Visit to Felixstowe 2023
A long time ago, when I was in my twenties and thirties, I loved to travel to new places (and had the energy and opportunity to do so). I rather looked down on old dears opting to visit the same place, year after year. But times change. These days, having just got back from a week’s holiday, I confess I now do what the old dears once did.
Now, I am an old dear and we have been visiting Felixstowe (which like my own Southend-on-Sea is dominated by a large sea front) most years for the past twelve years. Twelve years ago, while looking for somewhere to go for our holiday, we discovered the Suffolk Sands holiday park (see here) where we stayed in a posh caravan, literally a minutes’ walk from the sea. We were wowed by the experience and have happily visited this same caravan park (and also the Orwell hotel, when it was unavailable) several times since.
From that point, one can either turn right and walk through a nature reserve (no blackberries to pick this time of year but lots of rabbits for Lin to photo), ending up at Landguard and what is a busy as ever impressive dock area near to the mouth of the River Orwell, or turn left and head towards the disappointing pier and if energetic enough (now, not so) walk on and end up at the mouth of the River Deben.
I have already blogged three times on our Felixstowe visits (here and here and here), doing many of the same things each time, mindful that in the week just gone (Friday to Friday (yesterday)) we agreed to put a pound in a charity box for Charlie Boy’s Angels, when one of us (me, my wife (Jolly) or my sister (Lin)) repeated ourselves (we capped it at £50), so will try not to repeat here 🙂
There is a lot more to our beloved Felixstowe than meets the typical tourist eye, which for all intents and purposes is a nice, visitor friendly old-fashioned town, a bit on the sleepy side (the very qualities that still endear it to us). Despite all our visits, most of the town remain unexplored. That became evident when we took a wrong turn and came across new (to us) interesting features, but this time, as in previous visits, we focused on the seafront and High Street areas and even forewent our day trip to Lowestoft.
Highlights included lots of chat, daily walks in aforementioned areas, often looking out at sea for the big ships, gourmet eating, reading (for me) and visiting shops around the High Street (Jolly and Lin) and attending a church service, together with a nice feeling having met many nice people and enjoying the quaint, old-worldly charms on offer. In visiting the sort of shops, we don’t see the like these days, e.g. a cobblers, that while the inevitable advance of modernisation is apparent, Felixstowe does better than most when it comes to bucking the trend and maintaining the link to the past.
Most days, we would do an early morning walk toward the pier and an evening one toward the docks. For good measure, we might drive toward the Deben and park near Cobbold Point and walk, and that typically included the excellently maintained sea front gardens. As before, one highlight was observing ships come in and out of the Orwell, often coinciding with seeing the Stena Line ferry come in.
We ate out four times: on arrival the first Friday at the Ferry café by the Deben, on the next Friday before leaving at the Turkish owned Family café, opposite Lidl’s, and twice at the Bombay Nite Indian restaurant – all places we discovered and liked on previous visits. But given Mrs B loves cooking we enjoyed her delicious meals, the highlight being: Steak and salad (Jolly), Lamb Shank from Lidl (Lin) and fishy related dishes gotten from a new discovery, an excellent fresh fish shop (James Hunt) by the Deben. And by way of contrast, we all enjoyed our experience eating “Indian” food at Bombay Nite.
On the reading front, I was able to alternate between serious study ahead of writing my next book and reading two Biggles’ books that I brought after my customary checking out at the Treasure Chest (second hand book shop) while Jolly and Lin checked out the many charity shops in the High Street. Something unplanned (for me) was following the 2023 World Chess Championship on YouTube.
While aware of Bethseda Baptist church (opposite Lidl’s) from previous visits, we did not visit until now. Our decision to do so this time was after shortly before a member of our church mentioned he preached there forty years ago and that the son of the then minister took on a ministry in Soho, where he had an interest. While accepting that one never knows these days what to expect in “Baptist” set-ups, we were not disappointed. One of the Elders (Stuart) greeted and filled us in on the church and the Soho connection, and preached a helpful sermon on Aeneas and Dorcas. We enjoyed the worship and a sense of God’s presence. I loved talking to Mike and Freda, an elderly couple with a very large family.
Will we return to the Park? The answer is certainly, circumstances permitting. Other than sliding doors that didn’t slide, I was mostly impressed by our disabled friendly, which had almost everything needed for one to comfortably self-cater, caravan, on a well managed and laid out site. We even got to talk to Laura from the Park Sales office about the ins and outs of owning our own caravan.