Birthday in Boxford
It’s my first birthday in the UK following the ten-year tradition of waking up in a new city on my special day. Waking at home now just doesn’t feel celebratory enough so at least an overnighter is called for. I opted for celebrating in either a 5-star super hotel or a quirky place in the country. As we tend to stay in a lovely place for our anniversary just two months before, the latter is decided
First stop on our road trip to Boxford in Suffolk is Ely. What’s known as a cathedral city (a town really, but has a cathedral), its famous building is well worth a look but it’s the Peacocks Tearoom that provided the most joyful eating experience of the weekend.
Here they don’t take bookings so it is a matter of waiting outside for a table but they are very welcoming (none of that ignoring the queue I experience at so many well-reviewed places around the world) and it only took a few minutes to be seated. The food (soup of the day with warm cheese scones and quiche) was magnificent, the tea selection vast ( I don’t partake but the beloved raved about Black Witch tea) both magnificent) but it was the service and vibe that took my breath away.
How they managed to make us feel so relaxed and at home when the place was packed and staff we buzzing around keeping us all fed I do not know.
Boxford itself is a tiny village with a couple of pubs and shops and our lovely place was opposite the church. The Old Forge is one of the best AirBNB experiences Ive had, all because of the host. This annexe is part of her family home so she duly popped over when we arrived to show us how everything worked and then disappeared like a good host does. Not before she left a welcoming basket of bacon, eggs, butter, milk and a fresh loaf of bread. Ordinarily, we’d seek out pancakes or waffles for breakfast but the basket proved irrespirable and bacon and eggs for our 2 mornings was duly cooked up.
The village coffee shop in Boxford was closed during the duration of our long weekend but we headed out to nearby places. The first night, though, we stayed in having been told by aforementioned lovely host that there is a lantern parade in the village. Not being something we see every year, we tracked down a nearby Waitrose and got an Indian meal to enjoy in this the most delightful cottage I have stayed in and bring in my birthday.
The place had a whole wall of books – a lifetime’s collection - tempting me but there’s a lot to see nearby. After the birthday breakfast, complete with supermarket fix, we headed out to Alderburgh. It was good to see the beach on my birthday although we probably picked the wrong coffee shop in Chopping’s Hill Café, as there was plenty of choice.
Our choice later in Woodbridge was perfect. Honey & Harvey lived up to it's welcoming name and we enjoyed a cream tea here.
Long Melfort – so called because it had the longest high street in Britain. Lots of little shops although other places prettier,
Lavenham – a wonderful medieval village where we'd previously ended up having my birthday dinner after a very long detour. Our first two choices were closed, despite all the info online to the contrary.
The Swan at Lavenham came recommended and fairly well reviewed and at first the service was a delight. Once we'd ordered the place got busy, especially for a Sunday night although that may be because so many restaurants close then. Our food was slow to arrive, in small portions, even for a fine dining place, but lovely. We decided to forgo dessert as clearly no-one was going to come back anytime soon. We upped and went to the bar to pay and left.
Clare, my favourite stop is the last one where we found my best coffee of the trip at the aptly named Number One Cafe. It had variation of the instantly recognisable vintage wallpaper the long-gone Birmingham favourite Brewsmiths had. Sadly we couldn't stay for the free refill as I used to in Brewswiths as clearly all their many regulars do but I'd go back anytime!
So after Dorset earlier this year, Suffolk is another country I’ve visited for the first time. I think maybe Wiltshire should go on the list next.