The tartist and I have just got home from another of our battery re-charge visits for a few days to The Crown & Castle in Orford, Suffolk. As you may recall from a post last year on this blog the C&C is run by Ruth and David Watson, Ruth you may know from Channel Five's 'The Hotel Inspector and more recently Channel Four's 'Country House Rescue' and they seem to instinctively know how things ought to be done, both on the accommodation side and the restaurant. Unfortunately for this visit the weather stayed extremely grey and drab so I can't share too many great pictures with you.
On Monday we arrived about 3pm and read in companionable silence in our room as is often our wont, until dinner at 8pm. The artist with 'Mother Tongue' by Bill Bryson, the tartist with Kate Colquhoun's 'Taste', the story of Britain through its cooking, which is a foodie 'must read' in our opinion. After a typically good dinner in the 'Trinity' restaurant and a better than average bottle of sauvignon we turned in.
In the morning I took a walk through the village down to the quay where there is a good view across to Orford Ness and although the weather has been milder in recent days the wind was still biting and I had trouble drawing for more than ten minutes before moving on.
So, off up the gentle hill past rows of beautiful cottages many of which must be hundreds of years old, back towards the large church of St. Bartholomew, like many East Anglian churches it seems nowadays out of all proportion to the village where it stands, but I guess years ago Orford really was a very important port on the East Coast. Until this visit I'd never ventured inside but this time I'm pleased I did.
I was really taken with the beautiful large font with stone carvings all around
particularly this one of god the father shown as an old man holding god the son on a cross between his knees
and inlaid lettering around the base.
On Tuesday we took ourselves off to Snape Maltings, just a few miles up the road from Orford and a lovely drive through Tunstall Forest. Snape Maltings is always worth a visit as it has lots of departments that are right up our street, from a good gallery exhibiting some interesting work by mostly East Anglian Artists including the wonderful Maggi Hambling to a really well stocked kitchenware department...
where the tartist is in her element.
There are also a couple of fairly good cafés too for when the urge for a pot of tea and a lemon tart gets too much, shame about the lack of cake forks though.
On wednesday we decided to take a drive out to the old market town of Woodbridge by the river Deben and what a nice little town it happens to be, with lots of independently owned interesting shops to browse, and a nice salty-marshy thing going on down by the river. No sooner had we parked the car when we bumped into Patrick
who owns a lovely delicatessen called The Woodbridge Fine Food Company
selling really excellent local produce; vegetables, pies, fish, meat, dairy, the lot (and we have to thank Patrick here for the sample sausages). Parick wasn't backward in coming forward and said 'if you like what you see here you should try our café down by the river'. So, with Patrick's directions we headed down to the Waterfront Café where we enjoyed a spot of lunch, homemede chicken and ham soup and potted shrimps with organic brown toast and butter, yum!
I can't leave Woodbridge figuratively speaking without telling you about another gem in the High Street we discovered called Browsers Bookshop and Café. They are just what most of our provincial towns need right now and describe themselves as 'a one-off independent bookshop and the antidote to bland high-street chains'. They were well stocked with a wide range of books particularly local titles and lots of 'arty' cards with the added bonus of a good little café. I think if we didn't have our art cafés the tartist and I would be tempted start something similar where we live.
So, quite content and with tired feet we headed back to the C&C for our last night, I think we could actually have done with a couple more nights away. Once again we've found more interesting places to visit just a short drive up the coast in Suffolk.