Being one of my favourite places in Suffolk it seems only natural for me to start here.
Branded by the press as a paradise for the Range Rover snobby elite, the Hunter wearing city type on weekend escapes and a middle class utopia, on the face of it, it’s all of those very things. At the weekend the tweed clad middle class city dwellers escape their hectic lifestyles to their second homes, taking up parking spaces, over subscribing restaurant tables and cluttering the weekday peaceful streets into a frenzy of mayhem. The once ‘only independent’ shopping experience has extended to an array of chain stores, including Tesco Metro, WHSmiths and dare I say it (whispers in case the residence of Southwold are reminded of the harrowing experience they have recently endured) Costa Coffee, a coffee shop chain which caused uproar within the town.
But is this really what’s at the heart of this pretty seaside town?
On entry to the high street you could ask what all the fuss about, it merely seems an above average pretty seaside town (minus the tat and tacky factory outlet stores selling porcelain crockery that nobody wants and dodgy watches that only work for the duration of the holiday) but you’ve only scratched the surface.
Southwold’s charm begins with the pretty bunting flying high over the roof tops, almost like you’re entering never never land, a space that you already know is just going to be ‘good for the soul’. The array of one off shops extend from quirky antique and second hand shops, pottery painting, one-off shoe shops and artisan bakeries. All working surprisingly visually in complete harmony with the chain stores, that almost seem to look better here.
Not a Range Rover in sight (well maybe a couple) but the feeling of this place and the people within it is far from the snobby cliche its made out to be.
Towards the sea is where the magic really happens. Pretty pastel beach huts adorn the promenade, occupied by a mix of over excited families, elderly couples (yes is is possible to prepare a roast in your beach hut, they’re highly skilled with years of experience!) owners (they’re the lucky ones, they sell for up to a quarter of a million) and holiday makers. All enjoying a quintessential seaside experience, encapsulating the essence of everything there is to love about the seaside. Ice-cream by the bucket load, fab coffee, fish and chips and only a stone throw from the high street pubs that do GREAT take away beer (thank the lord for Adnams).
The short walk to the promenade offers you an experience that takes you back, coins set along the prom railings, adorned with the memories of those that have once graced the pretty seaside town, memories old and new. So humbling. A buzz surrounds the only arcade the pier has to offer, the good old 2p machines being the most popular place to escape to from the beach when the weather turns. You can treat yourself to a rather delicious fish and chip supper (a little on the expensive side, so be prepared) take a seat in the purpose built benches that act as a wind break from the sea.
From crazy golf, to crabbing at the harbour, boat trips, great restaurants (for a whole other blog) walks along the sand dunes (you can even take a walk over to Walberswick, which is just lovely) and horse and cart rides, Southwold really DOES have it all.
If you are a beachy family that can appreciate the finer things in life, you enjoy great food, the hubbub of a town thats bound to make you smile, Southwold is for you. Its certainly for me.
I plan to tell you so much more about this place I call my haven.
But until next time have a wonderful weekend guys,