Letter from Felixstowe: Blythburgh and Happy Suffolk Pigs for Valentine’s Day

Clive and his daughter at Dunwich Heath, near Blythburgh, Suffolk

Clive and his daughter at Dunwich Heath, near Blythburgh, Suffolk

Normally Clive and I don’t make a huge deal of Valentine’s Day, but this year, at the last minute, we decided to treat ourselves to an overnight away. We picked a destination from our ‘We Should’ list (as we did when we visited Suffolk’s Shingle Street) and selected Blythburgh, about an hour’s drive from Felixstowe, a riverside area we’ve often driven through but never stopped to explore or walk.

Thanks to the Internet we managed to find a room in a local pub; everything else was sold out, probably weeks ago. We’ll find out in a couple days if our room’s availability means we missed something in our research – we hope not!

We’re looking forward to the scenery – the River Blyth winding to the North Sea between Southwold and Walberswick; miles of marshes, reedbeds, swaying grasses and heathland; exploring nearby villages and a magnificent 12th-century church known as the ‘Cathedral of the Marshes’ on whose site a church has existed since 630 (just writing that year feels unreal to me). And – with apologies to vegetarian friends – we’re hoping to sample some of the meat products from Blythburgh’s free range pigs, or, as they’re sometimes called locally, happy pigs, because they run free outside from birth until the end of their lives.

On many drives to Southwold, we’ve passed fields with rows of open-air, metal-roofed pig huts (for lack of a better term), some singles and some doubles, apparently. We’ve seen pigs frolicking and foraging in the fields. Perhaps it’s my non-country upbringing but whenever I see them I can’t help cheering, ‘Happy pigs! Happy pigs!’

Living in Suffolk, we’ve come to appreciate the local food scene and that includes the happy pigs’ bacon and sausages, served in various pubs and restaurants – they’re truly delicious.

I don’t know how many happy pigs we’ll see running around the fields this time of year, but we look forward to dinner at the pub and a full English breakfast on Sunday, so should get a taste of some good Suffolk pork.

If the weather doesn’t cooperate for walking, I foresee a lot of pub-sitting and coffee-sipping before a cozy fire.  More to come.

Southwold, near Blythburgh, Suffolk

Southwold, near Blythburgh, Suffolk

Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Felixstowe.

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