Normal Service is Resumed – Nearly

I’ve had a brief break from blogging, but not from reading, when D and I went to Suffolk this last week. I finished three books (more about those in another post) and ate too much food, did a little walking and a lot of sightseeing and relaxing. Suffolk is beautiful, quintessentially “English”.  Think of large skies, green fields, little country lanes, deep brown earth, old cottages with red/brown tiled roofs, thatched cottages, windswept coastline, beach huts, fishing boats, castles, and large parish churches in picture postcard villages.

We stayed at Badingham, near Framlingham and this was the view that greeted us each morning. We counted about twelve little ducklings in all, paddling furiously to keep up with their mother.

She stopped now and then, when they all went their separate ways, bobbing their heads down in the water.

Then after their swim they scurried off over the gravel to the other side of the farmtrack and disappeared until time for another swim.

We visited the beaches at Aldeburgh, Sizewell and Southwold, all so different. Aldeburgh is sand and shingle, fishing boats, herring gulls and wide expansive skies. 


Southwold has a sandy beach, a pier and beach huts.

Sizewell is impressive, deserted when we were there, just sea, pebble beach, fishing boats and the power station.

 Sizewell B Power Station supplies 3% of the UK’s electricity needs from this windswept coastline. It was built between 1989 and 1995 and is estimated to be in operation until 2035. A strange site to see at this little fishing village.

If there is a castle nearby I have to go there. There are two near Badingham, both steeped in history. The nearest one is Framlingham – known to me as the place where Mary Tudor gathered her forces to take the Crown in 1553. It’s basically just the wall that remains of this 12th century castle, but it was full of atmosphere for me with it’s huge stone walls, crenellated towers, beautiful Tudor chimneys, mere and grassy earthworks.

My favourite, though, has to be Orford Castle. Built between 1165 and 1173 for Henry II it is one of the best preserved castle keeps I’ve visited and, this is what I really like, there are no staged scenes in it, only a few unobtrusive information boards, just the building alone. The audio tour is good and the guide book is excellent. I knew nothing about this castle and hadn’t even heard of it before. I don’t know how I would have managed in the 12th century; I get vertigo climbing the stone steps up to the top of the castle. I’ll have to write more about these castles in another post.

Back to books tomorrow.

Just a Glimpse of the Orient

On Monday D and I went for a walk with a friend alongside the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we enjoyed these views. This is the start of our walk.

The Wendover Arm was first constructed in 1797, but as sections of it leaked it was “de-watered”. From 1989 onwards it has been restored and this is what it looks like today.

Kingfishers can be seen along the canal, but we didn’t see any on Monday. There were lots of other birds though, ducks, moorhens, coots and dabchicks (otherwise known as little grebes), busy diving and collecting nest material.

The ducks were in fine form, taking off a high speed and then landing with legs flailing before splash-down.

Further along the canal we saw a swan sitting on a large nest over on the other side.


The canal opens up into an area known as the Wides, with areas of grass and shrubs with a tiny island on the far side. Trees have invaded what was once open water and without management the canal would disappear in a few years.

Then came a surprise – a pair of mandarin ducks. I’d never seen these before; they looked very different from the other birds on the canal, but just so beautiful. The male has very distinctive chestnut brown and orange fan wings sticking up above his body, whilst the female is a duller brown with white spots. They were swimming together in and out of the trees. When I came home I looked them up in our bird books. Originally from China these ducks like streams and overgrown lakesides in broad leaved woodland and they nest in tree cavities. The canal is the perfect place for them.