Saturday, 12 April 2014

Goodbye Suffolk

The Alde - Snape Maltings in the distance.

MWNN and I left Iken Barns early on Friday morning. Before breakfast, I'd taken Ron to say goodbye to Don, the resident horse, and take final photos of the lovely views from the garden.

The view across the paddock behind the barns

Don wasn't really interested in saying goobye. He was too busy with his breakfast to come to the fence.

Lasagne and Moussaka by Cook chef's Liam and Joshua

We'd already decided that we would shop in Friday Street Farm Shop for lunch and dinner. The lamb moussaka and beef lasagne by Cook were delicious. Each meal has the name of the chef  who prepared it on its label.

Dingley Dell pigs

We also bought some Dingley Dell pork chops, sausages, and bacon. Free-range Suffolk pork is probably the best pork we have ever tasted in the UK.

Neighbour's photo, on Mother's Day

It's nice to be home. Our neighbour called in the evening, carrying the Mother's Day bouquet that had been delivered 10 days ago. It was still looking good, although the roses were past their best.

Friday, 11 April 2014

The last day of the holiday

in Suffolk.

We drove to Aldeburgh in search of the 'Boardwalk' section of the Sailors' Path. Our walk began at the car park beside the Hazelwood Marshes.

The signpost told us that it was 2 miles to Snape Warren (where we'd terminated our search for the Boardwalk from the Snape end of the path.) We headed off up the sandy laneway, passing a cottage where the owner of a chocolate Patterdale pup called Norman told us which route to take. The sandy laneway became a hard surfaced footpath bordered with gorse  for a while.

About half a mile further along, we reached the next signpost but still no sign of the Boardwalk. The path crossed heathland before entering a wooded section.

© Suffolk Wildlife Trust 

We passed the signpost for Hazelwood Marsh. One look down the lane through the locked gate showed that the access was very wet indeed. The storm damage (breach in the sea wall) has closed the Reserve, so we walked on towards Snape Warren.

The elusive Boardwalk, at last

Finally, we spotted the Boardwalk at the end of the wood. It was clear that this was not a flat surface provided for the elderly or infirm but was a necessity for crossing the marsh.

We had to keep tight control of Ron because the temptations of the marsh were great for a Patterdale.  This became doubly important when the woodland gave way to wetland grazed by cattle.

Ron's recall was excellent (apart from a short dash into the wood on the return journey) He really enjoyed exploring the edges of the Boardwalk.

My ankle began to complain as we left the Boardwalk and reached the edges of Snape Warren, so we turned around and headed back to the car.

There was not much evidence of flowers on the marsh, apart from a few clumps of early Marsh Marigolds. The hedgerows were in full bloom and birdsong filled the air.

The weather, once again, was kind to us during the walk. The clouds forecast for the day did not begin to appear until we were driving back into Snape.

We lunched at The Crown, Snape. I'd wanted to eat there since we discovered that they serve their own home-reared meat and produce.

The house speciality is pork, so MWNN chose the pork platter for lunch. This was a selection of pork products - from left to right -chorizo,  black pudding fritter (batter almost as light as tempura), cured sausage with chutney, pork sausage, roast pork (already gone), and pork terrine.  He chose to have no accompaniments and 'helped' eat my chips, mushrooms and onion rings.

The food at the Crown was very good - lovely flavours and really well cooked. My locally reared limosin rib-eye steak was full of flavour and very tender.

The male Anglo-Nubian goat

I watched the  neighbouring table (a table of four who'd obviously eaten at the Crown before) order four starters and four deserts. Among the starters was flat mushroom on salad, topped with a wedge of hot goat's cheese. As they were leaving, they went to see the goats who had provided the cheese.

And so our day was a fine end to our two weeks' holiday in Suffolk. We've enjoyed good weather, good walking, and good eating in this special part of England.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Photo Blog

Thames Barge 'Cygnet' at Snape Bridge

Walk from Snape Maltings to Snape Warren, along the Sailors' Path - 1 mile to the Warren, 0.8mile back to the Maltings, according to the signposts.

The start point of the Sailor's Path - Snape Bridge.

Snape Maltings' Concert Hall from the Sailors' Path.

Looking across the Alde to Iken Barns.

Looking up the Alde towards St Botolph's Church.

Across the reeds from Snape Warren.

MWNN on the Sailors' Path back to Snape Maltings.

and we're back at Snape Bridge.

View from Iken Barns garden - Snape Concert Hall on the far bank of the Alde

A short drive takes us to Friday Street, where we buy some lovely edibles and have a light lunch on the terrace of the cafe. The remainder of the day was spent back at Iken Barns.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Taking it gently

MWNN and I had a short walk in Tunstall Forest yesterday morning. The weather was fine but quite windy and chilly in the shade. We then shopped for basic supplies in Woodbridge, where we found a small Belgian Chocolate shop, Les Chocolats Belges. There may have been some fine Belgian chocolates purchased.

I wanted to visit The Froize Restaurant to try some of the game on the menu. It was well worth the trip. MWNN had some roast Blythburgh pork and I  sampled the chicken and rabbit pie. Both meals were served from the buffet servery by the Chef himself.

The Froize is in a tiny village on the edge of Rendlesham Forest, a location at the centre of an unsolved UFO incident.

After lunch, we drove into Orford, where MWNN purchased some smoked cheese from Richardson's smokehouse and I picked up a bottle of wine from the village stores.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Farrier's Barn is in Iken. The church  is St Botolph's - worth a visit any time but especially on a rainy Monday. MWNN took advantage of a brief respite from the rain to drive down to the church.

As we approached the church, I thought that it would be locked, but MWNN pointed out the number of 'honesty boxes' beside local produce that we had seen on our travels around the area. Indeed, the Anchorage (beside the church) had garden pottery and home-made preserves for sale, with an honesty box inside the lttle shed.

The church was open. It's an ancient building and doesn't appear to have any electric lighting. MWNN speculated that attending Sunday service  would be a cold experience. There were just two small, portable (gas?) heaters were in the church.

The original building, a monastery founded by Botolphe in 654, was built on an island in the Alde Estuary. The Alde has silted up since then and the church now stands at the end of a private road.

Behind the Church, the field was full of sheep with their new-born lambs. I found myself humming Bach's 'Sheep may safely graze' as I watched the lambs gamboling across the grass. It's a truly peaceful spot.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Mornings are for

Bruised ankle from Saturday's reedbed incident


Oford Oysterage Restaurant

afternoons are for gentle strolls in Orford.

MWNN walked Ron in the forest while I rested the ankle yesterday morning. After lunch, I decided that my ankle needed an airing and some gentle exercise, so we made the short journey to Orford.

The rain ceased and there was some hazy sunshine for the duration of our visit.

Pinneys smokehouse - not on fire

We bought some smoked bacon from Pinneys. MWNN decided not to buy any smoked eel as he felt it was a little overpriced. We later learned (from a couple we met in the quayside teashop) that there is a second smokehouse (Richardsons) in Orford which sells produce at a much more reasonable price.

After tea, I wanted to check out Orford Castle. We're members of English Heritage but MWNN left his membership card at home. The Castle staff were very helpful - of course they could check the joint membership from my card's details - on Monday when the office is open.

MWNN and Ron walking the castle grounds below 

I want to go back to explore Orford and its castle a little more in better weather, when my ankle has improved.  The view from the entrance level to the castle is wonderful. It must be better from the top on a clear day.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Alde footpath

runs along the bottom of the garden at Iken Barns. It is accessed via a steep set of steps - not a problem at the beginning of yesterday's walk, but an obstacle to be negotiated on the way back.

MWNN goes to rescue Ron (out of sight in the mud)

We set off in full sunshine after an early(ish) breakfast, heading in the direction of Snape Maltings.

Ron remembered the delights of hunting along this footpath but was unaware that it was now low tide and there was more mud than river. He disappeared into a gully of mud and sank up to his armpits. He was having great difficulty getting out and needed rescuing by MWNN.

Farm dog No.2 making his way back home

We were joined on the walk by the second of the farm dogs ( a terrier of some sort with a bit of corgi mix, I think.) I say we were joined but this dog had a destination in mind. He passed us and trotted on towards the Kayak hire hut. Later, we met him again on his return journey.

Kayaks on the Alde

There were a few kayak's out on the river. A couple had paddled in the direction of St Botolph's before deciding it was too difficult to navigate the channel at low tide. They met a recently-launched one and turned towards Snape.

The beginning of the reed beds
Not far along from the Kayak hire at Iken Cliff, the well-made footpath turned inland. It became very narrow and quite overgrown before heading back out into the reed beds. We walked on for  a while until MWNN decided that the footpath was going nowhere. Here's where I made a bad decision. I decided to go onwards until the track came to an end. It became even narrower and, at one point the edge crumbled into the reeds. My right ankle turned over the edge and twisted badly.

Alde Footpath from Snape to St Botolph's

The trek back to the Barns was difficult and painful. Where the track was narrow, it also sloped at the sides, forcing the ankle to twist again and again.

MWNN rests on upturned boat

We sat and rested on the boat beside the kayak hut and had a slurp from the drinks  in our backpacks before making our way slowly along the unmade part of the footpath to the bottom of the steps up to the garden.

The bottom step was reached by climbing two large chunks of concrete. I needed a whoosh up the second one from MWNN.

Biba ignoring Ron

Once back at Farrier's Barn, Richard offered the services of two boys to set up a table and chairs in the courtyard for morning tea. We were joined by Biba, who, after an enthusiastic greeting and batting, seemed less keen to play with Ron - perhaps the odour of estuary mud is not to her liking.

The Green Man, Tunstall

After a rest and first aid for the ankle, we drove through Tunstall Forest to have lunch at The Green Man. There, we were able to have a 'basket meal' - just the right size for lunch - of scampi and chips for MWNN and local Aberdeen Angus beefburger on a ciabatta roll for me.

We had planned to  walk in the forest after lunch but - the ankle says no.

Rogan and Josh

Ron 'had words' with Gismo, the resident parrot but thought better of having words with the two pigmy goats, Rogan and Josh.

We shopped in Rendlesham for milk and instant ice-packs and then returned to the Barns. I spent the afternoon resting and applying RICE. I am really annoyed about the injury.  I don't want to miss one day of activity. This place was booked for the number of local walks and interesting historical sites on the doorstep.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Goodbye Southwold

hello Iken.

Goose Corner sitting room

We left Goose Corner just before 10am and deposited the keys with the letting agent in the Old Water Tower on Southwold Common.

The Lighthouse, Aldeburgh

After a ball game on the Common, we made our way towards Iken, via Waitrose at Saxmundham, lunch at The Lighthouse, Aldeburgh, and more shopping at Snape Maltings.

Farrier's Cottage

We arrived at Farrier's Barn, on the Iken Barns complex in time for afternoon tea.

Ron met the farm dogs and very quickly learned how to play chase with the resident Samoyed, who batted him round the head until the message 'this is a game, dimbo' got through. I think it was when she launched herself onto the sofa inside Farrier's Barn that Ron started enjoying himself.

View from the end of the garden

There was more enjoyment in store for Ron. After a brief conversation with Richard, the owner of the barns, we walked to the end of the shared garden, down a few steps, onto the 'beach' beside the River Alde. Ron's Patterdale instincts took over. He had a short paddle for a few yards, checking with us that all was well, then took off into the nooks and crannies on the trail of something.

MWNN and Ron walk back up the garden towards the barns

When he was totally soaked and covered in mud, we turned and headed back to the barns - where a warm towel awaited Ron.

Farrier's Barn does not offer the space or sumptuous comfort of Goose Corner, but it was chosen for its location and variety of outdoor activities on offer.