15 Things I Love about Felixstowe

View from our balcony, Felixstowe

Since I recently updated my blog header to include Felixstowe, I thought I’d offer a personal view of our new home, using the same headings as I did in 15 Things I Love about Sydney and Paris:

1 – At the Heart

A fascinating juxtaposition. On one side, the traditional British seaside and a brilliant two-mile-long Promenade. On the other, the largest container port in the UK.

Also at the heart, a community of wonderful people — Clive’s long-term friends I now feel privileged to call my friends as well, and also some great new friends.

2 – Man-made

Breakwaters and groins maintained in a continuous effort to minimise damage to the shoreline in heavy seas or high tides. Historic forts and towers. The biggest container cranes in the world, and a viewing area from which to watch ships coming and going, loading and unloading.

3 – Coffee

An excellent range of choices. Cappucino at The Alex on the seafront. Lattes at Caffe Nero or Costa on Hamilton Road, the high street. Claire’s Little Ice Cream Shop across from the Pier. Teashops, too — though fair enough, they do a much better job with tea.  

4 – Places

The seafront and the Prom. Landguard Point. The Grove. Felixstowe Ferry and Kings Fleet.  The three rivers: the Orwell, the Deben, and the entrance to the Stour — and riverside walks and pubs. The dock viewing area.  Nearby scenic villages, 250 year-old pubs (watch those low ceilings!), and 1200 year-old churches.  

Watching the action at the dock viewing area, Felixstowe

5 – Beauty and Feel

The feel of the sea and the countryside, mixed with awareness of the Port’s hustle and bustle and the pleasant proximity of London. The rolling waves and steely grey power of the North Sea. The huge skies and natural beauty of Suffolk. The feel of an English lifestyle — high street shops, endless cups of tea, red post boxes. Some might think me crazy, but I also find beauty in watching the sun set over the cranes at Felixstowe docks.

6 – Food

Suffolk produce. Countless British treats — full English breakfast (without the mushrooms, thank you), Yorkshire pudding, rhubarb crumble with custard.  Pub meals. Great Indian restaurants.  Stilton cheese. Cornish cream.  Roast dinners. Parsnips!      

7 – Walking

Felixstowe — and more broadly, Suffolk, England, and the UK — is for me a walker’s paradise. It seems we have an infinite variety of local walks to explore — coastal, inland, along the rivers.

Walking near Felixstowe

8 – Public Transport

Buses and trains seem to go everywhere, so sometimes we don’t use our car for days.  Easy train to London. Easy Eurostar to Paris. Heaven!

9 – Global Consciousness

Because so many people work directly or indirectly in businesses related to ‘the docks’ — the local term for the Port of Felixstowe — conversations are often permeated with deep knowledge and interest in global shipping, transport, and economic issues. Many people travel frequently outside the UK as well, so there’s a definite awareness of current events both inside and outside the country.

10 – Wine

Availability of wines from all over Europe and the rest of the world. So much to learn (and sample!). I miss the greater choices of Aussie and NZ wines we had in Sydney but we’ve found some of our favourites here and have enjoyed trying different wines we couldn’t get in Australia. There should be no problem finding ‘new favourites’ as time goes by.

11 – Culture & Lifestyle

A relaxed English/European culture, influenced by the dual aspects of the town’s history as a seaside resort and its later development as a busy port.  A very real place with no false pretensions and an appealing mix of families, retirees, dock workers, and day-trippers.  Shows at the Spa Pavilion. Special events such as a vintage car rally or Art on the Prom.

Art on the Prom, Felixstowe

12 – Books

A fabulous array for a relatively small community.  Independent Magpie Books, WH Smith for commercial fare, second-hand discoveries at Treasure Chest and Poor Richard’s, several charity shops with large, always-active book sections. A big Waterstone’s (so far it’s survived their recent closings) in nearby Ipswich.

13 – Day or Weekend Trips

From Felixstowe, all of England, the UK, and Europe is closer to us than ever before.  Day trips for a walk at Long Melford or Orford Ness; the train to London for a few days as we did recently en route to the U.S., mulling over catalogues of weekend trips to European Christmas markets (not this year – maybe next!) or spring in the Scottish Highlands.

And, of course, my joy that we’re now able to go to Paris with a backpack.

14 – Finding Myself – the Importance of Geography

Felixstowe is where Clive grew up — logically it would be more ‘his place’ than ‘my place’. I’d never heard of Felixstowe, until I met Clive. My first visit here was in 2006, and on subsequent trips, I found myself more and more drawn to this little piece of the planet.

Sunset at the docks, Felixstowe

Nowhere is perfect, and like all towns Felixstowe has its share of challenges. But there was that moment, in late 2009 — over a glass of wine in Paris, as it happened — when Clive and I talked about visiting Felixstowe one more time before returning to Australia, looked at each other, and found ourselves saying, ‘We could live there’.

Thus began our new adventure, stirring the waters of change, and moving (or returning, in Clive’s case) to England.  

15 – Finding My Love

When I was widowed in 2003, someone said to me, ‘Five years from now, your life will be completely different.’  In a million years, I couldn’t have imagined meeting, and then marrying, my ‘Mr Original’ as I often call Clive.

I’d be happy with Clive anywhere, but am glad he introduced me to the place where he was from, and that we now call Felixstowe home.

A postbox near Felixstowe Town Hall

Cheers for now and more soon.

9 Responses

  1. Carolyn, thank you for this wonderful blog entry; I don’t think you’re mad and still, after all this time, marvel at the fabulous sunsets be they over the docks, river or fields that lay at the back of our garden.

  2. Beautiful sunset!

  3. i’m famous! yey!!
    And i’m so sad that i heard Magpie Books is closing down 😦

  4. Ferd, lovely to see you here! Thanks for visiting and I love that you appreciate the great Felixstowe/Suffolk sunsets!

    ParisPaul thank you too 🙂

    Claire, just heard today about Magpie Books planning to close, apparently because of — what else — online competition. It is definitely sad! (Yet I am guilty of being a frequent online book purchaser — even though I’ve also been a Magpie customer!). A really tough situation for bookshops everywhere.


  5. A lovely post Carolyn and I can see why you’re so happy to add Felixstowe to your banner. It looks and sounds as if it’s a perfect fit for all of your needs.

    I particularly like this part of number 15, ” I’d be happy with Clive anywhere, but am glad he introduced me to the place where he was from, and that we now call Felixstowe home. “

  6. How wonderful to read about your new home! I’m glad that it is becoming more like home. I love your categories you have here — I will have to go hunt for your Paris post of the same. #15 is the best to read, though, I have to say. 🙂 Love it!

    Be well, Carolyn!

  7. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for your comment and I know you understand — about finding a special person *and* a special place in England 🙂

    ParisKarin, thanks to you, too — you can also relate to that ‘special someone’ being associated with a unique geographic place!


  8. Hi friends,

    My goodness; who was the gypsy fortune teller anyway? That one really was right on the money!
    I enjoyed reading all of this about Felixstowe, esp the part that says “easy train”. I am all for that!

    I just love a sunset 🙂 Your pic is lovely.

    Hugs to you both xo

  9. xpat, it did seem meant to be in many ways – life can be funny that way!

    I always love *your* photos of sunsets 🙂

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