Sunday, October 30, 2005

Into the darkness

A ridiculously mild weekend, but windy; sun and dark cloud alternating, but never quite getting the rain we were promised. Still T-shirt weather.

Visited Neil and Angela yesterday to see the kittens again, and on the way spotted my first 55 reg Smart.

It felt very strange today in the mild (16C still at 17:20!!) ) setting up a pond heater ready against the promised chilly winter. But even in a normal winter it would be useful to keep the ice melted a bit.

Had to re-set the glazing on the greenhouse automatic window again. I think it must be a cat's landing pad from next door's summer-house.

And the clocks went.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

To Shingle Street and home again

Breakfast was relaxed here — no buffet, 08:30 start; so I had yoghurt, juice and croissant, before heading off about 09:30.

The full tour would have concluded at the end of the road at Bawdsey, allowing the speedy, or those able to make use of the Butley Ferry, to have a quick nip across to Felixstowe. As this was not a weekend between Easter and the end of September, I had to do the extra four miles walk in warm and windy weather.

The cross country was nice, but the levee was exposed, wet and slow going. I eat apples I'd packed from home, and the occasional blackberry that still remained on the pathside brambles.

Shingle Street

Shingle Street

Arriving at gone 14:00, I had just enough time to stretch the tired muscles in a warm-down, when my lift arrived. An hour saw us back in Southwold, and to avoid the contraflow and other tedium east of Bury, I headed across through Diss and Thetford — to be stuck in traffic as the A11 was closed at Thetford; and Brandon was locked solid: in all an hour at about walking pace.

Home, chores, crash.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

To Orford

At breakfast (muesli, porridge, fruit), the BBC website forecast was attached to the menu - it promised light rain; but the sky was almost cloudless, and the radio had agreed it would be dry.

The path started out along the road towards Snape (noticing my first 55 reg car), before diving across country, through woods, and marshy bits to Snape, and then to the crossing at the Maltings. The path then follows the coast to Iken, and here a lot of people were walking, bird watching, I guessed, and the path was churned to quagmire, unlike other parts of the way. On road a while to Iken High Street, before plunging into almost virgin territory. There is a footpath, with signposts, but not very travelled — in places overgrown with nettles; or under low-hanging sloe (damson?) trees needing to crouch; or simply having to wade through grass or reeds more than knee deep


This was an easy bit to spot!

before finally getting four hours in to the point where I was just across the river from Aldeburgh where I started.


From then on it was an increasingly numbing slog into sun and wind along the levee to Orford, as I pushed myself to see if I would be able to make the rate of ground needing to be covered the next day for a 3pm pick-up.

As I shuffled slowly up the main street to find the hotel (cunningly disguised as a restaurant, with reception in a stables round the back), I decided I would only do 12, not 16 miles to finish with.

The Crown and Castle is a seriously foodie place; dinner was buffalo Mozzarella and tomato salad, chicken breast with spinach and green salsa risotto (to which I added a side of chips!), and hot chocolate mousse.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

To Aldeburgh

Having provisioned myself with cheese at Nutters, and pasty at Temptations, I set out in the grey morning, just after 9.

The route follows the coast for a lot of the route today, starting just back of the actual front along to the river, then along the riverside to a footbridge. Here rain started, and carried on as I headed back along the river to the corner at Walberswick. By then it dried out enough to shed the waterproof, and just be in T-shirt and shorts again.

You could just follow the beach all the way, but I took the path back of the waterway, past the abandoned mill

Abandoned mill

and along the edge of Dunwich forest, before looping past the Ship inn (not yet open) and across Dunwich heath to the coast, and by now the sun was out in almost cloudless sky. Then it was a long slog into the wind and sun on often sandy path, past Minsmere, and the reactors at Sizewell. By the time I got to Sizewell village, my feet were hot enough to want to change into sandals to walk along the beach, seeking the firmest stretches of sand.

By now the sun had dried the beach enough that it was being blown in the wind; uncomfortable enough that I was glad to get up the cliff at Thorpeness, and on the fairly packed shingle path before getting to the really paved track to Aldeburgh.

The Britten Memorial was proving popular with the kids to scramble on and beat like a steel drum.

Britten Memorial

As the nice place I ate at last year had been replaced by a pizza place, I ate at 152 - their menu of the day offering sticky toffee pudding being the clincher. Starter was chicken liver parfait with bramley apple jelly, then for main course a vegetable risotto, just for fuel. And then an early crash!

Monday, October 24, 2005


I took the half-term week as a chance to do a walk along the Suffolk coast, starting at Southwold.

The morning didn't start auspiciously — raining steadily, with heavy bursts as I was driving. Fortunately it was easing off by the time I arrived around noon; and as it was still too early to check in at the Swan, so with high tide about four hours away, I changed into shorts and walking boots, and set off up the coast to Covehithe.


The wind and last spits of rain at my back, I headed up past the car-park at the north end of the beach, along the sea wall and onto the beach. The signs of erosion were unmistakeable, not only the crumbling cliffs and the soil being banked up against it, but the rain washing dark soil down the white sand of the beach, and the dead trees falling to the beach.

By the time I reached the path up the Covehithe cliffs, the rain had stopped, and it was mild enough to pack waterproof and denim shirt away, and carry on in T-shirt, munching on sandwiches to hook up with the Coasts and Heaths path, set back from the shore, through Reydon, before returning to the coast at the car park at the north of Southwold.

By now, it was time for a beer at the Lord Nelson, before getting checked in. Dinner was as usual excellent — a very nice roast pepper and mozzarella on polenta; and an over the top chocolate pudding, with a half bottle of Pouilly Fumé. And so to bed. I was in the Writer's Room, over the archway this time, rather than being on the fire escape. The down-side was that the room didn't have a bath, only a shower.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Wretched weather

Wednesday afternoon about 15:15, there was a massive thunderhead visible from the office window, surmounting dark grey cloud. As we watched over the next 20 minutes, the horizon approached as feature after feature was absorbed by rain. From the privileged viewpoint looking over nearby houses we could see people walking blissfully unaware of what was bearing down.

Yesterday bright but too windy to cycle for fun; this morning wet, now dry, bright and breezy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In good company

I just got fan-mail for a piece of Molesworthiana I wrote back in the spring. Turns out there is a livejournal collection of the stuff — and I was flattered to find myself catalogued there alongside Charlie Stross.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Hit 9000 miles just exiting Cambridge after going out for a curry, having pigged out on the revamped menu at the Saffron Brasserie.

Meanwhile in other news, the Tories have shot themselves in the foot again.

Season's End

Well, it looks like today will be the last real cycling day of the year, with the rest of the week set to be wet. Set out with a red sky behind me, and the harvest moon fading into the cloud coming up from the west. Better than yesterday's fog, where I chanced cycling — just as well, it turned out, because I could get past where a car had argued with a bus at the next nasty bend beyond where I wrote my car off at the end of Feb '04, by getting off and pushing.

It's been a hectic time the last couple of weeks, doing lots of interviews at work (finally made an offer to one chap), trying to get the garden sorted for winter — evena after shredding all the woody bits and setting them to mature a bit to use as mulch next year, I really do have enough green waste to fill the green wheelie bin for the rest of the year! And I can see and get at a lot of the front wall, so that needed painting (even though rain splattering has covered some of it with mud again, where the gutters overflow).

In between time I've been taking the chance to keep on harvesting blackberries — so prolific this year that I've been filling a lunchbox in half the time of previous years — maybe we really are going to have a hard winter. And that the crop is not being eaten by birds, just mildewing, shows how the ecology has been disturbed.

I've avoided looking for a new cat — Neil and Angela have acquired new kittens following their previous set expiring of old age, which gives Karen a little bit of a fix instead.

In the last couple of weeks, too, the duckweed in the pond has decided that it is autumn, and has gone from filling it to overflowing to fading and sinking; and the cyclepath on the M11 road bridge has at last been measured out with white paint marks every 20m. Maybe some time in the next year or so, the surface will finally be refurbished.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Got some people in to blitz the borders in the garden. Not constrained by when the green bin was full, they maintained the front to within an inch of its life — enough that I had to go and paint a chunk of newly exposed wall where the honeysuckle has been running wild. So strange to see so much bare earth, with all the creeping weeds gone.

Back was only half done in the daylight, but it's a start. The recycling will be full up for some weeks to come : I shall be spending much time with the shredder.

Nature notes

A lovely morning, a shame I had to drive, given the weather (though possibly not a good day for cycling in sandals). Only a slight drift of mist near Kingston. At lunch, going for a couple of mile walk, seeing many geese on the lake, with the swans, and nigh-grown cygnets, having to actively keep them at respectful distance.

Needless to say, the ducks were keeping low profile.

Plenty of damselflies were in evidence in the balmy midday weather.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Nature Notes

Cycling to work this morning under grey sky and some mistiness, there was a flock of geese overnighting in one of the fields, all sat there amongst the furrows, a few with their heads up as lookout. And later I startled a dove in a tree that overhung the road, launching itself noisily away as I passed underneath.

And on the homeward stretch, another (the same?) flock of geese came wheeling in and honking, to settle in the same field.