A Postcard from springtime Suffolk

Two weeks ago, we all hopped on a plane, said goodbye to Gibraltar and headed off to England for a few days.

Our destination…. Suffolk. Southwold to be precise, but also Beccles too for the special day that was to be a Postcard family wedding. More on that later…

It’s eight months since we were last in Southwold. It’s a special place for us which we have visited many times over the years. Regular visitors to this blog may remember my posts from here last summer… A postcard from Southwold & A postcard from Southwold Pier

It was so nice to be back on the pier admiring the view into town and towards the beautifully painted beach huts.

There weren’t as many visitors in town as we’d experienced last August, but there were still some folk around doing the touristy things. Oh, and maybe eating a portion or two of fish & chips…

Southwold is such a pretty place.

There are cute little cottages around every corner.

Oh, and did I mention I have a thing about beach huts?! 

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…

We went crazy and had a go at the two pence penny pushers in the pier amusement arcade.

We swerved the Punch & Judy show, although it did have a decent audience who persisted through the show while being blown by strong sea winds.

It may have been a bit grey at times, but that didn’t spoil our fun.

The roadside verges and people’s gardens were bursting forth with the most beautiful spring displays. Excuse me this indulgence please, I miss seeing spring flowers like this!

Oh the blossom!

And just look at this quaint architect’s office, complete with coordinating car!

I do like a colourfully painted front door…

One evening we set off across the fields behind the town and leaving the grand Victorian homes behind us, headed into the fenland towards the harbour.

Within a short walk we were by the river and tucking into a delicious pub meal. The gorse flowers glowed in the setting sunshine.


So, the reason for this jaunt to England during school termtime? We had a wedding to attend. 

Tucked away in the lush green countryside near Beccles is White Dove Barns. Surrounded by fields of crops and cattle and looking glorious was the venue for the nuptials.

The converted farm buildings were just so English and so, so picturesque.

As the registrar got everything ready for the ceremony I sneaked in to take a peak before the guests arrived.

And after the ceremony, this is the room where the reception took place.

The renovated old barn was so pretty, and the table settings, just gorgeous.

The beautiful flowers on the top table were stunning and so springlike. 

Even the wedding cake was covered in flowers. 

It was a really beautiful venue and the perfect backdrop for a very happy day.

With the happy couple successfully hitched, we had time for one more delicious breakfast at the Adnam’s brewery and another wander around Southwold before heading home.

There she is, our Rock. Thank you, Suffolk, it was lovely to see you again! Until next time…

Review of the year : 2016

As the clock ticks inexorably towards midnight on 31st December and we close the door on 2016, I thought it was time to take a look back at the year we have just had. Most of the newspaper reviews I’ve read so far have focussed on the negative aspects, celebrity deaths, the seismic political changes afoot both in Europe, America and the rest of the world, and general doom and gloom.

I am very fortunate in that for us, in our little corner of the world, apart from the uncertainties of Brexit and what that could mean for us in the years to come, we’ve had a pretty good year. Looking back at all the interesting things we’ve done makes me think about how fortunate we are. If your 2016 has been a difficult one, I sincerely hope that 2017 will be better for you and your loved ones.

January 2016

The New Year saw us spending a few days up the coast from Gibraltar on the Costa del Sol, but we were back on the Rock in plenty of time to see the Three Kings Cavalcade. It was also back in January when I went for the first of my strolls around Gibraltar the first one was an homage to the many beautiful balconies, the second one paid tribute to the many steps we ‘enjoy’ here!

February 2016

February brought us some misty and stormy weather, but there was plenty of indoors activities to keep us busy here in Gibraltar. The second annual Gib Talks event saw speakers from all walks of life take to the stage for short talks on a huge range of subjects. Later in the month, the extraordinary Gibraltar Womens Association celebrated their 50th Anniversary, I found  their story fascinating.

March 2016

In March, we were blessed with some beautiful sunny days with bright blue skies. Along with completing a tin man outfit for World Book Day, I finally managed to finish my Attic 24 Cosy Stripe Blanket after a year of hooking! We made the most of the lovely spring weather and took a dolphin trip out into the Bay of Gibraltar. There was also a beautiful exhibition in Gib celebrating  women’s creativity.

April 2016

During April we made another short trip up the coast and headed inland to Ronda a beautiful Andalucian town. I was very productive at my dressmaking and home furnishing courses inserting my first invisible zip and producing curtain tie-backs for the public transport fan in my life. A tall ship called into port at Gibraltar and members of the public had the chance to go on board and have a snoop around.

May 2016

May meant Med Steps for me big time as I completed my final training sessions for, and then finished, the Med Steps 5 Challenge with my two stepping buddies. It was a rather intense day but we were so proud of ourselves for climbing to the top of the Rock five times in quick succession. We also managed to raise a fair amount of sponsorship money for the brilliant Cancer Relief Gibraltar. Some of my sponsors are readers of this blog and I am so touched that you took the time and effort to support our fundraising efforts – thank you.

As I spent so long prattling on about the Med Steps during my training, I figured I should tell you all about it:  The Med Steps: a few facts & figures . May also meant saying goodbye to a good friend to me and my blogging adventures. One of the sad things about living an expat life is that many of the friends you make are in the same boat as you and therefore may not be around for long Saying goodbye…

June 2016

June was a very eventful month not only for me but for Gibraltar and the rest of the UK as a whole as BREXIT loomed large (this post was my most read of all time and by a very long way). Six months on, we are still no further forward knowing what it all means.

Another unexpected thing to happen to me in June, was when I chose to go back up the Med Steps one foggy morning. I thought that the mist would make the climb cool as the summer heat had begun to build. I was wrong. As I climbed up the Rock, I climbed out of the mist and fog. I was nearly roasted alive, but I did manage to take a rather good photo of the Rock emerging out of the mist below (see second left image on the bottom row above). I got loads of likes and shares and retweets with that picture taken on  A mini stroll in the mist!

11th June 2016 marked International Yarnbombing Day 2016 and I had a little go myself with my first guerrilla crochet project as I attempted to Yarnbomb the Alameda Gardens to celebrate the park’s 200th anniversary.

July 2016

July equals the beginning of the very long school summer holiday in Gibraltar. As I stared down the barrel of 8 weeks of no school and the prospect of entertaining the three Little Postcards I felt a little overwhelmed. In an effort to find some way of surviving (with my marbles intact) I decided on day one that I would set myself the challenge of doing something crafty every single day of the holidays…. and the Summer Craft Challenge was born. One of our summer holiday outings took us up into the Upper Rock Nature Reserve to visit one of Gibraltar’s newest attractions, the  Windsor Suspension Bridge .

August 2016

August, for us, was mainly spent in England. I travelled back with the Little Postcards to spend two weeks based in the North West with my parents (with a lovely trip down to Berkshire to visit friends) and then two weeks with Mr Postcard visiting his family in East Anglia. We were blessed with the best of English summer weather. When the sun shines – there really is no better place to be. Our East Anglia holiday base was Southwold in Suffolk, it gave us the perfect opportunity for multiple visits to a special place for us Southwold Pier .

The end of the month brought the school summer holidays to an end. After eight weeks of full-time kiddiwinks and eight weeks of the summer craft challenge, I was very proud to still be in full possession of my marbles (I think) and I also managed to do something crafty on every day except for one (the day we travelled back to Gibraltar). The final instalment of my challenge is here.

September 2016

September is always a very busy month in Gibtraltar. Just after the children return to school, we all have a day off for Gibraltar National Day on 10th September. Around this time we now have the Gibraltar Music Festival to enjoy too. This year saw the Stereophonics headline and Europe played the air guitarist’s dream of The Final Countdown live on the Rock.

Towards the end of the month, I was able to fulfil an ambition of mine to visit the Yarn Festival of Yarndale. It was everything I had expected and more, with bells on. My absolute highlight was meeting my crochet hero Lucy from Attic 24 and being able to give her one of my Llanitas (Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep that is). The sheep were made to raise funds to support a children’s hospice in North Yorkshire, I made two and they have both gone to live in Yorkshire!  My Yarndale 2016 (featuring Llanita’s Yorkshire adventures)

October 2016

In October I was still determined to keep up some of the crochet momentum I had achieved during the summertime and finished off my contribution to the Sixty Million Trebles project. I made a rainbow granny square blanket which will go towards the World Record breaking attempt to create a huge crochet blanket made up of sixty million treble stitches. Each treble stitch represents a displaced person or refugee. After the world record attempt the giant blanket will be made into smaller blankets and handed out to charities in the UK and those helping Syrian refugees. The organisers also hope to raise a considerable amount of funds too to help Syrian refugees.

A big event locally was the fourth annual Gibraltar Literary Festival 2016 I was lucky enough to be able to attend several events this year and really loved it.

November 2016

At the beginning of November we had just one Bunny in the Postcard household, then one Sunday afternoon during a walk through the Alameda Gardens, we found some abandoned rabbits. One of them, Blizzard, came home with us (Blizzard turned out to be a girl and she is now known as Snowflake). It was back in November when I had my first attempt at Podcasting I had such fun making it, and hope to be able to share another one with you soon.

December

In December we sadly said goodbye to Bunny Postcard. She had only been with us for 11 months but she’d quickly become a much loved member of the family.

This month I also headed out for my most recent stroll, to see some of the Christmas lights  we have on the Rock – amazingly it was the 16th stroll post I’ve written this year. I also took the plunge (literally) and joined with the annual Boxing Day Polar Bear Swim at Catalan Bay – I’m still feeling proud of myself for doing it!

 

Thank you so much for joining me this year, I have loved having your company and enjoy reading all the lovely comments. Here’s to next year, who knows what it will have in store for us all, here’s hoping it will be a good one.

Sunday Sevens #45 21.8.16

An evening stroll up the pier

We were really blessed with perfect British Summer weather last week, even into the evenings. We enjoyed a lovely walk one evening and found ourselves back down at the beach and went for a wander along the lovely pier at Southwold. It’s a very interesting place – unlike any other pier I’ve visited elsewhere. Watch this space, there’ll be more coming up soon about this great venue.

Willow dragon

On Tuesday morning we drove to Potter Heigham and collected a day boat we’d hired to spend the day cruising the Norfolk Broads with four other Postcard family members. We have hired a small boat for a few hours before but this one was a bit bigger (to take 6 adults and 3 children) and we were able to explore a lot more. We moored up at St Benet’s Abbey and had a walk up to the ruins.

I had never heard of St Benet’s before this visit and it was a really beautiful surprise. It was  so peaceful and really picturesque. A local community project had produced this great willow dragon sculpture with yarn, ribbon and fabric woven into the willow body. There’s a local legend that a dragon lives in the tunnels below the Abbey and this was their representation of the mythical creature.

Rainbow cloud at sunset

Can you see the vertical rainbow in the cloud to the right of the biggest mast? I have never seen anything like this before. We had walked along to the harbour on the River Blyth from our little holiday home in Southwold one evening to get dinner at the Harbour Inn. As we sat outside on the picnic tables waiting for our food to arrive, I spotted the rainbow in the sky and thought it was just my sunglasses playing tricks on my eyes so paid it little attention until Mr Postcard spotted it and said he could see it too.

Unfortunately the photo doesn’t do the colours full justice but you can still just make it out. Have you ever seen such a thing before at sunset?

Now that’s a beach…

I’m afraid this section deserves two photos (Sunday Eights again this week…) This is the beautiful wide sandy beach at Gorleston-on-Sea. I know Gibraltar’s very proud of its beaches and rightly so, but come on… that is a BEACH! Also that’s a beach at peak season and there’s still loads of space. It’s even got a small paddling pool for young children and a boating lake (below).

A trip up the lighthouse


After two weeks admiring the lighthouse from below, both at night and during the day, we finally decided to climb it on our final day. It is a really elegant building and our tour guide was excellent, injecting humour into his extensive knowledge about the important role the lighthouse plays (thank you Brad).

I thought it would be a piece of cake to climb the 155 (I think) steps to the top, what with all my Med Steps training. What I hadn’t taken into account was the fact that the handrail on the stairs was a little lower than I would have liked and I had to walk up and down the staircase afraid to look down and pressed like a limpet to the wall! I’m such a wimp. I was very glad to be back on the ground at the end. The view from the top was worth it though.

All good things come to an end

It took 11 hours door-to-door, taxi, plane, taxi – one of the down sides of living so far away from family, but we finally made it home to Gibraltar from our summer holiday in England late on Friday evening. The day began with handing in the keys to our home for the past two weeks in Southwold, then our final Adnam’s breakfast (don’t tell anyone, but we’ve had a few Adnam’s breakfasts during our stay). We then got a taxi to drive us all the way from Southwold to Gatwick Airport.

As we set off the rain started, so I guess it was time for us to leave ;-). We had never seen Dartford Bridge before and the Little Postcards were all very impressed as we crossed the Thames and headed closer to the airport. Then as we flew south, a chance look out of the plane window gave me my last glimpse of the English south coast. So long England, we’ve had a wonderful month… I hope it won’t be too long until next time.

Post holiday blues

I know I’m spoiled, I’ve just had a fab month away in England, and I have returned to our lovely home in Gibraltar but I’m feeling a little blue. I have nothing at all to complain about but I do miss our family back in England and I miss lots of other things about living there. See I told you I was spoiled – how can I say that with this kind of view from our windows? I’m sure I’ll soon snap out of it once the reality of the huge pile of laundry has reduced and we get back into our routines!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have had a good week.

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series featuring seven photos from the past seven days. It was created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins, pop along to her blog to find out more.


A postcard from Southwold 

Unless you are completely new to this blog, it won’t have gone unnoticed that we are currently on our summer holidays at Southwold in Suffolk. It’s a beautiful English seaside town which has loads of charm and character. 

It’s famous for its beach huts, lighthouse, beach and pier as well as the Adnams beer which is brewed locally. Mr Postcard grew up quite nearby, so Southwold has been a regular venue for day trips for us many times over the years while in Norfolk and Suffolk visiting his family. This time, however, is the first time we’ve actually stayed in the town. 

I thought we had probably seen all that it has to offer in the 20+ years we’ve been coming but I was wrong, one and a half weeks into our stay we are still finding quaint alleyways and new places we have never seen before. 


Would you like to join me for a look around? 

Southwold Museum

The little museum seems like as good a place as any to start… Manned by volunteers and open for just two hours a day it holds all sorts of relics from the towns past.

From figureheads from boats to fossils and mammoth teeth.

It has all sorts of bits and bobs relating to the town’s past, this little display was connected to the town’s tailor which is still operating as a clothes shop known as Denny’s. Whether they’ll make you a three piece suit out of tweed in this day and age, I’m not sure.

There were also lots of items relating to the religious life of the town with fragments of stained glass windows from the church of St Edmund’s which was close to a direct hit by German bombs during World War II.

Church of St Edmund’s

The church is home to Southwold Jack, a figure who strikes a bell with his sword. He was once part of a clock and chimed the time. He is an emblem for Southwold and even appears on the bottles of beer produced in the town.

It’s a beautiful big church…

There’s a fair amount of needlework on display here; in the choir stalls…

And in all the pews.

Riverside & harbour

Beside Southwold lies the River Blyth which offers the town a natural harbour. Here you can catch a ferry (rowing boat) across to the picturesque village of Walberswick on the other side.

It’s a really beautiful spot. We took a walk along the riverside on evening on a quest to find somewhere to have dinner. We were lucky enough to see a seal swimming in the harbour.

Along the riverside lie many black huts belonging to the fishermen who work these waters.


After a very pleasant walk we found ourselves at the Harbour Inn and enjoyed a lovely meal outside with the Little Postcards as the sun went down.


The Sailors’ Reading Room 

The Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room is a really special place. It’s a kind of club for sailors but it’s open to the public to visit for free. It’s filled with photographs of sailors from years gone by and photos, paintings and models of their boats too. Cameras are not permitted inside, so I can’t show you the interior but it really is worth a visit. 



Lighthouse

The town is dominated by the Trinity Lighthouse. Nestled in amongst the terraced cottages and next to a pub, it’s open for visitors to climb the many steps to the top to look out across the sea and coastline.

RNLI

The RNLI has a strong presence in Southwold. In summertime there’s a lifeguard station and all year round there’s a lifeboat station, manned as always by brave volunteers. There’s even a museum dedicated to the great work these amazing people do and have done over the many years they’ve been on duty here. 

On our first day here, we were lucky enough to see a display by the local lifeboat and the larger lifeboat (below) from nearby Lowestoft. As you can see, hundreds of people turned out to see the event from the cliffs and the beach as the lifeboat crews staged rescues of surfers, a fishing boat crew and swimmers.

The town 

The town of Southwold itself is beautiful. It’s filled with many independent shops including great food shops, a big favourite of ours was the Two Magpies Bakery (my waistline will testify to that fact!)


Behind the town lies the common complete with it’s two striking water towers, and also currently, the circus.


There are so many beautiful buildings lying up alleyways and tucked away off the beaten track.

Oh, and there’s a brewery here too… I think I may have found a new favourite tipple 😉

If you should happen to be in this neck of the woods, I would really recommend a trip to Southwold. We just can’t help keep coming back for more…