When I was a lot younger than I am now, I wondered with bemusement and a little contempt and arrogance why old dears should return to the same (what seemed to me boring) holiday destination year after year. Now I am an old dear, I now know why having done much the same thing for the past seven years.
We have just got back from a week in Felixstowe, a mere hour and a half drive from where we live. We stayed in a pleasant, plush caravan parked in a holiday home complex by the beach, with most of the homes invidivually owned and it is not difficult to figure out why. It is the same site we found, almost by chance, when looking for somewhere to go for our holidays 7 years ago. I am pretty sure on that first visit we discovered the significant sites and experienced anything of interest going on in the town. It happens that its lack of activity and charming feel are its main attractions, although if I had used this criteria as a youth, we would have found somewhere new.
But we loved it then and still do, to the extent we have foregone the prospect of adventure in trying somewhere else. When we set out early last Saturday, arriving around 10am, we knew we had four hours to kill before checking in. Having not discovered a suitable breakfast place along the way, we stumbled on one near to where we first stopped (in the Lidl car park – conveniently situated where we stay and where we shop for food when we are staying). “The Family café”, run by a pleasant Turkish lady, serves great traditional English breakfasts (and lunches too – as we found the next day) and this nicely set us up to re-acquaint ourselves with the town.
With reference to the map (below) Felixstowe is situated between two rivers (Deben and Orwell) and if you wanted to go up or down coast avoiding ferries (which weren’t running anyway) you would have to go miles inland first. We decided to first head toward river Deben (parking by the golf course) and pottered around, before doing the same with the river Orwell, parking in a long familiar site (Landguard) in the visitor centre car park, by the magical dock area near to which we have spent many an hour gazing out to sea at ships coming in or going out or watch with fascination some of the busy activity in the dock area. After a cuppa at the visitor centre café it was time to check in to our home for the next 7 days, doing so with no fuss. In the past, I might have thought exploring both extremities of the town before checking in, with only the tame in-between bits left, there was little more to do, but these days that is how we like it.
Our plan of action for the week was simple. We would spend a lot of time in our posh caravan doing a morning walk and an evening walk. We had choice – walk the hundred yards or so toward the beach and either turn right or left. Turning right would take us through the disappointing yet captivating nature reserve between the extension to the dock area on the right and the coast on the left looking out for big ships while we are at or simply gazing out to sea, ending up providing we had the energy by the Landguard visitor centre / café. Turning left would take us along the promenade and past the tiddly little pier, where we could if we wanted turn inland to the town centre – and that’s it as a far as walks from home went. It was also what we did except for the two days when it rained heavily and it was great especially these days I am less able to walk.
While we did eat out occasionally, most meals including most breakfasts and the main evening meals was at our caravan, which had good cooking / dining facilities. That was great too, including my indulging in drinking red wine and various treats like my wife’s birthday cake. We were joined on Wednesday by my sister. Our outings including pottering around the quaint High Street and enjoying old worldly courtesy – at least the ladies did – as for me I merrily pottered around, fascinated by treasures in my favourite bookshop and picked up a few books, ending up at the anti nerdy library – sadly – having surprising very few books I wanted to read. The other outing was back to the golf course area and walking along the coast to the Deben, and having lunch. We did debate going on day trip to Lowestoft, but were content to remain in Felixstowe.
A lot of my time was spent reading a variety of books, some I had brought with me from home, including two serious books on culture wars: “Dark Agenda” and “Righteous Indignation” (which I review elsewhere) and doing some Bible studies for when I get back. I read the four books I brought at my bookshop: a book on cricket by my boyhood hero, Trevor Bailey, a bumper 5 in 1 Biggles compendium (my favoured reading material in my early teens), “Pilgrims Progress” and “Down and out in Paris and London”. Besides lots of fun and a relaxed ambience, some, probably too much, browsing social media etc. and watching TV – in previous years we had discovered Revelation TV and Judge Judy but this year we (or at least the wife) watched the various cooking programs on offer.
The only other outing of significance was visiting the “happy clappy” church across the road (resisting the temptation trying somewhere new), which we discovered when we first came and have gone back to every time since. We enjoyed the warm welcome, including folk we met in previous years, and spiritual atmosphere. We couldn’t help pondering why numbers were low for a church so active and concluded it is they they stick to their guns on Bible truth. We met there old friends who later visited us at our caravan and we had a meal and congenial conversation at their home.
I’m pretty sure if the younger me were reading the above account of our week away in Felixstowe, he would not have been too impressed, but I can put hand on heart and say we had a good time and accomplished most of the things we set out to do and more besides. Moreover, we are already contemplating a further return visit next year, feeling blessed and privileged we are able to do so.