The weather was due to change over the weekend and steadily improve, which is just what we needed as it was cold and drizzly when we left home on Good Friday. Norman and Ireen who left Bo’Ness at 7.00am had a temperature of minus 2!!! But being hardly Scots they battled on with a trip of over 400 miles!
The hotel was once in a countryside setting but due to the growth of Ipswich’s population was now surrounded by houses, this did not distract from the charm of the hotel, it was lovely and the staff were very helpful.
Ian, with Denise was leading a pack from up North which included, Rob and Karen, Alan and Ann, guest Pete and Hazel ( just trying us out)and Mick and Netty, on their new white wing.
Joe and Izzy were in their car as Joe has still to hear about the outcome of his new bike, he had a slight accident on a ride out and the Insurance Company write it off!
Also joining us for the first time were Neale and Julie, who only lived 20 miles away, it was great to meet them at last.
Chris was with us again and Gren and Jan and Jim and Jill ( first major trip since Jim’s hip op). Alan and Cheryl had arrived a day early, on their new Anniversary red wing, so they could have a longer look around the area.
Terry and Josie and Richard and Christine were joining us for the weekend as well.
Soon we were all settled in and the hotel had allotted us our own room for dining which was probably a good thing because it was very noisy with everyone catching us, but went strangely quiet when the food arrived? Which was excellent especially the hot puds with custard!
Once more it was cold and slightly damp, but we all set off at 9.00 o’clock prompt, with just a slight delay while Roy settled himself in the saddle!. We were supposed to ride through the famous wool town of Lavenham , but we took a slight detour ( which became the norm for the weekend) along a narrow slippery, mud covered lane, with traffic coming towards us which must have been a shock for the car drivers to have 12 Goldwings, riding towards them! The car drivers who left the hotel after us said Lavenham was very pretty!
Our first stop was Bury St Edmunds, with lots of coffee shops, original shops and a street market, one to add to the bucket list to visit again in the near future. Roy and I were joined for coffee by Hazel and Pete and Cheryl and Alan. The rest of the pack scattered to investigate other tea shops and eateries. We were also given free easter eggs by the local church a real bonus.
All too soon we were back on the bikes and heading out again through the Suffolk countryside, with its fields of young lambs gambolling around , villages with sweet cottages and slowly lifting clouds and brightening skies. We had 3 cars behind us, which we kept trying to shake off, but they stuck there, no doubt cursing the 12 bikes in front of them!
Lunch was planned for Southwold, so we all arrived at the pier, in brilliant sunshine. There was plenty of room to park in front of the gaily painted beach huts, which had been pulled off the beach during the winter and were waiting to be re sited back on the beach. Apparently they cost an arm and a leg to buy?
Again everyone went off in search of food, Gren, Jan Ian, Denise and Roy and I decided to eat at the Café(?) on the pier. We sat outside in warm sunshine, overlooking the mud coloured North Sea and were quickly served. Roy and Ian each ordered a portion of chips, to accompany their sandwiches. Denise queried the high price of the chips and we were told we were in a RESTAURANT! We had not realised this as we sat, out in the open with people pushing by, Fisherman coming through with rods and lines and dogs licking at our toes!! It was a real slice of life! But the view from the top of the pier of Southwold was very pretty with the rows of colourful beach huts looking like a picture postcard.
Once more, in brilliant warmish sunshine, we were ready to continue on to the tea stop. I think Alan was leading, when after a while Jim, who was almost at the back, suddenly became the leader! The pack in front had vanished! So we kept on the route and then after a while Alan appeared from the right with some of the pack and later on Chris appeared from the left with the remainder of the pack. Not having a PMT (PMR) radio I am not sure what had happened but it looks like some more “off routes” had taken place.
We arrived at Sutton Hoo, where you could look around if you wanted to, have a tea or wander back to the hotel, it was a free choice. We looked around the exhibition of Anglo Saxon history along with jewels, helmets (Ireen tried it on for size) and a burial boat, I wanted to walk to the burial mounds but Roy turned white at the thought of walking so we did not go too far.
Back at the hotel, bikes were washed, thanks to Joe organising a hose pipe, riders showered and once more down to dinner. Joe and Izzy had organised a quiz, we thought everyone would have a chance to win this time (Joe and Izzy usually win) and to our surprise Roy, Chris and I won!!
Over breakfast, the Easter Bunny ( Joe) came around and handed out chocolate eggs or bunnies. Today we were going into Essex, I had little knowledge of Essex only from the TV TOWIE, so was not sure what to expect.
With the weather bright and sunny we headed off into the beautiful countryside, enjoying the warmth and the quiet roads, With no “off routes” we arrived for coffee in the beautiful town of Frinton on Sea. Joe warned us it was posh and we must behave ourselves, we always do! It was lovely, very refined with no Amusements, just wide sandy beaches, litter free lawns and lovely coffee shops, with the residents enjoying breakfast in the sunshine.The High Street again had a variety of local specialist shops selling out of the ordinary goods. As we looked out to sea we could see, jet skiers racing along and in the far distance a wind farm (not spoiling the view). All we needed were blue seas but the North Sea remained rather grey.
As we left Frinton, on the same road as we had entered, there was great confusion as the pack decided to take the “in” road instead of the out road, they began to head back to the hotel. Roy and I at the back were unable to contact them so we carried on the right route, soon joined by Ian and Denise, who suddenly appeared at a side junction. We kept on route and caught up with the cars; two had their hoods down and were posing as they drove along. Terry’s car was more robust with no sunroof. Then the cars made a wrong turn so Roy and Ian decide to carry on to the Kelevedon Hatch, hoping everyone else would join us sooner or later.
Kelevedon Hatch , Nuclear Bunker was very deserted and while we were investigating the canteen etc, the remaining pack arrived. Some decided to stay for lunch at the bunker canteen and some went to garden centre down the road for lunch. I don’t think anyone actually went into the nuclear bunker.
After lunch we all joined up again, and as we were riding along we spotted Terry and Josie, hiding in a farmers gateway, sitting in their car, very suspicious? There were lots of theories as to what they were up to.
The countryside was surprising beautiful villages with lovely thatched cottages, cats, birds and other animals all in straw, perched on the roofs of some of the cottages, pristine village greens and nearly all the villages had their own beautifully decorated signs, not the TOWIE we were expecting. Joe had said the quiz would be about the cottages we passed, especially the colours, Karen began to count all the pink ones, but soon lost count or run out of fingers?
The afternoon coffee stop was in Clare, being Easter there was little room to park but we managed to squeeze the bikes in and had tea and tea cakes in the Bell Inn.
Then we had another “starburst” experience with everyone, heading off and losing each other! But we all made it back to the hotel safely , just arriving at different times.
Sure enough the quiz that night was about colours but nothing to do with the cottages!!! Neale and Julie won the Easter Egg.
It was a lovely weekend, thank you Joe and Izzy for organising the routes etc. It was great to meet Neale and Julie at last and I hope that Pet and Hazel decide to join us.