River Wissey Lovell Fuller

A Weekend to Remember

November 2003

The Watts family enjoy an unexpected weekend in Southwold thanks to the initiative of daughter Jackie!

A Weekend to Remember

Are you like me? Do you see competitions in magazines to win this or that, think about entering and then think -- nah it's probably rigged and, in any case I don't win anything? Our daughter Jackie is less of a cynic, however, and more optimistic; so when she saw a competition in the 'Norfolk' magazine to win a luxury weekend for two in Southwold she did enter and she won. She then, very generously, queried if the prize could be transferred to this old cynic and June and received a positive response. So, on Friday Septemebr 19, we set off for Southwold.

The prize was two nights, bed breakfast and dinner at Sutherland House with VIP treatment plus some gifts. Sutherland House, we learned, is a rather prestigious restaurant which is well known for the quality of its food and which has recently extended its business by opening up some rooms for guests. The building is of great historic interest and includes a guest room that was once used by James II for a prolonged stay when he was Prince of Wales. Much of the ancient plaster work on the ceilings remains intact today. What we did not know was that the magazine proprietors (EDP) had run the same competition in their sister magazine 'Suffolk', so there were two sets of winners. Our co-winners, Janet and David from Suffolk, got there first so they had The Duke's room, we had the Oriental room, which was only slightly less opulent. Subsequently Janet and David proved to be very pleasant company, helped by the fact that he too was an engineer and something of a petrol head like myself, although he need not have tried to make me green by turning up in a classic Jaguar.

At dinner on Friday evening we discovered why Sutherland House had such a reputation for good food. It was possibly the best food we have tasted in our seventy-odd years (June insists that it was without doubt) and they maintained that standard throughout our stay. On Saturday morning, after a superb big breakfast chosen from a wide ranging menu, we were met by Dudley Clarke, (Mr Southwold apparently) and taken to a jewellers in the town. Although it carried a range of jewellery the shop specialised in amber and was known as The Amber Shop; here we were introduced to the owner, Robin Fournel a recognised authority on amber, who told us a lot about this gem. June was then given £250 to spend in the shop, what woman would not be thrilled with that. We were then taken to an old established clothing shop, Denny's, where we were given £150 to spend in the shop, and then on to 'Collen and Clare', a funky cool ladies dress shop where we were welcomed with a glass of wine and a further £150 to spend . As if all that were not enough we were also given a £50 voucher to spend in the Southwold Golf Club shop.

The next treat was a half hour sea trip in 'Voyager', a twin engined 400 horsepower inflatable craft. June and Janet declined this invitation, so David and I went, after having been equipped with life jackets. It was unlike any previous experience that I have had with boats, the initial acceleration pushed one back in the seat more forcibly than I have ever experienced in a car and the craft rapidly reached a speed of 40mph, the 'pilot', Marcus Gladwell, then demonstrated its ability to turn in a very tight circle, so tight that that which should have been horizontal became almost vertical as we seemed to get close to capsizing and we were thankful that we were strapped in. We went through a whole series of these turns tipping first one way and then the other. It was sufficiently scary to be thrilling but stayed just short of terrifying, our principal reassurance was that Marcus is the cox of the Southwold lifeboat so we assumed that he knew what he was doing.

Back on dry land we then had the opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with Southwold, which we had not seen for more than twenty years. Apart from its new pier, however, it has changed little and retains all its old charm. In the evening we were invited for champagne before dinner and we were introduced to a leading Southwold citizen and former mayor, Peter Webb, who joined us for dinner. Over dinner and afterwards we enjoyed some very pleasant and interesting conversation. Sutherland House has a lovely walled garden where we were able to take our after dinner drinks and continue the conversation late into what was an incredibly balmy evening.

On the Sunday, after another super breakfast, we were able to spend a little more time enjoying Southwold then, to complete my pleasure in the weekend, we drove home via Caister where we visited Caister Castle and its collection of classic and veteran cars. There I found an old 1934 Triumph Gloria, the identical model to that on which I learnt to drive and pass my test and the like of which I have not seen in over fifty years.

Throughout the weekend the weather was unbelievably good, staying just short of too hot at the height of the day and remaining pleasantly warm in the evenings. All in all it was a truly enjoyable and memorable time. We are very appreciative of Jackie's generosity and of the kindness and generosity of everyone involved in providing the prize.

Ron Watts

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