(Continued from previous)
Is ‘blog’ is short for ‘backlog’? I am writing this nearly two weeks after the event; Suffolk Coast 3 and 4 will have occurred by the time you read it, and I may be tempted into brevity in order to catch up (What a relief. Ed.).
I’m pretty sure that when Derek Walcott wrote about ‘reasonable leaves on reasonable trees’, he wasn’t talking about Suffolk, but I’m reminded of the phrase as we leave Pin Mill (We have been inundated with complaints from readers pointing out that Walcott actually wrote ”…reasonable leaves shading reasonable earth” in Omeros, X.iii. You’re sacked. Ed.). There is a well-defined sandy path winding beneath the trees marking the boundary of another huge ex-stately pile. This is the Ipswich Girl’s High School – modestly named given the scale of its premises – and we’d noted the front prospect of the building from the car going down to Shotley Gate, where it imposes, a veritable castle of enlightenment, at the end of a broad, straight, eminently reasonable, drive. Reading the school’s website, I am relieved to see that the senior school lessons are ‘peppered with laughter’.
The path takes us inland, through Woolverstone Marina and alongside Woolverstone Park. Leaving the Marina, we notice a boat parked by the track called ‘Non Compliance’, which we suspect may have been paid for by the fruits of corporate tax evasion. I have heard of such boats mockingly referred to as ‘The Romford Navy, but this is a scurrilous piece of stereotyping which has no place in this blog, and anyway, we’re in Suffolk, where I’m sure tax evasion is unheard of.
There are not many leaves, reasonable or otherwise, on the trees (or even shading the earth? Ed). The path takes us down to the river past Freston Tower. We had no idea that this folly (allegedly the oldest in the country), existed and , as usual, conducting my research after the event (This means 5 minutes on Wikipedia. Ed.), it seems that no-one knows quite when or why it was built. Estimates of the construction date apparently range over two centuries, which surprises me, thinking as I had, that nowadays dating buildings could be nailed to the nth percent of a millisecond. A novel was written by Richard Cobbold clergyman and scion of the local brewing magnates, in which the tower was depicted as having been built by a Lord de Freston for his daughter, so that she could pursue her various studies on a different floor each day(it’s unlikely that her studies were seasoned with much laughter). It is now owned by the Landmark Trust and let out as holiday accommodation. I’m tempted, although you’d have to be able to put up with the noise from the A14 –trunk road to Felixstowe – as the container lorries process in great number over the Orwell Bridge, less than a mile away. You can see the tower from the bridge, probably easiest travelling east to west, on the west bank of the river, but don’t look too hard if you’re driving.
History is quite clear on the date of the Orwell Bridge, it was completed in 1982. One of the design partners of the Orwell Bridge project was the Frederick Gibberd partnership, and here is a link to Essex, and a digression is called for, because Freddie Gibberd was the designer of Harlow, southern England’s most prestigious new town, which has a special place in all our hearts. Sir Freddie, having designed the town to be visible from the initial planned route of the M11 along the River Stort valley, was apoplectic when the motorway was re-routed around the back of the town, via North Weald. ‘’It is as if they had built Brighton front, and moved the sea’’ he allegedly fumed. You may however, view Harlow in all the glory that its creator intended from the A414, best travelling east, from Ware. I recommend the trip, although please do not pay too much attention if you are driving.
The bridge speaks for itself. Secret Informant tells me it has been known to have peregrine falcons nesting under its considerable span, but we don’t notice any today. I took lots of pictures though.
We finish for a de-brief in a pub on the outskirts of Ipswich. ‘’How were the new shoes?’’ I ask Master F. ‘’I’ve got a blister’’ He replies.