We had decided to have a UK break away so we can save our pennies for the wedding and so that I could convince Laura that the English countryside had plenty to offer. The destination was decided more by accident than deliberate action. We had planned to book a Groupon offer but everywhere they had deals for was fully booked on the nights we wanted (thankfully we thought to check!!!) so we narrowed it down to Suffolk and took to Tripadvisor to find the best rated B&B's, and choose the Long Melford Inn. Located just outside Sudbury in a small village called Long Melford it was perfectly situated for our country break.
Knowing Sudbury was out of the northeast of London, we figured getting through traffic starting from home in from southwest on Friday after work would mean that we wouldn't get to the B&B till late at night. With that in mind we decided to park our car at our friend's flat in Highbury & Islington on Thursday night then head that way after work the next day. The preparation worked and we got to their flat at 6pm ready to head out!
The route was fairly simple- although the lack of petrol stations was slightly nerve wracking - and once we were out of London we had a pretty easy drive out. In just over an hour we had left the straight dual carriageways and were winding our way through the county of Essex before arriving in Suffolk. The darkness really made the journey fun, we were singing and enjoying the ride so much that we had arrived before we realised! Thank you GoogleMaps for saving us from getting lost!
As we drove up to the Long Melford Inn we were relieved, it looked exactly as the picture and was very 'country pub-esque'. What made it even better was the smell of a log fire as we approached the front door and check in. With the pouring rain the warmth was so welcoming and then we met the Landlord - It felt like we were being met by an old friend.
Our room was in converted stables and on the opposite side of the car park, which conveniently meant we could park the car close by and unload without everything being soaked. Just as we finished unpacking we had a knock on the door and the B&B owner gave us a bottle of wine (on the house) and advised us of what we could do for dinnerr. We opted for takeaway pizza so we could snuggle in and relax.
We slept so well that getting up at 9:30 for breakfast was a struggle but well worth it. The full English set us up perfectly for our day of exploring. With a 'must-see' list from the B&B owner we set out towards Sudbury to start the day. As we arrived, through some very windy roads we found a space in a really tightly packed car park and walked into the local farmers market and craft fair that was going on in the centre. After an hour or so of browsing we spotted the tourist centre and headed in. We discovered that Thomas Gainsborough's - a famous painter who came from the area back in the 1790's - house had free entry so we headed over to expand our minds :) and indulge in a bit of culture and history.
After feeding our minds it was time to feed our tummys and we found an extra comfy couch in 'The Black Boy' and had some seriously good pub grub!
After avoiding the rain and learning a bit more about the area we headed to the riverside to check out the view, and wow - it was beautiful. The town has the river running by on 3 sides and it definitely provides a unique landscape that could be appreciated from the river. The only challenge was the fact that in our city living we have become wimps!
There once was a time that I would stand riverside with a bag of food encouraging the ducks but as soon as we entered the field and were met with ducks running towards us we headed for the bushes!! As for Laura, she understandably more cautious around dogs (after the dog bite incident) but when the ducks came running over she'd let out an 'ARGH!' which would have me jump! (wuss) It meant we ended up with shoes covered in mud but loved it! Well, maybe we loved the dancing in puddles to clean up a little more!
We couldn't leave Sudbury before visiting the Secret Garden Tearoom to warm up. With a tea list that took up a page and fresh warm scones we couldn't resist.
From Sudbury we headed to Lavenham about 20 minutes away to see the Crooked House. It is famous because of a children's nursery rhyme here in the UK. The house itself is defying gravity and if you look at it for too long you start to lean! You can also go inside but be warned - the effect of the lean can make you feel a little queasy.
Once we had ticked off a few more recommendations it was back to the B&B to shower and get ready for our anniversary evening. After fighting the urge to head to bed we managed to get dressed and drive the 5 minutes to Long Melford and visit The Bull. Sat in the corner, but near enough to enjoy the roaring fire we were able to get close, look through our photos and enjoy the most delicious veggie burger and lasagna It was a such a great way to end such a wonderful day.
Sunday came around way too quick but after another seriously good night sleep and the sound of birds - real ones, not from our alarm!! - waking us up we were ready to spend another day exploring. The plan was to drive to London via Suffolk and Essex towns that seemed interesting. That meant we ended up in Castle Hedingham, Bradfield Combust and Colchester. None of the places had quite the same impact as the day before but it was nice just spending time together.
|Loved all the pink cottages, thatched roofs, twisty chimneys and stunning scenery!|