Aldeburgh, Thorpeness 2016

Our family often visited Aldeburgh. We particularly liked Sluice cottage, halfway between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, a good place to park and walk along the short grass behind the beach and to look at the flowers in the shingle or to walk across the marshes.

In 2016 I did a swim journey to remember my parents and raise money for charities related to their deaths, at places relevant to the family threaded along the A12 Road. Round up and charity info in post:  A12 swim journey June 2016: I did it!

Mum watching Imogen with a camera, plants on shingle beach, sea and distant view of Thorpeness
mum watching me photograph flowers on the beach, Thorpeness in the distance

I had a paddle here 1 June 2015 during a very difficult time at home. I took a brief trip out to collect a painkiller prescription for dad from Aldeburgh, and stopped to have a paddle in the sea and then one in the much warmer sluice. This is where I will do my swim. It has mostly happy memories.

a reed edged waterway
the marshes from the sluice

Dad’s friend Roxane Houston was based in Aldeburgh , and he would visit regularly, firstly to take singing lessons and later to help her with typing and proofreading for her books and plays. She lived high up above the town, and he would often take photos from the Town Steps.

We developed a tradition of going to Aldeburgh on Christmas day, at first all of us, perhaps to try out a Christmas present of a tripod or camera, then the number of us that went dwindling until it was just me and my father, then just me. I have sets of photos that he and I took over successive years, rather poignant to look at now.

dad photographing a fishing boat with tackle on the shingle beach, sea and blue late afternoon sky with clouds
dad always photographed this boat; this is Christmas Day 2012

Slaughden was another part of Aldeburgh we visited. You can drive right onto the seafront, and I have a memory of us sitting in the car watching turnstones bobbing along like clockwork and turning stones, and on another day watching the driving rain. You could drive round and back up past the library and the cottage hospital, where I took my dad for a difficult and stressful visit to the physio before we knew the real problem with his back.

swimmer coming out of the sea onto shingle beach
Imogen on a swim at Aldeburgh with friend Anita, August 2015

Anita is also supporting me from the bank or shore – and perhaps having a swim or paddle – on a big chunk of this trip). When we had this swim she was spending August clearing out her parents’ home on the seafront after her father sadly died. She was swimming daily in the sea and enjoying living right by the sea – a dream not many of us can fulfil, or only for a short spell. It was a wonderfully refreshing swim, and nice to be able to run back to the house to change afterwards. Although I went to the same school as Anita (and we share memories of the awfulness of that school, together with another swimming friend, Tina) she was my dad’s friend first. They car shared journeys to the Phoenix Singers choir when she lived in the next village, and he helped her when she was studying music.

Anita on concrete defence block, mill and houses and distant sea in background
Anita taking photographs at Slaughden just after Christmas 2014

Aldeburgh has always been seen as posh and expensive. But anyone can visit,

one of the Aldeburgh beach towers with pink seafront houses and the sea
another favourite subject dad photographed at Aldeburgh

Read about the June A12 swim journey:  A12 swim journey June 2016: I did it! And see also A12 swim journey 2016: 33 FB POSTS and Swim Journey 2016 Day 1 places and significance. This and the other stories were written in 2016 just before or after the swim journey and updated December 2022.

Dad and mum on a bench, laughing
mum and dad at Thorpeness Meare 11 August 2010