Monday, January 12

England 08 in juicy detail - Final post!

The final leg and the final epic England post! I'm going to backtrack slightly to Heron House, where our last day was Boxing Day (December 26 for you American folk). For our post-Christmas day festivities Ruthie had organised for even more family members to join us for lunch and dinner, including more cousins (Anna and Charlie) and also Aunty Frances and Uncle Jonathon. Frances is Jeannie's older sister, and again, an absolute delight! Sadly, Charlie, her partner and their little one couldn't make it because the little tacker had a nasty fever and they were all sleep deprived, but Jo and I went with Ruthie to collect Anna which meant that I at least got to meet them all. And the coolest thing was that they had a house-trained pet bunny who was so wonderful!! He was totally cool with the dog and cats and wasn't at all scratchy when you held him. Ashton, the little one, seriously informed us that he wasn't in fact a bunny, he was a rabbit.

Jon and Frances provided lunch, which turned out to be a huge spread of delicious sandwiches, including tomato and pate (my favorite), smoked salmon and dill and of course cucumber. We played 4 player games on the playstation that had us in stitches and went for a lovely afternoon walk with the low sun behind us throwing long shadows. After dinner we said our somewhat teary goodbyes to Ruthie and family and went with Frances and Jonathon to their house for our last major leg of the trip.

Jon and Francie's house is in Elmswell (all's well in Elmswell), in Suffolk just outside of Bury St Edmunds (I was never sure if they did, bury him that is...) The house was wonderful and warm and sported a lovely old retriever called Tess and an elderly one-eyed cat called Tigger who I loved and it seems it was mutual! The first morning there was the closest we came to snow, but really it was just a good solid frost!


That day Frances and Jonathan took us for a leisurely drive towards the coast (where we were lunching). On the way we stopped in at this great place called Jimmy's Farm. Turns out Jimmy is a bit of a celebrity (he'll probably be popping up on Aussie TV if he hasn't already) He's a friend of Jamie Oliver and started his own farm, mostly breeding rare pigs. It was absolutely freezing so I slacked on photos because I couldn't take my hands out of my pockets, but we saw two recent pig litters and the fabulous herb garden, but my favorite bit by far was the store where they had all the meat cuts, small goods, local cheeses and all sorts of other deliciousary! I can't imagine having a place like that on my doorstep. Frances and Jon (bless them) bought us the book where he describes setting up the farm, which Jo is reading at the moment and totally loving it. I think she sees chooks and a goat in our future. Anyway, if you haven't heard of this guy look him up, and if you get a chance to watch him I'm sure he'll be great. We're hoping it'll turn up in America soon.

The herb garden at Jimmy's farm...of course looking wintery.

From Jimmy's we headed towards the Ipswich coast, well the mouth of the river Orwell I guess, to a little place called Pin Mill where we had lunch at a brilliant pub called the Butt and Oyster. The pub is right on the shore, with the tide butting up against its wall. I loved that the pubs are dog friendly, which meant we could bring Tess in with us and she just sat quietly under the table and ignored the eager attention of all the puppies who wanted to meet her.

The Butt and Oyster was just fabulous and fulfilled my dream to have real quality British pub fare. They had a local cider on tap which Francie and I both enjoyed (twice on my part). Lunch was homemade tomato soup to warm the core body up, then classy bangers and mash for Jo, humungo but delicious looking fish and chips (cod) for Jon, and salmon and prawn fishcakes and balsamic salad for Frances and I. Followed by (no idea how we managed this) sticky toffee pudding and clotted cream with four spoons to finish!!

Yep, it was as good as it looks!

After lunch we took Tessie for a walk through the fields (allowing time for our food to settle). It was cold but so beautiful, lush and green. Different again to Pavenham with the mudflat tang in the air and the seabirds all around us.

One of the fields we walked off our lunch in

We came back through Bury St Edmunds so that I could see a bit of the town, including the Cathedral that was just stunning! We wandered some stores and Jo and I stocked up on deodorant (because we can only get horrible paste in sticks in this crazy country and some of the spray on stuff is indescribably better - but people still think you're mad when you buy six cans!) That night we had a yummy dinner of all sorts of cold cuts, pate, cheeses, salad and other yummies, then just hung out together in front of the fire watching good British TV. Got to get your fill wherever you can.

That night was our last staying with family for this trip. In the morning Jon and Frances took us to the Pakenham Water Mill where Jon works as a volunteer. The mill was so impressive. It was earlyish in the morning so the light was perfect, but the restoration has been so well done. The mill is operational and its flour supplies a whole lot of local restaurants and such, as well as being a public attraction and learning center, and we were lucky enough to score an impassioned private tour!

The mill in the morning sun

The back on the mill including slightly scary and ultra still mill pond

Looking out over the mill pond!

Across the road from the mill was the property of a guy who makes all kinds of crazy topiary creatures, including a GIANT spider and a feisty looking fox. There were all sorts of wonderful creatures lurking in his field!

Spiders and foxes and gators oh my!

From the Mill we headed to Jo's cousin Beth's place (Frances and Jon's daughter) where we were expected for lunch with her, her partner and their two tiddlywinks, one of which was two weeks old! (hence why we didn't stay a night with them) Beth didn't look like she'd ever given birth, let alone so recently. Lunch was another fabulous mini Christmas of roast beef and all the trimmings (we're so spoilt!) After a lovely afternoon of playing with the kids (well, cuddling Libby) we hopped on the train for our final adventure.

The last stage of the journey was to catch the train from Colchester to Liverpool St Station, where we would then simply 'hop on the tube' and get ourselves to Terminal 4 at Heathrow. Sounds simple eh? Well it wasn't too bad. The train to Liverpool St turned out to be one stop of a train then an hour long bus trip through London, but that was fun too because it was non-stop and we got to see some of the outskirts (lived in parts) of the city. From Liverpool Street we bravely worked out that we needed to catch the central (red) line to Holburn then hop on the Piccadilly (blue) line all the way through to Terminal 4! We had made a really smart choice (on reflection) to book ourselves into the Terminal 4 Hilton for our last night so that we didn't have any early morning must get to the airport on time craziness! We checked in, got ourselves some hot chips and salad, then crashed out and enjoyed being clean and horizontal before the flight home. The hotel was great, a short (covered) walk to the terminal and really quiet considering its location. Plus it had really good toiletries which is always a good measure ;)

The flight home was pretty epic. No where near as relaxing as the one over. There were two small children who tag team screamed almost the entire way home. The food was crap and we didn't have a spare seat, but we got there fine. Now we're back in our sunny one minute freezing the next Texas winter!

A bonus pic for you... work this one out!


Mothersupex said...

It was great to read your final England post, thought I was so interested, I would rather it not be a final.

Very interested in the house trained rabbit, and Tess and Tigger, well I can understand why Tigger decided to get some attention and how lovely that Tess could go with you to the Pub.

There was a documentary on Jimmy's Farm, just thinking it may have been on S.B.S. but I know exactly what you would have been seeing. The thing that clicked was the triangle herb farms. Think he is a bit excentric but got on well with Jamie Oliver.

Welcome back to Texas, perhaps now for some of you paintings to view, on the blog?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jimmy's Farm! We're so jealous!! We have been watching the series, its on Austar over here and its an awesome show. Hope you guys get the show over there as it is absolutely worth watching!

Teresa & Steve

Big A said...

Aw.... Can't we have some more?

So good to see you at some of the places we visited. Jo would have remembered Pin Mill from "We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea", one of Arthur Ransome's best children's books.

Thanks for being such a good recorder.

Dumblond said...

Aw, it's over all ready?!
Thank you so much for sharing your trip.

Adrienne said...

If you give up science you could take up travel writing!


Jac said...

Thanks for all the comments guys! Great to know that you're out there. More interesting stuff coming soon, maybe tomorrow, but for now I have RSI in my hand from typing!

Glad to hear Jimmy has already made it to Oz! We'll have to try and hook you up with the book Teresa, you guys would love it.

And if I were to give up science I think my beloved would be first in the mob who came, with torches and pitchforks, to drag me away.