Why I Love Suffolk: Simon Lockyer 

RHS headmaster Simon Lockyer

RHS headmaster Simon Lockyer - Credit: RHS

Memory 

One of my favourite memories is a trip from Great Yarmouth to Manningtree where I cycled and walked along the length of the coast over a couple of days, sleeping on the beach on a couple of occasions, and waking to incredible sunrises. It was a really lovely way to explore the Suffolk coast and visit a few pubs along the way. 

I was married in Westerfield and then we had our reception at Woolverstone; as we arrived the car hit a hump and lost its exhaust, so we arrived noisily! At the time, I said to my wife that I would never live in Suffolk as it was too flat, but 15 years later I love living and working in Suffolk and my family call it home.

Landmark

The Clock Tower at The Royal Hospital School is such a conspicuous feature on the landscape and the bells chime on the quarter of the hour which I have grown to really appreciate. Climbing to the top is something of an adventure but the views from the top are incredible. There is a popular, but sadly inaccurate, suggestion that the orb on the top is a first world war sea mine. As the school moved to remote teaching back in 2020, the tower became home to two peregrine falcons who now call the tower home. 

Beach  

Harkstead beach is only a short walk from home and work and is the location for many gatherings with family and friends – barbecues on the beach, paddle boarding and canoeing in the summer and in winter the flocks of winter birds provide a regular distraction. 

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The beach is also a constant reminder of the changing landscape and in the short time I have lived on the Shotley peninsular I have seen the gradual erosion of areas of the beach, particularly following storms and seeing how this changes the shape of the coastline.  

Town/City or Village 

I had never visited Suffolk until 1998 when I came to visit my future mother-in-law. Lavenham was one of the first places I visited, the Lavenham Church and Guildhall have been places I have revisited many times with my wife and children. It does not take too much imagination to think about how Lavenham may have been 200 years ago. 

The Swan at Lavenham was where we spent our wedding night – it was pouring with rain when we arrived but woke to bright sunshine and we bought a painting from the Wildlife Art Gallery which hangs in our home. When I moved back to Suffolk in 2015 with my family, Lavenham was one of the first places we visited. It is a place which has played a key part in my introduction to Suffolk. 

Place to eat 

The beach at Aldeburgh with fish and chips, preferably with sunshine and without herring gulls! I am still trying to get to the Bildeston Crown for Sunday lunch. 

Pub

The Eels Foot for drinks part way through a favourite walk taking in Minsmere and Eastbridge, or The Ship at Dunwich for food, particularly in the winter when it feels very welcoming and cosy after a bracing walk on the beach. We were eating there when the second lockdown was announced, and it felt something like a last supper! 

Attraction or day out 

Minsmere RSPB reserve is a favourite day out and a place I immediately feel relaxed. There is always something interesting to see and even if there are few ornithological highlights, the walk out to the beach is beautiful. I find that one of the joys of birdwatching is the challenge of finding something of interest and the chance of seeing a bird or behaviour that is particularly unusual.  A few years ago, I visited at dusk and witnessed an incredible starling murmuration and more recently had a close encounter with a red deer who walked out in front of me. The sunsets over the marshes can be inspiring. 

Event 

The Christmas Eve Fun Run at The Royal Hospital School. It is a lovely community event with the majority of runners dressed up in Christmas outfits all for a good cause. I have run it every year I have been here and always felt it is a great way to start before the Christmas indulgences. 

Shop

The Adnams shop (destination irrelevant). I have probably made far too many impromptu spends in Adnams shops for gifts and ‘just to try’ purchases.