This weekend we returned to Suffolk for a couple of days back in the county of my childhood. My mum and dad had taken a cottage at Iken Barns so that they could enjoy some of the music at the excellent Snape Maltings.

Saturday, we went into Aldeburgh to pay our respects to the monochrome North Sea, and to enjoy loosing ourselves in the wonderland that is the Aldburgh Bookshop. After a nice meal in the Oyster Bar down at Snape, Mum and Dad went to a Britten opera and Emma and I headed back to the barn to look after Barney, watch Merlin, and play a game of Scrabble with the travel set that we bought for our holiday in Iceland and then never had the time to play. Marvellous!

Sunday was the polar opposite of an autumnal day with cloudless blue skies, a crispness to the air, and a flat calm to the North Sea. We all went down to Dunwich Heath/Minsmere for a walk amongst leaves and funghi, seeing deer prints and otter prints, and a Dartford Warbler flitting about amongst the gorse and the heather.

A snack lunch later in the old coastguard cottages and then we headed down to the beach towards the hides – saw a Common Seal lounging about in the water – before heading into the reserve to see: two waxwings, a kingfisher (also exciting), heron, wigeon, curlew, shell ducks, shovellers, gold crests, teal, wren, lapwings, and a marsh harrier…