Monday, 2 July 2012

On to Plan B!

We had plans for this weekend - a drive north on Friday evening, pausing at Doncaster overnight before continuing to Seahouses in Northumbria on Saturday, to take our long awaited trip across to the Farne Islands. The Car was full of fuel, the  boat trip booked, accommodation sorted out for Friday night and a campsite lined up for saturday....we were absolutely ready, and looking forward to our adventure!  it was on the way to speedway on Thursday evening that I first got wind of the potential spanner in the works...there had been heavy rain across Northumberland, a LOT of heavy rain. It so happened that Berwick were the visiting team at Ipswich on Thursday, and it was mentioned that at the time, the Berwick track (just 20 miles north of where we were planning to camp on saturday night) was actually underwater. Hmmm. Not good. Calls the following morning to the boat company and the Campsite compounded the bad news - the boat would only be calling at one of the two islands due to the strong South Westerly winds, and the campsite was "very wet and muddy...and we're expecting more rain through today, too!" A bit of discussion and we reluctantly agreed that cancelling would be a sensible plan.

Undaunted, we rapidly came to the conclusion that a weekend away having fun adventures was what had been planned, and that was what we should have - just slightly closer to home, so on Saturday morning we headed, with our Shiny new National Trust membership cards in hand off to Suffolk. First stop was Saxmundham where we had picked out what looked like a nice little campsite - and it was! £12 got us a nice pitch, on a site just a stones throw from the town and also within easy reach of the first place we intended to visit - the RSPB reserve at Minsmere.

 We've been wanting to visit Minsmere for ages - and it didn't disappoint. Well known for its Marsh Harriers, within minutes of getting into the first of the many hides we were watching two pairs of them performing aerial ballets over the water, swooping and gliding around. They were joined a few moments later by a Hobby....and then two more - fabulous little birds with such a turn of speed! We walked a circular route, taking in another hide with more views of the two raptors and lots of other birds besides, and finally the rather unusual hide above, aptly named the "Tree Canopy" hide it gives you a literal "Birds Eye" view through the trees - stunning! After that it was time for tea and cake....well of course!

Tea & Cake - Minsmere style
 It was quite some cake as well -very gooey and delicious! Another short walk around to one of the hides on the opposite side of the reserve - there are three distinct areas of habitat here, so lots of different birds to see and some lovely places to walk.

After that it was time to head to one of my favourite places - Aldeburgh, just a few miles along the coast. A lovely place, Aldeburgh, often overshadowed by Southwold just along the coast. One of the nicest things about it is this Scallop Shell sculpture on the beach...

Fantastic, isn't it? It's a tribute to the work of composer Benjamin Britten - more information on it can be found HERE. It's a bit "Marmite" - people either love it, or hate it - as you'd probably guessed I'm in the first camp! I was lucky to get some shots of it with not many other people about - usually you find a few kiddies clambering over it, maybe an older couple using it as a windbreak with their deckchairs, and occasionally even a couple of teenagers having a snog behind it! Useful art, there you go, you can't beat it! Actually, you can, the fish & chips we had for our tea was undoubtedly better even than this stunning bit of art - yum!

Sunday morning dawned bright, breezy and cheery - a lovely morning to sit outside a tent eating bacon butties and drinking tea,  so we did! Not for all that long though, as we wanted to head briefly back to Aldeburgh to buy a crab for tonights tea, and then head through to Ickworth, a lovely National Trust property near Bury St Edmunds...

 Grand, isn't it? We didn't go round the house on this occasion - we're saving that for a rainy day, today was lovely and dry and bright and it would have been a shame not to explore the gardens outside. Oh, and take a lot of photos of the fabulous central rotunda! I kept coming back to that...I suspect it will make an appearance here again before too long. Remind me to tell you about the "Stumpery" too - suffice to say it's exactly what it sounds like, but utterly magical. I'll save that for another post though!


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