Thursday, 25 August 2011

Southwold, Great Yarmouth and Norwich

We have been far too busy for the last few days so I have neglected to post anything.  However, today is a free day so I shall attempt to make up for my tardiness.

We had a lovely day out in Southwold, the sun shone brightly and even though I was wearing factor 25 sunscreen I still picked up a bit of a tan.  We went in by bus and arrived there just after 1030 and headed straight for the church.  Simon Jenkins gives it four stars and I can quite see why - outside the flint is used to make lovely patterns and inside it is very beautiful and painted in parts.  The ceiling is amazing - there are wooden angels supporting the trusses and some fantastic carved heads on the next level down at the tops of the columns.  The general impression is of light and air and there is a truly stunning pulpit which looks as though it could float away such is the fenestration in the carving.  Whilst we were having a good look around a piano got moved and a chap and woman started rehearsing bits of songs - it seemed there was to be a lunch time concert called "with a little help from my friends" given by the woman who was called Sidi Scott so we decided to return for it.  I am so glad I heard the concert, the woman's voice was a bit thin and never really seemed to occupy the whole space.  But the chap (no idea of his name, think he might be Paul someone) had one of those voices that send shivers down my spine.  Deep and resonant and in total command of everything he sang - "Bring Him Home" was the very best delivery I have heard and since I have seen Les Mis at least a dozen times that is saying something.  A truly joyful experience.

We had a nice wander around the rest of Southwold in between, the Sailors' Reading Room was delightful, the pier with the lovely clock with the waterworks was as enchanting as ever and the shops were as remembered.  We had a really good coffee at the Adnams Brewery and survived the day nicely on that.  I have lost track of what we have been eating for supper over the days but everything has been fabulous.  Starters have been soups, one day half a dozen little fried scampi and another day some chicken goujons.  Mains have included a full roast pork dinner with all the trimmings, braised steak and a steak and kidney pie.  The puddings have been a pear helene, a peach melba, an apple pie and a rhubarb crumble.  Every single mouthful absolutely gorgeous.

We spent a day in Great Yarmouth (known locally as Yarmouth) and that was the day the rains came.  The Elizabethan museum (some fantastic stained glass) and the Nelson museum were both well worth visiting but my (old) guide book was wrong about the visiting times for the church and it was locked.  That will have to wait until next year now since we cannot fit in another trip to Yarmouth this visit.

Yesterday we returned to Norwich to visit the castle and art gallery and I have to say that even though it is very expensive it is well worth the money.  We spent five hours in there and did not even visit the Royal Norfolk Regimental museum.  The art gallery has some lovely stuff, one or two very nice Gainsboroughs and totally unexpectedly Lucian Freud and David Hockney showed off their stuff.  Some fabulous contemporary glass held my attention for a good half hour and the Victorian room had a lovely Sandys I have only ever seen in illustration before.   There is an amazing collection of teapots beautifully displayed and some excellent paste jewellery.  All in all I think Norwich will move into my top ten provincial galleries - which means, of course, that somewhere else will have to move out!

I noticed in yesterday's newspaper an advert from Marks about having a 20% off sale for the next few days and a couple of days before we came away I had intended to order a new bed from them so we called in at the Norwich shop to see if the 20% off applied to furniture to discover that there was 30% off furniture so the bed was ordered yesterday for delivery to home on 1st October and I saved almost £400 on the price I would have paid had I ordered it a fortnight ago.  So I am well pleased with myself at the moment!

Friday, 19 August 2011


We have comfortably settled in at Lowestoft and although the weather has been a bit cool for the first couple of days (too cool to consider sea bathing) it has warmed up today and I may pluck up my courage and go for a swim this afternoon.

The food at Lord Kitchener's is as good as remembered from last time, on Wednesday evening we had a lovely salmon tagliatelle - almost like the Fettucini Alfredo we used to make in the 70's - creamy and herby but with chunks of salmon instead of the bacon.  The main course was chicken thighs which had been boned and then wrapped in thinly sliced bacon then roasted until crispy served with an assortment of vegetables and pudding was vanilla icecream with hot cherries poured over the top.  Delicious.

Yesterday we got adventurous and crossed the county border by bus - we caught the X2 to Norwich and it took almost two hours to get there.  I cannot remember the last time I saw such a full double decker bus - it was as bad as the 65 in Malta - and the driver had to stop at every single place en route to collect more people.  Quite a few disembarked at Beccles but more climbed on so we were still just as crowded.  We had intended to visit Norwich Castle and the Museum but there were large queues - posters were advertising a special activity day for children - so we just walked around the perimeter and then went for a wander.  We found the fish section of Norwich Market and bought (not so) little trays of mixed seafood and shellfish as lunch.  With all the food we eat at Lord Kitchener's a little bit at lunchtime is enough.  We then had an ice cream and wandered over to St Peter Mancroft Church which is truly lovely.  The carvings are magnificent and there is a Comper reredos screen which I have always wanted to see.  Unfortunately I had not taken my binoculars so the stained glass windows received only a cursory inspection.  The return bus took only 65 minutes and was half empty so I think the morning problem was caused by people like us - OAP's with free bus passes which cannot be used until 0930 - catching the first available bus.

Supper last night was tomato soup followed by a pork casserole with four different vegetables - lovely runner beans.  The pudding was a banana split which I have not had for years but did enjoy.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Onslow and I are both old soldiers and therefore have access to a fabulous holiday facility in Lowestoft.  The place we can go to is called Lord Kitchener's Holiday Centre for ex Service Men and Women and situated on the seaf front at Kirkley Cliff just south of Claremont Pier.  There are only eleven en suite twin rooms and we are provided with dinner, bed and breakfast.  The food is absolutely fabulous and we are free every day to go on cultural pursuits knowing we will be returning to a delicious dinner.

We drove down yesterday in two stages, home to Burghley House near Stamford and then from Burghley to Lowestoft.  I have wanted to visit Burghley for years but never really had an opportunity until now and built a two hour stop there for lunch and a look around into the itinerary.  It was one of the biggest disappointments of my life - the visitor experience was not very good at all.  The route for cars and parking effectively prevents a decent view of the house itself and visitors have to go through a "tradesman's entrance" via the back doors.  The experience of even buying a ticket was not very nice - the only signs displayed in the entrance hall show the gift aid prices and the request for two senior tickets was met with "you are happy to pay the gift aid rate" - without an accompanying lift in tone to indicate it was a question and not a statement.  Normally I do pay the gift aid rate but being irritated by the failure to see the best views of the house on the way in I simply said "no".  All the rooms had loads of paintings but there were no guides as to who had painted them, or who was being painted in the case of portraits.  When I questioned one of the room guides she said I should have bouight a guide book or audio tour.  Not a pleasant experience at all - Burghley could learn a lot from the National Trust and English Heritage.

We landed at Lowestoft around four which gave me time for a nice long shower before supper.  We were served carrot soup followed by an old fashioned English beef salad.  Plent of beetroot and half a hard boiled egg present and correct on the plate - along with grated cheese as is de rigeur on such occasions.  We then had a fabulous strawberry tart with custard, the tart was deliciously crisp sweet pastry with a half inch layer of a strawberry preserve topped with a frangipani mixture and was served hot with custard.

This morning's breakfast was the full English with porridge or cereal plus grapefruit, prunes and juices and as much toast as we could eat.