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Rainbows, Sea and Fishermen in Aldeburgh:
Although Aldeburgh is only an hour and a half drive from East London, I happen to live over the other side of town. And, given my total lack of any navigation skills, getting across London is still an interesting challenge, despite having lived here for 30 years or so! But, I suspect one of the reasons Aldeburgh itself is so unspoilt is that there isn’t an easy public transport link to the town, you have to get a train to Ipswich, then change for Saxmundham then bus or taxi to Aldebugh! I ended up driving through a lot of rain, wondering if it would all be worth the effort for one day of Food Festival…
By the time I arrived the sky was a bit grey and threatening, but the rain had stopped. And, the view from my room would have made any drive worthwhile (without the comfy bed, fluffy bathrobes, well fitted bathroom and pretty decor!). The sun was poking through the sky just enough for a fabulous double rainbow, arcing over the sun setting into the sea. Now, I was way too excited about my room to get out and take photos quickly, so this is just the tail end of what greeted me.
As you can probably tell, I was charmed. I do have an affection for Aldeburgh, childhood memories and a love of Britten’s music perhaps part of the magic for me.
And the room was faultless.
The bar/restaurant is friendly and informal, with mostly locally sourced food. There was even some Dingley Dell pork on the menu (you may remember I went to a pop-up hog roast this summer, where we learnt all about Suffolk’s happiest pigs) I started supper with a pigeon and black pudding salad that was beautifully balanced and very tasty.
I was suprised that the Catch of the Day and the other fish were the only menu items not marked as being sourced locally. When I asked, I was told that most of the fish did indeed come from ‘just across the road’, but it wasn’t until I investigated the next day that I understood more about why. In fact, my sole was locally sourced and perfectly fresh. It was served with a simple butter sauce, new potatoes and green beans. Which in my view is all that you need for really good, fresh fish.
The next morning I woke up to a wonderfully sunny autumn day and decided I’d have a quick walk along the beach before breakfast. Unlike the other fishing villages I’ve visited, most of the catch landed by Aldeburgh fishermen is sold from small huts along the shore.
And, of course, given that the fishing fleet is small boats, that makes perfect sense. I talked to some of the fishermen who were busy preparing their catch and they told me that on occasions fish was sent to Lowestoft or Brixham, but for the most part they simply supplied the local population and hotels and restaurants in the area. For that reason, the prices are keen but supply really does depend on what is landed each day.
There’s a little smokehouse, working mostly but not exclusively with fish caught on shore
If you pop inside, you can buy a range of smoked fish…or just chat to the owner and find out how he works and where he sells his smoked fish
For me, it was a perfect way to spend a morning, wandering along the shingle beach, watching the fishermen at work and looking out to sea.
Especially knowing that I was going back to breakfast at the White Lion which was every bit as good as the supper the night before
For me, this was a really special overnight stay. I wish I could find a justification for moving to Aldeburgh, but it’s just not quite easy enough to get back to London and I think I’d get frustrated. However, I will definitely be back next year, for Britten’s Centenary celebrations at Snape Maltings.
I was a guest of The White Lion as part of a visit to the Aldeburgh Food Festival
Looking for a similar experience on the South Coast – we recommend Brixham in Devon