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Travel: Suffolk


A slower pace of life can be found in Suffolk. This comes as quite a surprise when you think that it is only 80 miles from London. In Suffolk, there is great support for local produce and the independent trader. So much so that I am told even a well-known supermarket chain has been unable to secure planning permission to build a store in Halesworth.

“The owner of the wine shop here has been trading for over 30 years,” one local entrepreneur, who has relocated from Surrey, tells me. “I was an accountant for BP for 30 years and every day as a commuter I used to leave my house in the dark and return in the dark and did not even know my next-door neighbour.

It’s different here; it takes me twice as long as it should to walk up the street in the morning because I’m talking to so many people.” In Suffolk, there is plenty of farmland and the house prices are comparatively low compared to the built up south of England, making homebuyers contemplate a move here.

Although farming still seems to be very much a thriving industry in this part of the world barn conversions are incredibly popular for both commercial and residential use. We stay in one, a fabulous barn conversion by Marion and Philip Anthony, who established Heritage Hideaways, the holiday cottage specialist for the heritage coast, in 1999.

On our drive up the weather is absolutely atrocious with lashing rain and heavy winds. It seems that as soon as we arrive at Plough Cottage in Yoxford, the sun starts shining and it remains so for our entire stay. As the chickens give a welcome cluck we quickly start to wind down.

The two-bedroom property makes for a luxurious stay. Each bedroom features an en-suite, one with a bath and shower and the master bedroom has a walk-in shower. Breath-taking views of the surrounding farmland can be enjoyed from each room. And the only sounds heard are from wildlife. No traffic whatsoever. Peace. Rarely can we sit and enjoy watching the sun go down but we do here. In fact, on the last night there is actually time for me to savour a Guinness and a packet of crisps while youngest daughter Heidi sits on my lap and tries her best to help me. She certainly enjoys crawling around the property from the tiled floors of the kitchen to the oak floors in the sitting room. Before bedtime we enjoy a family cuddle while watching cartoons on the flat screen television. As luck would have it there are some great films for us to watch during our stay, too. Self-catering is by far the best option for us with our two little tinkers because you never quite know how they are going to behave. Don’t get me wrong they are generally well behaved but can be temperamental as Marion and Philip at Heritage Hideaways can testify!

When we lunch at the Black Lion Hotel in Long Melford, Harriett (aged 3) awakes from a slumber in a rather challenging frame of mind. Ten minutes into our meal at this delightful Georgian hotel, she has to get up for a walk about on the thick wool tartan carpet. Hearts in our mouths we quietly try to beckon her back to the table but she prefers to try opening a door! Anyway, finishing my Aspall Cider and beef and horseradish sandwich we head for the Victorian walled garden as the sun continues to shine and we relax in beautiful Suffolk.

By Tim Saunders

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