Lowestoft – Wednesday 11th July 2018

After a delicious lunch with my Aunt and Uncle at the Barnby Swan (well worth a visit – it specialises in seafood, which we love) we decided to whizz across to Lowestoft.  We used to visit here when our children were little – it has a lovely beach.  We didn’t have time to stop long today, sadly – just time to pop to Waterstones!

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Lowestoft - 11.07.18


On the way back to the car I was amused by all these birds roosting on the top of the Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic church.  Having Googled, it appears they are Kittiwakes and are not very common in the UK!






Southwold Books – Wednesday 11th July 2018

Next up on our holiday was a lunch date with my Aunt and Uncle who live on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, so on the way up from Ipswich we decided to visit Southwold.  We thought we’d beat the queues for the car parks by arriving at 10am but despite it being a weekday in term time we couldn’t find a space for anywhere longer than 20 minutes!   This just gave us time to visit Southwold Books, which is owned by Waterstones but branded as though independent.   The store is in an attractive building (The Olde Banke House), the former site of the local Tourist Information office, and is small but very sweet!

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The woman and man pictured in one of the photos were complaining about a chain shop that was going to be moving into Southwold (presumably White Stuff as they were opening the following day) and how chains would ruin the character of the town.  Kind of ironic really, when you consider who owns this shop!

After our visit we hopped back into the car and headed to the Pier for a cup of coffee.  The pier was built in 1900. 

There is a large mural on part of the pier by graffiti artist Pure Evil and dedicated to George Orwell (one of my most-read authors) who lived in the High Street from 1929 to 1935 and wrote one of my favourite of his works of fiction here, A Clergyman’s Daughter.

Trinity Lighthouse

The sandy beach is very popular with tourists in the summer months, but was fairly quiet when we visited.  Southwold is very pretty and definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the East of the country… just get there early!

Still reading – The New Woman by Charity Norman and listening to Knots and Crosses on Ian Rankin on Audio Book

Southend-on-Sea – Tuesday 10th July 2018

Essex is a county that we don’t know very well so we decided to visit some of it whilst we were staying in Ipswich.  We started off with Southend-on-Sea which is famous for, amongst other things, having the longest pleasure pier in the world.  The Waterstones here is in the High Street.  From the front it is just an everyday glass-fronted shop, but the building above is quite attractive. 

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Looking towards ‘Adventure Island’ and the pier

Bury St Edmunds, Butter Market – Monday 9th July 2018

In complete contrast to the other store in Bury St Edmunds, this branch of Waterstones is in a beautiful old building with beams and low ceilings in an old and pretty area of the town called the Butter Market. 

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St Edmundsbury Cathedral

St Edmudsbury


The Angel Hotel – as recommended by Dickens?!


Bury St Edmunds, Arc Centre – Monday 9th July 2018

We had briefly stopped at Bury St Edmunds last year and liked the look of it, so decided to jump on a train and head back for the day.   There are two branches of Waterstones here – the first we visited is in an open-air shopping complex – it’s clearly quite new and has a very modern feel to it.  The Waterstones is lovely and light and airy.

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One of the things we did was to visit the Abbey Grounds to look at the ruined abbey.  The grounds are lovely – there is a large grassed area where the ruins are, with a river (the Lark – I hadn’t heard of that river before) and then more formal gardens closer to St Edmundsbury Cathedral.  If I lived in this town, the Abbey Gardens would make a wonderful place to sit and read!

Abbot’s Bridge over the River Lark

Abbey ruins and formal gardens

I think this is a Little Egret…

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Still reading – The New Woman by Charity Norman and listening to Knots and Crosses on Ian Rankin on Audio Book

Chelmsford – Sunday 8th July 2018

We stopped at Chelmsford for breakfast on our way to Ipswich.  I’m not really sure what we were expecting, but what we found was a rather nice and very clean city. Despite the fact that it wasn’t given city status until 2012, the local football team have been known as Chelmsford City since 1938!  The Waterstones has recently had a refit and consequently looks very smart. 



Chelmsford map

We would have liked to have visited the cathedral, but it being a Sunday morning they were in the middle of a service so we weren’t able to look inside.


Bluewater – Saturday 7th July 2018

Our final Waterstones for today was at Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent where we stopped for dinner before the concert we were heading to at St Mary’s Church in Higham.  The Waterstones store is set over two floors and has a large coffee shop on site. 

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Upstairs (the main and largest part of the store)


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Bluewater is the fourth largest shopping centre in the UK and opened in 1999.  As out-of-town centres go, I think this one is quite pleasant (I’m not really a fan of shopping… unless it’s for books!) as it has a light and airy feel and some pretty awesome features.  These include a carved frieze representing various City of London Guilds and an excerpt of the song Old Father Thames (Lyrics by Raymond Wallace and music by Betsy O’Hogan – no, it’s not a song I’m familiar with!) as well as various statues and the outline of the River Thames in tiles on the floor!  

Excerpt from ‘Old Father Thames’

The full verse, from which the excerpt of the poem comes is:

Bluewater 1

The London Guilds

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We happened to visit when England were playing one of their World Cup games (I’m not sure who England’s opposition were) so the shops were lovely and quiet and the Sky stand very busy!

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