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Looking for the perfect escape?

Beautiful seaside views in Southwold.

Not only was it my 45th birthday weekend but I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to go on a little road trip. A work related but also a pleasure trip. With my hectic way of living, worries around my divorce and trying to manage being a working mother, I am sure you all can relate to ‘escaping’ at times. As all my close friends know, I do love unplanned trips and embrace total randomness. Therefore without knowing the full details, apart from knowing I had to write this blog about the adventure, I did what I always do and agreed straightaway with a massive “Yes!” When I say unexpectedly, I do really mean totally out of the blue, as on Saturday afternoon while I was preparing to be interviewed on FAB Radio in Manchester  to chat about the much needed work White Ribbon Charity do and our upcoming Parliament speech on the 6th December, I got a phone call, to cut the interview a little shorter as the trip was about to kick off.  A trip made possible by VW campervan hire enterprise and 4.5 star hotels The Swan in pictueresque Southwold.

Lush campervan Bluebell.

As I strolled out of the studio, leaving radio host Brian Mitchell and the rest of the White Ribbon crew behind, I was greeted by the cutest blue VW campervan and fell in love straight away with this adorable means of transport and (what I thought), sleeping quarters for the next couple of days. I have always been a big fan of campervans and from my mid teens dreamt of little trips through Europe with family and friends. Unfortunately my children couldn’t join me but I was blessed with great company. So there I was, nearly 45 years of age, and one of my wishes was about to come true… road tripping with no idea where I would end up in a VW campervan!

I found out we were heading to Southwold in Suffolk. My geographic knowledge not being the best I was told it would take us approx 6 hours to get there, which meant lots of time to get comfortable and enjoy the campervan to the full. Small family run business Poshpampcampa was very kind to supply us with Bluebell. A VW type 2 camper made in 1972 which is coincidentally also my birth year. Bluebell is one of the many campers Poshpampacampa supply. They have a fantastic range of VW campers, perfect for weddings, special occasions and road trips. You could tell Bluebell had undergone a full bodywork and a mechanical restoration. Handcrafted interior in light oak and cream veneer, complemented by cream and blue leather. Bluebell really is a little cutie and I felt like a rock star heading for the next gig! The reactions of members of the public was so lovely. It’s like having a dog or a baby in a pram. Wherever you go, people will approach you for a little chat. As meeting new people is one of my favourite things to do, Bluebell didn’t let me down. She definitely put a smile on my face during the short time she was all ours.

Stunning hotel room at The Swan in Southwold.

After a long drive that didn’t actually feel long at all thanks to Bluebell and good company with lots of laughter, we arrived safely, yet in the pitch dark at the newly refurbished Swan hotel in Southwold. We were greeted with a genuine smile by relaxed manager Linden. His enthusiasm about the hotel and the surroundings was definitely catching as I couldn’t hardly wait to explore Southwold. My first impression whilst walking into the grand reception area was: “Damn, this place is something else”. It felt roomy, welcoming and maybe a bit too posh for a chick like me. The finishing touches of the contemporary interior gave me an instant feel of Dutch coastal designs. Maybe that was one of the reasons I felt at home straight away. The staff was very friendly and couldn’t do enough. Before we were taken to our rooms we sat down in one of the dining areas. Again the dining room had a modern yet cosy feel to it. The food was presented in a way you want to tuck in straight as it looked so yummy. Yet you didn’t want to touch it as it looked perfect on the plate. As a surprise to some of you that know me a bit better I managed to clear my plate completely! The dessert went down treat too, as did the home-brewed vodka.  The hotel has his own brewery and distillery right on the doorstep so whilst staying at this fabulous hotel you can be immersed in the wonderful world of beer and spirits.

Feeling slightly tired after travelling, a full satisfied tummy and chats with the lovely staff and other guests it was time to settle into my room, which was simply out of this world.  A big room decorated again with a contemporary and coastal design and carefully picked bespoke furniture. It featured a large lounge areas, a super king sized bed with the crispest duvet.  Best of all a spacious bathroom with a lush free standing bath. So of course I dived into the bath with lots of bubbles and sipped champagne. It was after all nearly my birthday!

Epic failing doing a Cher!

I would not be me if I would be too late for breakfast. So yes I missed the full English again despite promising myself I wouldn’t. However the lunch served in the other beautiful dining area was simply delicious and full of flavour. Again the staff were nothing but helpful and a pleasure to chat to. Soutwold is a delightful town on the English North sea coast. Lots of beautiful quirky shops are located around the town. I was very surprised by the warm climate. Normally my birthday is grey, windy or rainy. However this day the sun was shining brightly. I was told later that the geography of Soutwold means they have good weather all year round. We spent the day exploring, walks on the stunning beach with adorable colourful beach huts, rummaging around the shops and having a drink in one of the quirky coffee shops. Plus, I couldn’t miss the chance of posing on one of the canons by the beach ‘Cher style’ for a little silly impromptu photo shoot!

Happy birthday to me!

We decided to rough it up and spend the night in Bluebell. We packed up our belongings, said our goodbyes to the wonderful staff of The Swan and continued our road trip and soon found a typical English pub by the harbour. It was empty but had a gorgeous open fire, so we settled down with a drink or two continuing my birthday celebrations. Little did we know it was the night the local pensioner club bring along their instruments and poetry and have some fun. Slowly one by one the troops came in and before we knew it were surrounded by pensioners giving it their best rock style performance. Random? Yes! Funny? Yes! Did I expect to spend my birthday night listing to a poet reading a tribute poem for his cat that had tragically died in a hit and run? No! However it couldn’t have been more random but perfect!

The night spend in Bluebell was cosy, lots of fun and surprisingly not too cold for a November night. Maybe having a few drinks, being with the right company and going asleep fully clothed helped but I loved the sheer contrast of sleeping like a queen the night before to clamping it up the next. You see wherever you go, it really is the company you surround yourself with and what you make of an experience or any opportunity given. I would not have changed a single thing about this trip. If you are looking for the perfect escape, to get away from the daily stresses, to recharge your battery or for a special occasion… An escape with good friends, making memories to last a lifetime, enjoying the stunning English countryside in a quirky way, full of contrast. Get yourself a VW booked, head down to the South East coast and make your own memories.

I like to thank Poshpampacamap and The Swan for their hospitality and making my perfect escape a reality and my 45th birthday one to remember for all the right reasons.

Lots of love,

Essy xxx

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