The Magic of Minsmere

11 December 2014
The scenic view at Minsmere

The scenic view at Minsmere

It is a common perception that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is just for the conservation of birds. The truth is that the RSPB also protects threatened wildlife and the goal is to have the towns, coast and countryside teeming with nature’s life.

At Minsmere, you can see the RSPB in action and at this specific site the RSPB specialises in protecting rare birds. One example of their success is that 30% of the UK’s breeding bitterns are found at Minsmere.

It’s a precise procedure, creating a natural environment. In the matter of the bitterns, special care is made to regulate water levels, keeping the reeds trimmed back so that the habitat will be more appealing to fish. Not only the bitterns benefit but so do the marsh harriers, otters, water voles, and bearded tits.

Cows keep the grass trimmed in the summer and in the spring it is mowed. Why? Because breeding lapwings need the grass short in the spring. The grass also needs to be damp for breeding waders and in the winter, wildfowl need some of the grassy areas flooded.

The Magic of Minsmere is a special walk where you can see some of the more than 5300 recorded species, history in action, and archaeological delights. This is a 3-hour walk, beginning at 10am on Tuesdays from now until January 27, 2015 and alternately on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 9:30am until February 28, 2015.

This time of the year rafts of ducks, typically teals and widgeons, gather on the Scrape and grazing marshes. However, there are also Bewick’s swans, smews and goldeneyes. On any given day there are hundreds of ducks in their finest plumage.

You don’t have to come only on Tuesdays or the weekend for the walk. Come anytime and see nature being restored and new life emerging. Start at the visitor centre, visit the café which offers the best of Suffolk food, walk along one of the nature trails that meander through the woodland, heathland and reedbeds.

There are hides where you can quietly watch the birdlife around you. Stroll to the beach area. It’s a way to return to a peaceful natural world as if you were time travelling into a bygone era.

You can get to Minsmere by bicycle from the railway stations at Darsham and Saxmundham. Avoid the B-roads if possible. Take the roadside cyclepath along the A12 from Darsham station to the turn for Darsham village and follow the lanes through Westleton.

From the Saxmundham station, go toward Eastbridge and follow the metalled road across the Minsmere river to the right turn to Scott’s Hall Farm. (Here’s a hint: Scott’s Hall Farm isn’t on the map so if you need a map, use Ordnance Survey Explorer maps 212 and 231.)

Of course, you can also take a bus and a demand-responsive bus will take you from the Leiston bus station from 7am to 7pm Monday to Saturday. Book a day ahead for the demand-responsive bus.

Or you can simply drive to Minsmere. From Broadland Sands Holiday Park take the A12 south and follow the signs to Westleton where you take the Dunwich road and then the first right. Go left at the crossroads, follow the reserve entrance track to Scotts Hall. The car park is another kilometre further along..

This time of the year the visitor centre and shop are open daily 9 am-4 pm and the café is open 10 am-3.30 pm from November-January. The car park, hides and countryside walks are open daily from dawn to dusk except for December 25 and 26.

Award Winning Snape Maltings

14 November 2014

There used to be a malting operation in Snape. Snape Maltings as it was called since it opened in 1846 was a huge industrial complex covering seven acres. It ran for nearly 120 years, malting barley. In 1965, George Gooderham bought the Maltings and began the process of turning this once successful granary into a modern complex of a completely different variety.

First there was the Concert Hall. Then there was the Craft Shop which opened in 1971. Nearly a half century later, the Gooderhams continue to run the family business, still known as Snape Maltings. But it is no longer an old granaries business. It is close to being a magical destination on the Suffolk Heritage Coast and well worth a visit when staying at Broadland Sands.

As well as the shops and the Concert Hall, there are holiday apartments and award winning homes. The Maltings is open daily from 10am to 5.00pm from November 3 until March 30. The rest of the year it is open until 5:30pm.

This is not merely a shopping adventure. The Concert Hall which is operated by Aldeburgh Music offers music programmes year round. The Quay Gallery on the River Alde allows independent exhibitors and crafts people to display their arts and crafts. There are exhibitions and workshops all year long.

shutterstock_99293786If you prefer to simply bask in the bucolic beauty of the area, the estuary of the River Alde is rich with wildlife and birdlife. It’s a paradise for bird watchers. There are several walks orchestrated in the area including the two-mile return Snape Warren walk along the river and the twelve-mile return Sailors Path walk from the Maltings to Aldeburgh.

There are also river trips that run from late spring to early autumn. Three quarters of an hour long, the river trip takes you from Snape towards Iken and back again along the River Alde.

Then there is the food. The Food Hall offers some amazing tasting experiences that vary from month to month. Upcoming in December is the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival Christmas market. More than four dozen food and drink stalls will be at Snape Maltings on December 20. It’s free to attend and there will be lots of free samples.

Any day of the year, you can have a snack at Cafe 1885, the Granary Tea Shop, or the Plough and Sail Pub. The first Saturday of every month, there is a Farmers Market with local food and drink from Suffolk folk who bring their best seasonal fruit, salads and vegetables to market.

Take a peek at the frequent suppliers at this market: Apple Butter Company from Brundish, B Chocolates from Snape, High House Fruit Farm from Sudbourne, Kenton Hall Longhorn Beef, Norfolk Grain Brewery from Harleston…well the list is very long and these are a tiny sampling of what you will find at the Farmers Market.

Make a day of visiting Snape Maltings or make a holiday of it. Let the history and the attractiveness of the place wash over you. Experience some of the great tastes of Suffolk. Enjoy the arts and crafts of the area. Explore your own creativity.

Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre

21 October 2014

shutterstock_204190864From jellyfish to sharks, the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre brings the sea to you.

The Centre is about a great deal more than looking at sea life. You can interact with sea creatures. While playing with sharks might seem a tad risky, it isn’t at all. You can get right up close to the Black Tip Reef sharks and even help feed them.

If you like playing with sea creatures, you can get right into it with the interactive rock pool. Crabs, starfish, squirts, and even shrimp that will give you a manicure.

You won’t see any whales or dolphins at the Sea Life Centre. Part of the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre’s mandate is to protect sea life and the protection means that “far-ranging, highly social and highly intelligent animals” such as whales and dolphins are not in captivity.

You will however see a lot of seahorses. The Centre is a pioneer in breeding and raising nine different seahorse species back from the edge of extinction. The Centre also rescues animals in distress such as injured rare sturgeon, dolphins, Minke whales and sea turtles.

The sea life experience is richly educational and very conservation oriented. The Centre is mindful that families come in all shapes and sizes and have expanded the concept of family rates to encompass any group of individuals for the purpose of purchasing a family saver ticket. A family saver ticket for six costs £54 if bought on the web. Web prices offer a savings of 30 percent over ticket bought on site.

If you are looking for an educational and entertaining day out with family and friends while staying at Broadland Sands, the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre has all that you need. As well as more than a thousand sea creatures, there are play areas for the kids and a cafe providing fresh hot food and kids eat free deals.

The Centre opens daily at 10 a.m. and closes weekdays at 4 p.m. On the weekend, it closes at 4:30 p.m.

Enjoy a Spot of Retail Therapy at Castle Mall, Norwich!

22 September 2014

shoppingLocated next to Norwich Castle in the heart of the stunning town of Norwich, you’ll find Castle Mall. Just three quarters of an hour away from Broadland Sands, it’s well worth a visit.

Castle Mall has five floors of shopping, parking for around 800 cars and an eight screen Vue cinema to keep the children entertained.

You’ll find big brand names such as Boots, Argos, TK Maxx, New Look and Peacocks along with a fabulous variety of independent shops such as The Tea Junction and The Java Store, selling furniture and accessories.

There’s plenty of shops to keep children of all ages entertained, make sure they check out the toys in The Entertainer or The Early Learning Centre and if your children are younger visit Mothercare or Bedlam’s Softplay Area for a break from the shopping and a cup of tea!

When you’re hungry and ready to take a break from shopping there is a wide variety of eateries to choose from. Sit down and relax in Starbucks or BB’s Coffee & Muffins or if you’re in a hurry try Auntie Ann’s Pretzels, Subway, Fat Jackets or Wok & Go for a tasty takeaway.

Ladies, if you feel like a little pampering while visiting Castle Mall, why not book yourself into one of the hair, beauty or nail salons in advance? Choose from Charisma,
Stryke Studios (who are currently offering 20% off your first hair appointment) Perfect Eyebrows Beauty Salon or Waterlily Tanning & Beauty.

Be sure to check their website before you go to look for the latest great offers. At the time of writing (Sept 2014) they include, buy one get one free at Burger King, free Tinkerbell earrings when spending £50 at F.HIND and 10% off at Bags etc.

As you would expect there are plenty of toilets and baby changing facilities along with Shopmobility who hire out mobility vehicles.

2014 Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9am – 5.30pm
Thursday: Open late until 8pm
Saturday: 9am – 6pm
Sunday: 10.30am – 4.30pm

Retail therapy and a great day out for the whole family at Castle Mall.

New Letting Caravans for 2015!

16 September 2014

First of the new caravans has been delivered for the letting fleet.

Be the first to enjoy these fabulous home from home holiday homes!

Book now for 2015!! You won’t be disappointed!!

Call 01278 792 222 or click here to visit our main site!