East Anglia to Cornwall
19.04.2017 - 01.05.2017 16 °C
The start of our 3rd week in East Anglia was for visiting local people and so we headed off to the La Hogue Farm Shop to collect some local black pudding, bacon, eggs and sundry items for a large breakfast we had planned for the following day. Ian was picking up his son Callan that evening and we had decided it was an appropriate form of welcome for the next morning. The pick up entailed Ian driving to Epping Railway station, an hour away from Herringswell, which he did late that evening. It was wonderful to see Callan again and a late dinner of nachos with chilli was the reward.
Next morning, as planned there was a general pig out, with due respect to our porcine neighbours, for breakfast. Cath had even located some baked beans to go with the huge amounts of aforementioned bacon, eggs, black pudding and toast, meaning a proper Full English was enjoyed by all. After allowing our waistlines to absorb the shock loading, we determined to take a trip into Cambridge. Callan hadn't been there before, so we were both delighted to introduce him to what is a very pretty town. We strolled through the ancient streets, admiring the many university colleges, which are often situated in picturesque gardens. It really is a delight to observe the students cycling about the cobbled streets, hurrying to exams or swatting up in cafes, with their computers and coffee.
After a long walk through the older parts of town, we ended up doing a circuit of the ring road before finally coming around to the Pint Shop, a bar and restaurant, which one of Callan's friends had recommended. It proved to be a good call, with excellent meals and the added bonus of craft beers all round. Following that we took another lengthy walk before finding a coffee shop which had also been recommended by Callan's friend, where we just managed to squeeze in a cup of coffee before finally heading for home. Sadly we were all too full to avail ourselves of the lamb roast which Cath had planned for dinner and retired after a long natter and a couple of drinks.
The following day we set off for the seaside via Ipswich. Callan, who has been in the UK for 12 months, has not had the opportunity to get to the English coast and all Aussies are partial to a day at the beach, or as it should be known in this part of the world, the shingle. We stopped in at Ipswich for a quick stroll around town and after wandering through the markets decided that we would head to Felixstowe for fish and chips. Felixstowe is a typical English seaside town; it must have been a delightful little village in it's hey day but is a little tired now. There appeared to be quite a lot of building work happening along the foreshore though, so hopefully it can be restored to it's former glory. The foreshore is lined with pretty little bathing huts which reminded us of the beaches near Melbourne. The FishDish restaurant served up an enormous lunch and we headed for home feeling like fat little penguins. Callan headed back to London on the evening train from Epping and we were home alone again.
We had hoped to get to the cricket at Tuddenham St Mary on Saturday afternoon but when we arrived there were 2 young boys with a soccer ball and not much else happening. Bugger, we had obviously mixed up our dates. Not to be defeated we spent an hour driving through pretty little villages and admiring the bucolic greenery of the Suffolk countryside before we chanced upon Lackford. Lackford is home to the Lackford Lakes Walk and Suffolk Wildlife Trust, there are a number of walks around the 3 lakes with signposted areas for birdwatching, wildlife and flora conservation and of all things a sailing club. The sailing club is more of a dinghy club and we were amused by the full wet weather and safety gear on some of the blokes, really it could not be that dangerous on a lake that is not deep enough for any boat to have a keel. A couple of hours wandering in the sun and it was time to head back to the Manor for a beer or two.
We had a couple of works days to develop the new blog site, it is really coming along and we are hopeful it will be launched before we go to Morocco.
Our month in the English country side was rapidly drawing to a close and we had the sudden realisation that we had not partaken of the Cornish Pastie, a delight Cath was not willing to forgo and so it was that we set off for Cornwall, Padstow to be exact. We had originally set out on our journey heading for Port Isaac but as we were driving there, we discovered that it was the site of filming for a BBC show, Doc Martin, which Ian dislikes, so we reset the GPS and headed for all things Rick Stein: Padstow. We were later told by a lovely couple in the pub who had been at Port Isaac during the day, that it is full of American tour buses and what was once a pretty little fishing village, was now quite a disappointment. Whew, glad we avoided that!
The drive to the Cornish coast was a picturesque scene of small villages, winding roads and at one point a WW2 airfield, we still think the GPS may have lost it's mind during that little diversion. As we neared Padstow and the coast proper, the roads became narrower, the villages more granite and the hedgerows higher so that it was quite a surprise to pop over a hill and see the coast right there in front of us.
We stayed in a gorgeous little Cornish Pub, the London Inn, right in the middle of town and thankfully it had a very welcoming bar, perhaps a little too welcoming. Avoiding the temptation to go to one of Rick's many establishments we spent the evening and a large part of the night drinking Cornish beer, the best of which, Mena Dhu rivals Guinness in Ian's opinion (Cath is reserving her judgement), chatting with locals and visitors before the publican started turning out the lights and packing up the chairs. We did meet a very nice couple from Wales who have invited us to stay with them, looks like we might be heading off to Wales in the near future.
Feeling a little worse for wear we were up early for another Full English at the pub before heading out into the sunny but cold weather to head across the Cornish Peninsula to Plymouth.
It's quite a pleasant drive from Cornwall to Devon although to hear the English talk you would think that you needed a whole day to do it. Plymouth has a pretty waterfront, rich in maritime history including the bowling green of Sir Francis Drake, but the rest of the town is fairly uninspiring. We got some exercise in before deciding we would head off in search of the elusive Cornish Pastie and head for home. The drive promised to be an epic, as in order to avoid London we had to head about 100 miles north, out of our way, to Birmingham before heading south to Suffolk and home.
So sated with our pasties, we were on the M5 heading for Herringswell. Who knew that the English are unable to drive in the rain? The traffic was horrendous and whilst some people still used the right lane like a race track it wasn't long before traffic was at a standstill. How have they not learnt to drive in wet weather, it rains more than it doesn't?
Finally we reached home and collapsed on the couch for an evening of slothing.
The reason our Cornwall trip was so brief was that we had GP appointments in Red Lodge, just near the Manor house on Thursday morning. Nothing serious, just topping up our medications whilst we are in English speaking territory. Cath had done some research and Australian's are able to access the NHS via a reciprocal agreement between governments. What we expected would be a fairly quick appointment turned into a half hour chat about travel plans and destinations, followed by a visit to the in house dispensary. As we were leaving, for some strange reason Cath had a need to check if we had to pay, which caused some confusion and next minute the practice manager was out to have a chat. Well that also became a chat about travel. Do none of these people have jobs to be doing? Within half an hour Cath had talked us into a bill, back out of a bill and into a bill for pharmacy only.....perhaps next time we will just leave quietly.
Friday was a bit of stuffing around with hire cars and a day out in the big smoke, London. For some reason unknown to thinking people, we were only able to hire a car for 27 days so it was off to Stansted to drop off one car and pick up another, of course it was different companies and it was never going to be easy!
We dropped the car at the airport and caught the train into London. For the price of the train tickets £56, we were a bit put out that it didn't have gold plated seats but it was comfortable and quick, within half an hour we were at Liverpool St station heading to the London Museum.
The museum is huge and houses an amazing collection of mainly pilfered items from the ancient world - Greece, Rome, Persia, Asia and Egypt, it is all on display and we were torn between awestruck and a bit guilty that so many items had been collected (read robbed) by the tomb raiders of the 18th and 19th centuries. Nevertheless we spent hours meandering before realising that it was well past our lunch time. A quick Zomato search and we had found a nice little curry house just near by. Yet another thing appropriated from another culture, curry, but man it was good. A quick coffee at Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell and the last pint with Callan before we leave the UK and we had to get back to the airport to pick up the new car. We were a bit anxious as we were delayed waiting for a bus and had missed the pick up time but we needn't have worried at all, in no time we were back on the A11 in our little Peugeot 208, back to the Manor for one more night.
Our last night in England was spent in one of Englands prettiest villages, Thaxsted, Essex as we had to check out of the Manor and our flight to Amsterdam was not until Monday 1st May. Thaxsted has been a village since 1066 and the history is evident in it's wonky, coloured houses, gothic style church and windmill. We stayed at The Swan Hotel, in a lovely room with tartan carpet and a view of the church, had a roast lunch and wandered around town before spending a pleasantly lazy Sunday afternoon and evening.
Monday, May Day, dawned cold and wet but that did not deter the Thaxted Morris Men, together with the visiting Black Pool Morris Men, from putting on a show to celebrate May Day, in the church car park, right across the road from our room. We couldn't possibly miss the opportunity to see grown men, to be fair mostly elderly grown men and some very young boys, leap around waving hankies and sticks. In theory they were dancing, in practice the movement was not even slightly related to the music. Ian was disgusted that Cath would put him through such pain and Cath, well Cath was making a good show of not wetting herself laughing whilst declaring how fab it is that they can manage to keep a 600 year old tradition alive.
The typically English weather drove us back inside and our flight to Amsterdam being in the evening meant we had some time to kill so we set off on a drive around the gorgeous little towns of rural Essex being guided by the silliest names, Steeple Bumpsted won as both the silliest and prettiest village of the day.
And so we are once again airport waiting, it has felt like forever since we've done this bit but that is the price one pays for travel, airports! Tonight we leave for Amsterdam...