Orford is one of the prettiest villages en route to the cottage, 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. I really recommend the doughnuts and Eccles cakes from Pump St. there is also the hotel and restaurant the Crown and Castle that does a good set lunch on a Sunday – its more grown up from the other restaurants, but still a nice spot to visit. Orford also has a castle to explore too.
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.
Just a bit further is Mersea Island with its great sea food restaurants; as it was a Monday, there was only the west Mersea oyster bar open, which was good enough food with a lovely outside terrace onto the water – you can get the usual fish and chips, lobster, oysters and roasted fish. it really is an industrious working harbour. the other recommended restaurant is the Company Shed.
we also took a walk along Frinton on Sea with its spectacular 1930’s houses and long sandy beach and beach huts – very quiet and gentle, it was hard to believe that it was the middle of August. however, I don’t think that there are any recommended restaurants in Frinton, but worth going to see the architecture.