Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Today We Rolled Into Southwold

The retirement property search continued unabated today as we headed north from the holiday cottage we are staying in and explored the lovely coastal town of Southwold. It's great to visit places that neither of us has ever been to before and we were both extremely impressed with this fabulous little seaside town. Mind you, it's clear that plenty of others are similarly keen on the place as our budget wouldn't find us much - we were told that these beach huts have fetched up to £70,000.

This little cottage caught our eye as it's called St Andrews Cottage - quite a coincidence as we spend such a lot of time in St Andrews but, whilst I am sure that the locals won't bat an eyelid, I bet any fellow Sandgrounders reading this blog will choke when they read that it's on the market for £370k (no garage, no parking, two bedrooms). Hello! It's Suffolk not Chelsea. Fortunately, although we loved Southwold, and think it would be a brilliant place to take the grandchildren in years to come, we didn't think it was the place for us. So off we went again.

We trundled into Beccles. We were drawn to this wonderful old art deco cinema and I thought that might be an omen as our favourite place so far has no picture house. However, when we reached it we found the cinema transformed into a chain restaurant. Beccles is a pleasant little town but, on our Goldilocks scale, this one was too big so we set off for Laxfied (which an estate agent insisted was the place that dreams were made of - she lives there). It is, without question, a very attractive village with two super pubs but we found ourselves shaking our heads and leaving with the words "this one's too small".

All this traversing the country put me in mind of Ben Hatch whose Are We Nearly There Yet is one of the books I've read this week. Ben travelled 8,000 miles researching a travel guide and wrote about his family's adventures. Here's the review I put on Amazon.

If you want information on child friendly attractions buy the Frommer's Guide that came out of Ben and Dinah Hatch's 8,000 mile drive around Britain with their two toddlers. If you want a book that is a genuinely "nice" read, buy this. I'm sorry if "nice" is a word that grates with some people but for me it's the most appropriate word to describe it as, as he records his family's adventures, Ben creates a warm, generous and affectionate glow in the reader .

Like everyone else who is likely to buy it, I read with interest the few curmudgeonly one star reviews on Amazon before splashing out my £1 and I can only say that those reviewers are truly on a different planet as, for example, there is no sign of Ben and Dinah's children being anything other than normal toddlers and Dinah's bad driving is clearly exaggerated for comic effect. Okay there are one or two factual inaccuracies but this is pleasant entertainment and not sold as a traveller's bible.

The journey was a massive achievement although one that was tinged with great sadness as Ben describes his emotions at the loss of his father during the family's time on the road. His writing on his father's death is genuine and conveys true love between father and son in an extremely touching way - if my own children have feelings like this for me and my wife I will consider our parenting a job well done.

It's not hilarious - and I don't think it was ever intended to be. It's pleasant, well written and thoroughly enjoyable. And, unlike a lot of Kindle books, it's not riddled with typos and editing errors.

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