My Suffolk - Jonathan Reekie

Jonathan Reekie is the CEO of the world famous Aldeburgh Music. Anne Gould talked to him about his life in Suffolk

How long have you lived in Suffolk?

I came here in July 1997 because of the job but I have known Suffolk, well East Anglia shall we say, for most of my life. The place was one of the attractions of the job. I was born in the West Country but have always loved the water, the landscape, the big skies, the birds and the wildlife here. It does not suit everyone but I have been brought up on it and it’s a place I feel very at home with.

Suffolk seems to inspire artistic creation of all sorts – why do you think that is?

Well there seems to be a special sort of energy here and Suffolk has produced musicians, writers and art for hundreds of years with Britten being one of the most notable.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love walking, sailing and swimming. When I moved to Suffolk in a slightly naïve, rather than remarkable way, I thought I must buy a boat. I am not a keen or seasoned sailor but I have sort of sailed a bit all my life, so one lunchtime I walked out of our old office in Aldeburgh and went down to the boatyard and described the sort of boat I had in mind – a wooden sailing day boat. There in the corner was the sort of craft I was after and without understanding what’s involved in owning a boat and without understanding what was involved in sailing on a tidal river, I bought it. But, it’s brought me great joy. It’s a day boat and will accommodate four people and a picnic and I keep it on the river just down from Snape, towards Aldeburgh. Really though I am a fair weather sailor – when the sun is shining I am happy to go out.

Where’s your favourite place to walk?

Shingle Street and south of Shingle Street. Boyton is another favourite place. I also like walking along the Deben from Woodbridge, where I live. I love Southwold, Walberswick and Covehithe is a very special place. Walking from Sizewell up to Dunwich is excellent too. There are so many places, there’s Bawdsey, Felixstowe Ferry and looking for fossils at Ramsholt is good too.

Where do you like to eat out?

One of the most exciting things about coming to live in Suffolk was the Butley Orford Oysterage which is a favourite. I eat out quite a lot through my job and places I like include The Lighthouse at Aldeburgh, the Snape Crown and of course The Golden Key. If I want a change I like Shapla, an Indian restaurant in Woodbridge – it’s very good. One of the things I like most about living here is the local food. There are loads of good butchers around and my work takes me to Aldeburgh quite a lot and I love to go and buy some fish off the beach.  Of course there are also some excellent farm shops here for fresh vegetables.

Adnams or Greene King?

It’s definitely Adnams. Sorry, I suppose it depends which part of Suffolk you come from. Actually can I say Adnams and Aspall? The good thing about Adnams too is that you can buy wine from them too – what more could you want?

What’s your ideal day out in Suffolk?

Taking a picnic on the boat and mooring up at Iken. I also like to go swimming in the sea in Aldeburgh or Alderton. I found the East Anglian writer Roger Deakin and his book Waterlog, about wild swimming, very inspiring. However I only like to swim in the summer – in the winter it’s Deben Swimming Pool. I love cycling too and in the summer I cycle to work through the back lanes via Campsea Ashe – I suppose it takes about an hour. The other thing I enjoy is the cinema and I go regularly in Aldeburgh and Woodbridge but also venture to Leiston and Ipswich Film Theatre too occasionally.

If you had to show Suffolk to friends who had never been here before where would you take them?

Well definitely we’d go to Aldeburgh and Snape but I might well take them to Framlingham as well. It’s a lovely town. We’d go to the castle, the square, the church and then to Goodberys Antiques, it’s a fabulous shop.

You edited The New Aldeburgh Anthology – how did it come about?

When I came to live here I had a real hunger to find out all I could about Suffolk. I read all the books I could find that are connected to the area or the artists and writers and so on who live or lived here. So when I came to do the anthology it wasn’t that difficult because I was collecting together all the things I’d already read about the history, the artists, the landscape and the sea between Aldeburgh and Felixstowe. It was actually a total labour of love.