Last weekend I was invited to join my wife’s company’s Christmas party celebrations. They rented a house overlooking the shingle beaches of the mock-Jacobean village of Thorpeness in Suffolk and booked a meal at the nearby Crown and Castle in Orford run by none other than The Hotel Inspector herself, Ruth Watson.
It must be said the weekend was principally a festival of fresh air, walks on the beach, copious drinking, late night poker games and lazy mornings. This for me however was offset by some filming and a couple of most enjoyable runs along the coastline one northwards and one south.
Whether it’s the coastal location or the flat terrain or something unique to November Im not sure but the skies laid on a spectacle for us that I won’t forget in a hurry. Rising at about 7am on both mornings for my run I was greeted by the purest and deepest of blue heavens. Not just any blue but a subtle, cavernous eternity of sky graduating from black to azure studded with stars clinging to night and shot with creamy jet trails seeking the morning.
If you ever stay in Thorpeness and want to run go south to Aldeburgh not north to Sizewell. My excursion north was hampered by a fruitless search for a beach path which ended in a pig field surrounded by an electric fence. Pigs are friendly inquisitive creatures but the deep and quelching mud would have been enough to suck my shoes off so after only a mile or so I turned back and ran through the village before heading home for a shower.
Southwards however was a different kettle of fish. You reach the village limits where very quickly the terrain becomes runner-friendly. Between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh lies a broad reach of open ground two miles or more in length between the hissing shingles of the shoreline and the small country road that connects the two villages. Its a grassy, firm and mainly flat stretch that lets you appreciate the aforesaid skies in all their horizon-to-horizon glory. And at this time of day and in late November it’s pretty much deserted except for the squabbling seagulls who patrol it.
I went there as a kid and its not changed much in 50 years. I’ll go there again when Im a hundred.