Today we were back on the road. We have just enjoyed two lovely days with my brother and his wife Sue at Hoxne. On both days we enjoyed 3-mile walks through the lovely Suffolk countryside, and Sue as always fed us handsomely whilst Richard and I sorted out the problems of the world.
Our destination today was Beccles, halfway back to the east coast in Suffolk.
Our first stop was to their branch of Morrisons supermarket to buy a newspaper and hopefully to top up our lpg gas cylinders. Thankfully Morrisons still dispense lpg at some of their garage forecourts, but not all, and just to keep customers on their toes, they don't identify which of their forecourts sell it. Sadly this branch didn't sell it, which is annoying because before we came away I sent the company an email requesting that they identify which of their branches sell it, and in the meantime to please tell me which of their branches in Norfolk and Suffolk sold it. Naturally of course I received no reply. The email was presumably read by a 'Customer Service' spotty-faced, scrotum-scratching teenager 'working from home' and presumably took the easy way out and deleted it.
Anyhow the Chef popped in to the supermarket and bought a paper whilst enquiring if we could park the motorhome in their car park for two or three hours. The staff there were very helpful and agreed. Having got the all-clear I wanted to move the motorhome down the road to a public car park using Morrisons as Plan B. Sadly we couldn't park in the car park without causing a few problems for other drivers, so it was back to Morrisons. It was a bit of a walk in to town where we wandered around before making our way down to the marina area.
So Beccles then:
Beccles town is made up of small market squares and winding streets nestled by the River Waveney. Around every corner you’ll find quirky, independent shops, restaurants and cafes.
Beccles combines history with modern-day culture. The town is surrounded by fantastic views of the Southern Broads and set amongst rolling countryside. The town centre provides a blend of independent shops, restaurants and other services.
The town was granted its Charter in 1584 by Queen Elizabeth I. This is depicted on the town's sign.
The town was once a flourishing Saxon Sea Port and there are many buildings of architectural interest, including Leman House in Ballygate, home of the Beccles Museum. This Grade 1 Listed Building was once the local school and it still bears the motto ‘Disce aut Discede’ (roughly translated to ‘learn and go’ ( or for black gangs in London - grab and go)).
One of the town’s other historical landmarks is the Bell Tower. At 97 ft tall it stands detached from the main body of St Michael’s church, offering spectacular views across the surrounding countryside. At different times of the year the Bell Tower is open for guided tours providing visitors with an insight to the building’s history.
The town was also home to Catherine Suckling who, in 1749, was married in the town’s St Michael’s Church to Edward Nelson (a former curate of Beccles) and who later gave birth to England’s greatest naval hero – Lord Horatio Nelson.
The popular quayside area of the town is the Southern Gateway to The Broads, and is home to a number of other community events. This area is not only extremely popular with water users, but is also ideal for families, walkers and those interested in wildlife.
Beccles Lido is one of those 'must see and do' experiences for the spring/summer. This traditional outdoor heated swimming pool sits right alongside the river, with plenty of paved and grassy places to sunbathe.
Always known locally as Ellough Airfield, the airfield at Beccles was completed in August 1942. It used the three concrete runway layout typical of many bomber airfields in East Anglia, and was built for the United States Army 8th Air Force and allocated airfield number 132. The airfield was the last to be completed in Suffolk during the war, and the USAAF had no use for the airfield so it passed briefly to RAF Bomber Command before being operated by Coastal Command from August 1944. The field was used as an air-sea rescue post until closure in 1945, and saw operation by various RAF and Fleet Air Arm squadrons operating diverse types of aircraft on air-sea rescue and anti-shipping duties. The Fleet Air Arm used temporary lodging facilities at RAF Beccles under the stone frigate name HMS Hornbill.
One of Ellough's few claims to fame is that in 1943 it was used by de Havilland Mosquitos of 618 Squadron to practice dropping spinning bombs called 'Highball' which were a derivative of the bouncing bombs used by 617 “Dambuster” Squadron to breach dams in Germany in May 1943. The use of 'Highball' is shown in the 1970 film ‘Mosquito Squadron’. In an interview late in his life, Captain (N) “Winkle” Brown, the first person to land a Mosquito on an aircraft carrier, recalls visiting the airfield to demonstrate deck landing skills to RAF personnel there. In the course of his visit, he encountered Barnes Wallis, designer of the bouncing bombs. (If you Google "Captain Winkle Brown" you'll find the man flew all sorts of aircraft in all sorts of situations - a legend).
The wartime control tower was demolished in 2009. The airfield was the most easterly wartime airfield in England.
Ok, ok - no more about WWII airfields on this trip - promise.
After our visit to Beccles we popped back in to Morrisons supermarket for a few bits before firing up and leaving town to pull in to a nearby lay-by on the A146. There we read the paper and TV guide and had lunch. Then it was off to our overnight stay - the Three Horseshoes Inn (GPS N52.431311° E1.548685°), a 'Britstop' pub offering free overnight accommodation in their car park.
Here, on a lovely day, we bought a couple of beers and sat on the picnic tables in the car park, having placed an order for our evening meal. You don't have to spend money when stopping at Britstop establishments, but it would be extremely mean not to as these are business after all, and right now they're struggling.
After our beer we back indoors and read more of the paper before our evening meal. We had both selected the Steak and Ale pie. They do a large selection of burgers, using various exotic meats, but I didn't go for the basic beef burger, for fear the pub's chef would mix it up with somebody else's order on the griddle and I ended up chewing on minced donkey's dangler, or 'The Whopper' as it's known around here. We had the food on a take-away basis. They plated the food, covered in with foil and put them on trays which I went over and collected. We then ate in the motorhome.
The only disappointment of the day was that back in Beccles, we couldn't find the blue plaque identifying the house formerly lived in by the creator of Cock-a-leekie soup, the incontinent welshman, Ivor Leaky-Cockie.
Tomorrow we are off to Southwold.