4:00 p.m. December 19, 2021
It’s easy. The first time I visited Suffolk it was the first time I met my husband. Her sister had invited me to a weekend birthday party at their father’s house in Stoke-by-Nayland. He was digging a trench in the garden (don’t ask) and the attraction was instantaneous. Basically, I chased him until he agreed to marry me. Twenty-three years later he’s still digging (my readers know him as Him Outdoors), we’re still married and living in Suffolk ourselves. Anyone who’s ever met someone from Suffolk knows he has a built-in kicking back instinct, but I’ve never regretted being Suffolké. He’s the main reason I love Suffolk (apart from the food).
I love Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh with its soaring angel roof, but my favorite landmark is the Mendlesham Mast. A strange choice, I know, in a county famous for its beautiful buildings, but the old 1000ft high TV and radio mast is just up the road and when I drive late at night I pay attention to its red lights like a beacon to take me home. There is something comforting to see him in the distance and to know that I will soon be very cozy in front of the fire with a glass of wine.
Covehithe. Coastal erosion means taking a long detour, but that’s part of why I like it. I enjoy the delayed pleasure of roaming the edges of the field before reaching the shore with its twisted trees carved by wind and tide embedded in the beach, trees that once lined the crumbling cliffs. It’s beautiful, wild, romantic and a little sad and in the unlikely event that I write a novel would definitely be one of the key characters.
I’m probably the most drawn to Bury St Edmund, for its buildings, restaurants, shops and market. If I had to move to a city, it would be BSE. Or Beccles or Bungay. All B. But I like to take visitors to Lavenham because it’s home to my favorite museum, the endearing and quirky Little Hall. Once owned by the Gayer-Anderson twins, it is now run by the Suffolk Buildings Preservation Trust and their incredible team of volunteers. I always hope for a moment of calm where I can slyly close all the doors to the painted room and pretend to live there.
Place to eat
You are embarrassing me. We are fortunate in Suffolk to have some great restaurants and pubs and have had great meals in many of them. I hesitate to pick one, but if you were asking for recommendations I would suggest Pea Porridge and Maison Bleue in Bury, The Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Watson and Walpole in Fram, The Boarding House in Halesworth and the Fox and Goose in Fressingfield. All with great chefs and excellent cuisine.
It must be the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, where for several years I had the privilege of taking the stage to see chef demonstrations. He embodies the dynamism of the county’s gastronomic scene as well as the passion and commitment of our producers. I am proud to say that over the years some of them have become good friends and are now working with me to teach at my cooking school. Of course, it takes three times as long to go around all the stands these days, so busy chatting and catching up.
When I can, I buy food directly from the producers as many are small independent family businesses and they make more money that way. I love Suffolk Farmers’ Markets, like the ones run by Justine Paul from Suffolk Market Events, and farm shops like the always excellent Alder Carr. Faraway Foods in Bury is my favorite place to shop for international food – it looks tiny on the outside but looks like a Tardis inside and outside of this world. I’m also a sucker for an auction, vintage sale, or antique store. I always pretend that I only buy photo props for my food photos, but in fact, I’m a magpie.