Last time I went to Suffolk, I wrote a blow-by-blow account of each day, painstakingly (for the reader) recording what we did each day in separate blog posts. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m not going to do that this time, although of course I am still going to write a blog post about it. And not just because I’m feeling sad that I now spend all my precious blogging time writing cover letters and updating my CV. No, I’m writing a blog post about it because I had a really flipping lovely time with my friends and want to make sure I remember some of what we got up to.
We drove up on the Friday night, all feeling a bit shattered from the week, but eager to make the most of the weekend. At least then we could wake up on Saturday morning and be there already. The drive went pretty smoothly, with only one mildly hair-raising moment when we realised only a little too late that we were meant to be exiting the motorway. We arrived at my friend’s grandparents’ cottage all in one piece, practically spilling out of the car along with all the stuff we seemed to have stuffed into the small Nissan. I received a text from my Mum: “Oh dear you forgot your coat *crying face*” – brilliant start, but to be honest I don’t think it would have fit in the car anyway.
Once we’d unpacked the car and gawped in amazement at the fully stocked fridge and the bottles of wine left on the side for us, we cracked open one of said bottles and flopped onto the sofas. It was nice to just do what we normally do (i.e. drink wine and chat rubbish) but in a different location, with the prospect of the whole weekend together and the possibility of the sun and the beach.
The next morning, I dreamt that I had woken up, had checked my phone and had seen that it was already midday. Normally quite a early bid, this was quite distressing for me and I rolled over to tell my friend that we’d wasted half the day after only one bottle of wine between us. She was momentarily alarmed, before checking and realising that it was actually only 10am (still quite late for me), so we both relaxed back into the rustling comfort of our sleeping bags. Once we’d come to, we padded downstairs in our bare feet and opened the front door. Stepping outside I felt as though I was walking out onto a balcony in Greece (well, not quite, but it was pretty warm.) We made a pot of coffee, hoping to lure the other two out of bed with the smell. We had home-made muesli, buttery scrambled eggs and orange juice on the patio for breakfast, still in our pyjamas and bare feet. (I may have already got dressed because I’m weirdly efficient in the morning, but it sounds more romantic like this.)
At around midday (for real this time), we set off in the car to Southwold beach. We were dressed for summer, me in some strange board shorts I’ve had since I was about 14, because my black skinny jeans had given me heat rash after sitting in the sun for 5 minutes. We wound down the windows and blasted Hey Jude multiple times into the Suffolk countryside, feeling as though we were properly on holiday. When we arrived, we realised that everyone else had the same feeling, but they hadn’t stayed in bed until 10am. We drove around for a while, before somehow finding a free car parking space. Although it had felt like Greece back at the cottage, now we were by the coast it was windy and I was suddenly regretting the shorts.
Thankfully, we had a beach hut to go to to take shelter from the breeze. We spent the afternoon between the wind break on the beach and the towels in the beach hut, the slight chilliness made up for by the random chats, the cans of M&S gin and tonic and the bottle of prosecco we bought from the Co op. The others got fish and chips (and I had a suitable vegetarian alternative). I had some work to do (before the prosecco) so I huddled in the beach hut, peering at my laptop and trying to form words. When I was done, I ran back onto the beach to read the finished product to the others, who made the appropriate noises and reassured me that I could now relax properly.
By about 6, we were full, happy and windswept. For some reason, we decided that this was the moment to go for a swim, so we stripped down to our swimming costumes (it’s almost as though we’d prepared for it) and ran towards the sea. The running lost a little momentum as our feet hit the freezing cold water, but I’d committed, so I was going to follow through. I went in to my knees, then to my waist, and then all the way in. I did mad breaststroke for about 20 seconds, screaming the whole time, before standing up and running back out, where my friend was waiting dutifully with the towel I’d dropped halfway up the beach. Once I was out of the water, I felt strangely warm and exhilarated – maybe just a fraction of what the crazy Hampstead Heath swimmers feel like when they take the plunge in the middle of winter??
On Saturday evening, we drank wine (starting with the most expensive bottle and working our way down, obvs), ate pasta and watched the first two Bridget Jones films (the third isn’t on Netflix). We had created a not so revolutionary Bridget Jones drinking game. Some of the rules included: every time someone says ‘Bridge’, every time Colin Firth looks concerned and every time there’s a line that wouldn’t be in a film made today (i.e. a joke about sexual harassment). Safe to say, we got to the £3 rosé relatively quickly.
On Sunday morning, all a little worse for wear, we had another lazy start, with more scrambled eggs and coffee on the patio. Although we could have had this hungover morning in someone’s flat in London, there was something lovely about knowing that we didn’t have to navigate the tube or get back home for anything in particular. Instead, we had another day at the beach ahead of us. We got moving at around 1 after having cleared out the cottage and rammed everything into the car, leaving ourselves only a small amount of room to actually sit on our seats.
Hey Jude made another appearance, although our singing may have been a little subdued. This time we couldn’t find a free car parking space, so had to park far away and spend a good 10 minutes trying to work out how to pay by phone (honestly, you’d think we were a bunch of grannies). Shouting “BLUE NISSAN” into the phone wasn’t exactly how we’d planned on spending our precious final three hours in Southwold. Eventually, the savviest of the four of us made it work and we headed back to the beach hut, where we sat, drank Diet Coke and chatted about all the random conversations we’d had the night before. Some of the high/low-lights include: Leaving Neverland, paedophilia, and religion.
Before leaving, we did a cringe-but-cute photo shoot outside the beach hut, wandered up to the pier and considered for a brief moment buying some bracelets with ‘B E S T F R I E N D S’ written on them in beads. I think the sea air had gone to our heads. After trying to eek out as much time as possible on the beach, we had to say our goodbyes and head back towards London. I did not envy the driver, as we were all pretty shattered by this point and the drive back from Suffolk isn’t short. On the journey home, we did stop for coffee, almost losing the car keys in the process. The two of us in the back tried to sleep, while the two in the front tried to keep each other awake. We were tired, but content.
When I got home, having not washed my hair all weekend and shaking out half of Southwold beach onto my bedroom floor, I felt as though I’d been away for ages. (If I had been away for any longer, then I would have washed my hair.) The first time I went away with this group of friends, we didn’t really know each other and the friend who had arranged it was just sort of hoping for the best. Now I see them almost every weekend and I’d (momentarily) considered getting ‘Best Friends’ bracelets with them. I think that counts for something, anyway.