Prepared by the River Deben Association (July 2021)
Summer 2021 is another summer where it’s going to be hard for families to make plans. Government restrictions have been removed but Covid 19 infections are rising again and everyone has been asked to behave responsibly and with consideration for others. Many people will already have decided to enjoy their holidays in the UK rather than go abroad. Spending as much time as possible out of doors is likely to be a good choice though we’ll need to be extra-sensitive to pressure on the river environment.
By Robert Simper
Most people seem to get into writing from journalism or being connected with a university. I started writing because an incident unloading a lorry. Back in the 1950s, drivers unloaded their own lorries. I took a load of oats in bags into the ECF (Essex County Farmers) mill in Commercial Road, Ipswich and cheerfully grabbed the last bag of the load and swung it round. At the same time something awful happened in my lower back. I spent the next ten years getting over it and have had to be careful ever since.
By Sally Westwood
The Oystercatcher lifted itself up, its legs unfolding slowly, and stepped out of the central space of a coiled rope. An egg lay in the space, the rope provided a wall for the nest. The nest was on the top of a 50-60 foot, river maintenance vessel. The boat was used for clearing channels and ditches, effectively keeping the river flowing. It had a crane at one end, and a vast square hold in the centre. The Oystercatchers had their nest on a flat surface at the other end of the vessel. The Oystercatcher called four times, at the edge of the vessel. Its mate arrived, and landed on a rusty, round, steel stanchion. It walked over to the nest, stepped in and lowered itself down onto the egg. Adjusting itself by wobbling from side to side, to comfortably cover the speckled egg. Eggs are incubated for 24 to 35 days.1 The other Oystercatcher flew off to the blades of grass and green weed at the edge of the water, abundant because of the warm weather. Tide was high and coming in. That was day eight, for the egg in the rope. Continue reading
By Gareth Thomas
[This article is about A Perennial Diary kept by the Reverend Thomas Henry Waller, Rector of Waldringfield for 43 years from 1862 to 1905. Please note that where entries are quoted verbatim the text is italicised.]
Readers who belong to The Arts Society will have had the opportunity recently to hear Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum, pronouncing on the immense value of diaries and describing a collection of 11,000 such pieces which he oversees at the Bishopsgate Institute, opposite Liverpool Street Station.
Finkel, a real enthusiast in the preservation of diaries, describes the simplest, most humble diaries as ‘magical’, because they are concerned with the life of real people who have written ‘the truth as they see it, without manipulation.’ He makes a particular point that none of the 11,000 diaries in question were kept by politicians. Continue reading
by Kate Osborne
This photograph was taken around the winter solstice in 2017. During the last lockdown I found myself studying it intensely longing for the day when I could go back to the beach. Beach-combing may appeal in sunnier weather but it’s the winter winds and storms that cast up the most treasure. Continue reading
by Nan McElroy
If you’re a devotee of Woodbridge boatyard and the River Deben, you may have spotted Eric and Maxine Reynolds manoeuvring a particularly unfamiliar, curious-looking traditional craft towards the end of 2020. It’s wood, of course, but awfully skinny, and perhaps ten metres long with minimal draft. It’s outfitted with long, flat wooden oars, but no rigging. What is it, exactly? Where’d it come from? When will we see it again? And how, exactly, does it work?
By Anne Page
My heart was in my mouth — as just upstream from Waldringfield, the skipper gave me the helm of Monymusk, his plus 30 foot sailing yacht. I had only met him that morning. He then went below for violin practice.
The Battle of Waldringfield
by Leigh Belcham
It all started with a barbecue on the beach at Ramsholt.
The year was 1996 and Waldringfield Sailing Club was celebrating its 75th anniversary. My wife Jill and I were living in Coventry at the time, but friends had invited us to join them for the weekend of fun and nostalgia. After racing on the Saturday afternoon, we had a gentle sail downriver on their yacht, and watched the sun set over Hemley church while enjoying our sausages and a glass of wine.
The following year I came across a photo I’d taken that evening. Memories came flooding back, not just of our barbecue but of the years I’d spent on the river as a teenager, mainly at Waldringfield. Grabbing some of my son’s pastels, I set to work trying to recreate the scene. I hadn’t drawn or painted anything since my schooldays, so was pleasantly surprised at the result. A year later, when we were back in the area, a walk along the river wall at Felixstowe Ferry inspired me to have another go. Continue reading
by Robin Whittle
Gillie and I retired from 505 dinghy sailing in 1995 and bought our Shrimper 19, ‘Bumble Chugger’ (124) in 1996. The Shrimper is one of the most popular of small yachts built by Cornish Crabbers Ltd. ‘Bumble Chugger’ has provided us with some wonderful adventures exploring the local estuaries and distant shores. She has also enabled us to continue racing which has been of more interest to me, but Gillie has taken part with great skill, even if not with my enthusiasm!
by Richard Steward and Robin Whittle
Estuary saltmarshes are an ecologically unique tidal area of marshland which is regularly flooded with salt or brackish water and then drained by the lowering tide. The River Deben has the highest amount of saltmarsh of any Suffolk River. It extends 18km from Felixstowe Ferry up to Melton. The width of saltmarsh between the river channel and bank varies from nothing to over 600m between Hemley and Waldringfield. Salt-tolerant plants stabilise incoming sediment creating a marsh environment that supports the aquatic food chain, provides essential coastal flood protection and improves carbon storage.