THIS WEEK    –   A Cake that really Celebrates Christmas…click at right for the recipe…

September took us almost due eastwards to Holland, in company with a group of 44 other mostly senior citizens swanning around Amsterdam, the Hague, Gouda and other places where works of great Dutch artists could be seen, as well as the houses in which they were born, lived, worked and passed on. I have always liked the country, so evidently the work of man in its incredible reclamation of land from the sea – the amazing use of space, the immense tidiness (except for a bit of litter in Amsterdam) and, of course, the ubiquitous bicycle, which comes in every form you can think of. There are cyclists everywhere. The Dutch people are charming, too, and you actually find them working in hotels, pubs and restaurants!

We travelled by Eurostar from St. Pancras to Brussels and had wondered why the tour operator recommended buying some food to take on to the train – the offerings in the Buffet Cars, which actually bore the name “Waitrose” on them were ghastly.

The food in Holland hadn’t changed a lot in the 25 years since we last were there; still fairly heavy, mostly fried with chips a-plenty. We remembered good Indonesian food, but this seems to have been diminished in availability and quantity. But it was the works of art we went for and we were not disappointed. The magnificent Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, recently restored at as cost of 130 million Euros is a sight one ought to see at the very least once in one’s lifetime. It is only when you see great paintings “in the flesh” you realise the genius of their creators. Not only the huger canvases of artists like Rembrandt but very small ones, too, with tiny brush strokes and vivid detail.

Wandering around Delft, where we were based, a charming town with a delightful pedestrians-only old centre, the streets criss-crossed by canals, the street lamps adorned with flower baskets reminded us of home in dear, funny quiet old Saxmundham. And despite the glories of what we had seen, we were glad to be back and admire the work of our local painters, at work on the High Street shops.

NED24 - Delft - water, flowers, boked, lamps      NED27 - Delft - the only way to travel

In towns like Delft there are photo opportunities galore – pretty canal-side houses, shops and restaurants and many a flower bedecked street lamp.  At dusk Delft is delightful to stroll around. Bikes are used by every age, from small boys and girls of four or five following their parents, to the very elderly.  They are used to carry everything: students’ books, housewives’ shopping, babies, and very frequently as in the right hand picture, Man’s Best Friend.


Quite a lot of time at the moment is being spent piecing together the history of our home, Albion Mill, which is proving quite difficult. One bright light was shed on its recent years by the architects responsible for its conversion into a domestic premises – no less than 1172 photographs arrived on a CD-ROM, covering the period 2003 – 2006. Sorting these is keeping me quite busy. The big gap is in the period from its building in 1823 to its demise in 1907. Then there is its period as a petrol station and garage. Two good photos of this period, in  the 1970s have come my way. Any others, and any information or anecdotes readers of Sax News may have will be warmly welcomed.

AM17A - 1972 Garage at the MillAM18 - 1975 use as garage

Can anyone put a date on either of these pictures?  The left hand one seems to be a bit earlier than the other.  Early 1970s?  Any information will be gratefully received.

EATING OUT – if you can!

Sadly, at the moment one is dealing with closures rather than openings.  To be expected, I suppose, but I was still surprised to see that 152 Restaurant in Aldeburgh’s High Street appears to have shut its doors.  When visiting  Suffolk over the years and since settling back here, we had had some very good meals there with our family and friends.  The longer a place remains closed, the less likely it is to re-open and to pass what had been a good eating place with rooms above looking increasingly forlorn is miserable.  I am talking of The Bell at Saxundham.  One waits in hope for news of The Bell, perhaps in vain – who knows?

On a happier note, the 2014 Michelin Guide top 500 have been announced, and it’s good to see the Lighhouse at Aldeburgh is included.  I think The Regatta ought to be there, too.  A Daily Telegraph feature lists the “500 Best Restaurants” in the 2014 Michelin, from which I see just sixteen are in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.   I think this is probably  not a true reflection and I am preparing lists of good eating places, from by various guides, my own experience and that of friends, family and readers.  All comments welcome at   Watch this space for news and reviews.