Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Ringing Endorsement; in a Bizarre, Bohemian Corner of Suffolk, the Bell Inn Provides Traditional Home Comforts

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Ringing Endorsement; in a Bizarre, Bohemian Corner of Suffolk, the Bell Inn Provides Traditional Home Comforts

Article excerpt

Byline: LUCINDA LABES

THE Bell, a 16th-century coaching inn, is a seaside pub with rooms in one of England's most potty villages - Walberswick, in Suffolk. A clutch of British creatives, including Jasper Conran and Richard Curtis, choose to roost in this weird village, its horizon staked by strange statuesque structures. To one side, in the distance, is a water tower, whose spidery cement legs dwarf Southwold. On the other is Sizewell B nuclear power station, which glitters like a rising moon.

Between the two is a vast expanse of pigeon-grey North Sea. It laps a powdersoft sand beach, garlanded in pebbles, backed by blackened beach huts.

The village and its eccentricities have been captured by author Esther Freud in her most recent novel, The Sea House.

The Bell Inn is a low-ceilinged labyrinth of nooks and crannies with well-stoked log fires, copper fenders and stone-flagged floors that dip and curl from years of fishermen stomping in off the high seas.

We arrived in time for sunset and went straight to the beach. Walk up the River Blyth estuary and you'll find a working fishing harbour, where painted boats clink in the wind like giant toys. In spring and summer, a man in a rowing boat will ferry you over the water for 50p, a feat of considerable skill against the tide. On the other side, you can buy freshly caught skate, cod and plaice from huts beside the quay, or walk across the meadow for a cream tea in Southwold.

We returned to The Bell in the dark and were shown to our room. So that we could hunker down with our French bulldog, Oscar, we had requested a dog room. I was expecting the pong of wet pooch. Instead, I found a sweet-smelling place with a clean carpet. We plunged onto the double bed. The room was a strange, though workable, clash of school hall pine and chichi deluxe: chocolate leather bedstead with a plum velvet cover and glass tassels.

Supper was a delight. My plaice in homemade beer batter was just about perfect; the batter glinting and crispy, the fish pearly fresh. …

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