The off-duty journalist…
In this new section we take to the highways and byways to locate the watering-holes and places of interest – likely to appeal to our membership!
East Suffolk is a land of farmland and fields, mediaeval churches (such as St. Bartholomew’s at Orford) and lonely coastal scenery – but with towns and villages along the seaside, and by estuaries, which are pleasantly busy but never crowded. Orford is one such spot.
Famous for its Ness and its lighthouse (the latter featured in a famous railway poster series of the 1930s, “Sentinels of Britain’s beauty”), Orford attracted the artist J.M.W. Turner, who painted a scene of ships at the town’s quay in the days when such East Anglian coastal towns were important commercial ports. Jolly sailors, no doubt, crowded the quay, but today that spirit lives on in the form of one of the town’s best-loved pubs… The Jolly Sailor!
Southwold, a few miles north of Orford, is the home of the Adnams brewery, and it is the local brew which draws locals and visitors alike to the cosy bar. Broadside bitter, commemorating a battle in the Anglo-Dutch wars fought off the Suffolk coast, is one of the best-known beers, but you may want to sample – especially if a sea-mist drifts in – an equally delightful pint: Ghost Ship. And on a warm summer’s day, the soft fruity taste of ‘Mosaic’ quenches the thirst of the beer enthusiast. (In fact, this might be a good choice for those new to real ale: the light, delicious flavour complementing the Jolly Sailor’s excellent fish dishes.)
The menu is very enticing indeed, and as you would expect in an area of the country which proclaims its local food and drink, Suffolk specialities – seafood (scallops, skate wing, cod), Suffolk ham, mature cheddar cheese, and locally-smoked fish – feature prominently. But you can also enjoy a pub snack, and there are many pub favourites, too, such as steak or a home-made burger, or breaded scampi and chips.
There is a good atmosphere at The Jolly Sailor – and the old-fashioned feel is enhanced by pictures of the inn in times gone by, prints of local scenes, old Adnams signs, and maritime notices from the times when you were likely to find yourself pressed into naval service! Some years ago, lost under several layers of wallpaper, the landlord discovered a beautifully-drawn and painted naval scene, depicting the Napoleonic and Nelsonian era of sail and warfare. (You can buy a postcard of this remarkable wall painting at the bar. The painting also features on the pub’s website, so if you are on-line take a look at the work of a truly gifted, unknown artist: www.jollysailororford.co.uk)
Set in the heart of the village, on the square, The Butley Orford Oysterage is an establishment devoted to the finest local and British seafood. Fresh oysters, or oysters deliciously cooked in a creamy sauce; fresh cod, plaice, skate (and locally-smoked fish) – not to mention smoked salmon (from Scotland) – the Oysterage is refreshingly quiet, plain, simple and very Suffolk-minded in its atmosphere. Local ale is served, and there is a first-class wine list.
If you find yourself in Orford, you can’t miss The Jolly Sailor and the Butley Oysterage. Just drive or amble down from the castle (which featured in the horror film, Witchfinder General!) past various mariners’ cottages, toward the square and the old quay. A warm welcome awaits you.