So here it is, the setting for my birthday lunch! Some girls get taken to the Ritz (actually, I have been, so there – more another time), my treat is at a hut on the harbour in Southwold.
This is a charming town right on the bump of the East Coast of England, for those that don’t know. The High Street is Regency, with one or two buildings that date from Tudor times. There are the Greens, neatly named open spaces surrounded by little cottages, a white lighthouse and along the front are the beach huts, famously expensive – £100,00 the current going rate. The town smells of hops each morning from the Adnams Brewery mash and there is a even a pier. But the traditional harbour is the main delight, with lots of little black fishermen’s huts. And this little hut serves great fish and shellfish. Nothing else. You take your own bread, salad, wine (we had bubbly, very nice) and anything else you fancy. They provide glasses and cutlery and the meal. We chose a crab platter (only one crab visible in photo) and switched the whelks out for rollmops. Delicious.
Places like these are great for writers and artists, as well as for birthday lunches. Obviously, it is a restaurant, which means there are other people to study (and earwig their conversations). Lots of stuff on the walls here, fishing nets and a big fish tank with unknown marine life swimming about. And outside is fascinating.
It is a small working harbour with little jetties, lumps of rope, fishing boxes, crab pots and lots of other old bits and pieces you can think of. As prompts for writing, it’s a good place to come, as well as a great place to walk and blow away the cobwebs.
The place has a history too. Southwold sits on Sole Bay, famous for the Battle of Sole Bay with the Dutch back in the 17th Century. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Solebay). And this whole area is also rich with the history of the Anglo Saxons, with that ship burial of Sutton Hoo not far down the coast.
We walked back along the harbour to the Chandlers to have coffee, but they were closed by the time we got there. It’s the end of the season and they will be on shorter hours now that most of the tourists have gone. We had to turn our back on the harbour and find our coffee in the town. But not before I’d taken lots of photographs and plenty of notes for future scribblings. Even a birthday lunch is perfect for picking up writing ideas.