A weekend in Aldeburgh

214 miles on the clock
We chose Aldeburgh in Suffolk as the destination of our first full weekend away in Cleopatra and found The Forge, a Camping and Caravaning Club Certificated Site, in nearby Blaxhall. I emailed the owner, Eddie, to enquire about staying and he emailed back within about 12 hours. He said the ground on the usual field would be soft, but that we could use a site next to a shed around the other side of the farm, and so we confirmed the booking.

We telephoned half an hour before arrival at the campsite as requested and using the final few directions given we arrived at the gate. Eddie helped us park and then produced a hook-up cable to plug into Cleopatra. He showed us to the minimal facilities which consist only of drinking water tap, waste disposal, and in a shed, a toilet and sink. There's a small electric heater in the shed so it's not cold, but there are no showers at this site. The only thing I'd call out is the lack of mirror above the sink, otherwise the facilities provided are adequate if nothing special.

Our field at The Forge
The facilities are perfectly located for the camping field, but a little awkward for our makeshift site and so we both tried our best not to need the loo in the night. I failed and had to go trekking around the back of the barn, past the owner's garden and round to the shed for a wee in the pitch black - and it really is pitch black, so that with the owls hooting around you it's really scary!

We cooked the Moroccan meatball dish we'd made two nights before because we'd enjoyed it so much (and the meatballs were still half price!). We drank wine while updating our Facebooks about our first adventure, and then managed to watch Big Brother via 3g on my tablet. We retired to bed without having washed up. We left the washng up bowl and dirty cooking things outside until morning and told ourselves it was only because there was no dishwashing area on the site.

Waking up in the rooftop bed
I slept reasonably well. What's going to take more getting used to is the width of the bed as it's drastically smaller than the super kingsize I'm used to.

Two more important lessons were learned in the morning. One is to always wash up and tidy things away; it just makes getting ready in the morning less pleasurable. The other is that the coolbox is also a warmbox and you need to ensure it's set to cold or you'll have warm milk and sausages!

I managed to have enough of a body wash to feel reasonably clean (though I think I'll insist on campsites with showers until the weather is warmer).

After breakfast we packed everything back up and, taking advantage of the first time to see the van in daylight, fitted the bungee loop we'd purchased to assist in collapsing the roof. It helps ensure the fabric is brought inwards and eliminates the danger of it getting caught in the hydraulics.

Aldeburgh's buildings
We headed to Aldeburgh where we parked for £2 for four hours. We walked along the beach past the town, stopping for dozens of photos in front of the fishing huts, boats and Tudor buildings. We bought fish and chips that we enjoyed on the seafront and then had coffee in a cafe. We went into the Adnams Brewery shop but resisted a purchase on the basis of economy and the distance we'd be carrying it back to Cleopatra. I was very tempted by the eight-pint barrel of Ghost Ship though.

I wanted to see Sizewell nuclear powerplant and so we drove the 10 minutes to Sizewell village and parked next to the beach for a couple of pictures.

We journeyed back to base via Snape where we looked around the craft and antique shops at Snape Maltings. Once again we resisted a purchase because we need to carry fewer things around in the van and not more!

We arrived back on site around 3pm and got our internet fix while dinner bubbled away. We made sausages and lentils in one pot so that it only required reheating later in the evening, with the plan being that we would have a couple of drinks in the village pub, and then dinner would be easy afterwards.

The Ship Inn at Blaxham
The Ship Inn in Blaxhall wasn't all that special and I'd be in no rush to return. A large party of locals sat noisily in one corner and there were only a couple of other tables that didn't say reserved. The large group was ordering drinks and so we had to wait for the one barman to finish. A girl stood in a doorway behind the bar watching us wait and why she couldn't serve us I don't know. If she wasn't able to serve for some reason she could have at least acknowledged us. There were four real ales but disappointingly only one was from local brewery Adnams. I scanned a food menu and thought the meals were reasonably priced. I can only assume the pub is popular for food with so many tables booked.

The view from the rooftop bed
We awoke to sunshine in the morning and I unzipped the windows to lie in bed and watch the birds in the trees. We were packed and ready for the road just after 10am and took the opportunity to visit John Lewis Ipswich on the way home. I purchased a Jasper bag to hang up in the roof to keep my phone and water bottle in during the night. We also visited Dunelm where I'd seen perfectly sized storage boxes to fit the luggage compartment ready for our second paring down of the cooking and dining equipment!

If you'd like to find out more about the area local website Visit Aldeburgh lists local sights and walks, and The Telegraph has published a great feature 36 Hours in Aldeburgh.

Campsite visited: The Forge in Blaxhall (£12 per night inc electric hook-up)
Miles on the clock: 214
Meals cooked: Moroccan meatballs (£3.43), Sausages and lentils (£2.00)
Money spent: Fish and chips (£10.20), Coffee (£3), Parking in Aldeburgh (£2), pub drinks (£16.60)

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