The route to Woodbridge, which went straight down the A12 from Yarmouth, was an easy drive and took just over an hour, but as I reached the outskirts of the town I began to wonder if I'd made a good decision - as I'd travelled south I'd left the best of the sunshine behind and grey clouds were now covering most of the blue sky. There was nothing I could do about it though, I had to make the most of the day now I was there, so I found a car park not far from the riverside, paid for four hours - relatively cheap at only £1.50 - and set off to explore the town.
First on my list of places to see and photograph was the Shire Hall on Market Hill; second was Buttrum's Mill, a six-storey tower mill built in 1836 and which, at over 60ft tall, is the tallest surviving mill in Suffolk. It took me fifteen minutes to walk up the hill from the Shire Hall to the mill, and to be honest when I got there I wondered why I'd bothered. Situated in its own grounds several yards away from the road it had what I assumed to be a private house attached to one side of it; the mill itself wasn't open to the public (although later information told me that it does open on certain days throughout year though this wasn't one of them) so all I could do was wander round the grounds.
Getting a decent photo of the mill wasn't easy though; at the front, and adjoining the cottage and the base of the mill, was an open-fronted carport-type space containing a couple of old trailers and a caravan, with a vehicle and trailer loaded high with stuff parked in front. At the back an open-sided shed with a corrugated roof contained an assortment of ride-on lawn mowers and various other bits of equipment; neither view looked particularly attractive but by picking my spot carefully I managed to get a couple of shots of the mill with the hedges and trees hiding most of the mess.
Walking back down the hill towards the town I came across St. Mary's church, and as it seemed to be open to visitors I went in to take a look. Even without lights on it was lovely and bright, and with no-one else around just then it was very quiet and peaceful; with a handful of photos taken I signed the guest book then made my way out and headed back down towards the riverside.
The next place I wanted to see was the Tide Mill on the quayside; originally built in 1793 it was restored in the late 1960s and early 70s and opened to the public as a museum in 1973. Further restoration within the last few years has brought it back into use as a fully working mill producing stoneground wholemeal flour, and it's one of only two working tide mills in the country. It was just my luck though that although the mill was open it wasn't actually working when I got there, and as I didn't see the point of paying to go in if I couldn't see it in operation I just took a couple of photos then wandered off along the quayside to find anything else of interest.
As I walked along my eye was caught at one point by a movement on the sand down below the promenade and taking a closer look I saw a dozen or so little birds scurrying about among the seaweed. I don't know what sort of birds they were but they were almost the same colour as the seaweed, and had they stayed completely still they would have been invisible. As time went on the grey clouds began to break up, blue sky appeared and the sun eventually came through, which really improved the views over the river and made for a glorious afternoon.
Strolling along the riverside walk was very pleasant but with my breakfast having become a distant memory it was time for coffee and a snack; returning to the car park I made sure the dogs were settled in the van then went in search of something to eat. Across the far side of the car park and in one of the old railway station buildings was the Whistlestop Cafe - that would do for me. The outside tables all seemed to be occupied so I went inside and after a quick look at the menu ordered coffee and scrambled eggs on toast. Now although the food was quite good I couldn't say the same about the coffee - it was supposed to be a latte but it was poor quality, strong and very bitter and no amount of extra milk made it taste any better so I only drank half of it.
Making a resolve that if I ever go back to Woodbridge I'll find somewhere else if I want a brew I decided against exploring more of the area; time was getting on and there was somewhere else I wanted to go to so I returned to the van, gave the dogs a quick five minutes walk round the grassy perimeter of the car park, then set off on the second part of my day.