Monday, December 12, 2011

A sojourn in Suffolk

I've been away near Ipswich over the weekend, braving near-freezing temperatures under absolutely beautiful blue skies. I'm liking the blue skies, but why don't they happen in summer?

Ipswich is a little over an hour from London by train. You start out at London Liverpool St Station (where I got an almond croissant for breakfast, and it had some kind of cream custard stuff in it. I was not impressed. I should have gone with a muesli bar) and pass houses and offices and the Olympic Stadium and Park and the Westfield Mall and houses and offices and houses and shops and parks and houses and houses and shops and factories and shops and houses and a few more houses. London goes on for a long, long way. You never really think about how far you're going when you jump on the tube and pop up again forty minutes later - at forty miles an hour, even with stops you could be twenty or twenty-five miles away. But on an overground train, you can see just how far you're going and how much of the world you're passing.

Finally we got to fields and little villages and trees, skeletal and strobing early morning light through the carriage. A few more stops at towns along the way, and then I was meeting my lovely host at Ipswich station.

We went on a tour of the country while the sun was still in the sky, down to the largest port in England. There were some pretty big ships parked like they were in parking spaces, but apparently there are some really really big ships/behemoths that come in during the week with their three crew and load and unload their thousands upon thousands of containers. A bit further along the coast is Felixstowe, with its arcade and fish and chip shops and little beach huts right on the shore. I saw lots of cabbage trees and toitois, which I still find funny (they're NZ natives, but you see them everywhere here as decorative plants, along with NZ flax).

After a drive along the promenade, we took a road up to the main town, which is set on a promontory and looks out over the sea. As you walk down the main street you can look straight down the road and see the straight blue line where sea meets horizon. It feels like the town is floating high above the ocean, and it was especially beautiful as the lights came on.

It was a great weekend. Now all I need is snow.

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