My Suffolk - Jonathan Adnams
Jonathan Adnams, OBE, is the executive chairman of Adnams Brewery, one of Suffolk’s most famous and enduring brands. His family has been brewing in Southwold since 1872 and Jonathan has recently introduced distilling gin and vodka to the company repertoire. We ask him about his Suffolk
Southwold seems to be one of the most desirable places to live in the UK have you always lived here?
Well I lived in Southwold until I was 31 and then I moved to a farm in Reydon, it’s just a mile up the road. Tell us about your early life? I went to school in Rose Way, then to Halesworth PNEU and onto Brandeston and Framlingham College. I did not enjoy school I could not get away fast enough. At that time I had a great desire to go fishing as I’d had a small fishing boat since the age of 12. My main desire was to be the captain of a deep sea fishing trawler off the coast of Iceland but in the end I did a year of long shore fishing before I came into the brewery.
Were you brought up knowing that you’d go into the family business?
My father wanted me to go into the other side of the family business as an estate agent and I did a course but decided that’s not what I wanted to do.
The roads always seem to be busy in Southwold these days how do you get about?
Well I ride my bike into work even on days like today when it’s very windy because I’d rather cycle than use the car. People are used to seeing me out and about on my bike. I cycle to the shops and I cycle to the pub as well.
Do you like walking?
Well I used to walk a dog when I had a dog but he recently died. I’ll be getting another soon though - probably another black lab.
What do you do in your spare time?
I suppose sailing is my main thing - I was the lifeboat coxswain in Southwold for 27 years but now I sail my yacht, a 13-metre Grand Solei, which is moored at Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington. Although Southwold is by the sea my boat is too big for the harbour here and I could only get it in on a very high tide.
Why Suffolk Yacht Harbour?
The rivers in Suffolk and their esturaries are much more interesting for day sailing or going further afield. We went to the Baltic earlier this year, we pop over to Holland once or twice a year and like to go Devon, Cornwall or the Channel Islands.
Where do you like to eat out?
It’s probably going to be pretty local around here - the Walberswick Bell. If I’m down with the boat it will be the Levington Ship, Pin Mill or the Jolly Sailor at Orford.
Do you like to cook?
Well I live in an old farmhouse and I like farmhouse cooking. My mother taught me to cook and I even cook on my boat. People laugh because if I’m on the boat and buying meat I always take my tape measure with me. There’s a butcher at Salcombe that sells really good beef and I wanted some fore rib and he couldn’t believe that I measured the meat and asked him to remove half an inch - otherwise it wouldn’t go in the oven. It tasted really good and I did roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings with it too.
What is it about Suffolk that you really love?
I have always lived here. I love the countryside and the rural environment. I would have to live by the sea wherever I was. To me the sea is as important as the land but I love the rural people and the way of life. It’s a shame that there aren’t more people living in Southwold now because there are so many second homes. The local community now lives in Reydon.
If you had to show visitors round the county where would you take them?
Well I suppose the whole coastal area from here to the Blackwater. We’d go to Orford Castle, Woodbridge is a nice little town, Framlingham Castle and any of the estuary walks.