There are certainly more exciting places in the world to visit than Suffolk’s villages, but then one doesn’t generally associate places with names like Walberswick, Saxmundham and Yoxford with bright lights and dancing girls, anyway.
That’s not to say you wouldn’t find dancing girls in the district. It’s just that, well, in that part of the world, the odds are best placed on you attempting to stumble home by the bright light of the North Star after a heady night with Peronelle’s Blush – a local cider laced with a shot of blackberry liqueur.
By day the quirky fishing villages along the coastal strip from Aldeburgh to Southwold are redolent of an older England, where, it seems, no ill could happen.
‘That’s a myth,’ I was told. ‘That England has never existed.’
Well, I expect that’s true but it didn’t stop me filling up a couple of memory cards – what an apt term – with pictures.
One morning, on a beach near Dunwich, we met some fishermen, one of whom had noticed the flash of a herring in the shallows and had caught the fish with his hands. It gulped and gasped for air while he held it.
‘Would you like it?’ he asked in a Suffolk burr. ‘It’ll need gutting.’ It felt like a test; a challenge for an out-of-towner fretting about a suffocating fish.
‘Ok. If you bash it on the head,’ I answered, remembering vaguely that I had gutted the one and only fish – a trout – that I have caught on a fly.
He took a pebble to its skull and wrapped it in a bag for me to take home. Rigor mortis had set in by the time we got in and in the end I didn’t gut it. It was baked whole and given to Treacle dog instead, which seemed a bit like wasting a life.
The fishermen said the cod have been slow this year.
This boat, pulled up on Aldeburgh beach next to a tumbledown shed advertising potted crab, hasn’t been out in a long time.
And some seaside pioneers, hardy things growing where nothing else will. Any idea what they are?