Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Toytown-by-the-Sea

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Toytown-by-the-Sea

Article excerpt

Byline: GITA MENDIS

HOW about a bit of good, clean fun? A couple of hours from London on the Suffolk coast, Thorpeness is a wholesome Edwardian seaside resort that promises family enjoyment even in winter. Built early last century by a man with a grand plan, Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, it became fashionable between the wars among the well-heeled, particularly those escaping the searing heat of the British empire.

Ogilvie's vision - a perfect, healthy, family-holiday resort - was a contrived tiny village centred around a golf club, tennis club and manmade Meare boating lake. It fell into disrepair in the Seventies, but was restored in the Nineties by a new owner, Tim Rowan-Robinson. Today the manicured gardens and quaint holiday homes look untouched by time. Can an out-of-season English beach holiday cut it for a modern family? We took our twoyearold son Samuel and baby daughter to find out.

Thorpeness is a fantasy resort of mock-Tudor meets Cape Codstyle painted clapboard buildings. We half expected Noddy to come around the corner in his little yellow car. An absurdly cute white wooden windmill towers above the holiday bungalows; opposite is another architectural folly, the House in the Clouds, a small wooden residence which, from a distance, seems to sit atop the trees.

Village life - Thorpeness has about 130 permanent residents, largely retired or working in tourism - revolves around the weeping willow-edged Meare boating lake. Even the ducks on the adjacent pond boast exotic pedigree.

Our simply furnished two-bedroom apartment overlooked the sea. From the small balcony we watched fishing boats and ships pass by. Up the coast the outsize golf ball of Sizewell B, the nuclear power plant, shimmered ominously on the horizon.

Down the path to the beach we ate ripe blackberries picked from the brambles and threw pebbles into the sea. …

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