Plymouth to Suffolk via Licoln, Hants and West Suffolk

Dick and Irene Craig
Mon 15 Aug 2011 11:11

We took Jackie, the widow of Dick’s cousin Ian, to Dartmoor where we had lunch and walked across the moors.

Next morning, in gentle rain, we left Plymouth and drove back to Westbourne, where we spent the night at the home of Dick’s son Ed and his family. Naomi is incredibly busy arranging excursions as well as finding time to visit her mother who is now in a hospice.

The following afternoon, we drove to Henley on Thames to visit Ray, an old friend that we hadn’t seen for ten years. He now lives in a delightful, period cottage, renovated with taste, with his girlfriend Natalie and his two Burmese cats. The weather was so clement that we were able to breakfast next morning, in his beautiful, landscaped garden.

After breakfast, we drove to Brighton to meet with our friend John, the same chap who joined us at Richards Bay to accompany us on a Safari holiday and a trip to Victoria Falls. He is the guy who has lent us a Tom-tom which has been absolutely invaluable. After a tour of the Regency properties, which used to belong to Rodean school and which he is currently renovating; loved all the tunnels. Later we ate lunch, overlooking the waterfront.

We got back to his home late afternoon so I took advantage of the glorious weather, borrowed his washing machine and managed to hang it out for a couple of hours. The forecast showed steady rain and when we woke next morning, it hadn’t been wrong.

Lunchtime, we met Keith and Jenny who are apparently, knee deep at home, with boxes of documents belonging to elderly relatives, who are no longer capable of dealing with the necessary paperwork of everyday life. They now have two grandchildren, a three year old grand daughter and a one year old grandson whom they visit regularly, when they are not bogged down sorting out the contents of the boxes.

The journey to Sheffield took much longer than anticipated, due to lengthy delays on the motorway but at least the sun shone. Grae lives alone in an art deco, four bedroom house, with a huge garden. His girlfriend Hilary lives round the corner with her three girls, two teenagers and another, slightly older who is currently at university.

We stayed for two nights and while there, pottered around the local shops, reminiscent of Pimlico during our youth, then walked around a local park, punctuated by lots of water features.

After brunch, we left in glorious sunshine, to drive to Wragby in Lincolshire, crossing the river Trent toll bridge, for the meager sum of 30p. Below, along the river bank, a number of people were fishing.

It must have been around 15years since we had last seen Mike and Dee. They moved to Wragby, where there is still a post office in the main street and sugar is still made from sugarbeet, ten years ago.

Dick and Mike met when they were both boy scouts; it’s possible that they could even go back as far as the days when they were cubs. Later they played together in a band with several of Dicks friends from the past.

When younger, infinitely patient, they fostered children with special needs: Dee remembers the names of all the children who have lived with them, despite having given a home to at least eighty. Now that they are pensioners like us, they are only permitted to do respite care and instead of being foster parents, are now foster grandparents.

We had thought that the trip to Saxmundon would take a little over 2 hours so were astounded when the tom-tom estimated a journey time of almost four hours. Setting off, we crossed a lifting bridge across the river Nene and continued onwards through the countryside, without a motorway to be seen.

Dick’s cousin Barbara and her husband Bobby, have a weekend/ holiday home in Saxmundon and they had kindly stayed a few days longer so that we might visit them there.

Bobby drove us to Aldeburgh and we walked along beside the sea; admiring the improvements made by the new owners, to the house where Bobby’s mother had lived until her demise, about a year ago.

The Maltings at Snape had been renovated and there are still attractive apartments available for purchase. The concert hall was being utilized daily and the galleries, restaurant and café were all busy.

We spoke to a man, whose small yacht was tied up against the dock, on the muddy, river Alde. He had sailed across from Holland with his family a few days earlier. The sun was shining but the wind was quite strong.

From the walls of Framlingham castle, it was impossible not to admire the view of the college. It was from here that Mary Tudor made her first proclamation as queen of England. Inside the walls, people were playing chess, using an enormous chess board and huge chess men. Others played a game reminiscent of snakes and ladders, using a huge cloth as the board and a gigantic rubber dice.