• Renata Haidle

English Seaside Day Trip: Felixstowe Ferry, Suffolk

- Guest post by Jen Maltby

This week's guest writer is Jen Maltby, whom I met online many moons ago and whose witty comments and short stories never fail to make me smile. She does have a way with words, you'll see!

Enter Jen...

‘Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been’, the Dalai Lama apparently never did say but they’re still wise words. Easier said than done this year, right? WRONG!

Ok, so 2020 and its coronavirus mayhem has meant that, geographically, our travel has been suitably scuppered. But, ever positive and willing to find a way forward, I’ve discovered that I can travel in time. Oh yes indeed!

Finding somewhere new to go, just to ‘be’, is something not to be underestimated. I grew up on the small island of Jersey in the Channel Islands (off the coast of France rather than that there new-fangled American one) and, on a rock just 7 miles by 5, finding somewhere new is tricky.

Now, however, I happily find myself washed up by life and the tide in Suffolk, England, famous for George Orwell (who took his pen name from the river which runs through my home town) and Ed Sheeran, Gainsborough and gigantic skies. The whole ‘lockdown’ life we found ourselves living recently has meant we discovered tiny gems on our doorsteps. Somewhere new, not somewhere far has become our new groove in the absence of imminent holiday plans. But like I say, always keen to go one step further, I’ve discovered time travel.

Felixstowe Ferry is a teeny tiny hamlet found where the gentle River Deben meets the fierce North Sea. That already has the makings of a folk story, right? And yes, just 20 minutes from home, I arrive in the 1970s.

Ferry Boat Inn, Felixstowe Ferry - photo ©Jen Maltby
Ferry Boat Inn, Felixstowe Ferry - photo ©Jen Maltby

There are no shops, unless you count the little wooden hut where people queue patiently for an hour to buy their weekend fish. Get there early enough and the only sounds come from the ripples in the harbour as the fishing boats head out to the squawk of the gulls. By mid-morning, there are children clustered together with the nets, reaching into the sea with anticipation. No mobile phones, no games consoles. Just fresh air and hope.

Felixstowe Ferry - photo ©Jen Maltby
Felixstowe Ferry - photo ©Jen Maltby

Walk one way round the coast and you’re immersed in wildflowers which grow tall and whisper whilst old abandoned boats slip away to their watery grave. The other way gives you sweeping views across the sea, huge container ships heading out in the distance from Felixstowe. Imposing Martello towers loom large, having guarded the coast since 1812. In fact, on a wintry misty day, you could be of thinking your time machine had gone wrong and was in fact the 1870s.

Felixstowe Ferry - photo ©Jen Maltby
Felixstowe Ferry - photo ©Jen Maltby

But magical travel it is, to a more peaceful time. The tide rushes up to the sea wall and across the river is Bawdsey where there are other people having other simple fun. There’s even a tiny boat to take you across to see what they’re up to.

If this all sounds too good to be true, there’s just one more thing: it has a pub! Yes, hurrah!! Let’s face it, time travel can be a thirsty business and we all need a pint of something local now and again; Adnams Ghost Ship for him and an Aspall cyder for me, please, barman.

It wouldn’t do to dehydrate and forget to go back to reality, would it..?


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