I am not particularly keen on the whole New Years Resolution thing, but at the start of the year me and my Husband decided that although we have some holidays already booked abroad (Amsterdam and Egypt), we should also concentrate on exploring the UK more. It is time to make the most of our weekends and get out and about and explore as much as we possibly can. The UK is incredibly diverse, even in Norfolk (where we live) we have a city, incredible coastlines, forests and generally amazing countryside and historical buildings.
So even though it is February and pretty cold we decided to take a day trip to Southwold on the Suffolk coast one Sunday. For us, its only an hour and a half drive which means its easily do-able in a day. Those of you who like beer (or gin) will know that Southwold is the home of Adnams and an incredibly picturesque coastal town that is incredibly popular all year round. Luckily for us the sun was shining (for most of the day) but it was freezing and we could not have seen everything in one day. Thankfully that just means visiting again in the summer.
Due to it being winter in the UK we managed to park for free along the sea front, there is a lot of free parking on the roads in Southwold but there are also a number of car parks for the busier periods. Parking along the sea front meant we got to take a nice walk along the promenade towards the high street. From here we could see the pier and the beach. The beach is lined with tiny little beach huts, painted in an array of bright colours and some had been given names.
There is also a lighthouse tucked away behind some colourful buildings which makes for some good photo opportunities.
Once we made it to the high street there was a great mix of old buildings, expensive shops, antique shops, cafes and Adnams pubs. I was in heaven. We found what can only be described as the best looking bakery I have ever seen, called Two Magpies Bakery. Amazingly hipster looking coffees and hot chocolates, home made sausage rolls and other savoury goods and every home made cake, biscuit and tart you could think of. I had to panic order as I wanted everything and ended up with a Raspberry tart with little meringues and a hot chocolate. My husband opted for a sausage roll, which was as thick as his arm. The only downside to this place is its really small, we were lucky to get a seat, although you could easily buy everything and eat it on the go or take things home for later.
The main reason to take a day trip to Southwold was to visit Adnams, they run brewery and gin tours everyday, which only cost £20 and you can book online. We decided to do the brewery tour (even though I don’t like beer) as we have done gin tasting before. We met at the visitor centre before heading off on a tour of all the buildings used in the brewing process whilst being taught by our guide about Southwolds history of brewing beer and the history of Adnams and how their beer is made today.
It was an incredibly informative tour and although no brewing was taking place on the weekend we were able to see the large tanks the beer is mixed in before the yeast is added. We then headed to the Adnams bar where we got to try a selection of their beers (the best bit). There were about ten to try, some of the old classics like Old Ale, a range of bottled beers including the earl grey lager and also a brand new release, a cucumber and melon sour beer. Now for someone who does like beer, you will be in your element, my husband certainly was. I even managed to try quite a few, the new cucumber one being my favourite. Once the tasting session was finished we were taken to the Adnams shop where we had a quick try of the Adnams vodka and gin. As part of the price we paid we were entitled to one free bottle of beer each. Amazingly we were allowed to choose from any 300ml and 500ml bottles, although there are a lot to choose from, so choose wisely.
I was now starving, I had had my eye on one of the many Adnams pubs but they were all incredibly busy, so do book if you want to eat lunch in one of these places. Luckily I love fish and chips and you can not beat eating fish and chips at the beach. We found this incredible little place called The Little Fish and Chip Shop on the high street. We kept it simple and both went for Haddock and Chips, which was cooked in beef dripping, with lashings of salt and vinegar of course. I think it cost something like £16 which isn’t too bad, and the portion size was fairly big. We took our fish and chips and ate them in the car whilst it rained. How British.
We had a quick look around the shops that were open, along the high street there are a number of clothing shops such as Joules, Seasalt Cornwall and Crew Clothing. My favourite shop we went into though was a quirky little shop on the high street opposite the Swan Hotel. This place sold everything from vintage clothing and music, upcycled décor, boot sale items and other antique items. I managed to refrain from buying too much, but was very close to buying one of the upcycled table lamps.
So all in all Southwold is a brilliant little seaside town full of bakeries, beer and beach huts. I can imagine this place is even more amazing during the summer when its hot but speaking to people whilst we were there suggests that it can get incredibly busy. It was quite nice to be able to get into the cafes and book ourselves into the tour although it was by no means quiet, even a Sunday in February brings the tourists out! You must add a day trip to Southwold to your UK bucketlist!