Monday, 12 May 2014

Crabbing in Southwold

This weekend, we took a mini-trip with our caravan, for a spot of one of the 3-year old's favourite activities: crabbing.

We headed off first thing on Saturday morning (well, 9am, which was as 'first thing' as we could manage, considering mummy had been out on the wine the night before!) and arrived at Southwold Camping & Caravan Park, just after 11. It's a basic site, council run, nestled in between the beach and the harbour, with Southwold a 15 minute stroll away along the beach (or 20 minutes along the road, if like us, you've got a buggy to push.

We had a lovely stroll in to Southwold, despite the drizzle, and checked out lots of beautiful buildings and very tempting foodie shops, caf├ęs and pubs. We couldn't bring ourselves to walk past the delicious smells coming from Mills & Sons Butchers, in Market Place, so treated ourselves to two hot carvery rolls, one beef, one pork, with all the trimmings, to go with the picnic we had bought with us from home. A picnic blanket, spread on a bench, overlooking the sea from the cliffs, provided the perfect picnic spot. The carvery rolls did not disappoint at all, and I would strongly urge you to try one, if you get the opportunity.

Hungry children silenced, we strolled back in to town, did a bit of charity shop bargain hunting, and then found a lovely little craft fair, in a church hall, where we had a pot of tea for two, in lovely vintage china, with a glass of squash for each child and a twix for them to share, and change from £1!

Less bargainous, but even more lovely, was the stop we made later, at the Adnams Brewery shop and cafe. That shop is an absolute foodie heaven, full of treats and unusual kitchen supplies. Tea gadgets, beautiful wooden serving boards and an enamel Adnams jug, that the hubby took a shine to.

The cafe is really lovely. There are circular booths, lined with copper, that look like you are sitting inside a great big beer vat. For nicer weather, there is plenty of seating in a lovely courtyard outside, too.

We had a latte for me, Adnams beer for the hubby, and a great big scone with jam and cream, for the girls (I include me here, obviously) to share. This one of the things I will miss most, in a months time, when I go gluten-free for life.

Another stroll around Southwold to work off some calories, and of course a stop at the Railway Shop, and then the rain started up again, so we headed back to the campsite. With a few stops for beachy fun, holiday home dreaming and beach hut admiration, along the way.

As for the campsite, Southwold Camping & Caravan Site is a council-run site and as such, is pretty basic. The toilet and washing facilities were clean enough, despite the wet and muddy weather, but couldn't be described as modern or stylish. I was impressed with the booking system on the website. Although the site itself again looks pretty basic, you can view the pitches, search by what you want (electric, close to beach etc) and choose your pitch online. We chose to forgo electricity and hard standing pitch, in favour of being closer to the beach footpath. In future though, I think we will go for one of the hard standing pitches, which are closer to the washrooms and only a few extra metres from the path.

The campsite was pretty quiet this weekend (not surprisingly, given the weather!) but looking at the markings for pitches, I imagine it must get pretty packed in the summer. The pitches seem fairly squashed in together, which will make it somewhere to pitch and sleep, but not really spend much more time. The opposite to the Mill Farm site we stayed at last week. The site is ideally situated for the beach, harbour, ferry to Walberswick and a short stroll from Southwold centre though, so we will definitely be back.

High on our agenda for the next visit, is lunch at the Sole Bay Fish Company - an amazing seafood restaurant, right in amongst the working fisherman's huts, at Southwold harbour

I had a nosey inside and the food looked and smelled incredible. It's all freshly caught seafood, right from Southwold, and you bring your own bread and wine!

For this trip, we settled on fish and chips from this lovely shop (listed in the Independent's 50 best fish & chip shops) just a few huts along the harbour

You can eat inside, in bad weather, but the rain had stopped for a bit and the weather had brightened a bit, so who can resist fish & chips outside by the sea? Especially when they are freshly caught and cooked and you've got a bottle of wine with you!

A little walk further along the harbour, past all kinds of unusual and very picturesque (but fully working) huts, lies a truly lovely harbour pub, aptly named The Harbour Inn. Great local ale, very friendly service, dogs and children welcome and delicious food. We shared a yummy knickerbocker glory, made with cherries in kirsch, because we were already full of fish & chips, but the food we saw others eating looked and smelled (and sounded, judging by their appreciative noises) delicious.

The next morning, after waiting for the rain to stop (which it didn't) we walked the five minutes from the site to the harbour and took the little row-boat ferry, over to Walberswick.

Walberswick is well known for its crabbing, and was home of the British Open Crabbing Championships.

It is also home to more chocolate-box perfect houses, quaint tea-rooms and The Black Dog Deli, which we can report serves delicious fresh coffee, hot chocolate and croissants.

The last treat of the weekend, after another trip on the ferry and packing up ready for home, was ice cream from Beaches and Cream on Queen Street, Southwold. Evie and I had been checking out the array of delicious flavours the day before, and we weren't leaving without a taste. Their ice cream is amazing. Between us, we tried; chocolate, vanilla, pecan and maple syrup, amaretto, and salted caramel. They were all delicious. And, even better, there's a file next to the counter, containing full ingredient and allergy information on each flavour. So, although I won't be able to have the amaretto flavour again, or the delicious waffle cones, I will still be happy with a scoop of that scrummy salted caramel! What better reason to head back to Southwold as soon as possible?