Saturday 26 June 2010

Summer Treasures

Summer is here in the Moorlands. Hurrah hurrah! This week has been truly lovely; apart from a few hours of rain on Thursday but the garden really needed it. Today the sun is beaming down and we're enjoying a very lazy weekend at home after a few rather hectic ones recently. Nothing more pressing than making ice lollies, sploshing around in the paddling pool and some gardening on the agenda. Bliss.
I've gathered some sweet little treasures lately, full of summer charm. We eat many, many eggs in this house so egg cups are very useful indeed. especially if they're in bright, jolly vintage colours like these.
Here's the basket I found in Suffolk which I've already used to transport seedlings to the allotment and the first of our delicious peas back home.I spied these pixie (or are the elves?) glasses at the flea market which are just the job for the boys juice on a hot day.
Lots of lovely old books with wonderful covers have found their way home too. I love the Fun book and the Ladybird Seashore guide the most.
And who could resist this summery chap? I can't wait to get down to Port Isaac in July and hear these terrific (if pesky) birds for real.
Sadly these aren't my efforts but this pretty bowl, (a 50p find at the flea market) is a perfect place for toms to warm up. Don't they look delicious? I'm imagining them with mozzarella, basil, olive oil and ciabatta for lunch. Oooh now I'm hungry. Right - I'm off!

Saturday 19 June 2010

Two Go Mad in Suffolk

Well not literally, but we must have looked a bit odd for all the drooling we were doing over the beautiful villages we kept passing.

So, after a lovely afternoon pootling about Laveham and generally taking life easy, Lucy and I headed to the tiny hamlet of Bradfield Combust to settle in for the night at the beautiful Church Farm. We couldn't have wished for a more comfortable, delicious and charming place to stay. The family run a fruit farm here so we had freshly picked strawberries with zero food miles attached for breakfast. as well as bacon and eggs cooked on the Aga - yum. (Click on any of the pictures if you'd like a bigger view).
It was very tough to leave my very spacious and comfortable room the next day but the road trip was about to really get going. Our first stop on the map was Kersey which Lucy had read up on in her Villages of Englad book and just knew we should visit.
On Sunday morning it was the most peaceful and pretty place to be, strolling the lanes and admiring the views. I just loved the red tiled rooves, mixed with thatch, and the contrast between the black timbers, weathered brick and pastel painted plaster. The sort of place that makes my heart jump.
My imagination was on overdrive - wouldn't you love to be curled up beside the fire on Christmas Eve in one of these delightful homes, or perhaps on a bright summer's morning with the kitchen windows flung open overlooking a flower filled garden?
Every house you've ever seen illustrated in an Enid Blyton book is in this village believe me. It's staggeringly charming. Look Lucy needed a sit down to take it all in!
And then we were back on the road again, trundling through lanes full of cow parsely, past field upon field of still green wheat (Lucy and I talked a lot about the logistics of combine harvesting - I know, I know; Sex in the City or what!!) We were heading for Clare on our way back west when we found ourselves coming through Long Melford and we both shouted STOP!
And can't you just see why? Across the road from Melford Hall is a huge expanse of village green lined with beautiful houses that leads up to the Tudor alms hospital and the most glorious church I think I have ever entered. I could talk about it for a looooooooong time but I guess there's tons about it on the web if you're interested.
We enjoyed a tranquil hour looking around and my personal highlight was the magnificient planting that surrounds the church. Cottage garden perennails hug the building; fragrant old roses, lovely valerian, irises and tons and tons of hollyhocks about to burst into bloom, some framing the entrance itself. What a wonderful, wonderful idea.
We really needed to get a move on by this point or we'd be back home at midnight. No more unscheduled stops allowed and we made it Clare for a late lunch (homemade sausage rolls & salad and as much coffee as we could drink, all served on vintage plates and tea cups - how perfect is that?) at very marvellous antique centre where we could both have blown a fortune but were very well restrained. I did manage to come home with another vintage basket (the sort with coloured handles) but more of that another day.
And then it was a fond farewell to Suffolk with happy hearts because I'm sure we'll be back, maybe with a trip to the coast next time. We hit an almighty thunderstorm on the M6 and I don't really know how Lucy managed to drive through the hours of rain, but then she is a rather marvellous girl you know.

So thanks for coming along. Hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Not Quite Thelma & Louise

Eight villages, two tiny towns, three churches, one fruit farm, a pub, plenty of shops, a continental market, two antique centres and miles of amazing countryside. Now they, if you ask me, are the perfect ingredients for a road trip and a half. And I've just come back from a rather marvellous one indeed to lovely Lavenham in Suffolk.
One dark and freezing night in January my lovely friend Lucy and I got totally carried away in one of our regular discussions about how we love the countryside and discovering beautiful new villages especially. And then a plan began to form - how about a road trip to somewhere neither of us had been before for a bit of a nosey around?
So Suffolk we plumped for having heard very good things, somewhere to stay was booked, travel guides dug out and the waiting began. And it's been a long time coming but finally we set off on Saturday with bacon sandwiches to munch on the journey and headed east for Lavenham.
I hardly know how to describe this beautiful corner of England really. It's chocolate box and more, but in the most hugely charming way. I absolutely fell in love with the corner of the county we trailed through; such a different place to the hill farming country I know.
I've taken so many photos that I'm planning a couple of posts to share the delights we discovered in 36 hours away. Today is all about the tiny town and the amazing architecture there. Even on Saturday afternoon it was ever so calm and quiet, just a few tourists like us ruffling the surface of this little place.
A centre of the medieval Suffolk wool trade, Lavenham and its guild grew rich on the profits and the buildings that give the place its special character are testament to its past.
Lucy and I though were here for a potter about. (I studied the medieval wool trade at university years ago and that's plenty thanks!) We spent the day strolling the pretty streets, admiring wonderful gardens and floral displays and mostly wondering if somewhere so impossibly pretty really exisits or we were just imagining it.
Even the Londis was pretty. And the butcher and baker (no candlestickmaker) were delightful, straight out of a child's story book.
Later in the afternoon we found the church and even for a wool church (usually huge and ornate thanks to the wealth of their original benefactors) it was particularly glorious. Full of light and astounding glass.
And by then we were a little bit foot sore and it was time to head off to our little place for the night. So not quite Thelma & Louise but very, very Lucy & Steph. More next time.

Sunday 6 June 2010

And Away We Went

Finally - after the repairs, the saving up and all that rain, we've acutally spent a night away in our little caravan and it was ever so much fun. Ok, maybe there were a few teething problems (losing things, no water, no gas!) but on the whole we have fallen in love with our little bav (what the Woodhouses have always called caravans apparently-?).
Getting it off our steep drive and simply hitching up was the biggest achievement to be honest so we didn't venture too far and headed for a nice little site in an old Peak District quarry to enjoy a hazy summer's afternoon.
It wasn't a bad site but the lack of views from the pitches (we were tucked under the huge quarry walls in a dip) made it feel a bit claustrophobic and to be honest I'm with Lucy; a farmer's field would be much more up our street.
Mind you it was in one of the best parts of the White Peak and close to one of my favourite villages, Parwich, which is a lovely place to be.
After all the tricksy stuff to do with legs, hitches and jockey wheels was sorted, the boys and daddy explored the playground while mummy faffed around for half an hour making it feel a little cosier.
And oh and I loved this bit so very much; playing house with all the bargain treasures and useful bobs I've been gathering up.
Come early evening our little men were beside themselves with excitement about getting their beds ready, which lasted all of five minutes when they were in them so it was back to the playground for a bit more whooping and whizzing about until dusk.
I don't think our two have ever stayed up so late before, it was after dark when silence finally descended and we got some sleep. And we would have had a lovely old lie in if it hadn't been for the terrific thunder storm that woke us all up at dawn with violent rumbles and hammering rain. But oh was it cosy tucked up in our bav, I've never been more pleased not to be in a tent let me tell you!
I think the morning was my favourite time, the four of us curled up under duvets, chatting and laughing. A cup of coffee and a bacon sandwich would have made it perfect but this was a definitely a trial run and we've got a list as long as your arm to sort out ready for a next trip in a couple of weeks time.

What a thrill (and a relief) to finally be mobile. There'll be no stopping us now!