SUFFOLK: Take it easy

Plough Cottage Yoxford with Harriett and Heidi inset lr
Plough Cottage, Yoxford. Inset: Heidi & Harriett assess their new surroundings

By Tim Saunders

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 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 as you can see in the video (link above). Each bedroom features an en-suite, one with a bath and shower and the master bedroom has a walk in shower. Breathtaking 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.


Harriett and Heidis lunch - BLT and carrot and cucumber at The Black Lion Hotel lr

Heidi and Harriett's lunch at the Black Lion Hotel



When we lunch at the Black Lion Hotel in Long Melford, Harriett (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. Finishing my Aspall Cider and beef and horseradish sandwich we head for the Victorian walled garden as the sun continues to shine. A far better environment for our little ones because they can roam free without pestering other diners. There we relax and I enjoy my chocolate dessert with honeycomb. A stone’s throw from the National Trust’s imposing Melford Hall, the Black Lion has 10 bedrooms and is steeped in history. General Manager Michael Ruthven informs me that Suffolk is renowned for its hand woven silk attracting visitors and businesspeople from all over the world, many of whom stay at the Black Lion. Along with its sister hotel, Ravenwood Hall they form a rare group of privately owned historic hotels.

On another occasion we dine at The 12 Lost Churches at Dunwich Heath where fish and chips and Adnams beer are the order of the day. Cliff House Holidays has ploughed £1m into this venue, which incidentally is another barn conversion, and has a remarkable tale or two to tell. Its name refers to the churches lost at sea during the 12th and 13th centuries. It was once owned by Jock Horsfall, a racing driver and MI5 agent, who drove an Aston Martin. There was an inspection pit in the floor to service his car. During World War II he was a specialist driver for MI5 and involved in Operation Mincemeat which convinced the Germans that the Allies planned to land in Greece rather than Italy. This featured in the film The Man Who Never Was. Killed in an accident in 1949 at Silverstone, today the Aston Martin Owners Club maintains an annual race meeting in his memory.


Beach shoot by North Norfolk Visuals of Harriett Tim Caroline and Heidi on Aldeburgh beach lr

North Norfolk Visuals beach shoot. L-R: Harriett, Tim, Caroline and Heidi


Such a holiday is full of memories and while it is all too easy to take your own snaps, getting a decent family photo is trickier. North Norfolk Visuals works in conjunction with Heritage Hideaways and offers a complimentary photo shoot at a destination of your choice. We meet directors Colleen Howe and Justin Bailey on the beach at Aldeburgh. The sun is shining which is troublesome for taking good shots but Justin quickly spots the best places for backdrops and also builds a rapport with our two little rascals. Quite an achievement in itself. We have tried photo shoots in the past and know this is a tough job. Harriett realises what photographers are trying to do and tries her best to avoid their requests because it’s more fun that way. But Justin knows the games to play and the results are some fabulous natural photographs which capture that special moment in time. We are very pleased.

Unfortunately it’s too cold to swim in the sea but Marion at Heritage Hideaways finds us a pool at Bucks Farm at Halesworth where locals as well as guests can enjoy the facilities. After swimming the girls enjoy playing on the pedal cars, the playground and seeing the animals.

During our trip Caroline meets up with her uncle in Bury St Edmunds and afterwards we enjoy exploring the abbey, floral park and playground.

There is so much to do in Suffolk we’re going to have to revisit.

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Arrive at Plough Cottage


Aldeburgh: Photo shoot on the beach with North Norfolk Visuals

Walk from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness

Hot chocolates all round (visit the Postcards page of this website to see a cheeky photo of Harriett enjoying her hot chocolate)

Fish and chips


Bury St Edmunds via the tourist route A1120 from Yoxford taking in quaint villages


Dunwich Heath

The sandy beaches of Southwold and its pier with water clock


Long Melford, perusing the art galleries


Swimming at Bucks Farm



Swimming at Bucks Farm

Walberswick and Saxmundham


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