In which our heroic duo actually manage to visit a pier, see a very rude woman, eat a cream tea and have a jolly good time. Despite a sunburned head.
Built in 1900, Southwold Pier was originally 270 yards long. During the years of its existence it has, due to several storms and a drifting sea mine, varied from 20 yards to its current 208 yards. Compared to some other piers this is considered a relatively trouble-free history.
It is, to be honest, 208 yards of excellence. It starts well, and is good right to the end. When you get to the end it is also good when you view it in the reverse direction.
One striking aspect of the pier, apart from the signs to tell you where you are, is the bright, clean appearance of the place. The plaques are also a very noticeable feature – they commemorate all sorts of things, and the prices start at £195. It’s not cheap, but it would make a very unusual present. I mentioned this to Julia, but she seems unimpressed by the idea.
This is a selection of plaques – I’ve deliberately chosen some that are related to piers and the pier construction. There are others, including, those to public figures from the town, school pupils, teachers, the town crier and many happy holidaymakers. It adds up to the idea of the pier as a community facility, and makes it a happy place to be.
I’m sorry about all this unseemly positivity, but it’s that sort of place.
The first stop was in the cafe for a cream tea. It wasn’t planned, but we fancied a cup of tea and the rest of it just happened. It was clean and bright with excellent scones but appalling company.
There were three generations behind me, a baby, a mother and a grandmother. It started off slowly with a discussion on breastfeeding and weaning. The baby, to be fair, didn’t contribute much to the discussion.
The mother didn’t get much chance to contribute either.
However, the grandmother made up for this. The woman could talk. She didn’t however, always talk sense, and she kept stressing that she would be willing to donate some of her “organic cooking apples” for the child’s food. I think that’s what we mere mortals call “cooking apples”. We don’t use chemicals so our fruit is organic, we just don’t refer to it as “organic”. I can’t help feeling you should have it certified by the Soil Association before you start calling your fruit “organic”.
That just makes her irritating. What made her appalling was the hand gesture.
A young waiter approached them and asked if he could take their order. The grandmother dismissed him brusquely, telling him they had ordered outside but moved inside out of the wind. That was bad enough, but as she did it, I saw Julia stiffen.
She told me afterwards that the grandmother had made a dismissive flicking hand gesture to send the young man on his way.
I suppose it’s appropriate that a fine old pier in a traditional old resort should be the last bastion of epic rudeness and disdain for the lower classes.
I hope she gets earwigs in her organic cooking apples.