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Sep 2020+

Aldeburgh Coat of Arms

There's no shame in admitting to what has become a little bit of an obsession...

Why is there no public access from Aldeburgh, on foot, to the 10-mile long shingle spit at Orford Ness? Google™ Maps and the Ordnance Survey's  Explorer 212 suggest there is?

Six words - Conservation, Designated, Interest, Site, Scientific and Special. You can even throw an Outstanding into the mix but whatever combination of those words crop up, there's nothing really concrete as to why not.

Apart, that is, from a full sized Tonka Toy™ blocking your way south of town. Oh, and you'll need a hard hat on.

The farthest you'll get is the old Martello Tower, built around 1810 to keep an eye on Napoleon's plans to include the UK in his European vacation.

It fell into the inevitable state of disrepair and not until the early '70s was it restored by the  Landmark Trust. Unknown to this door-rattler, it's now a historic  holiday let with by appointment only, guided access to the roof.

Up there you used to have some company with one of  Antony Gormley's human sculptures. It was commissioned by the trust to mark their 50th year, his ethereality mirroring that of the ever changing sea sculpture that is the local landscape, possibly.

It's since been taken down but Gormley was the source of some recent controversy with more pieces of artwork, these ones dotted on the beach.

Best described as, erm, big doggies' doings and, erm, marital aids they were removed after the purchaser had failed to apply for proper planning permission and it's bet those Parish Council Zoom™ meetings were a hoot, eh?

That Gormley really does get everywhere. The Angel of The North in Gateshead, the cast iron figures on Crosby Beach near Liverpool but even he couldn't get onto Orford Ness.

Heading north, The Scallop on the beach by local artist  Maggi Hambling celebrates the composer  Benjamin Britten and his association with the town.

Born just up the coast in Lowestoft, Britten made Aldeburgh his home in 1947 and was one of the founders of the internationally renowned  Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts.

Words from his most famous work, the opera  Peter Grimes, can be read against the sky, etched out of the steel by Maggi, fag in hand, and some top-notch work with a cutting torch.

As part of the 2013 festival, and just like  Fatboy Slim, Peter Grimes had a performance on the beach. Now, there's a good pub-quiz question. What have those two got in common?

To get here, however, you'll have to stop obsessing over Orford Ness and head north to the other side of town. You'll pass fishing boats and huts where you can pick up more-palatable scallops.

Just south of the Scallop, the old Town Hall sits on a small green with a war memorial and a pond for company.

It dates from the times of the Tudors but, just like the  crisps, it's had an inferior rebrand and now operates as the  town museum with irregular opening times.

The sundial is a clue that, despite a better perspective, trying to capture it from the other side in a different light made for not quite as good a snap.

Just like the crisps, Walkers™[1] now make for a not quite as good a snack, eh?

[1] Salt & Vinegar should always be blue.

If you're a big snob and are looking for a swanky stay in the area with a serviceable beach and more than two dining options on the checklist, it's a toss-up between here and nearby Southwold.

The high street will no doubt tick most of your other checkboxes with the ubiquitous  Adnams™ making numerous appearances.

The place, however, feels just a little too genteel and lacks the architectural oomph of its quirky neighbour to the north.

At least that was the impression on a rather underwhelming and initial visit but it seems that review needs to be revised.

If it's architectural oomph you want, there's plenty of it and you just need to look a little bit closer and closer  you can.

They've even got their own charitable-trust run, Art Deco  cinema but by that, they must mean inside?

The saucy figurehead at the Golden Galleon tempts to the best  fish and chips in Suffolk, they say. That claim, however, can't be verified since the queue the first time was nearly back to the Martello Tower.

Just like Southwold, there are watery walks within, well, walking distance of town although this doesn't qualify as a creek. Far from it, the broad mouth of the River Alde, of course, which won't meet the North Sea for another nine miles, Orford Ness and all that, remember?

It's barely a two-mile loop along a raised bank, with options to extend, but with all of Suffolk's familiar wetland enclosed within. Careful now, the clue is in wetland and since everything in town is fairly fancy you're not getting in anywhere with those things on.

Switching from Southwold's preferred accommodation providers will now be considered given there's now known to be the variety and it's the kind of place where  Ruth Rendell and  Roy Keane, no less, were near neighbours.

If only they'd let you onto Orford Ness.