26th October 2016
On the 30th anniversary of the deregulation of bus services, the start of privatisation of bus companies and the introduction of the system of competitive tendering for supported services it was somehow appropriate that council-owned Ipswich Borough Transport should be the operator of my bus from Felixstowe to Woodbridge (not via Ipswich) this morning.
|Mannings Amusements, Felixstowe|
But that wasn't due until 12.20, giving me plenty of time for a walk round the town and the sea front, although not the massive container port. The High Street was looking surprisingly busy - it has just been nominated for an award and the sea front "attractions" weren't as run-down as some I've seen on this trip, although "Mannings Amusements" has what can best be described as a period charm, being built in 1945 for Billy Butlin.
The 173 took me to Woodbridge along a series of quiet country lanes - but also a huge, and hugely unpleasant - out-of-town shopping complex at Martlesham Heath. I was glad I didn't have to get off the bus, and noted that no one else did.
There were only a few minutes to spend at Woodbridge, which was a shame as it's a pleasant old town and I suspect, from the number of buses and passengers in the bus station, that it might have been market day. Instead I had to get the 65 on to Aldeburgh, which having come through from Ipswich, was quite well loaded and it stayed that way, picking up a couple of holidaymaking families outside Snape Maltings to add to the load.
I'd just put the map away as we approached Aldeburgh when the bus took an unexpected left turn and set off on a six-mile diversion via the small town of Leiston. At least it was productive in terms of passengers both to set down and pick up.
Aldeburgh was busy with half-term visitors and I had half-an-hour for a walk along the front where
local fishermen still sell their catch directly to the public from stalls on the beach, although that gives a false impression of rusticity to the town. There was a talkative chap on the 521 on to Halesworth and our conversation ranged from car parking, through "Brexit" (he has a German wife who never bothered to get UK citizenship) and, of course, the state of the local bus service, although as with many such types he was rather more interested in what he had to say than what I did.
Halesworth is quite a way inland, but there was no bus along the coast at this point. It was another small, quiet but interesting Suffolk town. Many of the shops in the High Street had Halloween decorations up and scarecrow-like devils and demons, although the Angel Hotel had gone one better.
|The Angel, Halesworth|
The day ended with ride on a double-decker (always a bonus) along the lanes to Southwold in the gathering gloom of a late-October afternoon arriving just as it got dark. My hotel was on the outskirts of the town (and at Southwold hotel prices you'll know why) but it had the bonus of the bus stopping almost outside. There would be time for a walk out later, and plenty of time for a look around tomorrow.