As I said, the hotel has only five rooms and so there isn’t a reception desk as such. Incoming guests sign in and pick up the key left for them – this wasn’t the case for us as we arrived at Sunday lunchtime. Last night, I noticed that the three couples staying were named Large, Littlechild and Kind. Sounds like the Mister Men or at least, something out of Enid Blyton.
Today we visited Constable country; East Bergholt, Dedham and Flatford Mill. After a sharp overnight frost, it was a perfect late autumn day, sunny and warm but with a nip in the air. I’d been taken on a tour of the area some years ago by a friend who lived in East Bergholt but I’d not been to Flatford and I was enchanted – the National Trust has resisted the temptation to touristify it and it’s simply there. Willie Lott’s cottage looking picturesque and mossy of roof, though not uncared for, the mill buildings kempt but simple and the mill pond, with a thin layer of ice, tranquil. It was heartening.
i had the bright idea to visit the peninsula between the Stour and the Orwell estuaries. It looked quite a short way on the map but the road meandered bewilderingly, and we weren’t quite sure what we’d find when we arrived anyway. The map seemed to show the road vanishing into the sea. What a fair bit of the view showed, as should have occurred to me, was the port of Felixtowe to the left and Harwich to the right, but it was rather appealing all the same. We thought there would be a pub there for lunch, even if a simple sandwich and there was, but it was closed for redecoration. However, there was a stall with a few people clustered round and an aroma of bacon frying, so we went there instead and chatted while our bacon roll was being cooked. Three generous slices of back for £2.50 went down well. And then we took a slightly more scenic route back than expected, when we went through Dedham village and found ourselves on a road heading back towards Manningtree. I looked at my phone satnav and found a left turn so that, a few minutes later, we were back in Dedham, going the other way and on another road towards Manningtree. “There should be a right turn opposite the church,” I said and there was, but it was no wonder we hadn’t realised to take it the previous time as it just advised car and coach parking. Yet it was actually the route back to the A12.
i put LT through his driving paces, mainly on single track roads with many tight bends, but cresting one hill and rounding a bend – I think it was Higham Hill – there was a fabulous view, which I assured him was the reason for all our meandering. We returned through Hadleigh, where we’d stopped this morning – sadly, we weren’t able to meet Mike and Ann today. In the church, I mentioned their names to a friendly local: he knew them of course. Since I was last there, they’ve removed the pews, though a number of them have been retained and were at the sides, and put in stackable wooden chairs. As the church is wide and airy, it does make a very good space as a community centre and I was pleased to notice a pool table – evidently, the local youth group is catered for. There were also armchairs, a kitchen area and a notice mentioning the monthly market. Church shouldn’t be all about religion, nor just for Sundays.
We’re anticipating a splendid meal tonight, having booked a table in the hotel. Sunday lunch was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, other than those LT cooks for me. Ofcourse.