Our happy places - What makes us smile about life in East Anglia?
PUBLISHED: 12:39 12 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 12 May 2019
Happiness... Everyone from Ken Dodd to Pharrell Williams has sung about it. But what makes you happy here in East Anglia? Our readers and staff have been answering that question.
Trees, meadows, beaches - and above all, the wide-open skies. The sheer beauty of our region is the thing that most people cited as making them happy.
"I'm happiest when I'm away from all the hustle and bustle and enjoying East Anglia's countryside and wild places with family and friends," environment writer Ross Bentley says.
"This might be out on a walk in the Dedham Vale en route to a country pub; canoeing on the Stour near Sudbury and looking out for wildlife; or finding an unoccupied piece of beach - maybe Holkham or Southwold - and getting the wind in my hair. It is at these moments when East Anglia comes into its own."
Lynn Utting said: "I can't choose between Barton Broad and Blickling. For Barton Broad: it's the tranquility of sailing on it, a couple of hours feels like a holiday. It's a beautiful place. My husband's grandfather had a boat on it, on which the whole family sailed. I fell in love with the place as soon as I saw it. For Blickling: it's the stunning building and the sense of history it evokes."
'Mermaid glass' and beautiful wide-open skies
Visiting the beach is Nicky Corbett's happy place. She said: "I love breathing in the lovely fresh Suffolk air and always being able to find a space of your own (although perhaps not on a bank holiday!) - and collecting mermaid glass with my granddaughters. We go to Sizewell, Thorpeness, Walberswick - anywhere where the low tide reveals heaps of small stones and sand. The girls are very determined and usually find a few pieces."
Bird-watching makes Jeff Knott happy. He paid tribute to "the many and varied RSPB reserves, Titchwell on the North Norfolk coast, the variety and scale of RSPB Minsmere, or Strumpshaw Fen in the Broads."
Edward Couzens-Lake said what makes him happy is "the incoming tide creeping over the marsh at Brancaster early on a Spring morning."
Louise, from the creative arts company Dramatic Impact, based in Halesworth, said: "I'll never forget the way my whole body would sigh with happiness when, before we moved here, we'd arrive for a weekend visit, and I'd look up at the huge Suffolk sky and breath in the fresh air. Now, lucky enough to live here, I'm still in love with my beautiful Suffolk skies!"
And Kate Rosten's vote went simply to our "big Suffolk skies" which she particularly enjoys seeing while out on her horse.
Meanwhile, Jenny Cooper said she loved "bluebell woods and wide open skies."
Jamie Pizey said: "Whether it's working away or being on holiday, happiness is coming back to East Anglian fields, unclogged roads, open skies, wildlife and waterways."
Alan Wingrove loves "the open spaces, and freedom to engage privately with nature."
Paul Faulder said on Facebook: "Feeling at equally at home in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. I am from Essex but yes, the open skies are a feature common to so many of the East Anglian counties. People are generally friendly and we have great seaside towns and rural villages, alongside bustling market towns and cities.
What makes Janine Johnson happy is "Walking on the stunning water meadows by the River Stour in Sudbury, especially on a sunny day."
But sunshine isn't always needed for Fiona Broom, another lover of the great outdoors. She said what makes her happy is: "Being outside, whatever the weather. No need to spend money, we have amazing outdoor spaces all over East Anglia."
Also on Facebook, Linda Lomas praised the "wide open spaces" and Janet Westlake Foster said she loves "quiet places."
JP Asher said: "Taking my kids to the seafront at Yarmouth. They love the sounds, the rides and just running on the beach."
And for Chris Taylor happiness is: "making memories with my kids, walking the secret bays and beaches on the Orwell."
"The sound of the surf hitting the shore, birdsong when sitting in the garden and the wonderful colours of the setting sun," means happiness for author Amanda Crozier.
Tina Yarnton said via Twitter: "We all live within five minutes of beautiful countryside, fresh air, and the magic of nature. Suffolk has some truly wonderful people and places, something as simple as a cowslip-lined lane."
Josie Kelsall said: "I'm autistic, and hate big cities. I love living near Woodbridge and go for peaceful countryside walks. The scenery is beautiful."
Heritage buildings - and railway lines
It's not all about the countryside, though. Judy Rimmer writes: "There are a lot of amazing heritage buildings around the area which I love to visit. I'm never happier than when wandering around towns and villages like Lavenham and Kersey in Suffolk, Coggeshall in Essex and Holt in Norfolk.
"Then there are historic National Trust properties like Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk, which I visited during a holiday at Cromer last year, which has a memorable Gothic library. I loved peering at the spines of the old books, which include an original Johnson's Dictionary. It would be tempting to peep inside some of the ancient volumes, but I do appreciate that obviously they need to be protected from damage by visitors' fingers. I also enjoyed looking at all the beautiful furniture, and a table set for a dinner party!
"Speaking of the books at Felbrigg, another of my greatest pleasures is visiting some of the secondhand bookshops around the area, such as the aptly-named Treasure Chest Books in Felixstowe, which seems to go on forever, with endless sections to discover."
Paul Geater writes: "Being a fan of rail journeys, this won't come as a great surprise to anyone who knows me - but the rail journey from Lowestoft to Norwich is one of THE great rail trips in the country.
"It's only about 45 minutes, but the route across the marshes through Haddiscoe, Reedham and even Cantley with its huge sugar beet factory is fantastic.
"And it's been even better over the last few years when the trains have been made up of heritage diesel locomotives and carriages!"
Football brings a unique type of joy
It can bring despair and frustration, but football can also bring sheer joy - as the celebrations for Norwich City's promotion have certainly shown.
Norwich fan Nick Richards said: "Seeing the different generations of fans out on the streets of Norwich on Monday celebrating the Canaries' triumphant return to the Premier League was wonderful. The whole city came together as one which was just brilliant."
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And Edward Couzens-Lake said: "NCFC promotions are numerous. All memorable in their own way. But 2019 beats the lot of them, against every odd going, and with a wonderful team, top to bottom. I'm so proud, I love my club and they are still making me happy."
But, despite the misery of relegation, Ipswich Town fans also get happiness from supporting their team.
Liz Nice writes: "It seems ridiculous to suggest this as my greatest East Anglian happiness after the past season, but there is nowhere in the region where I feel quite so much myself as at Portman Road. I have experienced great joy there - the play-off semi-final in 2000 was definitely one of the most thrilling experiences of my life - and also great sorrow, where we have missed out on play-off finals, got relegated or generally been, as has been the case this season, a bit rubbish.
"But football is about more than results and I have now been visiting Portman Road for 40 years. Throughout the many twists and turns of my working and personal lives, Portman Road has remained a constant. I can go back there when I want, or be away for a bit if they annoy me, which they did once when it seemed to me that they had stopped caring about the fans, and I stopped going for a year.
"But I always go back because in the end you realise that the club is the people who are always there, not the fly-by-nights who come and go, but those of us who are in it for life. It is home to me and always will be. There is even a brick there, with my name on it. And one day, perhaps, my sons will sneak my ashes in there, and let them go in the wind. I hope so. It is where I most belong."
Ipswich councillor Colin Kreidewolf also said via Twitter that his happy place was simply "being at Portman Road."
On a lighter note, it's not often we get comments from a horse... but Bluey, the Ipswich Town mascot, tweeted his idea for making yourself happy, commenting: "A high five and selfie with Bluey must surely be up there?!"
Singing for joy and helping charity
For 13-year-old singer Roma Nicholson, from Ipswich, what makes her happiest is "hearing money go into her donation pot at an event, and handing over money to local charities at the end of the year."
Roma has raised more than £11,500 since June 2017 for good causes, by selling her EP and album and collecting donations at events all over East Anglia. Among her top gigs were Ipswich Music Day last year, where she performed on the Ed Sheeran stage, and Felixstowe Carnival, where she performed with her band.
One of the pearls that has yet to emerge from its shell
Our larger towns and cities also have loads to offer, of course. Columnist Lynne Mortimer writes: "Ipswich makes me happy. There are so many great parks, Holywells, Christchurch etc, which have been bought by or bequeathed to the town by a far-sighted council.
"The people of Ipswich voted to pay to maintain a museum in the town - showing the vision of the townspeople too.
"Culturally, it is one of the pearls that has yet to emerge from its shell as it has an amazing history and heritage that, I think, should be more widely trumpeted. Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor Thomas Wolsey was born in Ipswich; Thomas Gainsborough lived there; Shakespeare and his actors' company performed there on many occasions; a princess married in the town; one of England's most important shrines was there, attracting pilgrims over the centuries."
Anne Dunford said happiness meant "sharing educational courses, lunches and other events with friends at The Ipswich Institute. Ipswich's hidden gem, with a wonderful history in the town dating back to 1824 and still going strong. Love it!"
Doing battle with lasers
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis writes: "This is an odd one, but one of the things that makes me most happy is shooting my kids - all above board of course. It's really hard to entice 'tweenagers' and teens out of the house and away from their devices, but we all love a bit of a laser shoot-out.
"So often, on weekends, we can be found at Planet Laser in Bury St Edmunds battling it out in the dark. I can think of no better way to burn a few calories while spending time together. Of course, I always take it way too seriously and have been known to heckle other players... often under 12 years old!"
Culinary delights in perfect surroundings
Food and drink are important factors in happiness for many of us. Reporter Oliver Sullivan's vote goes to "an ice-cold pint of Aspall, sitting along the river in Waldringfield or by Ipswich Waterfront. Bliss."
Cyclist Martin Sudds, a member of the Suffolk-based Slow'n'Steady cycle club, enjoys "getting on my bike and enjoying our wonderful scenery, cake and sausage rolls."
Ipswich deputy mayor Sarah Barber said what makes her happy is "coffee and cake at Applaud cafe in St Peter's Street."
And Patricia Mattinson likes "A walk on the pier at Southwold, and a nifty espresso and cake from Two Magpies Bakery."
Alison Charters said that "fish'n'chips on Aldeburgh Beach, then boating at Thorpeness = perfect happiness." She also recommended visiting Maggi Hambling's scallop sculpture.
For Summer Talbot, happiness can be guaranteed by "sitting on Felixstowe beach with chips and an ice cream when it's nice and sunny." Summer also enjoys "a Needham Lake stroll with the kids and feeding the ducks, especially when there are ducklings!"
Keen cyclist Sean Dunn said what makes him happiest is "riding round the Suffolk lanes in search of a cafe. Perfect."
Anthony Tyler said: "Cromer for fish and chips makes me a happy person, and Sheringham is a great place sitting on the train."
Capturing happiness on camera
For some of us, happiness is all about taking photos to preserve the memories. Terry Revell said: "Taking snaps on my camera and sharing makes me happy." He enjoys getting out and about to take pictures, and one of his latest photos is a study of Leiston Abbey.
Photography also makes Myra Lynne Sandifer happy. She said: "I like visiting the wonderful Constable Country with my camera."
Another keen photographer, Tim Diss, said what makes him happy is "autumn in Christchurch Park, Ipswich."
Louise Barker also loves taking photos, and said: "Just love East Anglia, I have many happy places, including Abbey Gardens,Bury St Edmunds, Harwich, Southwold and the Broads."
We love everything
Then there are some people who just can't choose! Jane Spencer-Rolfe said: "East Anglia for me is the people, the voices; so many places and memories. Sandy beaches as a child - and adult! Bike rides with childhood friends in and around Stowmarket. Music - seeing Free at UEA, and Carole King at Snape! Our kids growing up here, and Southwold hols."
Heidi Boast, who is originally from Suffolk but now lives in Norfolk, said: "There isn't one thing in particular. We have it all here - beautiful beaches, stunning nature, skies that seem to go on forever, quaint chocolate box villages and Norwich, a very fine city indeed. There's something for everyone."