At the time of writing this post (not sure when it will actually get published yet) it is a year since we went to the UK for a couple of weeks. There are still quite a few topics from that trip that I have not got around to posting about. One of those was our visit to Bury St Edmunds. It was a pretty hot day when we were there as the second week of our trip turned in to quite a scorcher. I had been to Bury St Edmunds before but not for about 30 years.
As town names go, this one isn’t very imaginative. It is the town in which St Edmund is buried. I wonder how long they thought about that one. We didn’t have time to check out the whole town but just got to explore in the area around the cathedral of which more will come another time. There are ruins in the park area around the cathedral and more churches in close proximity. If you want to get your worship in, this is the place for you.
There are more modern buildings in the area too but more modern is a relative term. Still pretty old by the standards of our current home! The square looked like it was ready for a market to be held but clearly not the day we were there.
Flatford Mill is a very well known tourist attraction. I last visited it about 30 years ago when a friend of mine was living there for her job. The mill is in an area known colloquially as Constable Country. The artist lived in the area and many of his paintings are of the local landscape. The mill itself is possibly best known for being the subject of the painting The Haywain. Originally we had intended to walk along the paths that line the river near the mill. However, even though we were there quite early in the day, it was already stupidly hot and the idea of walking far was not appealing. Instead we wandered around the mill, had an ice cream and some lunch and took a look at the buildings that Constable had painted – all while trying to visualize where the settings were and how much they had changed.
We went to a bunch of villages in East Anglia that were picturesque but one was almost too much to be real. I have been to Lavenham before – I went in the early 90s when visiting a friend who was living in the area at the time – but I have to admit I didn’t recall much about it and when we got there, I wondered how I could have forgotten. It seems that the entire village is made up of buildings that were constructed by a film set designer.
Half timbered building abound. They are all really old but well maintained. Multiple colors are used to decorate the walls which I assume are probably made of some vintage materials. Building construction in those days used to use a lot of straw mixed with “binding agents” of a less than delightful origin. You don’t know that once they are done and I assume any more modern repairs make use of more pleasant ingredients. The age of the buildings also shows in the way that there doesn’t appear to be a right angle in the place. Everything is at odd angles. It really is something special.
It is not hard to understand why tourists will visit the place. It is just what someone from overseas would imagine an English village to be. I certainly won’t so easily forget it this time. Not sure how I did before!
Suffolk is full of castles. A lot of groups fell out with each other and figured that castles were a necessary way to make sure you could take care of yourself. Framlingham is one of the more substantial ones that I have seen. There are multiple towers that surround the top of the hill with stout walls between them. It would be interesting to see what it looked like when the castle was the center of the community.
It dominates the surrounding area as you would expect of a castle. You can walk all along the top of the walls to complete a circle of the fortress and check out both the surrounding countryside and the large interior. I’m not a huge fan of heights so wandering around on the top of the walls is something I do with some trepidation. However, you go to these places to see everything so I’m not going to wimp out because of a little vertical drop!
Head up the shoreline from the center of Aldeburgh and there is a beach area with an interesting sculpture. Called the Aldeburgh Scallop, it is a stainless steel sculpture, funded by public donations. It is two scallop shells that interlock. It is nearly four metres across and dramatic, sitting as it does on the open shingle beach. Very cool.
Our UK trip had a bit of an RNLI feel to it. We spent some time at the Bembridge lifeboat station as showed up here and here. When we got to Aldeburgh, it turned out that they also had a lifeboat station. It was quite a modern facility and very different to the Bembridge station. Bembridge has a boathouse with a slipway straight in to the water. Aldeburgh has a trailer mounted boat with a tractor unit to take it down across the shingle to the water’s edge.
The building has space for the boat on one side and the tractor on the other. There is also an inshore boat. The facility seems to be pretty modern with some nice space for the crew to keep their equipment and change when they need to go into service. It was a lot quieter than the Bembridge station with only the occasional visitor but worth a look if you happen to be on this part of the Suffolk coast.