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Category: Suffolk

Water, water and more water.

Water, water and more water.

We headed north, today, over the county border, and the River Stour, and into Suffolk. Our destination was Pin Mill – a small waterside community on the River Orwell.

We drove as far as the village of Chelmondiston where we parked in the small, free, village car park. The walk down Pinmill Road was an easy one and we arrived at the riverside close by the Butt and Oyster Inn.

The tide was out when I took this picture and I imagine that with a very high tide this inn only just manages to keep it’s feet dry!

It was about time for morning coffee so we went in to the pub for coffee. The view from inside the bar across the river was very picturesque. Whilst we were drinking our coffee we noticed that their lunch menu had a very good range of dishes which sounded positively delightful but, unfortunately, we would have to leave before lunch for our next intended destination. I don’t know how good the food is but it certainly sounded nice.

After finishing our coffee we walked along the small hard which you can see next to the stream in the picture above and looked back to the Butt and Oyster.

After a walk round we set off up the lane back to the car but, part the way up, we met this fella walking by the side of the lane.

Isn’t he lovely? This is Britain’s largest beetle, a male Stag Beetle (Lucarnus cervus) which you won’t see very often. If this chap gives you the creeps then there is another piece of information which you should know – they can fly and do – frequently.

Amanda decided that he wasn’t terribly safe right next to the lane so she picked him up and put him on the verge.

We arrived back in Chelmondiston and set off in the car for our next waterside destination – Mistley back over the border in Essex.

The half mile stretch of road between Manningtree and Mistley runs alongside the River Stour and it is possible to stop anywhere by the roadside so that one can get out and look at the river which is over a half mile wide at this point.

The interesting point about this part of the river is the swans and it’s not just a few swans it’s a lot of swans. This is just some of them but there are more.

I spoke briefly to an Australian lady who said she’d never seen so many and why were they there? I wasn’t able to answer that question at the time but I can now. There are malting buildings by the river in Mistley where barley is malted in preparation for making beer and up to at least fifty years ago the barley was unloaded from barges at the quayside. The local swans soon realised that the barley which was spilled during this process was a constant source of food and there was obviously enough of it to support a large number of swans and so their numbers increased to form the colony here today.

We walked further into Mistley to look around and then made our way back to the car only to find an impolite lout strutting along the pavement as though he owned it!

He looked a bit put out when we walked past without so much as a ‘by your leave’.

Back to the car and we leave for our next, and last, destination – Harwich.

Harwich used to be a bustling, working port and a little on the rough side I think. Now, however, all the big stuff such as the international container ships and passenger liners have been moved around the corner to Parkeston Quay and Harwich has become a quiet, picturesque and interesting little town. If you are interested in things maritime then Harwich is the place for you and even if maritime history doesn’t hold you spellbound there is still plenty of interest.

There is remarkably little traffic in the town and there are narrow backstreets with many old buildings. There is lots to see on the waterfront including the Ha’penny Pier, Lighthouses and a Mayflower exhibition – the Mayflower was built in Harwich. This is me being friendly with a young lady I met inside the Mayflower Exhibition.

After Harwich it was back home. We enjoyed today very much and lots more photographs from this trip, together with many new pages, will eventually appear on the web site in due course. If you want to be notified about updates as soon as they appear then see the updates page.

Lavenham again

Lavenham again

We are now back from our trip to Lavenham and you may have noticed the absence of a blow by blow account. The hotel did have free wireless broadband available to guests but, as happened in Norwich, it wasn't working properly and so I couldn't use it. It was still out of order when we left.

Sunday 29th April 2007

We arrived in Lavenham on Sunday last at about 11:30 in the morning and, as we expected, our room at the Swan Inn wasn't going to be ready until about 2:00 in the afternoon. So we left our luggage with the hotel and wandered off around the town.

In case you wonder what the Swan is like then this is it (built in the 1400s).

One of the nice things about Lavenham is that whichever street you choose to walk along it will almost certainly have a lot of ancient buildings in it. This time we chose to go out of the back of the hotel into Lady Street and up a short way to the Square to look around the many and various nice old buildings including the Guildhall (built in 1530) and owned by the National Trust.

By now it was time for lunch and we went back into High Street and found a little teashop called 'Chilli and Chives' and had a light lunch including cups of tea and coffee.

After lunch we walked north along High Street and back admiring all the inevitable ancient buildings and then turned up Hall Road just to see if there was a 'Hall' and indeed there was. A lovely, large old house with very attractive grounds including a small lake with black swans.

We noticed that at the bottom end of the hall's grounds there was a public footpath running towards the church. Following that we emerged in the churchyard and so went into the rather cathedral-like church.

It has a rather imposing entrance porch.

It's even more imposing inside but I didn't take any interior pictures on this visit as it would require a tripod and that was still in the hotel. I made a mental note to return tomorrow with the said tripod.

It was coming up to afternoon tea time so we walked back to the hotel. After a brief visit to our room we sat down in one of the cosy lounge areas and ordered scones with butter, jam and clotted cream. Whilst we were waiting for our tea to arrive three other people came in and sat nearby. We couldn't help but overhear what they were saying and deduced from their accents that they were Americans. They chose to have the larger version of tea so that, in addition to what we had, theirs included finger sandwiches and pastries. When it arrived, on a tall cake stand in three layers, they seemed so pleased with it they were taking photographs of each other to include the cake stand. They obviously couldn't take a picture with all three of them in it so I volunteered to do it for them and they gratefully accepted my offer.

Our scones were some of the best we'd had – very yummy with jam and clotted cream.

After tea Amanda decided to have a bath so I went out for another walk around. Whilst wandering around the Square again I met the same three Americans from the hotel. It turned out that they had come over to collect their daughter from Law School in London and because the man had been stationed near Lavenham with the American air force about 20 years ago they had driven up here to look at old haunts and they felt that little had changed.

So back to the hotel to try the broadband.

I had, as mentioned earlier, to take my laptop into the lounge to try this and using the information given to me by the hotel tried to connect to the Internet. After fiddling about for 30 minutes I had to admit defeat. I went back to reception and asked to see their connecting instructions again. "Are you having trouble" said the receptionist – I said that I was. "Ah", she said, "we appear to have a problem with that". I wish I'd known before I started as it would have saved a lot of frustration. They were supposed to be getting a man in next day to fix it.

I went back to our room and had a look at the photographs I'd taken during the day after which it was time to get ready for dinner.

We went in to the dining room and what a dining room it was.

Oak beams everywhere and a minstrels' gallery (but no minstrel – pity). After dinner we went back to our room and, eventually, to bed. My mistake at this point was to pull the curtains completely closed.

I woke the following morning when it was barely light and concluded that it must be around 5:00 AM but on looking at my watch I saw that it was actually 8:00 AM. The curtains were so efficient at blocking the light that the room was still virtually dark although it was broad daylight outside. Oops! The next night I left a small gap between the curtains.

Monday 30th April 2007

We had arranged to meet a lady at Little Hall in the Square so that I could take some interior photographs today when the hall is normally closed to visitors.

This is just one of the rooms.

The other interiors will appear on the web site in due course.

After this it was time for lunch and this time we went to a little teashop in Water Street called 'Sweetmeats'. The range of offerings here was pretty amazing. I had a bouillabaisse which is described as a highly seasoned fish stew made from at least two kinds of fish and this had much more than two kinds – very tasty indeed. Amanda had Chicken Madras which she thought was very good. The tea room is upstairs, has only five tables and is run by a trained chef. This place is a little gem so if you are ever in Lavenham – try it.

Off to the church with a tripod this time to take some interior pictures. Just look at that stone carving on the wall of the nave above the arches

and at the risk of straining your neck look at the carving on some of the roof beams above the nave.

After the church we had yet another walk around the streets – we never get tired of doing that in Lavenham. Buildings in Lavenham crooked? Did I say that?

No it's not the camera angle and, no, they weren't built that way. I may look like that when I'm that old.

Later, back at the hotel, we decided to try the bar meals at The Swan in the less formal surroundings of the lounge and we were not disappointed. The menu was different from that of the restaurant but just as tasty and just as nicely presented.

And so to bed (No the broadband problem wasn't fixed today).

Tuesday 1st May 2007

We left Lavenham this morning to return home but that didn't stop us from sightseeing on the way.

First stop was Cavendish. A small village about 12 miles from Lavenham slightly south of west. This view is a well known and often used view of Cavendish to illustrate Suffolk and one can easily see why.

We love some of these names – 'Nether Hall'. Lovely building too.

Leaving Cavendish and moving further west another three miles we arrive at Clare where we find the Old House. I hope that you will be able to see the intricate moulded patterns on the house walls.

Just in case it's not easy to see in the smallish picture here is an enlargement of part of the same picture.

We had lunch in a small tearoom called 'Cafe Clare' which we can also recommend if you are ever round that way.

We made our way home from here after 3 delightful and interesting days.

“Edged-halved and bridled scarf” – pardon?

“Edged-halved and bridled scarf” – pardon?

We left for Hadleigh, Suffolk at around 9:00 AM this morning in pouring rain. The roads were very wet and on the winding road we would sometimes go through a very large puddle on the near-side of the road sending a sheet of water cascading over the windscreen. By the time we had parked in Hadleigh the rain, amazingly, had stopped.

We met Richard and Jane, two people from the ‘Friends of Hadleigh Guildhall’, who were going to show us around, tell us about the hall and let me take some photographs. Good weather for indoor photography. :)

The Guildhall is actually made from two different buildings which were once separate but are now joined – the Market Hall and the Guildhall. We started in the Guildhall which was built in the latter half of the 15th century. Notice the vertical posts which run from each roof truss up to the roof. These are Crown Posts each of which has two arched braces at the top where it joins the roof.

Hadleigh Guildhall

Between the roof trusses at the far end you will be able to see some light which is coming through a small window. This window is in an internal wall and the room behind it is on the top floor of what was the Market hall. That room also looks out over the churchyard at the front of the building and that is where we went next.

This room also has a Crown Post but with four arched braces at the top. At the far end of the room, on the right-hand edge of one of the vertical beams, you can see some of the pegs used in joining the wood sections. If this structure was meant to be seen those pegs would normally be trimmed flush.

The title of this article is a type of joint used by English carpenters from the late 14th century until around 1600 for joining horizontal lengths of timber – a useful feature for dating buildings.

Hadleigh Market Hall

We also saw a number of other interesting features which were not suitable for photographing. There is also a delightful little garden at the back and, no, I didn’t photograph it in this weather but I intend going back in better weather to do that.

We had coffee with Richard and Jane and chatted about the Guildhall from when it was in a very poor state in the 1960s to it’s later restoration. If you’re ever in Suffolk, you are missing a lot if you’re not, go and have a look round Hadleigh.

There will be more details of Hadleigh Guildhall appearing in the Hadleigh pages on the web site soon.