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.

 

 

art in Suffolk

i love discovering new things in remote spots that you would never know existed;  the alde valley spring festival is now on at White House Farm in Great Glenham, suffolk – celebrating food, farming, landscape and the arts. you are greeted with fields of bleating lambs, a shepherds hut, tea room with homemade flapjacks, and several barns and outhouses filled with art, including works by the renowned local artist Maggie Hambling.   outside is a covered seating area, laid out for dinner for many;  there are supper evenings  cooked with ingredients grown on the farm, lots of activities for children,  all in all a lovely place to drop by, have a cup of tea and see some art.   i particularly loved the botanical watercolours by Emma Tennant  and hand made knives by Tobias Ford. there is even a shop selling ethically sourced baskets, local honey and ceramics.   take a look at their website to see whats on.    Glenham is about half an hour from my suffolk cottage;  i have realised what a great base the cottage is for exploring the suffolk region, plus we are only 5 mins drive from one of the best unspoilt beaches in the area – Covehithe.

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.

 

 

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 

Snape maltings

i love going to my suffolk cottage, even just for a day, and especially if the weather is as good as it has been .   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 1800 buildings originally used for storing barley – that are now a concert hall, shops, eating places all set in a tranquil setting surrounding by reeds.  i  chose here because my friend Maria is particularly interested in art, and i knew that she would love 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. there is a lovely exhibition by Berthold Wolpe, a master of calligraphy and type design, who did a lot of dustjackets for books too.   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.

 

 

villages in Suffolk

when discovering Suffolk, I find that you usually explore all the coastal towns first – there is something about the sea that beckons you.  one you have visited them all, you start choosing the many inland villages and towns.  Framlingham is a market town inland from Aldeburgh, there is a central square, where  a Saturday market is held.  there are also a couple of quality antique shops, ‘dix sept ‘and ‘in da cottage‘,  there is also a castle, which I have yet to visit and a great pub, the station hotel which serves very good food.

Orford is actually not far from the sea, but is on the edge of an estuary and for a surprisingly small town has many good food options, including the butley Orford oystery, Pinneys shop selling all kinds of seafood delicacies, pump street bakery, crown and castle.     look out for the next slow living fair – which hosts an array of local artisans selling beautiful high quality wares – they usually happen in the autumn just before xmas.

Yoxford has a lovely art gallery, Rowe and Williams, that showcases a mix of local artists works from early 20C to contemporary artists now – the focus being about Suffolk, but also includes some hand made lamps, graphics and ceramics.  there’s a restaurant Mains which opens on fri and sat but apparently is very good and an antique centre, Yoxford Antiques that shows about 25 dealers – anything from mid century furniture to ceramics and trinkets – I actually picked up a lot of the furnishings and accessories for the cottage from here, including lamps, chairs and tableware – all very affordable.  I recently found this monogrammed linen runner that I couldn’t resist with my initial C embroidered on it – there was actually a big collection, but I just resisted and bought one piece.  I am such a glutton for collecting linen pieces, but hate to use them in case they stain.