Tim Rowan Robinson is the managing director and owner of Thorpeness and Aldeburgh Hotels. Anne Gould spoke to him about his life in Suffolk
How long have you known Aldeburgh?
We have always had a house in Suffolk so I have known it all my life. My father was a school teacher and we lived in Surrey but the holidays were always spent in Suffolk. We had a house in Southwold but moved to Aldeburgh after 1953 when the floods took away half the golf course. We had a house on the seafront here just behind the lifeboat. My wife Lucy used to come here for holidays too as a child but she’d go sailing and I’d play golf. We got married when she was 18. We moved to Suffolk permanently in 1996 to a house near Framlingham but have just moved back to Aldeburgh, about three months ago. We saw a family house we liked that we thought we could do something to and bought it. It was a spur of the moment thing; we hadn’t been planning to move.
Where do you like to walk in Suffolk?
There are so many fantastic walks. I love the Sailor’s Walk to Snape and round Orford too. I have my office at Thorpeness and take my dog to work so I can walk on the cliffs, go round the outside of the golf course or there are lots of great paths around North Warren. Dunwich to Walberswick is good.
If you are not at one of your hotels where would you choose to eat out?
We are incredibly lucky we have some fantastic places to eat including all the restaurants in Aldeburgh.The Dolphin in Thorpeness is good as is The Crown at Southwold and I love the Oysterage at Orford.
If you were showing Suffolk to someone who had never been here before where would you take them?
We’d probably stay local and go to Southwold, Orford and into Framlingham. I play a lot of golf and we are lucky to have two fantastic courses here so we’d probably play either at Aldeburgh Golf Club or Thorpeness. We might take them for a trip down river on a boat and have a picnic. Then we might go to Lavenham. I did not know west Suffolk well but have discovered it’s stunning over there.
Have you got any other outside interests?
I spend a lot of time with my family. My wife Lucy and I have three children and six grandchildren all under the age of five. It’s busy, there’s always a lot going on. My eldest daughter teaches and had a house here so she’s always in Suffolk during the holidays. Apart from that I play tennis and golf and we go to Snape a bit.
Adnams or Greene King?
Adnam’s. My first house was almost next door to The Cross Keys and my first pint was there. I have a lot of admiration for Adnam’s, they do things well and epitomise what’s good about the area.
Do you enjoy the Arts?
I am chairman of Aldeburgh Cinema. We have a fantastic documentary film festival with people coming up to speak and show films, it’s very exciting. We’ve got our centenary in 2019, so the cinema has been going a long time. It’s just a single screen but shows the sort of film the people in Aldeburgh like - not just arthouse cinema. We also have live screenings of opera and theatre from New York and the National Theatre too. It’s hard work but it relies on the local community supporting their cinema. I am also involved in the literary festival run by The Aldeburgh Bookshop. It’s also great to see the new art (at The Lookout) coming to Aldeburgh.
Where do you shop?
We shop locally. I love food shopping - I might go to farmers markets, get fresh fish from the beach but go to the Co-op and occasionally Waitrose too. We have a very good fruit and vegetable market at Knodishall and there’s Friday Street farm shop too. I am one of the founders of the Aldeburgh Food Festival - and I think it’s helped give Suffolk another string to its bow. We are getting people coming down here not just for the festival but staying the week for the fringe events too.
Are there any charities you are interested in?
I’m involved in the East Feast Trust, which is a wonderful charity that works with primary schools, getting children involved in allotments and gardening. We send in a gardener and an artist and the children get so enthusiastic about growing and eating fruit and vegetables that it rubs off on the parents too. We also run a similar scheme with young offenders in Lowestoft.
How will you celebrate Christmas?
Well there will be 22 of us for lunch this year with our children and grandchildren - it will be fantastic. There will be a walk on the seafront, some good food and a fair amount of drink.