss Creek on this type of terrain.

Southwold - Near Buss Creek Southwold - Welcome To

The halfway point crosses the main road in and a charming, old-skool welcome, which won't have you watching your chips but you will have to watch your  Green Cross Code™s.

Things continue to the bridge at the top of the harbour although you might have to divert around some cows if you do, if you haven't had to do already.

Meanwhile, back in town, St Edmunds Church is one of the finest examples of flint construction in Suffolk, they say. The building blocks are 15th century although some restoration has been necessary.

Southwold - St Edmund King & Martyr Church

The most recent was just after World War II when a nearby bomb put the windows out and much of the original stained glass was lost. Despite all that, the bells still ring and it doesn't half make a din on a Sunday.

 
Enzo's Pizzeria (High Street)

A one-man operation who's the only pizza provider in town hence its popularity. There's no point popping in at lunchtime to see if there's anything available later, Enzo doesn't seem to know, neither...

'Drop me an email or call again tomorrow morning and I might fit you in Friday' he says.
That's not a meal, that's an adventure!
'I like you!' he says but not enough to squeeze in a table before it's time to head back home north through Norfolk.

Advising trippers speak very highly of this quirky operation so there'll be another try next year when the  Fulham F.C. fan's service won't be with so much of a smile. They'll be back in the Championship by then, probably.

Perhaps it's because the whole place is built on a  torus so nowhere's never more than 5 minutes away? That includes the not yet mentioned beach or the lighthouse or the boating lake or the water tower.

Southwold Beach Southwold - Boating Lake Southwold - Water Tower

The water tower might be milking it a bit but what a tower! What a town!

WE BLUMMIN' LOVE IT HERE! But it's still not really known why.