a bright cold day in Suffolk

I love going to the seaside in the winter – the sea and the landscape changes so dramatically with the seasons;  the wind beats the waves into angry turbulence, the grasses waving frantically from side to side – you just have to wrap up and enjoy the fresh air – its quite exhilarating.  not often visited because of the power station Sizewell beach is actually quite lovely and although it can be blustery cold in November, the sun can shine, the sky be clear blue and  with its wild landscape, the nuclear power station at one end, the huts and boats at the other end makes it quite dramatic.  also close by is Leiston Abbey,  which is definitely worth a visit.

Suffolk has so many beaches to discover and out of season, its not full of holidaymakers, its just you and nature….  Limeblossom cottage makes a great base for visiting both beaches and inland villages. 

Covehithe beach

I love this beach – although the cliff  edge is slowly falling away, with the wheat fields creeping in and the wild flowers perching over the edge – its a wonderful place to take a walk.    Park up before the church and walk through the hedgerow to drop down onto the beach, then walk all along the beach to the bird hideout hut and then walk back along the top cliff.  you feel as though you could be anywhere in the world and yet its only 5 mins drive away from the  cottage ;  the sea washed branches add an air of spookiness, the ever-changing sky belies where you are – at times you feel you are on a desert island away from everywhere.  its especially beautiful after being lockdown in the city.  I didnt brave the sea but  Robert and Maude did.and said how refreshing it was.

 

 

southwold pier

i love piers, there is something romantic, dreamy and nostalgic about them……

I am lucky to have Southwold so close to the cottage – its the perfect seaside town with its long sandy beach, beach huts and pier, fish market and harbour, plus a sprinkling of good restaurants and shops.   I hope to get to the cottage a lot more in 2020;  you can rent it directly through my website limeblossom cottage. 

I recently discovered the little neighbouring village of Wangford, hidden from the A12, its a tiny village with a great grocery shop and pub, the Angel Inn.  Suffolk is full of hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered.

 

fluffy towels

everybody loves a fluffy white towel, there is something innocent and pure about a clean white towel – maybe its the image of your little one wrapped sweetly ….  personally i prefer the hamman style towel or the thin waffle types that you can usually get from the white company , conran or designers guild.   you can buy a great selection of beautifully dyed shades of grey and pink from merci in paris.  I  actually get mine from spain in our town, where almost every gift shop there are selling hamman towels.  recently i have had to buy lots of quality towels for the suffolk cottage, and though I love white company, they are pricey;  good alternatives are from soak and sleep, next home, TK max, though you have to be lucky as its whats there on the day, and good old John Lewis.  If you have to buy a big quantity of bath towels  I recommend Next home, they are egyptian cotton and pretty good quality for the price.  there happens to be a gigantic store on the way to the cottage at woodbridge.

here are the tiles finally placed in my suffolk cottage bathroom, aren’t they pretty?  they were from smoke and fire in Darsham. 

tiles_bathroom_0019

 

beaches

have recently explored the beaches of the British coastline and been pleasantly surprised how beautiful they are;  the weather doesn’t help, but  even out of summer, its just as refreshing to experience that fresh wind.

when I visit my mother in manchester, I tend to visit Liverpool a lot with my friend Elise and recently she took me to the natural trust beach of Formby – with its dunes and wide sandy beach, its a lovely place to take a walk.  Crosby beach is also a good beach to visit, with its Antony Gormley statues, it makes it even more visually interesting.

Gorleston beach, just before Great Yarmouth takes you back to your childhood with remote boating lake and lovely Victorian houses perched on the clifftop. I had never walked the top cliff of Dunwich Heath before, but it’s nature at its best – make your way to the Coastguard Cottages for tea and cake and savour the wonderful view.

 

Kirby, gorleston and dunwich heath,  Liverpool

dunwich

I love going  to dunwich out of season – a small sleepy village famous for its birdwatching. its hard to believe that it was once the unofficial capital of east anglia and the main port for trading of wool timber and fish.  there is apparently a 3 mile coastal walk to walberswick which is worth doing.  the ship at dunwich looks like a popular place to have sunday lunch, but you must reserve.  stop off at dunwich forest and take a picnic and enjoy the natural beauty.

we always end up at Homebase in Lowestoft – so pop to Kessingland beach for walk to take in the fresh sea air.  it always reminds me of Dungeness with its pebble beach, wild flora and incredible light.

we have had the cottage nearly 3 years now,  but we have explored the coastline on each of our short visits,  and each time we are pleasantly surprised at how naturally beautiful it is.  can’t wait for spring and hopefully warmer seas when maybe i shall attempt a swim in the sea too.

 

 

Snape maltings

i love going to my suffolk cottage, even just for a day, and especially if the weather is being kind.   the only thing i dislike is the 2 and half hours drive to get there.  so what i have been doing is breaking the journey with a stop for a cup of tea in one of the many lovely towns along the route – i pick a different one every time.  this time i stopped in snape maltings – the victorian industrial buildings originally used for storing barley – that are now a concert hall, shops, eating places and arts centre all set in a tranquil setting surrounding by reeds and marshes.  I always enjoy seeing the hepworth sculpture set amonst the reeds –  it really is a lovely focus point.   there is also the lettering arts trust with its beautiful carved stones.  i noticed that beggars velvet are stocked there – beautiful gifts all with words and letters.  look out for unusual exhibitions in the beautiful dovecote gallery .  i  have tried all the cafes there and the granary tea shop is the best;  i think that the food hall is probably more interesting for gifts.

my favourite place in suffolk is darsham nurseries – its a smaller version of petersham nurseries – with a lovely cafe/restaurant, gift shop and lots of interesting plants to buy.  the food uses locally sourced  seasonal ingredients- some of them grown at the nursery itself.  the beautiful planting and vegetable garden and summer shed are all inspirational.  they are now selling my book ‘stolen glimpses’ and a selection of my flower cards.   i actually pass it on the way to my cottage, so it makes a good stopping place for a cup of tea and homemade cake plus purchasing a plant for my garden.  i have really taken to succulents, and Laura has made the most amazing tray to cover my water butt container filled with succulents – but they are great plants to put indoors, especially in bathrooms and also if you are not always there to water as they seem to be able to go a couple of weeks without watering.

 

Suffolk villages

so we had to go to Saxtead at the weekend, to some industrial estate on a farm to get my keyboard repaired – an eccentric man who loves to repair not only electric keyboards but amps and old radios too.  it was a new adventure driving into the countryside, away from the sea – which is where we would normally find ourselves.    we passed the Green Post Mill, which looked fascinating, but sadly is closed for renovation – but one to put on our list for things to see, alongside Framlingham Castle. whenever i go to Framlingham, I always pop into my favourite antiques shop, Dix Sept, which always has a lovely collection of dinner plates and old lacquer chests – i wish i had the room to put them somewhere – xmas always stirs me to cleanse and throw out –  as all the stuff and paraphernalia drives me insane.  I still try to keep to that ethos of one in one out, but that means that i never actually get rid of anything, there is just an equilibrium of stuff.   Robert always says that when he comes to the cottage he is going to sit and lounge and listen to music and read books, but in reality he likes discovering new things and places as much as myself.  Framlingham has a great pub for lunch, the Station;  suffolk can be hit and miss with food so its good to know what you can rely on.  there is also a market in the square on saturdays, with a good cake stand, that sells bread, croissants and cakes.   you will also find the Silver Rocket Cafe here at times, in their airstream truck serving vegan food – quite difficult to get in Suffolk.

we ate lunch in the Dennington Queen –  a 16C pub, which is more restaurant than drinking now;  the food was actually very good and moderate price – its about half an hours drive from the cottage, so this will definitely  be one of my regulars for the future.  on the way back, we passed Emmetts in Peasenhall, a deli with cafe, which looked good for breakfast – its more eggs, cold meats and omelettes, but the food looks fresh and well sourced.

we also passed Wilderness in Sibton – an estate of houses, small and grand that you can rent – looks very upmarket, probably great for weddings and big occasions – would love to take a peak!   you have to pass by Yoxford to get home, which is home to the antiques centre where I furnished most of my cottage, Mains restaurant and R and W gallery – all places that I frequent often..  it amazes me how vast Suffolk is and the plentitude of villages makes for interesting journeys of discoveries.  within half an hour’s drive of the cottage, you can visit these amazing inland villages, the beaches of Covehithe, Great Yarmouth, Southwold, Walberswick, Halesworth and Thorpeness.

we ventured half an hour up north towards Great Yarmouth to the very strange holiday village of Corton – apparently it was once a nudist beach, must have been very cold as its the most easterly point of this coast and can be very breezy.  I quite liked its eerie wooden groynes being bashed by the murky waves and the Edwardian detached houses on the top of the clifftop

 

 

orford

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.

churches in Suffolk

i dont know the history of suffolk and why there are so many, but there are plentiful churches in the area, the most notable architecturally are  in blythburgh, leiston abbey, covehithe, framlingham, lavenham and southwold.   i also love the ruins running alongside the working churches.  you can usually find somewhere pleasant to have a drink and a bite to eat nearby, so catch up with the legends and history of the churches then stop for a refreshment.     blythburgh ticks that box, with an interesting roof decorated with angels and opposite, the white hart pub overlooks the estuary with its hundreds of birds perching on the waters surface.  something so peaceful watching birds in flocks soaring and floating on the water’s surface.

the cottage has been very busy in the summer and I havent been able to get there, but I hope to get there this weekend;  I love the English countryside in September and October, beautifully calm with less holiday folk and hopefully mild weather.   limeblossomcottage.com