Woodbridge is home to Britain’s Best Bakery (from a recent TV series), but as we found out, also a contender for Britain’s worst coffee.

We chose a walk from the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty guide.

It started out by taking us past the marina and boatyards. It wasn’t foggy, as the pictures may suggest, but a day when sand from the Sahara blew across East Anglia!

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It’s a romantic idea, a live-aboard barge, but not so romantic when the tide’s out.

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Woodbridge was a great centre for boat building. This was one of the largest yards, now, alas, defunct.

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The building on the right is the tide mill, now restored.

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We were disappointed to see that the tide mill was closed to visitors: we had arrived too early in the season. But a coach party had booked to go round it by special arrangement, and we shamelessly tagged along.

You can see the mill working behind a viewing window:

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And there was a fascinating working model on display:

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The incoming tide fills the reservoir on the right of the picture. When the tide turns, the sluice gate in the centre foreground is closed, and the water flows out through the mill-race, providing power to the mill.

The walk took us up the Deben estuary, then back into the centre of the town. This is The Thoroughfare …

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… where The Cake Shop Bakery is to be found.

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They’re celebrating their win in the televised competition to find Britain’s Best Bakery. We couldn’t resist buying one or two things, of course. It’s a well-deserved title. Here’s their sausage meat and onion pie, which is a lunchtime thing of glory!

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I’m afraid that I also couldn’t resist doing a taste comparison between their Suffolk Trencher (at the back in the picture) and my own sourdough (at the front). I have to say that the Suffolk Trencher loaf was soft and delicious, slightly sweet with malt, but also with an element of sourness. My own effort is uncompromisingly sour, and flavoured with caraway. I would love to achieve the standard of the Cake Shop Bakery’s baking, but I wasn’t too embarrassed by the comparison test either.

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We admired this pink tulip tree on our way back to the station car park:

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By now thirsty and peckish, we thought we’d pop in to the inviting Whistlestop Cafe …

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… which has been rather charmingly converted from the old booking office and waiting room.

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I ordered a flat white which I was assured they could make for me. What I got was a cup of black coffee which lacked any smell or flavour except for a very faint bitterness. It resembled the cheapest catering grade instant coffee. My query was met with the rejoinder, “That’s how we serve a flat white here” and the suggestion that I add cold milk to it.

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We noticed that the centre of Woodbridge already contained a Costa Coffee and a Caffè Nero. If local traders wonder why the big chains are edging them out, our experience of the Whistlestop Cafe is a cautionary tale.

One response to “Woodbridge

  1. I had to chuckle about your flat white. In New Zealand (which I mention because it is a country supposedly stuck in a 50s time warp), *all* coffee shops (no matter how humble) have proper coffee making equipment and all can produce perfect flat whites.

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