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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

East Anglia

I had hardly time to get my breath back after Argentina before it was time to set off on an overdue trip (14th - 24th November) to East Anglia to catch up with some old school, and other, friends. I planned the route to include Leicester and some of my old bird-watching and sailing haunts in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, sometimes camping in my X-trail and sometimes staying with friends.

First night was a stopover with my D├ęcor Advisor Carolyn, followed the next day by morning coffee with Drinking Ken in Leicester. In the evening I camped on the promenade at Great Yarmouth (quiet at this time of year) and I awoke to a frosty Friday morning and moved on to see nearby Oulton Broad where I spent many happy childhood sailing holidays with my parents and sister (Lorenzo the Llama).

Oulton Broad on a Frosty Morning. Little seems to have changed in 40 years

Next stop was the RSPB Reserve at Minsmere where I spent the day walking around the reserve (and purchased my Christmas cards in the visitor centre). It was a glorious sunny winter day, with the ice on shady parts of the mere still unfrozen from the previous night. I bedded down in the car within walking distance of the Eel's Foot Inn at Eastbridge, right on the periphery of the Minsmere swamps, where a couple of pints of Adnams Real Ale could be enjoyed without further driving.

Reed beds at Minsmere: habitat of Bearded Tit and Bittern

After calling in at Southwold, it was time to locate the tiny village of Kenton in deepest Suffolk to meet up with the first of two old friends from Colchester Royal Grammar School, Stuart, and his wife Christine. Shortly after arrival, a cycle ride to the nearest pub in Debbenham (The Woolpack) was called for. A more detailed account of the ride is found at TCA, here.

Stuart and I set off to "the local". Barney, the cocker spaniel, did not come with us

A Sunday-morning walk in the local countryside with Stuart (during which I harvested a road-killed pheasant that later stewed up well on my camping stove) was followed by a sumptuous Sunday lunch at which another CRGS Old Boy, Howard, with wife Hai-Ying, was present. The next day I headed south into Essex to camp the night near Mersea Island, another location where many happy summer days of sailing used to be enjoyed.

A November evening draws in over the mudflats at Mersea Island

The following day it was time to progress deep into the Essex Marshes at Tolleshunt D'Arcy to meet the second of my school mates, Jeff, and his wife Sue. It was with Jeff that I made my very first foreign trip: a post-A-level jaunt (1962) in a Morris Traveller around France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Andorra. I believe that during the years that have ensued we have bored countless people to tears recounting our adventures on that trip.

Our main objective was to explore the marshes of the River Blackwater estuary on a 10.1 mile trek from Tollesbury to Goldhanger, where Sue kindly collected us and a pub lunch and hot soup was enjoyed, as a prelude to her excellent cooking in the evening.
Jeff and I set off to explore the Blackwater Estuary

The Blackwater at Tollesbury on a calm morning

An afternoon's shooting was also attempted, but strictly with "clay" pigeons!

A final reunion with both Stuart and Jeff, with Christine and Sue, was dinner at the Crown Inn at Stoke-by-Nayland. It is hoped that a chorus of the Old School Song by the three men over liqueurs did not embarrass the girls! Floreat sodalitas - 'tas Colcestriensis!

Jeff, Sue, Stuart, Christine and me at the Crown Inn, Stoke-by-Nayland

I departed with gratitude to both my hosts and with resolutions all round that the next reunions would be in Cumbria.

But that was not the conclusion of my East Anglian sojourn. I had in my pocket a treasured ticket for a dance performance at the Aldeburgh Festival, in the Snape Maltings concert hall, by my favourite ballerina, Sylvie Guillem. Although this was not a classical dance, she was nevertheless superb with her partner Russell Maliphant in the performance of his ballet Push, and additional works. A splendid conclusion to an excellent ten days.

Inside the Snape Maltings concert hall. Once one of the largest barley maltings in East Anglia, it was converted in 1965 into a concert hall for the Aldeburgh Festival

Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant dance in Push


Blogger Merisi said...

You really know how to organize a great little excursion to rest up from the previous one. :-)

11:15 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Very interesting and nostalgic.
Wasn't the Eels Foot Inn the location for The Lady in Black?

I hope that pheasant didn't have bird flu. There's a lot of it around in Suffolk.

The less said about your first foreign tour the better. I remember a certain photo of Jeff sitting in the Thinker pose wearing his socks. On his feet.

Have you found a Sheila to thrash you yet?
Lorenzo T.

9:54 am  
Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

Nice blog. You were literally "on the Push"! You've done well to keep in touch with your old friends.

10:32 am  
Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

PS excellent photo of the ballet!!!

10:32 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Just clicked on your link with Colchester Grammar School and I have applied to become an old-boy.

2:51 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

I thought you went on that first foreign trip in an Austin A30 van?

5:53 pm  
Anonymous May said...

Ha ha: Merisi is right.

7:32 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Just seen you on telly with a tit in your hand!

10:01 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

What a wonderful trip, I know some of those places and am glad you appreciated supping some Adnams Ale.
I wish I had been at the Snape Maltings too to see that wonderful dance, that must have been the icing on the cake.

11:23 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

My favourite Adnams is still cider, btw. It's terrific.

1:53 pm  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

An excellent post, highlighting a fine trip.

6:30 pm  
Blogger Magdalene said...

Oh my God.. how peculiar. I used to live in Colchester and also Tiptree for a while. My ex husband (before he turned into Satan)rennovated the old sail lofts at Tollesbury. Are you familiar with Fingringhoe nature reserve? It was one of my favourite places to go walking with my girls when they were small and a great place for birdwatching. I remember a fantastic afternoon there listening to a family of nightingales. Aaaah nostalgia.

9:40 pm  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

OOOHH - I hate to come here just to leave a comment and never have time to really read and take in all the wonderful photos and experiences! I am quite jealous!

I am still at my computer writing that bloody faculty report!

And yes, there is a great deal of conditional in that statement - a great deal indeed - one must first actually have a life with/in Christ....

12:03 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Did you video the telly programme you featured so largely in?


today's word is mynec

9:19 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Why weren't you on the telly last night you big tease!
I told all my friends to watch Alan Titchface because my big brother makes a guest appearance at the end, making runcible suggestions to a blonde, and then you didn't turn up!
Where were you? Had you buggered off into the bracken and undergrowth with Blonde to study insect life at ground level?

11:09 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

You've got 100% of the votes on wordimperfect so far!

8:50 am  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

Maalie, I have found somewhere for your next trip:

5:47 pm  
Anonymous May said...

Dear Maalie,
when will you write your next post?

5:49 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Have you done the quiz on Thesaurus Rex's blog?

10:09 pm  
Blogger B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

Good to see you enjoying yourself in my neck of the woods!


1:12 am  
Blogger Merisi said...

Asking me about the identity of birds that choose to cross my camera's view is like asking about the truth about the identity of William Shakespeare: I have no response to either.
Maybe I should declare my blog a birds-free zone to escape further embarrassment?

10:13 am  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

I hope to go on a bird watching trek with some ornithological friends over the festive season.

6:23 pm  
Blogger Magdalene said...

Methinks the Irish birthday booze has got him.

1:50 pm  
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8:48 am  

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