Monday, 12 April 2010
‘Do I really have to come?’ James didn’t want to go to Suffolk. Not one little bit. I wasn’t offended. He wasn’t baulking at the thought of spending a weekend alone with his mother while Adrian went out on a Food Safari. No, it was the thought of a day stuck in the car to get there, coming hard on the heels of our marathon trip back from North Wales.
When I was his age, a car journey was a novelty (cue the violins – I’ll spare you the ‘we lived in a cardboard box’ routine). I’d happily spend any length of time gazing out of the window, lost in my imaginings. But James is very different. I was an introspective child, happy with my own company – the kind of child who built ‘dens’ in the woods, up a tree, behind the sofa and spent hours just sitting in them. Not doing anything in particular, just being. Now I see it in black and white, I have to confess I sound a little odd actually.
But James is all action, all outgoing, only truly happy in movement, with friends. I don't think he will never ever quite forgive us for not providing a sibling.
Salvation came in the shape of my pal Jules. ‘Stay with us,’ she said in a flash, quite regardless of the fact that she was already hosting her mother, sister, niece and nephew. He fell on her like a thirsty man on a pint of beer. So Adrian and I went alone. Back to Walberswick, back to Southwold, back to my childhood.
My father loved this place, primarily because of the beer. They say you marry your husband and this case it’s true – Adrian says the word ‘Adnams’ as if it were a prayer. And while the brewery in Southwold is the cathedral of beer, The Anchor at Walberswick is its parish church.
Adrian has gone on about this place for so long I glaze over but now, by heck, I see the light. Sophie and Mark Dorber have turned what I remember as a dreary Tudorbethan hotel into something quite quite sublime.
‘What’ll you have?’ asked the barman, Luke.
‘Er, nothing. I’m a bit delicate from the night before,’ I confessed.
‘You need a drink,’ he said firmly. ‘Gin and tonic?’
‘Now there’s a thought.’
He proffered a bottle I’d never seen before and I took a sip. Tanqueray Ten. Bliss. Three of those and I was a happier being. A plate of tapas and some sublime scallops and I was floating in heaven.
By happy coincidence, Adrian’s piece about pubs and beer was in the Telegraph, with this place touted as one of his favourite British pubs.
After a breakfast of jalapeno pepper omelette, fresh apple juice and THE best coffee, possibly in the entire world, I have to agree with him. And by heck that hurts.