I recently visited my daughter in Suffolk. Not Suffolk by the sea, but Suffolk in the sun with a few thunderstorms thrown in.
Everything looked beautiful. The first place we visited was a house called Spencer’s which is famed for its roses and delphiniums and we weren’t disappoined.
The picture on the far right shows the gorgeous blue delphiniums; the other a selection of the roses of which there was a large variety of colours.
When we arrived we looked around for someone to pay and didn’t notice the honesty box attached to the fence. We eventually paid in the tearoom where there were excellent cream scones.
The following day we went to Sudbury which is a small town with a good selection of shops. The Meadows are also worth a visit as is the house where Gainsborough lived. I usually buy something to wear at Winch and Blatch’s sale, but nothing this year although I made a few purchases in the household department. There was a farmers’ market in the church which is no longer used for worship. There were many tempting foodstuffs and I bought a honeycomb which I love and don’t often see nowadays.
In the evening we went into Cambridge to see a play called “Another Country” which we enjoyed although not quite what we expected. The leading part was taken by a young man called Will Attenborough, nephew of the famous Richard.
The following day rain was forecast for later in the day, so it was decided we had better go out early in the hope of avoiding it. There was a Tudor Recreation at Kentwell Manor. It is apparently an annual event. People come from all over to take part. Even children were suitably dressed to represent the Tudor period and all sorts of activities were taking place such as cooking, spinning and weaving, pottery, archery and alchemy. The stalls were laid out over quite a large area and sometimes difficult to find. Perhaps they thought it would not suit the Tudor period to have signs up. The alchemy stall was tucked away in a dark corner. One of the men there said it was because they dealt in explosive materials and it was a matter of safety to keep it well away from other stalls. It was also a considerable walk to the archery stall, but, of course, this is quite understandable because no one wants shot by an arrow. Even the children had their own bows and arrows.
I am sure the man said to me that the archers in Tudor times could fire arrows 350 yards which seems a very long way if you consider it is three and a half times a hundred yard sprint.
I know English archers had a formidable reputation and sometimes had their fingers cut off if captured by the enemy, so that theycould no longer use their bow and arrows. The soldiers were provided with arrows when they were at war. I presume they had to own their own bow. Yew is the best wood for a bow because it is pliable and can be bent to shape.
There was also a cafe called The Balcony Cafe and if one was an early bird a seat on the balcony gave a lovely view of the surrounding area. The gardens are also lovely. We could hear peacocks, but didn’t see them.
We were just about to go into the house when the heavens opened and it really poured down. Inside there were “Tudors” eating meals and an orchestra playing appropriate music.
In the evening we had dinner at a favourite restaurant in Long Melford called Scutchers. The name, I believe, has something to do with weaving. By this time the rain had cleared and it was a lovely evening and the meal was delicious. It certainly appealed far more to me than the potage which the Tudors were being served with although it smelled nice and was possibly very tasty.
Below left is a photo of a woman throwing a pot, one of the many skills being demonstrated and alongside it a photo of the archery stall. The target can just be seen in the distance. The stall which is just out of sight on far right photo was selling hats and we were chastised for being bareheaded! The fourth picture is inside the house where the music was being played.
The following day, Sunday, there were seventeen gardens open in the village where my daughter lives. We visited two before lunch and intended to visit many more in the afternoon, but it decided to rain heavily again. We did manage a further five and we were really impressed by what lay behind many of the houses. The amount of work and creativity which goes in is amazing.
The next two days my daughter was back at work and I went to Bury St Edmunds and sat sunning myself in the lovely Abbey gardens. On my last day I went to the lovely, historic village of Lavenham where I did quite a bit of shopping in two shops I hadn’t seen before. Both were owned by the same people and called Retail Therapy.
On the Wednesday I had the long drive home. It had been a lovely week.