At home by the sea
PUBLISHED: 12:26 19 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:43 19 November 2013
Jayne Lindill revisits one of the county's favourite seaside towns with Suffolk Secrets
Ah, Aldeburgh. What’s not to like about it?
The rugged shingle beach and never ending North Sea, a high street lined with interesting independent shops and galleries, snug pubs, cosy cafes, classy hotels and restaurants – why wouldn’t you want to spend some time here?
Ever time I go to Aldeburgh I’m struck by how these simple things can keep me amused. Throw in a good walk to quirky Thorpeness or, in the other direction, to Slaughden and along the River Alde and I’m happy.
I’m even happier with a comfy beachfront apartment as my base, where on those days when it’s not so hospitable outside – and let’s be honest, they happen – I can curl up with a good book or simply watch the world go by.
Aldeburgh is a hugely popular destination all year round and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to places to stay. Make the job easier by logging on to the Suffolk Secrets website www.suffolk-secrets.co.uk where you’ll find a reliable selection of high quality, affordable properties of all sizes and types to suit your needs. Be warned though – once tried, you’ll probably want to return again and again.
For a couple of days in Aldeburgh with your significant other, 11a Market Cross Place couldn’t be better. It’s superbly positioned practically on the beach and five minutes from pubs, shops, restaurants and cafes – except for the fresh fish huts which are about 30 seconds away.
The one-bedroom apartment is on the ground floor in the handsome Wentworth Terrace, where, I imagine, fashionable Victorian visitors to the seaside town once passed the summer months. Indeed, 21st century stressed-out professionals might be interested to learn that they’re not the first to experience the healing properties of a few days in this charming town by the North Sea. According to Aldeburgh Museum’s archive, in the opening years of the 19th century visitors began heading to Aldeburgh to enjoy its ‘clear and healthy’ air and to sample ‘the excellence of its water’.
The town’s guide book of the time assures its readers that Aldeburgh ‘…is reckoned by physicians to be one of the most healthy places along the eastern shore, and is remarkable for repeated instances of longevity.’
As well as grand hotels, there were 15 lodging houses in 1820 not to mention about 50 houses which were ‘wholly or in part appropriated for the accommodation of strangers’ and ‘charging generally seven shillings per week for each room’.
Granted, 11a Market Cross Place is more than seven shillings these days but it’s worth every penny. The apartment is extremely well furnished and equipped in a comfortable blend of modern comfort and traditional style. The weekend we were there was wet, cold and windy so it was no hardship to hunker down in the living room, on the big comfy sofas, with books, Kindles, DVDs and a good bottle of wine.
The apartment has a huge, well equipped kitchen with a big rustic table, where you can spread out the Sunday papers and take your time over a leisurely breakfast. It was here too, that we enjoyed an excellent supper of smoked fish from one of the fish sheds on the beach and er . . . a good bottle of wine.
A lovely bathroom with a roll top bath and a cosy bedroom with a king size bed complete the apartment. Towels are provided and the owners have thoughtfully stocked the bookshelves with an eclectic selection of books and DVDs.
While we were comfortable in the apartment we didn’t spend our entire time there, of course. We sampled the town’s pubs, window-shopped, and braved the elements for a hearty walk to Thorpeness and back.
This centenary year of composer Benjamin Britten has been big for the town which gave birth to his music. Next time I spend some time in Aldeburgh I’m going to plan a visit to The Red House, the home Britten shared with Peter Pears for nearly 30 years. You can see the studio where Britten composed, highlights of his amazing archive, the library and the gardens. To see the house you need to book a guided tour and places are strictly limited. www.brittenpears.org.
Britten’s 100th birthday would have been on November 22 and there’s a party planned – for information go to www.britten100.org.
Aldeburgh in summer is wonderful, but Aldeburgh any time of the year is enchanting. I can’t wait to go back.