Returning home to Felixstowe: ‘Stories are everywhere’

Novelist Hayley Long always thought her home town, on the Suffolk coast, was a bit of a joke but now she’s proud of its gentle charm

  • Plus: three more glorious, less well-known coastal destinations

On my bookshelf I have a 1914 Ward Lock travel guide to Felixstowe. I’ve had it for years and it introduces the town I grew up in with words that make me smile each time I read them. “There is in Felixstowe and its surroundings, a combination of grace, prettiness and interest which lingers pleasantly in the memory when the visitor returns to regions less captivating.” It’s the most gorgeously alluring description of my home town that I’ve ever encountered and, while my smile may once have been followed by a hoot of incredulous laughter, these days I take the words at face value and respect them.

I’m not the first person who has ever been guilty of questioning Felixstowe’s charms. When I tell people where I’m from, the conversation usually shifts quickly to Southwold or Aldeburgh. And I do understand why. As a teenager, I looked out of my bedroom window and saw shipping containers. It’s only as a visitor that I’ve come to appreciate Felixstowe for the vibrant and very diverse place that it is and, finally, I recognise the grace and prettiness which was right under my teenage nose all along.

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