Why I miss Ipswich, from my Florida home

WHERE would you prefer to live - Ipswich or the sunshine state of Florida? As we shiver in the depths of winter, one woman makes an incredible admission to features editor TRACEY SPARLING, and others share their longing for home.

By Tracey Sparling

WHERE would you prefer to live - Ipswich or the sunshine state of Florida? As we shiver in the depths of winter, one woman makes an incredible admission to features editor TRACEY SPARLING, and others share their longing for home.

FAR across the ocean, 4,500 miles away, Patrizia Humphrey lives in a little place named Florida.

She and her husband Barry live at a golf and country club in San Antonio which is one of those quaint oldie-worldly towns that you find in the South. Spanish moss hangs from the oak trees, with wrap-around porches keeping white wooden homes secure throughout the storms. Nearby are Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island which have some of the best beaches, and the temperature is currently a very comfortable 60 degrees.

But believe it or not their hearts remains elsewhere - in fact both she and husband Barry crave to live in Ipswich!

They miss Suffolk so much that on November 5 every year they phone up friends who live near Christchurch Park, and ask them to open the window so they can hear the fireworks.

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Pat, 59, said: “They oblige with a bemused commitment. Then on New Year's Eve we ask another friend to put their cell phone near their front door so we can hear the ships blast in the new year! They think we are either easily pleased or crazy!”

She added: “Yes we are crazy for Ipswich. You guys are luckier than you think, by living in one of the most hospitable, comfort zone towns in England.”

Former Londoners Pat and Barry, were, as they describe, 'fortunate enough' to live in Broke Hall, and Martlesham for 23 years. Pat, who used to work for BT, said: “During that time we grew very close to the people and customs of Suffolk, especially Ipswich. I remember taking the children into Ipswich Town when The Blues won the Cup final in 1978. Well, there must have been over 100,000 people lining the streets with pet dogs dressed in blue and white vests and knickers. My children thought that was a hoot, but everyone was united and we felt we belonged.”

They keep in touch with friends and son Carl, 35, lives in Martlesham and works in sales. Their

daughter Ann-Marie, 30, lives in Brooklyn and works in the entertainment business.

Pat and Barry's home escaped the tornado which hit central Florida. Pat said: “We are fine but folks north-east of us around Lake-Land and Ocala got the brunt of it. We did have a tornado however touch down in our sub-division on Christmas Day.”

Despite travelling the world, they still harbour a love for Suffolk.

Pat said: “We have lived and travelled far more than I can justify. It has all been a great experience but nothing compared to wonderful, homely, safe Ipswich. Please don't rub the roses from my tinted glasses if you think I'm getting too disillusioned and melancholy.

“I remember the Co-Op in Carr Strret, please don't let anyone change that store. I remember the old restaurant in the 70s and 80s where the treat for my children was sausages and chips for 35p. And the crowds on divi day! Do people still make it a ritual to get your dividend then go and have a nice cup of tea and a bun? Good luck to Ipswich and all its residents...I'll be back.”

They dream of returning to town one day, buying a three-bedroom bungalow where we they live out the rest of their days. Pat added: “It will be near the Suffolk showground; so we can be in earshot of the annual Suffolk Show around the 3rd of June.”

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What makes Suffolk special to you? Write to Star Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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