Take a look through this beautiful family retreat in Aldeburgh
PUBLISHED: 17:30 15 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:30 15 June 2018
James and Liz Day recapture the magic of their childhood holiday haunts at their family retreat, Amber Cottage in Aldeburgh | Words & Photos: Tony Hall
Parents often like to introduce their families to their favourite childhood holiday haunts. So it was for James and Liz Day, who brought their children, Archie, Elfie and Raffi, to Aldeburgh, for several years they renting a property on Crag Path. But now they have their own four-bedroom cottage.
It required considerable improvement and renovation, including adding a master bedroom in the roof, all ably overseen by Liz. “My first visit,” recalls James, “was when it was all finished. It just shows the faith I have in Liz’s excellent style and judgement.”
James is no slouch in the creative department either. Brought up in West Norwood, south London, by a barrister father and solicitor mother, his first job after school was training as a corporate financier. “I hated it,” he says.
“But I knew a friend’s father who ran a design consultancy. I’d always been interested in photography and he suggested I call round, which I did, wearing a suit, can you believe? I’d never thought of photography as a job, but I found I really enjoyed the lighting and composition.
“I got a lot of experience assisting James Cottier, a well known photographer, who had been trained by Terence Donovan. In 1990, I decided to go freelance.” Now James is an award winning photographer with a list of blue chip clients. He particularly enjoys portraits for advertising and editorial clients, something in which he specialises.
Liz is from near Chepstow, in the Wye Valley. After leaving school she went to university in London to study philosophy. “To make ends meet,” she recalls, “I worked in a night club and used to finish at 5am. I don’t know how I did it. That’s how I met James. He came in one night and the manager, a friend of his, introduced us.
“We met up again the next day at Covent Garden tube station. I was an hour and a half late, but there he was, standing in the rain and, needless to say, it was love at first sight and we’ve been together ever since.”
Liz obtained her MA in philosophy but, rather like James, allowed her creative side come to the fore and became a jewellery designer, working on private commissions, before joining the PR department of celebrated jewellery company Dinny Hall. Nowadays, she is involved in styling and production.
The result of Liz’s creative input to the Aldeburgh cottage is a really modern family home, with some quirky touches. “It’s certainly not just black and white,” comments James. Liz has chosen a very dark grey for the living room walls, spicing it up with armchairs in sharp, citron yellow.
She has continued the colour in the hall and up the stairs. In contrast, the enlarged kitchen diner, is stunning in white, with funky metro industrial chic overtones. With its large French doors it overlooks the decking and sizeable garden. Here, and in the living room, there is a smart wood burning stove, fantastic on winter evenings.
On the first floor are three bedrooms for the children, while a spacious master bedroom with en suite bathroom occupies the entire top floor and has terrific roof-top views.
With the beach and shops only five minutes’ walk away, everything is conveniently to hand. “My thoughts for the design,” explains Liz, “were light and airy, with a Scandinavian feel, but maybe with odd bits of a dark colour.”
She is very pleased with the end result, and confesses she found the building process enjoyable but taxing, travelling to and from London at least once a week.
She’s impressed with what’s available locally. “Aldeburgh still has a fantastic range of independent shops. I bought some items online from Rockett St George which has some quirky things, but other items have come from a good interiors shop here, Burnett & Co, in the high street.
“Everyone is so nice and shopping very pleasant. MCT Electrical have a good range of household things, Looma is great for flowers and Lawson’s Deli [now Slate] is to die for, not to mention Salter & King for all our butchery needs, equally fantastic.”
“We have great neighbours,” adds James. “So the children have friends and enjoy sleepovers. Holidays are just as they should be, family and friends, just as they were, when we were young.
“Summer for me is a golden time, meeting up at the Aldeburgh Yacht Club, doing some sailing. We have excellent walks and like taking our dog, Figgis, a Jack Russell, along the river path, or along the old railway line. I also like the pathway along the allotments. The children also love playing on the rocks, on the beach below the Martello Tower.
“Further afield, trips to Walberswick to go crabbing are a favourite. The beach is great there, or for a bit of history, Framlingham Castle.”
“We’re also surrounded by wonderful countryside,” says Liz, “and places like boating on the Meare at Thorpeness, with a visit to The Dolphin, our favourite pub, opposite. I enjoy drawing and painting in oils, both portraits and still life, and here affords me the time to do that. James is into running and may do a 10k next year.
“As you can see we have, as a family, really settled into life here.”
Amber Cottage, Aldeburgh, is available for holiday rentals. Contact Suffolk Secrets Southwold 01502 722717 suffolksecrets.co.uk
Owners: James and Liz Day
Property: Terraced, four-bedroom cottage
Bought: September 2013
Favourite room: Cosy sitting room in winter, kitchen/diner with garden views in summer
Favourite item: Liz’s kitchenalia, the vintage bits she collects, such as the whisk hanging from the rack
Favourite interiors shop: Burnett & Co in Aldeburgh, Rockett St George online
Favourite part of the county: Aldeburgh
Favourite day out: A trip to Walberswick for crabbing, then a picnic on the beach
Favourite walk: Along the railway line with dog, Figgis. James also likes the path beside the allotments
Favourite pub/cafe/picnic: The Dolphin at Thorpeness
Favourite waste of time: Sitting on the rocks below the Martello Tower, watching the sea, with the dog, while the children climb the rocks
Hobbies: Liz: painting in oils, portraits and still-life, taking photographs. James: running