Saturday, 21 April 2012

Suffolk Safari

OK, you can't really go on safari in Suffolk, but being a person of limited experience I had neither been in a Landrover, nor seen round a farm until we were given the tour by the Man's second cousin when we stayed there the week before last. It was one day in a week of very enjoyable days.

We stayed near the delightful medieval town of Lavenham, all timber frames and crook backed houses with Suffolk pink lime wash and pargeting on some of the facades.
The pink is rumoured to have come, in past times, from the use of oxblood or sloe juice in the lime plaster and pargeting is a way of creating a pattern in the same. We were housed in a converted milking parlour with nothing but fields and sky all around us. The silence at night was wonderful and I did what I always long to do, stand outside under the sky and gaze at the stars, rather hard to do in towns where the ambient light tends to spoil the show. I was not disappointed, in fact was very tempted to lie down on the grass the better to see, but a liberal sprinkling of frost discouraged such antics!

Suffolk was beautiful, the lanes awash with blossom so thick it looked as though sea foam had been flung against the hedges to hang there sparkling in the sunlight.
We visited Constable country to see where the Haywain was painted. It is set away from the main roads, so very peaceful, and with an interesting display in an adjoining building, which chronicles his life and paintings.
He was Mum's favourite painter, and I thought of how much I would have enjoyed telling her of our visit. She wouldn't have approved of my photographing the roof though, not seeing much beauty in the simplicity of old tiles, hosting sempervivums.
We also found, quite by accident, the very beautiful church of St Mary at East Bergholt, with its astonishing bell cage and beautiful stained glass.

Later that day we went to Sutton Hoo to learn about the Anglo Saxon burial and roam around the site. We tried to imagine ourselves in times long past, reflecting on all the ancient people who had walked the same landscape, both familiar yet so very different to ourselves.

We visited Framlingham, an old market town with a delightful little second hand book shop which had just stocked up on needlework books - I restricted myself to just three. It has a castle which was used by Mary Tudor as a base in 1553. It is connected to my good soul's family through its rather beautiful college, which educated several of his forbears including Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, who was one of three former students to receive a VC. There is also another lovely church, dedicated to St Michael this time, with a faded medieval wall painting of the Holy Trinity,
some very spiky looking angels overseeing the water spouts on the outside
 and some more lovely glass.
But what about the safari? Well, we visited Neil's cousin Peter on day two of our stay. He greeted us from the house he has lived in for 62 years, and offered to take us round to see his domain. This included meeting some very fine cows who mooed in delight as their owner escorted us round in said Landrover. During this tour Peter kept us thoroughly amused with a mixture of fascinating local anecdotes, references to past family members and a a delightful tale that began "when I sat next to Prince Charles"! Not name dropping, he's not that sort of person, he has simply lived a full life and been involved in some very interesting things.
Back to Lavenham and we visited yet another lovely church, this one built with profits from the wool trade. This trade was the reason for Lavenham's wealth in the past, and is described and illustrated very well in the old Guildhall which we also visited.
It is a large church for what is now quite a small town, but with the collapse of the wool trade the town languished, which fortunately resulted in the preservation of so many lovely buildings. We wandered round looking at this and that. Neil was delighted to find a little edition of the travels of Mungo Park on the second hand book stall. There was more lovely stained glass, just asking to be translated into some sort of embroidery
I was also particularly taken with the carving in the roof beams. These little chaps scrambling about a vine were just one of the many delightful motifs, crowding around in the dusky heights of the roof, to watch we poor mortals down below.
During our stay we had glorious sunsets

and evening mists across fields which were alive with pheasants, partridges and, one evening, a lonely hare capering to himself in the late spring glow
All in all a very delightful week, which culminated in a visit to Beth Chatto's beautiful garden just outside Colchester. By this time I had quite run out of room for pictures on the camera, so you'll just have to take my word when I say it is a wonderful place to visit. We could have spent much longer there, and hope to revisit later in the year to see how it looks in summer.

1 comment:

  1. It's been ages since we spent any time in Suffolk and you've just whetted my appetite for a trip. We're bell-ringers, so the churches are what I've seen most of in that area, but the towns are lovely too aren't they. Wonderful pics. I must go and nag the other half...

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