Sunday, 19 July 2015

'East of Ipswich'

This year we had the opportunity to go away before the end of term. so we resisted the easy option of heading down the M5 to the West Country, and instead opted for the trickier route east, for a week in Suffolk, and a chance to revisit favourite places from some of my childhood holidays.

My grandmother's family came from Southwold,  a small sleepy town on the east coast.  As far as I can recall for four successive years we rented a house with my grandmother, and sometimes our visits overlapped with other members of the family.

Back in the late 1960's the journey would take many hours, as we avoided the busy trunk roads and hopped from village to village, sometimes getting lost in the process.  One year we got totally lost near Mildenhall.  My Father asked for directions from a 'local', only to discover he was a member of the US forces whose local knowledge was non-existant. His reply "Gee, I only landed yesterday!" caused great amusement amongst me and my siblings, but did little to solve our dilemma!

We would eventually arrive, in a car hired for the trip - our family vehicle being deemed too small to fit in my parents, four children and Grandma!  
My sister and I would roller skate along the prom. I loved reading the names of the beach huts, though these days they seem to reflect the owners rather than the location!  It was a place full of surprises - small greens littered the town.  In the evening Dad would take us to the park, or out on the common or down on the beach.  

With a mixture of stones and sand, Southwold would be the first to admit that its beach is not the best in the world.  We often went south to Walberswick, where the best of the sand was located close to the estuary of the River Blyth.  The highlight of the holiday would be a day in Lowestoft, where the best sand was to be found.  
These days the town is busier, and even has a Costa.  I had forgotten the amazing variety of the architecture...

...and the quirky details to be discovered on some properties!

I knew that there were family graves in the churchyard  and that I managed to find them quite easily last time I visited, about 18 years ago.  However time had taken its toll and the proud cross that I remembered, is now broken and buried, obscured by time and weeds.  We spent ages carefully examining all the crosses, looking for familiar names, before noticing, quite by chance, the grave of my Great Grandmother right next to the footpath!
I was pleased that my daughter was able to see these graves. We all know that we have ancestors, but to see evidence, connects us with our history,
and makes us wonder how different their lives would have been to how we live today.