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Sep 2018

Snape Sign

Eyeball-pleasingly typical for these parts of East Suffolk, there's not too much reason to linger in the village unless enviously eyeing wealthy-looking dwellings is your idea of a good day out.

No, a snake-infested nature reserve is Snape's main attraction prior to the perusal of some up-market knick-knacks where the prices are, quite frankly, taking the hiss!

Snape is probably best known for its association with composer  Benjamin Britten. He made his home here in the 1930s when he was banging out Peter Grimes in the Old Mill. This was before he decamped to nearby Aldeburgh and went on to co-found the internationally renowned music festival but more on that in a minute.

The  Old Mill was tracked down but it's a B&B now and hidden behind some hedges on the main road through. It's not far from someone else's snap of Snape and that looks to be the highlights done.

Hang on! There's a 'warren', it says here, that's going to need a right good looking at and that'll be Snape Warren.

Just east of the village, Snape Warren is a small nature reserve that's RSPB™ run but at just 48 hectares[1] they don't demand any of your dosh although donations are welcome.

It's made mainly of heath and wetland with some shrubbery for shelter and that's shelter from the unseasonable, Suffolk sun that's beating down today but with it comes a downside.

Doing what you might call a bit of casual birding, the only rule of this game is if you don't fancy going out in it then neither do they, weather-wise. The exception is days like today when, without bottled water, they're happy to hunker in the bushes and wait until it chills to start chirping.

That includes the distinctive trill of the relatively rare  Dartford warbler who's advertised as having made the crossing up into East Anglia. One has definitely been heard before on Dunwich Heath but here they're as mute as the swans even though there aren't even any of them, neither.

[1] 120 acres or nearly 60 football pitches in old money.

There's much more chance of glancing an adder, it says here, and they're often seen basking near to the paths in this type of terrain.

By often it's meant that one was once seen at Minsmere but, but they're snakes UURGH! And, and they're poisonous[1] AARGH?

Indeed, so don't poke it with a stick or stamp on it or let the kids too near although they too are as rare as a Dartford warbler today.

[1] Venomous, actually, it's fine to eat them, probably.

You might have encountered a very different kind of slippery character along here around 300 years ago, though, and that'll be the smugglers.

The river path heads to the coast, just four miles east at Aldeburgh, and in 1727 an unfortunate upholder of the law had his nose chopped off for having the bottle to challenge some bootleggers.

This terrible tale is known because it says so on a sign but with this pair's olfactory organs still intact, something has been scented. The scent of a symphony, the odour of an orchestra, that is.

Rather than right to the village, it's left and over the bridge to Snape Maltings, a former barley factory and now the venue for Britten's internationally renowned music festival, remember?

Not that a classical kind of air is being sought, the whiff that's been picked up is that of the bacon coming from the café's kitchen.