My Suffolk - Erika Clegg

Erika Clegg is the owner of Spring, an innovative creative agency based in Southwold. She talks to Anne Gould

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Why did you move to Suffolk?

My grandparents lived in Southwold and when I was growing up I used to spend my summer holidays here. I worked in London and when I decided to set up on my own I decided that Southwold would be a great place to do it. I live with my husband Simon and children Georgie and Will about six miles away in a tiny hamlet called Thorington. My house used to be the laundry for a big stately home that was demolished in the late 1940s and we still have the old copper – it’s in the play room, apparently they used to make beer in it as well as using for the washing.

Where do you like to go for days out?

One of my favourite trips is to take Will to the Pit Stop in Southwold – they’ve got lots of kids games there to keep him occupied and I can read the papers. They make fantastic fry ups and bacon sandwiches too. The beach at Southwold is our home at weekends but we have a reasonable number of acres at Thorington so there’s also a lot of land management to be done.

How about keeping fit?

There’s a fantastic personal trainer in Southwold called Gary Matthews and I see him three times a week and if I can’t make a session I’ll run or ride a bike. Having a three- year-old son keeps you pretty fit too.

Where do you like to eat out?

Pinney’s in Orford is my earliest food memory – I was taken there by my grandparents at the age of four. It’s still brilliant. We sometimes go The Great House in Lavenham, which is exquisite.  There’s a Thai restaurant in Halesworth, Singtong Neeyom, too that produces the sort of food that you’d eat if your mother came from Thailand. She uses local ingredients and it’s incredibly good stuff. I also particularly like Stephen David’s cooking at The Crown in Woodbridge and I absolutely love The Anchor in Walberswick.

Do you like to walk?

We do not go leisure walking as a family but we will walk across the marshes to go to the pub – The Wenhaston Star. What about entertainment? I love Snape, and one of my happiest musical moments was a performance of The Lark Ascending one warm summer evening. Magic. I frequent our local, world class Southwold Concert Series too.

If you were showing visitors around Suffolk where would you go?

Southwold harbour, beach and pier and I’d take them down the High Street too. We’d go to The Lord Nelson in Southwold and The Star in Wenhaston, which are both definitive Suffolk pubs at their best. We might hop on the train at Darsham and show them round Woodbridge Tide Mill but Southwold is where I feel at home and I would want to show it off to them.

Can I talk about shopping?

It’s one of my major pleasures, the joy of coming to Southwold High Street, going to Foxtail Lily, the florist, buying cheese from Nutters the Delicatessen, Chapman’s – the newsagent and Spots the toyshop is so brilliant for kids. You stop and chat to people and then and go and have a cup of tea. We Southwolders are incredibly lucky to have such a friendly High Street. I also love the occasional treat from Collen and Clare.

Adnam’s or Greene King?

My parents actually had a Greene King pub for a while but I’m Adnam’s to the bone.

What about the food in Suffolk?

Since I moved up here six years ago my palate has changed. When I lived in London I used to buy most food in supermarkets. I now buy really good local food – really fresh meat and fresh fish. I enjoy asparagus when it’s in season, Red Poll beef, Pinney’s smoked salmon etc.

What do you think makes the county so special?

Of course the skies but there’s something else too – the landscape and how it changes – occasionally it can look blasted and then round the corner it’s lush farmland. I also love the sense of timeline – it feels like there’s continuity here. The people here are also very honest and pragmatic – it’s not a county that’s pretentious and I respect that.

Can you recommend an evening out?

Last week we hired a beach hut in Southwold for the evening. My husband ordered a take-away Indian and we had a bottle of Adnam’s bubbly too. We had our meal overlooking the sea in the moonlight and were wearing our coats because it was chilly, but it was magical.

What about holidays?

We don’t go very far from home – six miles to be exact. We rent a house and a beach hut in Southwold every summer and we have a beach party as my son and I both have birthdays (a day apart) in August. I love it here - Simon and I pop over to Biarritz once a year too, but I'm always happiest in Southwold!