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It’s all about Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 12:13 11 August 2015

Lesley Dolphin and Mark Murphy with their VW van

Lesley Dolphin and Mark Murphy with their VW van

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Lesley Dolphin celebrates summer in the county and urges you to vote for your favourite museum

Lesley Dolphin and Mark Murphy with their VW vanLesley Dolphin and Mark Murphy with their VW van

We’ve certainly made the most of our summer so far this year with our camper van. Every day on my show I celebrate Suffolk, so it’s been great to visit some of the places I talk about.

Edmund (after our county saint) is a converted white T4 VW van. He’s very basic, but perfect for a weekend away with all mod cons - well, a two-ring gas stove, a fridge and a bed! No loo, though, which is why we only go to campsites with facilities.

Last year we invested in an awning which is brilliant because it extends the living space and saves the pitch if we want to go for a drive. Not that we’ve ever felt the need to go driving. As soon as we park and put up the roof and the awning, we slip into a whole new pace of life. The smell of grass takes me straight back to childhood camping holidays – even knocking in the tent pegs is nostalgic. And we’ve discovered that we don’t need to travel far to enjoy camping. In fact we’ve spent a couple of weekends just a few miles from home at The Moon and Sixpence site at Waldringfield. It’s so relaxing to just sit and listen to the birds, or read a book, or even play Scrabble.

We did go a bit further afield for our first trip this year, to Southwold. The site, run by Waveney District Council, is at the harbour end of town with the river on one side, and the sea and dunes on the other.

Lesley Dolphin and Mark Murphy with their VW vanLesley Dolphin and Mark Murphy with their VW van

We arrived after work and got set up in time to settle back with a glass of wine and a stew I’d made earlier. We were parked alongside a hedge and as dusk fell it became a motorway for bats. It was amazing to watch them swooping and weaving at such speed, never colliding. Camping brings us much closer to nature, and mostly that’s a good thing.

I woke up early the next morning. The sun was already hot so I sat and read my book and watched as the campsite slowly woke up. There is always loads to watch. Once Mark emerged it was time to roll up the bed and cook the obligatory campers’ breakfast of bacon and egg – after all, it’s hard work surviving in the great outdoors. We had such a relaxing time – walking into the town along the beach, indulging in some sea food at the restaurant at the harbour and just generally chilling out. The biggest problem was getting myself ready for work on Monday. I was too relaxed!

We also spent a weekend at a huge VW event at Jimmy’s Farm. There were hundreds of people with vans of all shapes, colours and ages, and we spent time walking around looking for ideas. The must-have gadget was a BBQ/fire pit made from an old washing machine drum. So that’s top of our shopping list now. Mark also invested in a flagpole so we can fly our Flag of St Edmund wherever we go. Let me know if you spot us. n

The search is on for Suffolk’s museum of the year . . . which has inspired Lesley Wood to recommend the Buxhall Granary Crafts Tea Room and Museum. She says: ‘It is a small but very interesting local museum. It has many articles of interest, ranging from domestic items right through to vehicles. Old toys and war time items are always a hit with the children. Well worth a visit.’

Thank you to Lesley for her suggestion and if you want to nominate a museum you can find a form at http://www.suffolkmuseums.org

panelAs we celebrate Maritime Ipswich I felt I ought to add my penneth about our county town. I’ve lived here since 1996 and love it. I’ve never understood why people dismiss the town and have come to the conclusion that it’s a sort of bad habit that people copy without really knowing why. We have an amazing history that we ought to celebrate much more – if you go on one of our town guided walks you’ll soon see what I mean. I know there are issues with the town, but it would be lovely if instead of bemoaning what we don’t have, we focused more on the positives – beautiful parks, historic buildings and churches, and the Waterfront. If we start to believe it then so might others.

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