architecture buildings community gardening the sea the seaside the shore the South

Southwold – a seaside town with added flair!

Southwold has been recommended to us as a seaside place worth a visit a few times so when we found ourselves just 20 or so miles away we simply had to go and see what made Southwold so special.

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We parked the car right in front of the pier as a suitable parking space presented itself and on opening the doors we were greeted by the sound of the song “The Good Ship Lollipop” being broadcast rather too loudly! This was to be the first of several surprises to come!

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The pier was full of such surprises none more impressive than the metalwork pieces along its length beginning appropriately with the gateway. To follow were seat arms of metal eels, two rather “Heath Robinsonesque” creations, a clock and a telescope.

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On the back wall of the main entrance building this huge mural is a tribute to writer George Orwell to whom Southwold was home during various periods of his life. Liz Ewing describes Southwold as “…… a place he returned to time and time again,to study, to work, to write, to paint, to fall in love and to convalesce”.

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Walking the promenade afforded wide sweeping views of long sandy beaches and looking out to sea the rather beautiful sculptural village of wind turbines.

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From the end of the pier we spotted another favourite seaside feature, a row of beach huts, for which Southwold is famous, but this is the subject of another post all about the seaside at Southwold (published 22\11\2016) . Here are a couple to whet your appetite!

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Back to search for other aspects of this interesting little seaside town that is Southwold, we wandered very slowly away from the pier towards the old town itself.

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Leaving the bright plastic of beach toys behind us we discovered these interesting little garden cameos with nautical hints, and also an inland lighthouse of all things. This strange and extremely tall building was hundreds of yards from the sea itself and hidden in the back gardens of the village cottages. Strange! You will spot it snuggled into the town centre in one of my pics below.

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After being surprised by the beauty of the pier and the beach huts were then delighted to find an equally beautiful little town.

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It appears that at one time in the past Southwold was a busy productive little settlement with its own brewery, distillery and cottage industries. Today the brewery remains integrated into the village with its premises nestled among the shops and cottages.

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There was obvious pride in this lovely little place with community spirit riding high and a very warm welcome for its visitors.

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We left the inland secrets of Southwold behind and ambled back along the promenade looking out over the beach and the sea itself, a perfect end to a day of finding a new favourite place. A great discovery!

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Oh we do like to be beside the seaside! – Part One – Newquay

I thought as we are now in early spring and the weather is improving a little it would be a good time to look back to the early autumn when the sky was still blue and the temperatures more comfortable. So let us reminisce and celebrate two days at the seaside.

It was the week of Jude the Undergardener’s birthday so as she loves to be beside the sea, two visits to the coast of Wales were the order of the day.

So for our first seaside day we headed off over the mid-Wales mountains towards Aberystwyth and then when we got near the coast we headed southwards to Newquay. Neither of us could ever remember visiting before even though we both holidayed in this part of Wales as children. We were surprised how colourful the village looked when we first saw it. We soon discovered Newquay to have a great sense of pride and a community feel to it.

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After a quick look around the village we wandered down the quay and on the beach.

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We were mesmerised by this amazing land form, with its domed strata, peeled away in places like the layers of an onion by the powerful erosion forces of the sea.

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Whenever we are at the coast we get involved looking at the geology and geomorphology of the cliff, wave cut platforms and all sorts of patterns and forms.

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Enjoy sharing our wander with my camera back around the quayside and back through the village with us.

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Blue was definitely the colour of the day! What a great day it was too!

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A Stroll along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – Part Two

Welcome back after a bit of a rest and we continue along the beautiful coastal footpath towards the headland at St David’s Head. You left us with our goal in sight as we began our way across rougher moorland.

We were walking a stretch of the coastal path in Penbrokeshire which was my challenge for 2014. We set out intending to walk a mile, far more than I should be walking. We found ourselves going further than intended and still had not turned back. I set myself a new extended challenge. To walk the mile to the headland of St David’s Head and back again. I knew I would suffer for days after but I am a stubborn chap.

We carried on, crossing over a crystal clear waters of a tiny mountain stream. We stopped a while to enjoy the sounds of water rippling over rock, a sound that always makes us feel good! Letting our eyes follow the stream’s track to the sea showed light over the water more akin to late afternoon, almost the sort of light that comes shortly before a sunset, but it was still early afternoon.

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We followed the narrow and at times wet track along the cliff top, all the time keeping our eye on the headland we were aiming for, but at times it disappeared from view. Bracken and fungi grew in the short grass, close cropped by sheep.


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We followed a stream against the downhill direction of its journey, gradually climbing all the time. We were constantly stopped in our tracks by the beauty of the landscapes. Enjoy my photos!


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When we reached our destination we enjoyed a good rest, sitting on comfortable and convenient rock outcrops. Coffee, fruit and in my case a good dose of Ventolin helped refresh us. We felt so pleased, so satisfied. We enjoyed the views from this vantage point, where we could appreciate a vast panorama.

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The rock faces were painted in lichen and the grass dotted with fungi even in this bleak place.


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From where we sat we spotted a cairn marking the highest point on the headland. We just had to walk a few hundred yards more. Of course along the way we searched for a stone each to allow ourselves to follow our tradition of placing it on the cairn.

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We found returning to our starting point a lot easier following a steady downhill track.

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Stonechats followed alongside us as we neared the end of our walk. I managed this one poor photo of one of them.


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Back where we started off from we can look back over the same wall and appreciate just how far we have been. We could see the headland we had aimed for and reached in the misty distance. We felt exhausted but very satisfied.


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Strands – Discovering a Beach – Part Three

Okay here we go with the third and final part of my Strands posts, where we make our way – very slowly as you will see – back to the car. We went by way of the grass path above the strandline and explored the wildflowers growing there as well as enjoying glances across the sand dunes to the sea.

But first a reminder of the photos of Jude (Mrs Greenbench) beach combing and collecting objects for our seaside at home.

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We found our pathway home by scrambling over the pebbles and then over the sand dunes.

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Sadly some of the walkers who trod the path before us lacked caring and thoughtlessly left this plastic bottle. The seashore has enough of a problem with the plastics that roll in on the waves. It makes you wonder how many Coke bottles are dropped to bespoil our countryside every year.

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Along the path we found interesting wild flowers and the dried remains of last year’s flowers stiffly standing among them. The first clump of photos show a beautiful blue leaved grass which is grown to bind the sand of the dunes to keep them from shifting. It must have an amazing network of roots working away down there.

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The variety of the flora here on the beach itself, on the strandline, the dunes and the pathway alongside illustrates just how effective a narrow strip of land can be as a really good little nature reserve. Butterflies, bees, insects, invertebrates, mammals, birds and amphibians will find homes, shelter and food here. As you look at the following photos spot, in particular, the blackberries and wild carrots, relatives of our crops grown on our allotments, and wild forms of erodium, achillea and others that are the cousins of our garden plants.

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As we moved closer to the car park shrubs took over, some brightly flowered and berried, mostly rose briars and a type of broom. Their cheerful colours made a fitting end to our great day of beachcombing.

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photography the sea the seaside the shore

Strands – Discovering a Beach – Part Two

Back on our favourite beach on the North Wales coast we are carrying on our discovery of the gifts the sea has deposited on the strandline. First she uses her power to shape and smooth, to erode hard and soft matter alike. Feathers, seaweed, boulders, stones and all sorts of wood.

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I promised a selection of images of pebbles that the sea has created from man made materials normally found on a building site.

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We followed on carefully studying the pebble beach and the strandline picking up interesting pebbles and shells until we felt we needed to turn around and start back. We decided to walk back following the grass path along the top of the beach so made our way carefully over the pebbles and rounded boulders upwards. When doing this we found the remains of an old wooden pier now exposed and well-eroded. This slowed our progress to a stop as here there was so much of interest.

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Enjoy our exploration of the old wooden structures and share with us the smells, sounds and sights all around. Follow the gallery by clicking on the first photo and using the right arrow to move on.

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Rusted plumbing?

A snail like metal peg.

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Algae on eroded wood.

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Curled metal rod

A perfect circular hole mystery.

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A split groin topped with algae.

Once we decided to make our way back to the car we started searching for objects we wanted to collect to take home as added features to our seaside garden. This part of our garden needs a revamp in the spring so the items we collected will be most useful.

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In Strands Part Three we will make our way back to the car and a welcome cup of coffee!

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Pier and Promenade – a day at the seaside.

We both love the sea and we both love wandering along the promenade and walking out to sea along a pier. So what could be a better place to visit on Valentines Day than Llandudno with its promenade and its pier?

14th February – sunshine and blue skies – well, that makes a change! Share our day at the sea in North Wales with words by Jude and photos by me.

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Except in the fairground rides which glow with colour even though they are hibernating for the winter.

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The outdoor cafe seating area hibernates too, but the indoor version provides a welcome respite from the chilly far point of the pier. The effects of the biting wind are done away with. Noses are blown, tears are wiped away as coffees and doughnuts are relished. A few of the cute little stalls remain open whatever the weather, selling typical seaside wares.



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Freedom and wide open spaces

Big skies

Freedom from the rain

Sheer pleasure at feeling the power of the sun return

Children laughing, enjoying being outside

Their parents smile at the joy of simple pleasures

Sitting by the sea, listening to waves lapping the shore

Watching patterns of sunlight playing on distant headlands.

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The wide promenade gives space for aimless wanderings, for children to ride scooters and bikes, and for us all to admire the architecture of the seafront of hotels. We enjoyed our day at the seaside and are hoping the sea air will do us good!

Enjoy my gallery of some of my other photographs of our day in Llandudno.

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Go South 5 – Dungeness Mystery and Magic

We eventually got to walk along the expanse of shingle at Dungeness. When we tried for the second time the wind had abated but as the evening was approaching the temperature was dropping.

We still appreciated its mystery and magic. Most people who visit Dungeness are fascinated and captured by its unique atmosphere but find it hard to describe or explain. It is not beautiful but it has an attraction.

Old huts once used by fishermen remain scattered thinly along the banks of shingle, as do their sad unused boats.

Silvery blue foliage of sea-kale softens the flinty shingle flatness.

Many fishermen’s homes are still in use but now instead of nets and pots around their doors, cars are parked. The homesteaders no longer tackle the dangers of the seas in search of fish and shellfish but instead tackle morning and evening commuter traffic. Some interesting fishing artifacts however have been salvaged and now grace the homes as decorative features or are integrated with plants and shingle in the sea-shore gardens.

One of the highlights of all our visits to Dungeness, and in fact the main reason for our first visit when we fell for its charms, is to visit the atmospheric and unique garden of the late film director and writer, Derek Jarman. We drove up in anticipation again this year, parked a little way away out of respect for the current owners and I walked across with my  trusty Nikon only to be disappointed. It now seems less cared for and  lacking in atmosphere but nevertheless loaded with memories. The first time we saw the garden when Jarman was still living there, we just could not believe that any garden could evoke such deep emotions and emerge you in its own unique character. Jarman was a one-off when it came to garden design. The garden was a perfect reflection of its environment, the sea, the shingle, its fishing history and its plant life. This was the only garden capable of sending a shiver up the spine!

Sometimes the strange beauty of Dungeness lies in its emptiness and simplicity.

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Go South 3. Beach huts and boats.

Beach huts and boats. Now that is my kind of seaside village! Driving towards Dungeness we stopped off at Littlestone-on-sea where we spotted these favourite features. It was spitting with rain and heavily overcast as we set out on our wander along the shingle beach, camera in hand.

When we reached the patch where the beach huts and boats lived we were saddened to realise that what we saw was in fact the remnants of a fishing industry now largely  gone. The boats were full of fishing debris and what looked like beach huts from a distance were the old storage sheds for fishing gear. They had been spruced up with colourful paint but at least they were still used for storage.

In the gloomy light, the brightly painted huts glowed and invited a closer look. The decorators had been enjoying themselves letting their imaginations flow. Once again I moved in close in search of patterns and textures in addition to the more obvious blazes of colour.

Some hut owners had added words of wisdom, fancy numbers and names.

Our slow exploration of the huts and fishing debris came to a sudden end as the rain turned heavy and the wind speeded up uncomfortably. But a few things did tempt me to stop and shoot off a few more photos.

We arrived back at the car somewhat sodden and extremely windswept, hoping that we could dry out using the car heater. We drove on down the coast road towards one of our favourite places anywhere, Dungeness. We have visited the mysterious world of Dungeness with its wild and exposed expanses of shingle several times before but its special magical atmosphere still entices us back.

So, Go South 4 should be all about Dungeness but it didn’t quite work out like that.