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WEEKEND WEB: A winter seaside treat in lovely Southwold

Southwold Pier
Southwold Pier

TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

“That’s a funny place to have beach huts,” I said, pointing to a row of brightly coloured wooden cabins, stretched along the edge of the car park in Southwold, Suffolk. They were facing the wrong way too, with no view of the sea.

On closer examination we realised that many of the famous Southwold huts had been moved to a temporary location so they could be painted and repaired during the winter months.

Visiting the gorgeous seaside town out of season, in November, proved to be an excellent idea. Not only were we able to have a closer look at the huts, without their owners in residence, we could enjoy the pier, the shops and the cafes without hordes of tourists.

I’ve seen beach huts in a number of seaside towns but the Southwold ones take some beating. They’re painted in the prettiest of colours and maintained to the highest standards. And the names, often written on arty ceramic signs, are a sure sign of each owner’s personality. ‘Take it Easy’ and ‘Chill Out’ next to a stripey ‘Mr Blue Sky’, the lyrics of the ELO song appearing in the windows.

My favourite was ‘Jabba The Hutte’: a Star Wars fan or just someone with a great sense of humour?

Wrapped up warm against the chill of the coastal breeze, Dougie and I walked along the pier to the end, stopping to see the waterclock which was just about to perform. The metal figures in the bath squirt water at each other whilst two characters drop their trousers and aim at a toilet, always missing their target.

The fun continues in the Under The Pier Show, developed by inventor, Tim Hunkin, who was a joint creator of the waterclock. Hunkin’s collection of wacky arcade machines was originally opened in 2001. Since then the number of machines has increased but the silliness hasn’t changed.

Dougie naturally warmed to the Doctor, a machine which diagnoses the patient with a stethoscope before issuing an illegible prescription. We built up quite a sweat, bouncing up and down on two stools which operate Pirate Practice, earning a freshly-laundered one billion dollar note as a ransom payout.

I also tested my zimmer frame expertise in Mobility Masterclass. I found it impossible to cross the road without being knocked over: the ambulance was constantly summoned and nee-naw sounds filled the room. If this is a taste of things to come, drivers of South Holland beware!

In the centre of town, we bought some Christmas presents in the excellent independent shops before hunting down coffee and teacakes in Buckenham Coffee House. Located in the converted cellar of the house of a Tudor merchant, you can still see brickwork and timbers from the 1500s. The art gallery above it is also worth a visit.

For this short break in Suffolk we found fantastic self-catering accommodation at Mollett’s Farm, near the famous concert hall at Snape Maltings. It was the perfect spot for visits to Aldeburgh and Southwold: a super winter treat.

• You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk


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