Thursday, 6 June 2013

Round and about in Southwold, Suffolk

So half-term was spent in Southwold, Suffolk.  I love visiting Suffolk as the majority of the county feels like you're almost going back in time - so unspoilt and still very much championing independents although sadly, this is changing somewhat and I have noticed the arrival of both Tesco and Costa Coffee in Southwold since my last visit. Even so Southwold with it's famous brightly coloured beach huts has probably got to be on of my favourite seaside towns - it's well-kept, there's hardly any tack and it's somewhere you can have a jolly old time with the family!

We stayed, as we always do when we're in Suffolk, in a Best of Suffolk property. I first stayed in one of their properties back in 2009 and we normally base ourselves in Aldeburgh but this time we thought we'd like to stay near a sandy beach. Aldeburgh is beautiful but the beach is purely big pebbles so no fun for sandcastle building!  The apartment we stayed in was lovely and very well situated being right in the town and only a couple of minutes walk from the beach. This was invaluable as Southwold tends to get quite busy when it's school holidays so not having to take the car out much and have parking hassles took away some of the stress. You may have seen some of my tweets - there were a few sleeping hiccups experienced but Best of Suffolk did their very best to get to the route of the problem and I cannot fault them for their level of customer service. I'll certainly be booking with them again.

On the Sunday we noticed that there was going to be an open water swim, from Southwold Pier to the Lord Nelson Pub so as the weather was beautiful we decided to pitch up at the beach and watch the swimmers come in. In the end this was more eventful than it should have been with many swimmers getting into difficulty and over 80 people had to be rescued from the water by the RNLI in Southwold who were assisted by other local crews. A couple of people were unaccounted for which meant a Sea King helicopter was deployed to help in the search. Fortunately all people were found safe and well and the Sea King did a low fly-by of the beach and gave us all a wave which pretty much made my son's day.  It all got a bit dramatic with reporters and photographers hanging around for the rest of the day.

We mainly bobbed around Southwold during the week, and the other local areas like Walberswick, Dunwich and Aldeburgh, however on Thursday we decided to brave the elements as it was no longer raining and head to The Suffolk Show. If you've never been before The Suffolk Show is a great day out for the whole family, with something for everyone - plenty of animals, vintage cars & tractors, good food & drink, funfair and lots of shopping. 

Places I'd recommend you visit in Southwold are numerous. The Two Magpies Bakery opened recently on the high street and their lemon meringue tart is to die for.  A little further down the street and you'll find the Black Olive Deli, you'll spot it from the queue of people with their noses pressed against the window - they do the most delicious pork pies and quiches in a variety of flavours and if want somewhere to grab a cuppa and a tasty sandwich try Munchies or Suzie's Beach Cafe which is right on the beach (as the name would suggest) but gets very busy when the weather is warm!

If you're looking a quick drink both The Lord Nelson and Sole Bay Inn are very friendly places and also do food if you fancy a nibble. Children aren't allowed in the bar area however it's very pleasant to sit outside the front of the pub in the sunshine as both are situated in quiet areas.

We ate one night at The Red Lion, which is a pub that looks tiny but is in fact a bit of a tardis once inside. The food was good - just great family-friendly pub grub and very reasonably priced. I'd recommend it if you are in the area with your children.

No trip to Southwold is complete with a visit to their famous pier. Southwold Pier is privately owned and is very tasteful compared to my other pier experiences, with a really nice cafe and restaurants (who do a great hot choc!), a couple of shops and a very quirky arcade! It's really worth a visit.

It would be easy to miss going down to the harbour in Southwold but it's worth taking a wander. You can get the small ferry boat over to Walberswick (or take the footbridge) where crabbing is an absolute must, or you can buy fresh fish from the huts for your dinner. Make sure you stop by the Sole Bay Fish Co and the adjoining smokehouse.

One of my favourite shops in Southwold was the Adnams Cellar and Kitchen. You can't fail to notice Adnams when you're in Southwold. Their brewery is in the town and every pub you go in will have several varieties of their bitters on tap. Mr M recommends either the Adnams Broadside or his new favourite Adnams Southwold. The C&K is a cafe and shop with a tasting bar, allowing you to try before you buy. Along with their famous beers, there is a whole selection of wines and homewares to buy. It's fair to say I spent more than I should have in this shop, especially when I discovered Fresita. The staff at Adnams were all lovely and helpful and seemed to really enjoy working there!

The one disappointment was the chip shop. I'm not saying it was bad but it wasn't great, and there was only one. When I go the seaside I look forward to having fabulous fish'n'chips but in all honesty they were overpriced and not a patch on the ones I can get locally, and don't get me started on the teeny tiny sausages! I probably wouldn't call in there twice.

Other places that deserve a mention outside of Southwold are Snape Maltings which is great for a little mooch, the Choppings Hill Bakery in Aldeburgh where we nipped in for lunch on a rainy lunchtime, the Flora Tearooms at Dunwich which are pretty unremarkable in appearance but you're greeted by friendly, chatty staff and made to feel very welcome, and finally Wrenthem Chinese takeaway who fulfilled my need to eat sweet'n'sour pork balls. 

And there you have it, our trip to Southwold in a nutshell with a few recommendations of places to visit if you're ever in the area!


  1. This is a great round up of your holiday. I saw your tweets about the issues you were having with sleep and your neighbours, I'm glad to see Best of Suffolk addressed these.
    I love Southwold, it's one of our favourite places. I'm glad you mentioned Adnams as we are a little obsessed with visiting there.
    And the Two Magpies cafe is amazing isn't it? Do I spy one of their meringues in your post? x

  2. Hi. Thank you for posting about Southwold it is my most favourite place in the whole world. Southwold is not just a place its a feeling. It a safe place to me. My mom always used to say "nothing bad ever happens in Southwold"

    You said that the fish and chip shop was not the best. You should have got fish and chip from the harbour. They are awesome and the fish is so fresh. Its the only fish I will eat. Try it next time you are down there.

    The best place to get a cup of tea is Gun hill tea shop. Which has just be renovated. There is a blue bench outside the tea shop with the name "VAL" built in it. My dad made it in memory of my mom who passed away 3 years ago.

    Thank you again for showing me Southwold

  3. Isabel Lytton9 June 2013 23:27

    I'd also recommend Mrs T's on Ferry Rd, harbourside. They make each other fresh so you wait awhile but its definitely worth it.

    Will try the Magpies next time I'm there in your recommendation

  4. Love the photos - quintessentially Britsh holiday. Those beach huts are gorgeous!

  5. I have never been to Suffolk. I love the beach huts and we are also fans of traditional English holidays

  6. disqus_dIRjNoslsp11 June 2013 22:12

    Love Southwold. We took our eldest there for his 1st holiday. He was 7 months! Lucky enough it's close so can also go there for a day. Great post!

  7. mybuggyjunction12 June 2013 08:20

    looks like a great place to have a british holiday never been there!

  8. chantelle hazelden12 June 2013 10:47

    Looks like a lovely place to visit!!!

  9. It looks absolutely beautiful. I have never been to Suffolk, it is a very long way away!


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