Oh yes, did it rain. Take the contrast between this:
Needless to say the Lawyer and I only had the Dog for company. Poor mite was shivering by the time we reached Thorpeness, but we treated him to a bacon roll and, surprise, surprise, he perked right up.
Back to the start. We arrived at the café at Dunwich Heath too early for a coffee (visitor note: this is a beautiful spot and the café brilliant), and ploughed south along the beach, the looming bulk of Sizewells A and B hazy (through mizzle, not heat) in the distance. Longshore drift was in evidence here. Dunwich cliffs may be disappearing as quickly as a politician’s promise, but the beach is encroaching alongside Minsmere bird reserve. How long before the one inundates the other?
I heartily recommend Minsmere for a visit. The super-sized bird tables alone are worth the entrance money but the joy gained walking round the ponds and taking in the myriad bird life is up there with great holiday experiences (here’s a link to recent sightings). And, in truth, as an inveterate people watcher, seeing bird watchers and twitchers in their natural habitat is the icing on the cake. If the size of the camera lenses is meant to be compensation for a certain inadequacy then these men are deeply lacking.
The weather rather mitigated against anything other than a trudge and a focus on the residual ache from yesterday. I’ll leave this bit to be covered by the pictures.
And then we came across these odd huts with no explanation, just south of Sizewell.
Though later we came cross this and this sign…
Somewhere after the bacon and the boating lake at Thorpeness (you may recall from a previous post, Thorpeness is the home to the House in the clouds; more clouds than house today) we bent inland towards Snape Maltings. It meant we avoided Aldeburgh, home to Benjamin Brittain and Peter Pears and the annual music festival. The countryside became varied and the weather began to change from unremitting rain to incessant and unremitting rain mixed with persistent drizzle. We entered Black Heath Wood and came upon these strange terracotta posts. Sorry about the picture; by now keeping the lens on my camera dry was impossible. Any idea what they are?
We agreed to stop at the Maltings for lunch but since we were soaked through we decided on a cuppa and sandwich on the hoof. The Maltings are now a large popular tourist destination with performance space and creative classes alongside a gallery and cookshop and vendor of clothes etc. It is grand that these beautiful buildings have a second wind as it were and were not just demolished but the rampant consumerism seems at odds with such a quaint rural setting.
South of Snape the path hugs the bank of the river Alde for a mile or so, with marsh and reeds to the left and rolling fields of wheat to the right. The fertility of the soil is a function, I suppose, of the fact a lot of the land is reclaimed from original marsh. It is beautiful to see it covered in acres of crops, the fields rolling away into what was now a sunny afternoon. I was just pondering this when we took a small side path and, blow me, if there wasn’t an apricot tree heavy with fruit next to the path. Did I know our climate was mild enough to grow apricots outside? Nope. We had seen damsons and plums and apples galore but apricots. Wow.
Once more the path turned inland, through more pigs and potatoes, before entering the Tunstall Forest. This, together with Rendlesham Forest cover many an acre to the east of Woodbridge. We only cut across a corner but with the sun now out and the air heavy with humidity the shade of the trees was welcome. Both forests are run by the Forestry Commission. When I was growing up, my dad would fulminate against all things associated with the forestry commission because, to him, they represented everything bad about the management of the countryside circa 1970. They were hellbent on destroying our indigenous woodland in a mad drive to make us both self sufficient in timber as well as make it a major export product. To do this, as Dad saw it, they were covering the country with crappy conifer woods. He never changed his mind before he died. Recently when it came to a controversial discussion about privatising the Commission I had several second and third thoughts about supporting the idea but in the end I joined those protesting against it. If you look today at what they do I believe they have changed a lot. Not enough but a lot (now woods are recreational resources as much as a natural resource to be exploited). I think even dad would have changed (though his top three things that ruin the countryside – caravans (because basically he was a snob), verge trimmers (because they destroy the wildlife that lives in verges) and hedgerow-grubbers-up (ditto)) would have remained on his backlist).
It wasn’t long before we emerged at Chillesford where the Textiliste picked us up. The app said 37,000 steps. My feet said a lot more.
On the way back for a well-earned soak I checked the weather for tomorrow. Not bad. Not bad at all.