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Rickmav – Eight Days in Suffolk - The Heritage Coast, Market Towns & Cambridge

Rickmav – Eight Days in Suffolk - The Heritage Coast, Market Towns & Cambridge

Feb 4th, 2007, 02:38 PM
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Rickmav – Eight Days in Suffolk - The Heritage Coast, Market Towns & Cambridge

(For previous instalments of our visit to England, please go to: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34937079

A Dishy Elizabeth, Sutton Loo and the Great Gold Buckle Mystery

This is our third week in England and we are staying for eight days in Suffolk, an area not visited before. It boggles my mind that after 20 years we still have so much to explore. It's a bit daunting. Will we ever be able to feel as if we've seen it all?

We left Hannah's Cottage in Adderbury, Oxfordshire on a Friday for Manorflat Cottage in Beyton, Suffolk. On the way, we stopped at Hatfield House, a place I've long wanted to visit because of its connections with Elizabeth I. She's one of the names I give when someone asks, "If you could invite three people to dinner who would they be?" (The others - Agatha Christie and Judi Dench. Or Barbra Streisand, Ian Rankin and William Cecil. Or....)

Can't believe how hard it's raining today, although we shouldn't complain since we've had such lovely weather. So, walking around the Elizabethan knot garden at Hatfield was impossible, but the views of it were amazing. Inside the House, saw a portrait of Elizabeth I I'd never seen before. It's called the 'Rainbow Portrait' and she looks quite dishy, with her curling tendrils of hair and impressive cleavage. She's wearing an orange dress with this interesting pattern and when you look closer you realize it's eyes and ears, symbolizing that she was on top of everything that was going on at court. In her hand, she carries a rainbow, the symbol for peace.

The 'Ermine Portrait' of her is also here, by Nicholas Hilliard, the guy who did all those beautiful miniatures. I've seen photos of it before, but when you see it up close all the gold colour in the painting - on her dress, crown and the sword of state -is actually gold leaf. This gives an interesting texture and shimmer you don't get in a photograph.

The Marble Hall, as you enter, is stunning with an intact Minstrel's Gallery and you can imagine an evening here, lit by candlelight, with Elizabeth and Robert Dudley dancing, the courtiers buzzing about. Her gardening hat, stockings and gloves are in a display case - it looks as if she had very long fingers.

The Marquess of Salisbury, three times Prime Minister of England, also lived here in the 1800s. He had seven children and believed that girls should be educated in the same way as boys. All his children were encouraged to argue and debate with their parents, as long as they could support their argument. Must have been a lively dinner table. The Library has 10,000 books! I was trying to figure out a way to be locked in there for a decade or two.

Since our cottage rental didn't start until Saturday, we spent Friday night at the B&B run by Mark and Kay Edwards on the same property. With the rain beating hard outside, it felt as if we'd been rescued from The Flood when we checked into our lovely room. With bath, it cost 65 pounds and is half of a restored barn in picturesque grounds. It is decorated in yellow and navy with the walk-in shower I've always wanted. One wall in the suite has been left as stone and brick and since it is also open-beamed, the room seems large, yet cozy-rustic. There's also a TV and a loveseat. Was hard to see much of the village in the rain, but it is quite small, very quiet and with a gaggle of geese on the village green (like the way that sounds). Of course, there are the two pubs and a church you expect in any decent village. But no shops.

Had a nice breakfast the next morning, served in the Edwards' house. They are certainly an energetic couple. Over the week, while staying in the cottage attached to their house, we watched the amount of work they put into running the B&B, keeping up the garden, etc. οΏ½ I don't think I could do it.

Drove to Sutton Hoo after breakfast and then to Southwold in the afternoon. My husband kept calling it 'Sutton Loo' οΏ½ men and their bathroom humour.

In 1939, a local archaeologist discovered a 90-foot long Anglo-Saxon burial ship believed to belong to Raedwald, King of East Anglia in 625AD. The land was owned by Edith Pretty who, while digging herself, came across some interesting bits and bobs so hired Basil Brown to do it professionally. You can walk in the field where the mounds are (they kept finding them, including one with the skeleton of a woman) and then see the exhibit that has the replicas of what they found (the originals are in the British Museum). What is so incredible is that grave robbers missed the treasure (I didn't know that Henry VIII actually encouraged grave robbers οΏ½ with him, of course, taking a cut of the findings.)

There was a special exhibit inside the Exhibition Hall called 'The Great Gold Buckle', dedicated to one of the most amazing finds, a solid, gold, beautifully designed belt buckle with a secret compartment. Incredible to see it (the real thing, not a replica) and to imagine that it is more than 1500 years old. They still haven't figured out what the compartment was for οΏ½ some have guessed a religious keepsake or lock of hair οΏ½ Rick thinks it was for all the English change you still have to carry around!

Another amazing find was the iron and bronze, decorated helmet, a huge replica of which hangs over the entrance to the Exhibition Hall.

Then we headed north to Southwold. What a pretty place. The different coloured bathing huts, which you can see best from the end of pier, make a great picture. As does the working lighthouse. The air smelled so good. Read somewhere that the mystery writer P.D. James has a home here, but I didn't spot her. We looked in all the shops along the pier, had a coke with a slice of lemon and just enjoyed the views and sounds. Then took our shoes off and wandered along the beach. Considering that this is the North Sea and mid-September, it was surprisingly pleasant with quite a few people about.

On the way home took the A1120 Tourist Trail, which wound its way through all these quaint (I do hate that word, but if fits here), Suffolk villages like Earl Stonham, Framlingham and Peasenhall. Lots of thatch, yellow, pink and blue houses, and streams running through the middle of tiny villages.

Came back to Beyton and checked into the self-catering cottage. It's on two stories with a kitchen/eating area/sitting area on the main floor and a bedroom and large bathroom on the second. The bed isn't very comfortable and it's quite warm inside (and outside!) since the boiler for the B&B is on our side of the house and feeds into one radiator that can't be controlled. Is handy for drying laundry however, since the cottage doesn't have any laundry facilities. We could find a laundromat, but just as easy to do it the old-fashioned, English way. The cottage is prettily decorated and the owners are very helpful, even letting me use their computer when I have to get a message home.

Next...Searching for the Half Moon, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Icky Ickworth
rickmav is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 03:52 PM
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Just want to let you know at least one reader has found the continuation of your report. This is such a great addition to the Fodors trove - not an area much written about.
noe847 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 05:33 PM
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rickmav - loved the link to the previous instalment, what a great read. The URL's very helpful.

Glad you found your way to Sutton Hoo, well worth a visit.

I grew up in Suffolk and now live in USA. I am always amazed at the changes I see on my yearly visits back to the area. Looking forward to more about your eight days in Suffolk and thru your eyes.

Thanks very much for sharing so many details and thoughts.

SandyBrit is offline  
Feb 5th, 2007, 06:08 AM
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I'm a Suffolk girl, born and bred, now living in North Yorkshire, and to me Suffolk is a well kept secret. Everyone seems to rush to the Cotswolds but for me the Suffolk churches and villages are every bit as special - just a lot quieter. Lavenham, Long Melford, Hartest, Clare, Kersey etc - gorgeous.
The writer Ruth Rendell often writes novels set in Suffolk.
I was married in the ancient church at the gates of Ickworth (why Icky?)so will be interested to see what you thought of the house and grounds.
Morgana is online now  
Feb 5th, 2007, 08:27 AM
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Thanks for the interesting report.
cobbie is offline  
Feb 5th, 2007, 09:01 AM
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Hi everyone. Thanks for your comments. Glad you followed the breadcrumbs noe847. SandyBrit and Morgana, please highlight any great things I missed in Suffolk, we are definitely returning. Morgana - Part II explains the 'icky' in Ickworth, I loved the house, although for some reason we missed the church. Next time. And thanks cobbie for the support.

I forgot to mention that Sutton Hoo is also included on the Great British Heritage Pass (GBHP). Also, the cost of our self-catering cottage in Beyton, Suffolk was 230 pounds and this is their website: http://www.beyton1.freeserve.co.uk/.

Part II - Searching for the Half Moon, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Icky Ickworth

Started out towards Lavenham in the morning. Stopped at a boot sale on the way, but it was pretty well picked over by the time we got there. Will have to remember to get to those things earlier in the morning.

Lavenham is touted as the most picturesque village in Suffolk. There are so many pretty places here; it's hard to say whether one deserves the title over others. It certainly is attractive, particularly when you get off the main street and explore some of the quieter lanes and alleyways. Since it is supposed to be one of the best-preserved Tudor villages in England, our expectations were high.

The town apparently made its riches from cloth production but when that bubble burst, residents in succeeding generations were too poor to renovate the buildings. And so it remained as it was, "not by planning but by misfortune" as one pamphlet put it.

Couldn't stop taking pictures of the crooked, timbered buildings with their sherbet-coloured facades. Particularly liked the orange-flavoured Little Hall in Market Square. The Swan Hotel looked quite swishy – we dashed in to see the Old Bar, which I'd read about. It has a wonderful collection of memorabilia, including a wall signed by British and American pilots stationed at Lavenham during World War II. No one was about, so we took a picture. The hotel itself was very impressive, low beamed ceilings, luxurious, supremely comfortable-looking furniture, fireplaces. It's also supposed to be haunted.

Also visited the Guildhall of Corpus Christi (entry covered by GBH Pass), a 16th-century building in the Market Square, just back of the High St. It houses a local, historical museum focusing on Lavenham's role in the medieval cloth industry. One of the fun things there were boxes of dressing-up clothes for children, to help them get a feeling for the Tudor era. Thought it was a great idea to get kids involved.

Next, we went on a wild goose-chase to find a pub called the Half Moon at Belchamp St. Paul. I'd read that it was a 14th c. thatched pub used in "Lovejoy," another favourite British mystery/antique hunting television series. I don't know if my navigating skills were off-kilter but we just couldn't find it. The roads kept getting narrower and narrower and we were terrified of what might be coming at us around each bend in the footpath we seemed to be driving on. It also seemed as if someone had removed all the little white directional totem poles you find in the countryside, and I was reminded of "Dad's Army," a British television comedy series about the Home Guard during WWII. They removed all the road signs so that invading Germans, or spies dropped in by plane, wouldn't know where they were going. Well, it worked for us.

So we gave up on the Half Moon and headed to Long Melford. Does anyone know if the place actually exists?

Had Sunday lunch at the Cock and Bell in Long Melford. It was very good. I had roast turkey with roasted potatoes, gravy, Yorkshire pudding, dressing and cranberry sauce (I know, a bit Henry VIII, but it was delicious). Rick had steak stew with new potatoes and dressing. We shared a dish of carrots, cauliflower and green beans. With a ½ pint each, it was only 20 pounds. Definitely two thumbs up for this pub.

Long Melford also features in the "Lovejoy" series. The long High St. is dotted with antique stores and we poked about after lunch. Called my mom at home in Canada, since she's such a Lovejoy fan, and we both had a bit of a cry because we couldn't be there together.

Then visited Melford Hall (covered by the GBH Pass), conveniently located just at the edge of town. It is a tidy-looking, redbrick Tudor house on a small scale, but the thing I liked the most was its associations with the children's writer, Beatrix Potter. She was a cousin of the family and used to visit often. You can see the little room she used as her study where she would write and draw. You can see some of her sketches and watercolours (wouldn't I love to have one of those) and you just have to smile when you see them. In a little cabinet, there's the real Jemima Puddle-Duck, a stuffed toy Potter used as the inspiration for the character in her stories.

The house is still lived in by the Hyde-Parker family and you see the rooms they still use. I particularly liked the little Great Hall and the Library. Elizabeth I visited in the late 1500s and there is an existing folly/banqueting house in the gardens where she was entertained. Unfortunately, we couldn't see the rest of the gardens because the National Trust tree-person expert had declared the 200-year-old beech in the middle of the garden "dangerous." It was huge and it was sad to think that it was probably going to have to be "removed" (she whispered).

Picked up the Sunday Times on the way home and spent the rest of the day reading it out in garden. Midsomer Murders tonight is a new one so we have already put the wine in the fridge to chill.

Rain in the morning, so debated about whether to cuddle-in and be lazy or go sightseeing. Decided even if it was rain, it was English rain, and we love that, too (no, we do not regularly take hallucinogenic drugs). So, even though it was 'icky' outside, we decided to visit Ickworth House. Another Great British Heritage Pass freebie.

I've seen pictures of the place for years. It's known for its huge rotunda. The place was 'imagined' (that's what the room steward said) by the 4th Earl of Bristol, who was also the Bishop of Derry, and so was referred to as the Earl Bishop. He modelled the house on what he saw in Rome and bought tons of furniture and paintings for it on his travels but died, in Italy, in 1803 before it was completed. His son tried to do what he could with it – and the debts incurred – and although he built an east and west wing so the house didn't look so odd, he could only afford to live in one side of it. So, the west wing remained empty. Last year, the National Trust made it into their administrative offices, with a huge shop and restaurant.

You only get to see the rotunda, which is three stories high with rooms all around it. Even when the family lived here, they weren't that keen on the Earl Bishop's things so had they covered with dustsheets. That's why everything is in such great shape today.

Was quite impressed with the 'scagliola' columns in the house. I've seen them before and always thought they were made out of granite or cement, but wondered how they were transported or how the floor held them up. But they are actually wood, covered with a fine spun glass, which is then painted to get the marble effect. Amazing.

While chatting with one of the room stewards I asked what she thought of Tony Blair's dismantling of the House of Lords. She thought it was a good thing. In her words, "What good are a lot of old codgers who prop themselves up in a chair, and then sleep all day?" So there.

There's a sculpture in the staircase hall called "The Fury of Athamas" based on a story by Ovid. Athamas was driven mad by the gods, snatched his infant son from the arms of the mother, and bashed his brains out on the rocks. The sculpture 'celebrates' this – it's huge and terrifying. You have to wonder why anyone (it was the Earl Bishop) would commission something like this and have it in his entranceway.

Really like the colours inside the house, lots of rosewood with green, creams and blue-greys. Quite striking. There's a famous painting in the drawing room by Benjamin West called "The Death of Wolfe." I think we had it in our high school social studies text. He is famous in Canada because as the leader of the British army, he beat out the French for dibs on our country. He was shot in the chest and died just as the battle was won.

There were also paintings by two female painters – Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun and Angelica Kauffman - that I enjoyed; both women painted in the 1700s. Will have to find out more about them.

In one room, there is a display of smaller things that the family have collected on their travels and I absolutely coveted one of the perfume bottles. It was quite small, three-sided, beautifully painted with a tiny emerald for a stopper. I thought about making a dash and grab, but some of the room stewards looked quite formidable. I don't think they would have let me get very far.

On the way home decided we would make baked potatoes for dinner. We stopped at Tesco to get sour cream and couldn't find it anywhere. Finally, I asked a man filling shelves if they had any sour cream. He looked at me, deadly serious, and said, "Do I understand, madam, that you want to purchase cream that has gone off?" I didn't know whether to laugh or slink away in embarrassment. So I just stood there with this idiotic look of total confusion on my face. Was there no such thing as sour cream in England? Or had I asked for something that had some other perverted purpose? Finally, he put me out of my misery, went in the back, and brought out six little yogurt-shaped cups of 'soured cream'. I bought three so I would never have to ask for it again.

Next...Campion's Kersey, A Review of the News and Audley End's American Connection
rickmav is offline  
Feb 5th, 2007, 11:42 AM
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You've done an excellent job of navigating around Suffolk!
As far as the Ickworth paintings go, there's a very good book about Angelica Kauffman out at the moment called Miss Angel and written by Angelica Godden. Think you would enjoy it.
Morgana is online now  
Feb 5th, 2007, 01:13 PM
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Suffolk boy here, grateful for you doing the place justice!

Never been anywhere near Belchamp, but by the looks of the map, you were probably within spitting distance but wouldn't know it. Those small roads are a bugger for making you lose your sense of direction...five minutes, and "I'm sure we need to turn right" no longer works.

And yes, soured cream is hardly uncommon. Bloody hell, there's even sour cream Pringles. Mind you, if it's the Tesco in Stowmarket you were relying on....
owain is offline  
Feb 5th, 2007, 04:09 PM
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rickmav - I echo poster owain "grateful for you doing the place justice".

Those narrow country lanes with high hedges are a challenge. You must have been close. I did a quick journey planner on www.theaa.com from Long Melford to Belchamp StPaul (CO10 7DP). About 23 minutes driving time.

If anyone wants to try this be sure and check the map box (tick), that way you will get a map and written directions. The map gives you more of an idea of how easy it is to become confused and lost.

Loved that you posted the link to your self catering cottage.

SandyBrit is offline  
Feb 5th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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Morgana - thanks for the information about Angelica Kaufmann. I am going to try and track down the book tomorrow.

Owain and SandyBrit - thanks for looking up the info. on Belchamp. Frustrating to think we were so close. Owain - I think it was the Tesco in Bury St. Edmunds; obviously the guy thought he was going to have a bit of fun at my expense. And I gave him his money's worth.

Part III - Campion's Kersey, A Review of the News and Audley End's American Connection

I think the landlady at our cottage thinks we're bonkers. She keeps trying to turn on the heat for the cottage but we keep telling her we're doing fine. In fact, we keep the windows open at night; the air smells so good here. It does cool off, this is the third week of September, but we are, after all, Canadians.

We've been passing acres and acres of some crop while we have been travelling about Suffolk. Couldn't figure out what it was. Turns out, according to our landlord, that it's sugar beets. I've never thought of the English as growing sugar beets, I don't know why. Mark thinks it's a most unattractive crop, he'd much rather have fields of corn. I don't know, I've always thought corn was ratty looking. Interesting perspective though; in Canada we tend not to worry what crops look like, as long as they make money or you can eat them. Perhaps, it's another endearing English eccentricity.

Am feeling quite guilty that we have been doing most of our grocery shopping at Tesco. My fantasy was that we would shop at all these little places, the butcher, the baker, etc., but it's hard to find them when you're a tourist. When we have found a local shop, we've really enjoyed buying local cheeses or sausages.

Set off today with the intention of just exploring some more Suffolk villages and going where the road takes us. Stopped in Lavenham again. It was a lovely, sunny, autumn day and the place looked all scrubbed clean and happy. Drove through Monks Eleigh, lots of thatched cottages and a green-green village green. Mailed a letter from the post office. Very nice woman running it.

On to Kersey for lunch at The Bell. I had the tomato and basil soup, which was delicious, and Rick had flatbread with ham. A bit pricey, but good. A group of water company guys were having lunch in the pub and they each ordered a huge rib-eye steak plus a number of pints. Can't imagine going back to work after that meal.

Kersey is where the Campion mysteries, written by Margery Allingham, were filmed and the countryside often appears in Constable's paintings. It also has a tiny stream running right through the middle of it and you have to drive through it to follow the road. After lunch, we just wandered about. Found a thatched self-catering cottage that was so beautiful - (http://www.premiercottages.co.uk/cottage.asp?ID=243) - in my next life, when I am indescribably wealthy, I am going to bring some friends to England and rent this place.

Took our time driving home, enjoying the setting sun, the villages, the stunning countryside. What a wonderful day.

All the news tonight is about Tony Blair's speech at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Man, does he look old. The contrast between our visits to England, when he first came to power, and now is incredible. I've been surprised watching the news in England how little coverage there is of North America, except for the politics of war in Iraq, and nothing about Canada. I suppose we aren't that much of a player on the world stage. Even when our soldiers are killed in Afghanistan, we get labelled Britain's allies. News coverage in Canada covers more of what is happening all over the world, perhaps because our domestic news is so boring. But I do like the way the British cover all angles of a story and try to actually interview the newsmakers. They have far fewer 'journalist as expert' types than the Americans.

Audley End is our destination the next morning. The stately manor is managed by English Heritage and included in our GBH Pass. I finally found out the difference between English Heritage and the National Trust. The first is really the English taxpayer and includes properties that do not come with an endowment but are deemed to be of value to the country. The National Trust, on the other hand, requires an endowment that supports the property, along with the entrance fees.

To see Audley End you have to go on a guided tour, which is rare nowadays. Usually, you buy the guidebook or take advantage of the printouts in each room – or the room stewards – to visit the house and gardens. But our group was quite small and the tour guide was excellent, so it was interesting.

Audley End is located south of Cambridge and near Saffron Walden (what a great name). It started out as a Benedictine abbey and after Henry VIII's temper tantrum and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, was given to Thomas Audley, who, according to the guide, "took care of whatever Henry asked him to." Sounds a bit like Robert Duvall's character in The Godfather. By the time Audley died, he was the third richest man in England (I wondered how they measured that then?)

His grandson built the current house in 1603 and became Earl of Suffolk under James I. The house has some rooms designed by Robert Adam and during WWII was the headquarters of the Polish section of Special Ops and was where the commandos were trained that were dropped back into Poland. If only these walls could talk.

The Great Hall is impressive – I'm such a sucker for a good entrance. Comes complete with minstrel's gallery. In the Saloon is a huge, square-shaped ottoman in the middle of the room; according to the tour guide this was to accommodate the huge crinolines that women wore.

There's a painting of George II by Robert Edge Pine that has an interesting, even bizarre, tale attached to it. The painting was commissioned by some American guild and because George II was quite cranky and wouldn't sit still for the painting, Edge Pine hid in cupboards around Windsor trying to catch a peek at the king when he could. The finished painting was then put on a ship for America but was stolen by pirates who captured the ship. The Royal Navy caught the pirates and returned the painting to England, where it eventually ended up at Audley End. The Queen has a small copy of the painting.

Two picture galleries on the lower floor are full of a strange – and comprehensive – collection of stuffed birds and animals. The guy who mounted many of them, F. Butt (I kid you not), used arsenic salts in treating the birds and so the staff have to be very careful in handling them.

Lady Braybrooke's Sitting Room is very cozy and personal, it has been decorated exactly as it appeared in a Victorian-era photograph of the room. If you like the Victorian style (I don't really), you'll love it.

After Audley End, we went to Grantchester. Ah, Grantchester. I have wanted to come to this place ever since I first read Rupert Brooke's poem – The Old Vicarage, Grantchester –many years ago. (http://www.amherst.edu/~rjyanco94/li...ntchester.html)
Brooke is the guy who wrote: "If I should die, think only this of me: That there's some corner of a foreign field/That is for ever England." I tear up whenever I read that. We sat in the Orchard, much frequented by Cambridge students - including Lord Byron - and had tuna and cucumber sandwiches. It was one of those lung-filling moments when you now you are somewhere you were always meant to be. I had forgotten to bring a copy of the poem with me, so my dear husband went into the tearoom and asked if they had a copy we could borrow, and so we sat among the trees, in our deck chairs, with a little breeze and birds singing and I read the poem. Magic.

Then we visited the church, which features so famously in the poem and wandered about the graveyard. We knew Brooke wasn't buried there, unfortunately during World War I, he died of septicaemia and is buried on the remote island of Skyros in Greece. But his heart was obviously in this place.

On the news tonight, Claudia Schiffer, the model, who lives not far from where we are staying is in trouble because her dogs are threatening the people who used the footpath near her estate. The English and their footpaths – sacred territory. She better watch out.

Next...Caffe Mocha in Cambridge, Mystery Writers in Suffolk and "The Birds" in Aldeburgh
rickmav is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 11:20 AM
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Part IV - Caffe Mocha in Cambridge, Mystery Writers' Homes and "The Birds" in Aldeburgh

Spent today in Cambridge. We'd driven through, years ago, on our way to somewhere else, and had always said we would return. Decided to fill as much of one day as we could. The weather is lovely, warm in the sun but nice and cool in the shade. I was so impressed with my husband; once again, he drove right into the heart of things and found a parking space from a map I'd downloaded off the Internet.

I was expecting Cambridge to be like Oxford in feeling, but it isn't. Calmer, somehow, although there were loads of people about and students checking into the colleges. They must start a bit later than Canada. Outside Trinity College, they had a table set up to welcome new overseas students – I felt like signing up!

It's invigorating to be not only in a place with young people, but also in a seat of ancient learning. There's something quite hopeful and electric in the air. We followed a walking tour I'd printed off the internet (http://www.stridedesign.net/shapewal...oject=1&user=1). We weren't very strict about following it, would detour when something else caught our fancy and then re-join it when we could, but it was helpful.

Saw the apple tree outside the Great Gate at Trinity College that is supposed to be a 'descendant' of the one whose falling fruit caused Isaac Newton to formulate the laws of gravity. King's College was very impressive, but formidable. Found the rose-coloured stone of St. Catherine's or Corpus Christi more appealing. Sat outside and had a pasty from the West Cornish Pasty shop, then a treat afterwards – a Chelsea bun (I can feel the cholesterol surging) from Fitzbillies Bakery. Later, guiltily, we had a caffe mocha at Starbucks.

The shopping in Cambridge is incredible. Can't buy much since we are constrained by our two suitcases and three months more of travel, but if I were inclined, it would have been great fun.

Then on to the Fitzwilliam Museum. Entrance is by donation, which is such a civilized approach. We were still in the wandering mood, so didn't really structure our visit. Focused on those areas that we were interested in and then it was just hit and miss with the rest. Saw most of the Impressionist paintings, although I wouldn't say they are the best of the period. The Renoir's and Monet's were, of course, excellent. There was a Vuillard of a girl reading in the grass that I quite liked.

Not a fan of Picasso, so not impressed with much of his stuff and Rick said Constable's paintings reminded him of the ones done by my grandmother. I can't say I disagree, maybe it wasn't his best stuff (sorry, Grandma). What I really liked about the museum was that the furniture, porcelain, sculpture and paintings are arranged by period, so you have a feeling of what the most modern house, at that time, might look like.

Really enjoyed the Ancient Egypt and Greece & Rome rooms, as well – so much to see and so fascinating. The painted sarcophagi are incredible.

Stopped for a pint at the Eagle on Bene't Street. Quite busy, but with all the alcoves and small bars, you can have privacy if you want it. There was even an outside bar. At the very back is the RAF bar, which was apparently very popular with American flyers during the war. Had lots of photos of planes and soldiers.

My embarrassing episode of the day happened on the way home - outside Bury St. Edmunds. I made Rick stop so I could take a picture of these strange huts we'd been seeing with acres and acres of pigs outside. I knew no one at home would believe me. The 'farm' was right along the highway and the traffic was rushing by, but I climbed into the grass, coming right up to the barbed wire fence to get a better shot. There were hundreds of little Quonset hut-homes for the biggest pigs I'd ever seen. (Later on, I read they were actually called 'pig villages'.) Suddenly, in my viewfinder, was the face of a rosy-cheeked (I kid you not) Suffolk farmer. I almost had a heart attack.

When I put down the camera, I realized that stopped in front of me was this young man and behind him was a tractor, with another man in the seat. I mustn't have heard them approaching because of the traffic. The young man in front of me said, with a broad smile on his face, "Come on lovvie (or something like that), I'll lift you over and we'll give you a ride closer to the piggies. Might even get them to smile for the camera." The times when you need a communicator so you can beam up to the Enterprise.

I smiled, mumbled something idiotic, and stumbled back to the car. I could hear the two men laughing and, as I approached the car, my husband was doubled over with laughter as well. He says he yelled at me, to warn me about the tractor, but I don't believe him. The farmers are probably still talking about the 'pig lady' down in the pub.

Found an interesting pamphlet tucked away in all the reading material in our cottage. It lists Suffolk's literary connections. Thought I might mention a few of them in case anyone wants to pursue: Marjorie Allingham, author of the Campion mysteries, spent 6 months of each year at Shelley, near Higham; Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) lived at Bridge Cottage in Earl Soham; Norah Lofts wrote 50 of her historical novels at Northgate House in Bury St. Edmunds; and George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm) lived at Montague House, High St., Southwold.

The next day, our last in Suffolk, we went to Aldeburgh. We loved this place. It probably is very busy in the summer, but I think last night's rain may have chased the 'punters' away. (I'm not quite sure what that term means, we've heard it in all kinds of contexts, and I'm sure we are, in fact, punters ourselves – but it sounded very satisfying to write it.) Felt a little as if we had the place to ourselves.

Nice, wide High St. with lots of different kinds of shops, but nothing too pretentious. After checking things out, picked up our lunch – fish and chips – at, you guessed it, The Fish & Chip Shop. Upstairs, is a restaurant called The Golden Galleon. We tried to get in there first, but it was very busy. So we got a takeaway and headed for the beach. Lots of locals getting their lunches at the same place, I think that's always a good indicator of whether a place has decent food or not.

As we sat on our bench by the sea, we were watched by about 20 seagulls, then 40, then 60. I had to stomp my foot once or twice because they were freaking me out how close they were coming. It felt exactly like a scene from Hitchcock's 'The Birds'. When we were finished, Rick gave them our leftovers and it was somewhat scary. I figured he's on his own. No way was I going into the midst of all those beating wings to rescue him. Afterwards, I thought we probably shouldn't have fed them. There were no signs saying not to, but I imagine chips and deep-friend fish are not the best diet for any living creature.

You can buy fresh fish from huts on the beach. If I was more of a seafood lover, I may have been tempted. The sea was quite rough, but it didn't stop the windsurfers. We stopped and watched them for a while – amazing. Bought our granddaughter a little necklace from the Lifeboat shop – support two good causes.

Walked, then sat, sat, then walked. Decided when we are very old we are going to come here and prop ourselves up on the beach and just fade away.

Then headed north to Thorpeness, a planned seaside community built in the 1920s. Rick liked it a lot, but it seemed too perfect for me. I liked Aldeburgh better.

Back home to tidy up and pack for our trip tomorrow to Sussex. Three hours of driving to the east of London, we've never driven that route before. Will be a map-reading challenge.

Have loved Suffolk. The eight days we were here flew by, there is still so much we want to see but didn't have time for. I guess that means we will return.

Next...Two Weeks in Sussex & Kent – will post as a separate entry. Please let me know if you have any questions.
rickmav is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 11:53 AM
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About these pigs.

It's odd what people find odd. How do you raise them in Canada? And don't be so sure the farmer was taking the piss. We've quite a few free-ish range piggeries round our Cotswold idyll, and lots of people stop to snap them or just admire the beasts. Or even have a chat with them. As Winston Churchill put it "A dog looks up to you, a cat looks down on you. But only a pig looks you in the eye"

Which raises a totally unrelated question that puzzled me during a recent meander round North America. Restaurants kept talking about "free range" lamb. Do North Americans have some other kind as well? And if so, how do you battery farm sheep?
flanneruk is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 01:02 PM
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Re. sugar beet - yep, it's a major crop around here. The factory on the edge of Bury, beside the elevated section of the A14 as it bends round the town, is the refinery.
owain is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 04:49 PM
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Flanneruk - Well, it's nice to know that I may not be a complete laughing-stock. My husband tells me that in Canada, because it is so cold at certain parts of the year, we raise the pigs in barns/sheds with a fenced-in area attached that they roam around in during the warmer weather. I'm not so sure about the 'free range lamb', but I know the PETA people often criticize the fact that Americans and some Canadian farms basically keep their livestock captive in crates, feed them hormones, etc., then slaughter them. I hate to think about it. I know, in Canada, we have a big problem with the salmon we raise in farms, diseases are rampant and more and more people refuse to buy it.

Owain - Thanks for the info. I wondered what that big building was.
rickmav is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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rickmav - Excellent description of Aldeburgh which remains quite unspoilt and unchanged. The late composer Benjamin Britten settled in Aldeburgh. The sea gulls can be very aggresive.

My husband also was fascinated the first time he saw those piggeries. Is that the correct word? I have seen nothing like it here where we live in the States.

Looking forward to hearing all about Sussex and Kent. Very well done. Thank you for taking the time to share.


SandyBrit is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 10:17 PM
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Just 'pig farm' is what I'd expect to hear. Free range & organic food is the big growth area, because people are prepared to pay much more for something which both tastes better and also treats the animals well, and I'm pretty sure what you saw is a free range setup.

We do of course also have massive industrial battery livestock farms, but they wouldn't catch your eye. (IIRC the one big difference is that hormones aren't allowed in European farming.)
owain is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 12:22 AM
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Rickmav - Well done going to the Aldeburgh Fish and Chip shop. I believe it is one of the best in England and somehow getting the sea air as you sit on the beach to eat it makes the experience even more memorable even if the seagulls add to the danger!
londonengland is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 04:38 AM
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I was born in Suffolk too.
Next time you go to Southwold, you must walk to Walberswick and take the ferry back.
It is a rowing boat and now is run by a young woman.
I can remember when her grandfather ran it.
I have some Norfolk and Suffolk pictures at http://sylvia.photoblog.me.uk/c450498.html
IMHO, East Anglia is one of the most picturesque parts of England.
Perhaps we should keep quiet about it;-)
I always like to see those free-range piggeries. The pigs seem so contented rooting about or relaxing on the straw in their chalets.
MissPrism is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 04:43 AM
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>>...relaxing on the straw in their chalets.<<

And when you think how much people are asking for a chalet in Southwold these days....
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 05:25 AM
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I wonder how many people you could get into one of those pig chalets.
I love Southwold and will be staying there for a week in April.
MissPrism is offline  

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