Why I Love Suffolk: Sheline Gledhill

Sheline Gledhill at Beach Street in Felixstowe

Sheline Gledhill at Beach Street in Felixstowe - Credit: Contributed

Memory 

I didn’t know much about Suffolk when I moved here almost 20 years ago from my native Kent. My husband – then fiancé – was offered a position at the Port of Felixstowe and the company suggested we came up for a couple of days and put us up at Seckford Hall. I remember branching off a dual carriageway and driving along the tree-lined lane before turning left and being blown away by the fabulous Tudor façade of the place. I think he’d told me we were in a ‘modest stop-over’ so Seckford Hall was a lovely surprise. 

Landmark 

I really love the whole of Harwich Harbour, where the Rivers Stour and Orwell come together and flow out to the sea. Here, all kinds of ships and other craft go about their business from the mighty container carriers to pleasure boats, historic barges and the dear old Stena Line ferry, which reliably shuttles between Harwich and the Hook of Holland everyday come rain or shine. It’s always bustling and full of life and it doesn’t matter how often you go down to the viewing point at Landguard, there is something new to see. And yes, I even love the cranes. 

Beach 

I’ve lived by the coast for most of my life and just naturally gravitate towards the sea. I love the drama of a winter’s beach as much as ice creams and paddling in the summer, and Felixstowe has it all. The wild dunes at Landguard are quite different from the sweeping bay at the heart of the resort, whilst Brackenbury with its jolly beach huts is different again. To complete the picture, a walk from the Golf Club to Felixstowe Ferry offers views of the estuary, that fabulous shingle bank and Bawdsey in one direction and massive Suffolk skies across farmland in the other.  

Town/City 

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Felixstowe, of course. We have a vibrant town boasting a blend of independent shops, High Street names, plenty of places to eat and drink and, down the hill, Blue Flag beaches, award-winning gardens and wonderful coastal fresh air. There’s quite a foodie vibe going on and the town boasts a fabulous butcher, baker, greengrocers plus a fine food deli and fishmongers.   

Places to Eat 

When we first came to Felixstowe, The Alex Café Bar and Brasserie was the place to go, and it is still one of my favourites. These days there is more choice – I do love the pinsa and pasta at Alba Chiara, and The Fludyers is making a name for itself too. Felixstowe also has some wonderful cafes and sandwich bars – Gulliver’s Wife serves a fabulous breakfast while Blue and Berry on the Triangle is ideal for a light lunch. For handmade sandwiches I love Turtle ad Bear; for cake and coffee – I head to Scribble. 

Pub 

We have recently rediscovered the Ferry Boat Inn at Felixtowe Ferry as a great place for a pint and/or a bite. The service while Covid -19 restrictions were still in place was seamless – and the fresh air out on the green made social distancing easy and was such a relief after being shut in all day.  For a trip out we also like The Maybush at Waldringfield, the Black Tiles at Martlesham and whilst it is not exactly a pub, the Wine Boutique in Felixstowe offers fabulous wines in a lovely setting, both inside and out. 

Attraction or day out 

Our grandchildren love Jimmy’s Farm, and it is always a delight to meet them there but for a grown-up’s day out it must be Newmarket Races. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to some sensational corporate events there over the years and always come away happy, if a little lighter in the pocket. 

Event 

I love live music and have enjoyed seeing many bands at ITFC, Thetford Forest and Newmarket but the gig that I will never forget was REM at Portman Road back in 2005. It was the day after the London 7/7 terrorist attacks – the band walked slowly onto stage and a hush came over the crowd as the lead singer Michael Stipe read a statement and said the band stood with us before launching into their incredibly moving song Everybody Hurts. It was such a great performance in a wonderful venue and the band were sporting enough to come out in Ipswich Town shirts for the encores. 

Shop 

My extended family are still big on exchanging presents at least twice a year for birthdays and Christmas and take finding the perfect unusual and delightful gift very seriously. This leads me to Suffolk’s independents and the craft emporiums, and often ends in complete awe of how wonderfully creative people can be. In Felixstowe I particularly like Suffolk Living in Orwell Road and Simply Lovely Jubbly at Beach Street. 

Export 

Rosie’s Doo Dah Sauce from Framlingham-based Scarlett and Mustard. I was completely gob-smacked to find it in my local supermarket when I lived in the Sultanate of Oman in the Middle East back in 2016. I knew the company well and had interviewed its co-founders for Suffolk Business magazine, which I edited for a few years. Finding western foods and familiar brands in such a remote part of the world was almost impossible, so to discover this gorgeous dressing from Suffolk on the shelves of LuLu hypermarket made my day. We ate a lot of salads out there in the heat of the desert, so a drop of Rosie’s cheered up many a supper!