Returning home from being a tourist elsewhere, you experience afresh your own home. With Kylie with me, it was an opportunity to show off my home and experience it anew. It was nice to see sunny Suffolk through different eyes, appreciating what makes it special. Luckily, the weather was more than accommodating so the week promised quaint country towns, picturesque walks and English stereotypes. So in her words and mine, here’s what we got up to…
(KW is in Italic with the funny words)
After two months making Iceland our home we were feeling sad to be leaving a life of camping, team in-jokes, hiking and unbelievable landscape. Nervous anticipation of going back to reality. But like every travellers’ story, it was onto the next chapter of our adventures.
Lauren and I had two more weeks as a travelling pair. While we were both on this side of the world, it was a chance for us to be tour guides for each other around our home towns. The first week in the stunning countryside of Suffolk, South East England, followed by a trip to my home, the ‘Boannie Isle of Shetland’. Ultimately, it was a chance to be tourists in our own country.
Arriving in Heathrow, we planned to explore Lauren’s home first. Greeted by her dad, we appreciated the stars glowing brightly above us in the night darkness on the drive home. I felt welcomed into the family by Jane, Daisy, Saffy the ‘filsket’ pup, and Bunty the ‘peerie’ cat.
After our first nights sleep in a proper bed (perhaps too comfortable for us both) we woke up ready to explore the English countryside and were delighted to have the weather on-board, sun shining and the garden thermometer reading 30°C. Trainers on, we headed towards the neighboring town of Long Melford. The footpath was through the cornfields, which was a new experience in itself for me.
Skipping through cornfields, hedgerows and nettles took its toll on our legs continuing our run of looking, as Kaitlin had described us, ‘scrappy!’
Watching Saffy lead the way as she leaped higher than the corn, we passed hedgerows and dodged groups of shoulder high nettles while reminiscing about our childhoods. Lauren shared some fun family stories of playing in the fields, learning all the names of the flowers and trees, as I pictured life growing up in the sunny countryside of England. This was a complete contrast to living on a remote island surrounded by ocean and rolling hills, where in Suffolk I could see for miles, tractors gathering haystacks and an endless variety trees.
First stop was to grand old Kentwall Hall. This was a romantic red brick mansion, surrounded by a moat and extensive gardens. I was awed by the beautiful old brick house and its magical tranquil setting. It was just a quick visit here but a lovely introduction to what was to come in England.
What, being frogmarched from the premises for trespassing? Hopefully not!
(Of course we both forgot our cameras so this is borrowed from @kentwell hall on Twitter.) The long high street of Melford has beautiful old houses, quaint shop fronts from which ladies purchase middle class necessities, and we quickly made for the pub to quench our thirst
I sampled Aspell Cyder, a dry apple cider brewed in Suffolk, and it complimented the summer heat perfectly.
The next day mum collected us to take us to Lavenham. Once a rich wool town, Lavenham is now a frozen relic from the Tudor age, cut off after trade dropped and left with black beamed buildings, over hanging architecture and sloping walls. Another town which caters well to the English stereotypes of small back roads, old buildings and a large church on the hill.
Another little idyllic town of Tudor houses. Their rainbow colours and ‘squinty’ impression, gave them a quaint and adorable feeling. The area was bustling with busy little coffee shops, boutique stores and English pubs.
Half of our trip was spent in Lauren’s mams home town, Raydon, with Ian, Bex and Millie, their sweet natured dog. Welcomed into the family, I soon became one of the ‘Chickens‘.
We visited Willy Lot’s House Cottage at Flatford Mill. Strolling down the river to the ancient farmhouse, made famous by artist John Constable, I almost felt that we could be part of The Haywain.
Approached from the fields with cows, playing children and couples perusing the river by boat, the serene scene holds much of its oldy worldy charm. And what better way to finish off a day than freshly baked scones and jam in the garden?
One of our to-do-list activities! Who could visit the countryside of England and not eat scones with jam and cream? Even better – homemade. But first we sampled many cups of tea and coffee in the sweet little cafes of Suffolk.
From the countryside to the town, we took Kylie to Colchester, Britain’s oldest recorded town. Mostly for a bit of shopping, it was nice to appreciate the mismatched shop fronts of the back streets in a bustling town.
Cambridge was also a must for us ladies. A scenic drive in the Land Rover we were ready for a walk when we arrived. Choosing to wander through Clare College, the beautiful gardens blossomed with flowers and trees, home to a 200 year old birch tree and the grand university halls. After a bite to eat and a stroll around street markets we agreed that it was time for a cocktail by the River Cam.
A perfect vantage point to see people punting. Clare college has the oldest bridge in Cambridge after the rest were destroyed by Oliver Cromwell. If being asked if ‘ladies, are you punting today?’ is a cambridge activity, we certainly managed to accomplish it.
A short stint down the A14 and we were in Bury St Edmunds, another historic market down with the beautiful abbey gardens holding ruins of an old monastery. Here Kylie, Bex and I met Stacey and Georgie, Lawrence and Tom for a few glasses of Prosecco.
A gathering with Lauren’s friends found us tipsy in the Bury St Edmunds outdoor cinema screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Giggling at the all time classic, Lauren, Bex and I were watching it for the first time. Stacey and Georgie nearly knew it word for word.
Much of the crowd were big fans, singing and dancing along, equipped with props.
And on our final day we had a pub lunch in the beer garden at Hartest. The longer the sandwiches took to come, the more time we had for consuming more cider. With the addition of a local winery on the way home, it was lucky we were already packed for our journey north as we quickly collected our belongings to head to Gran’s house.
Heading on our long journey up to Scotland, we passed through Lauren’s ‘blyde peerie’ grandmas for a delicious dinner before catching the bus. What an amazing week we have had together, meeting Lauren’s family and friends, exploring the beautiful English countryside and of course soaking up the gorgeous sunshine. Its now off up to Shetland – lets hope the sun follows us!
Over to you to host, Kylie!