I have yet to come across a person who had been to Southwold and not been a teeny bit smitten by it.
You don’t generally find people are disappointed by it.
They are more likely to get a twinkle in their eye and say ‘oh Southwold’ with a smile or say ‘what about that arcade?’
They don’t usually mean the traditional gaudy arcade of the type found on most English piers. They usually mean the ‘mad arcade’ (as it calls itself on its website Under the Pier), a place where you really must stop off, half way along the pier. It has arcade machines in it which have been hand made by engineer Tim Hunkin and are far from your everyday penny arcades or slot machines. The history of the Under the Pier show is fascinating – you can read all about it at the link above. What I love about Southwold Pier is that its current owners allowed Hunkin to also create the noticeboards and signs (solar-powered) and litter bins. It’s the ‘Hunkin-ness’ which gives Southwold Pier its extra special quality.
Southwold has the charm of the English seaside town which you don’t feel has changed since the 1950s. As you leave the town and head past the lighthouse and past the beach huts towards the beach, you have a wonderful vista of the pier, the shingle and the sea. On the August day we were last there, amazingly enough only last month for a very special friend’s 7th birthday, people were cavorting on the sand, picnicking by their beach huts and even paddling in the sea. The birthday girl chose fish and chips for her birthday lunch and I’m pleased to report that they were fresh and delicious and not the sort of f&cs you would have got in the 50s. It was a perfect afternoon, and (thankfully) the birthday girl even won what she wanted in the (gaudy) arcade, and in abundance.
My previous time in Southwold was entirely different weather (and it was to celebrate an older birthday girl of slightly more years than 7 – both birthday girls are related, though only one of them was dressed as a banana). On a Saturday afternoon back in November 2010 the setting was perhaps even more alluring, pale grey skies with a hint of pink, a rougher sea, twinkly peach coloured bulbs along the quite chilly pier. After lunching in the Adnams store in town, we had to get quite wrapped up in scarves and gloves for our tootle along the pier (and Under the Pier) which obviously then necessitated sheltering for tea and carrot cake. Well, with certain ladies, what doesn’t?!
It’s fun to see some of the same machines exist Under the Pier as they did 3 years ago – I think it took the passing of the intervening years to give me the confidence to put my arm in that ‘Test Your Nerve’ machine. I still screamed though!
I defy you to visit Southwold and not get some of what I get from it.
In any case, you can’t beat a set of pictures which features Fab lolly bins, seagulls, long lines of coloured beach huts and the word (and the thing) ‘groynes’.
As ever, click on any photograph to see it bigger.
Don’t forget to check out Under the Pier for more fun facts on Tim Hunkin and his creations and, whatever you do, don’t forget to visit Southwold (by the way it’s in Suffolk).
If anyone liked the middle set of pics, come and find me on Instagram on instagram.com/hattydaze
I promise the pictures are not always of beach huts.