We're in Suffolk in search of our retirement Shangri La. At the moment we're trying to narrow down our hunt by finding the town/village of our dreams before taking the plunge and going into the nitty gritty of finding an actual property. I feel a bit like Goldilocks at the moment as we drive to a village, park the car, buy something from a local shop and walk along the high street - Debenham 'This one's too small' we both say - Woodbridge 'and this one's too big' before we get to Framlingham (pictured) - ' but this one's just right.'
We did some very thorough research before we set off and we booked a cottage in Framlingham as , to say in that cringe inducing phrase beloved of every house hunter on Location Location, it seemed to "tick all the boxes". There's a small but very pleasant market square, a fabulous castle, three or four nice pubs, good local shops and a few decent cafes. What's more, everyone seems to be extremely friendly (Marion just pointed out that so were the locals in The Wicker Man). Just outside the village we saw a road sign that read "SUPERSTORE". When we were in the small (well maybe medium) CO-OP I asked the cashier where the superstore was. "This is it" she said and added 'Well you are in Suffolk"
Having crossed Debenham, Woodbridge and Wickham Market off our list yesterday, today we travelled down the road to Aldeburgh. It's a beautiful little seaside village and, in today's strong winter sunshine, it dazzled like a gem against a gentle sea`. Despite being mid February, the village was heaving and most car park spaces were full by noon. And it was easy to appreciate the attraction; a glorious shingle beach, plenty of shops and even more places to eat and drink; it reminded us a bit of our other favourite place - St Andrews.
Like much of Suffolk, the place is littered with historic buildings like this fabulous old moot hall which is still in use today as a civil building.
Opposite the moot hall is a fabulous old pub called The Mill. Whereas many of the other watering holes were done up very trendily to attract the weekending London set, this pub, popular with the local fishermen and lifeboat crew is very much a traditional local. We indulged ourselves and threw our customary dieting caution to the wind with an order of fish and chips. The landlord said that if the fish was any fresher it would be swimming and I can honestly say it was the best fish and chips I can ever remember eating. The village is very big on fish and all along the sea front were kiosks selling the weekend's catch. We could easily see ourselves settling in Aldeburgh but there is a huge housing premium to pay for living in a coastal spot that's popular with Londoners and we reckon that's as much as 30%. Is it worth it? We aren't convinced.
Tomorrow the hunt moves about twenty-five miles inland to Lavenham. This vilage is another box ticker. I'll let you know how we get on.