Make the most of Suffolk this June before the tourist hoards arrive
PUBLISHED: 12:23 04 June 2019
Jan celebrates the calm of June before the word gets out about Suffolk | Jan Etherington is a journalist and comedy writer of radio and TV series. Now living in a village somewhere in Suffolk
Ahhh, June. Even the word is like a happy exhalation, the sound you make when you sink into a comfy chair. Jooooooonnnn. For Suffolk folk, this month sometimes feels like that precious moment you have to yourself when you've got everything ready for a party and you sit down, for a peaceful prosecco, before the guests arrive.
It's the pin-dropping expectation before the show begins, as the orchestra take their seats and there's silence, before the conductor raises his baton, the curtains part and noise and colour fill your senses.
June is a month in waiting. The quiet calm before the summer storm arrives, with the big, blustery school holiday weeks of July and August.
Some locals call summer visitors an 'invasion'. My theory is that if you live somewhere as beautiful as our county - and you have chosen it as your home - then obviously others will appreciate its charms and want to come here too. Visitors boost the economy, they bring energy and life to our towns and coast, and I welcome them.
But only the wisest - or those unfettered by school terms, or work rotas - will visit in June. Like us, they know that this month you can still find a parking space in coastal towns, there's a spare table or two in the cafes, and you don't have to queue for ice creams or fish and chips.
Plus, with luck, the sea temperature is in double figures, the roses are in full bloom and it's possible to sit on the beach without an overcoat and a hot water bottle.
In the past, Suffolk has been a secret that few have discovered. There are no motorways through the county, few railway stations near the coast and, most importantly, Suffolk is out on the 'hip' of Britain, so no-one 'passes through' and discovers it.
But in recent years, visitor numbers to Suffolk have risen dramatically and, with the popularity of the 'staycation', many are realising how much there is to offer on our own doorstep.
We have perfect, family seaside towns, like Southwold, with a pier, a lighthouse you can climb and a life-guarded sandy beach. Cultural hotspots like Aldeburgh, Snape and Bury St Edmunds. There's breathtakingly beautiful Lavenham, and Framlingham Castle - immortalised in local boy Ed Sheeran's song Castle on the Hill. And there's wonderful, local food, fresh from the sea and the fields.
High summer visitors are flocking, so Suffolk enjoys the 'June effect', which I first noticed when I went to Crete for my birthday recently (yes, it's in June). In my teenage years, I'd been there in mid- summer but June was a revelation. I hardly recognised the island.
The sun-baked summer months had yet to arrive and turn it into a barren dustbowl. The island was green and full of flowers. Everything was freshly painted. Taverna owners smiled and welcomed you in. It was a month the Cretian islanders enjoyed as much as the lucky visitors.
And so it is here. Sit on the beach and listen to the waves and the gulls in peaceful contemplation, because my feeling is this is going to be a busier summer than ever. It's all Richard Curtis' fault. His new film, Yesterday, is released at the end of this month and most of it was filmed in Suffolk.
It's the story of a young, unsuccessful singer/songwriter who has a terrible accident. When he wakes from a coma he realises he's the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles.
Scenes were shot in Halesworth, Woodbridge and a huge beach concert took place in Gorleston. It was filmed in June last year. The sun shone and Suffolk looked beautiful. Many of us locals were extras.
Blink and you'll miss us, but it's feelgood and fabulous and will make everyone who sees it want to come here. Yes, Suffolk is now a film star, so make the most of Jooooon, because next year it's likely June will be busting out all over.