always on the look out for interesting things to see and do to break the journey to suffolk, i have started to look more towards the suffolk/essex border. travelling home from the cottage. the furthest beach point of Aldeburgh then leads to the villages along the estuary – Orford being one of the prettiest, with its Georgian houses, village square and church – its also a spot for sailing, bird watching and good food. there is the famous Pump St bakery and simple seafood at Butley Oysterage – which is real hearty food, quite similar to the style you get at St John restaurant. there is also the hotel and restaurant the Crown and Castle that looked interesting. orford also has a castle to explore too. today, i went to the annual ‘slow living’ fair, which is held in the local town hall – a lovely get together of local craftspersons selling gifts, flowers, local honey and pottery. I particularly enjoyed meeting Esthea Evans, who was demonstrating the art of sashiko, which is using patchworks of fabric to repair holes in your clothes by using rows of tacking stitches; some Indian embroidery also uses this technique. Orford is about 40 mins drive from our cottage – i much prefer visiting and exploring the area out of season and driving through the beautiful woodlands in autumn brings glorious shades of colour.
if you continue to travel towards the essex border you will find Manningtree, situated on the river Stour, with the village of Mistley a short walk away. Mistley retains some of the grain mills by the quay – glorious victorian warehouses that tell stories of years gone by. we had delicious lunch at Mistley Thorn – offering a daily special menu that is very good value. close by is the North House Gallery, set on the ground floor of a handsome georgian house, which has a beautiful curation of works, usually landscapes and in the back room wonderful letterpress machines used by the curator herself. Mistley kitchen not only sells a selection of cookery utensils, but hosts a variety of cookery courses. and less than 15 mins drive away is Flatford, the home of John Constable and the setting of one of his famous paintings, the Hay Wain. Sadly we chose a rainy day to visit ,but it was still a beautiful place to visit and i will definitely return again. i noticed that there are lots of residential courses there too.