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The artist Maggie Hambling's tribute to the composer Benjamin Britten, captured on a grey day at Aldeburgh beach.

This week Hubby and I have been cat- sitting for friends outside Bury St. Edmund while they tend to affairs abroad and so, we too have been enjoying a change of surroundings. It's always lovely to stay in a beautiful place and Suffolk's rolling acres of farmland and forests gave us different vistas as we drove one day through to the coast. 


Aldburgh is a pretty fishing town whose cottages and shops today are painted in charming pastels of every hue, their small gardens bedecked with pots of flowers where once nets and lobster pots and the other detritus of fishing livelihoods might have been stored. And like every other attractive coastal town its houses have been gentrified, (no real complaints about that) but it nevertheless had a feel, at this late end of the tourist season, that it had been semi-abandoned by second-home owners domiciled elsewhere for the coming winter.


We naturally had a delicious fish and chip lunch before crunching along the shelved, shingle beach to view Maggie Hambling's sculpture that sits above the high-tide line. It caused controversy when erected in 2003 as many people thought the beach should be left unadorned and wild, it's very bleakness the beauty and attraction. I have some sympathy with that point of view, noting as I walked towards the sculpture that parts of the high beach-line had their own clumpy adornments of sea grass and plants growing in abandon out of reach of the waves.


At about 12' high, the sculpture imposes itself  on the vast open space with its metallic shells cleverly counter-balanced so as to be able to withstand winds of up to 100 mph. Rustily weathering or scoured and gleaming, it truly is a point of interest set against the bleak horizon and I liked it.


The Scallop is a tribute to  the composer Benjamin Britten who lived in the town for thirty years. Cut into the outer rim and illuminated naturally by the sky beyond is a line from his opera Peter Grimes, 'I hear those whose voices that will not be drowned,' the  interpretation of which I suppose will be different for each viewer and particularly poignant for those who have suffered loss to the ocean.


So, in reflective mood we headed back past the boats hauled high up onto the beach before their little black huts-cum-shops selling fresh or smoked fish and made our way back inland to take charge once again of two geriatric old ginger gentlemen and their much more boisterous younger tortoiseshell sisters, none of whom sadly likes fish...

                    Granny Bonnet


There are other attractions on the beach...

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