Suffolk, England

In this months post we’re heading to Suffolk, England – one of the most quintessentially ‘English’ counties that you could find.

If you don’t know where it is Suffolk is located to the North East of London and sits between the counties of Essex to the south and Norfolk to the North. It’s beautifully flat, green and rural and has an attractive 79km coastline looking out into the North Sea.

A visit to the county is sort of like steeping back in time. Every village you pass through is a super mixture of quaint historic cottages and houses all with a village green, church and pub in the centre. Although if you’re planning on visiting then having access to a car is an essential to get about to see all of the fantastic places that the county has to offer.

Here are some of our favorites:

The Suffolk Coastline

Stretching from Corton in the north to Landguard Point in the south the miles of Suffolk coastline can make an ideal day out if you’re looking for a day at the coast. If you’re looking for a typical day out at the goold old English seaside, then head to the towns of Aldeburgh or Southwald.

Aldeburgh is the cultural coastal hot spot in the area. Alongside the Aldeburgh festival founded by Benjamin Britten in 1948, there are a a host of musical and dramatic events happening which take place throughout the year that can inspire and delight. If you want a flavour of what to expect then have a look at this video below from the Centenary Trailer made a few years back:

Meanwhile Southwald offers visitors the historic seaside charm that’s been lost in recent years in other resorts. Your classic buckets & spades, ice cream and fishermans huts. There’s a charming little pier with classic amusements arcades for the kids, and further into the town you have to visit  theAdnams brewery to stock up on some of their famous drinks.

Alternatively if you’re looking for something a little more chilled out then head to Orford. Set in an an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the coastal village exudes charm and has the most fantastic bakery which won the award of Best Food Producer back in 2012.

History

A visit to the county wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Sutton Hoo, one of the countries most important archaeological sites. Back in the 1930’s a whole host of treasures from the Anglo-Saxon burial ground were unearthed – including the famous Sutton Hoo helmet.

If you’d like to see a brief overview then there is a video here giving an overview of the history of the site:

Admittedly when you visit  there isn’t a whole lot to see. The actual burial mounds are no more than a few grassy hills, but the National Trust has a brilliant exhibition in place and it is well worth taking one of the tours around the site where you can really begin to appreciate the historic importance of the site.

For something a little more exciting for the kids, then head to Framlingham Castle, which for all intensive purposes is a ‘proper’ castle with moat and all. At the 12th Century fortress you can take a walk around the top of the walls which offers a great view out onto the surrounding countryside as you learn more the exciting history of the castle over the years.

Rural Beauty

Further inland you’ll find the historic hamlet of Flatford. Located on the River Stour it is the setting of the beautiful ‘Haywain’ picture which was painted by John Constable in 1821 and is regarded as one of the most popular pieces of English art.

Although the actual painting is housed in the National Gallery in London, there is still plenty to see here as the quaint cottages and rural landscapes have hardly changed since Constable’s day.

There are a number of small exhibitions and plenty of walks along the River Stour in both directions where you can explore the beautiful countryside that inspired the artist. Otherwise, if you don’t feel like walking you can always hire a row boat and glide along the river in comfort.

If you want to really delve into what England would have looked like hundreds of years ago then you should certainly take a drive over to Lavenham, which is a fine example of a medieval village. Originally gaining it’s wealth off the wool industry each building is a wonderful example of the past. As well as a collection of some beautiful restaurants and traditional tea rooms to dine in, it’s also home to some of the buildings featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so keep a look out for landmarks!

Whenever you’re travelling to any of the locations do allow some extra time. As many of the roads in the area pass through so many quaint and picture perfect villages, it’s well worth taking the time to stop off at a few, get out and have a look round to see how beautiful some of these places are.

Cropped Image of Aldeburgh | Credit to Squeezyboy | cc

London, UK

A while back we posted about the fantastic museums that London has to offer. As well as being free they make the fantastic day out for anyone looking to spend an afternoon inside whenever the weather isn’t so good.

But as we said there is a whole lot more to London than just the museums, so here we have it, an overview of all the other amazing things you can do in this capital city.

The Best Bits of London

The center of London is where you want to be for whatever you plan to do on your vacation. Trafalgar Square is a great place to start. Away from the National Gallery which overlooks the square, you can see Nelson’s column which stands proudly inbetween the fountains. To the west is the Mall, which if you continue walking up it you’ll reach Buckingham Palace, home to the royal family. If you stand outside the gates at the right time you can see the historic changing of the guard.

Heading southwards from Trafalgar Square will lead you past the important government buildings of the United Kingdom, plus it’s home to Downing Street, home of the Prime Minister. If you carry on you will reach the Thames, and the most iconic building in all London – Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

If you cross the river you’ll reach the Southbank – a fantastic place to relax. If you walk along the river you will come across all sorts of street performers, stalls, bars and restaurants. At Christmas they hold the a great Christmas market here. This area is also home to the London Aquarium and theLondon Eye, which offers the most amazing views of the city as it stretches into the distance. On a good day you can see for over 25 miles.

If you were to carry on down the river you’ll come across the Tate Modern, a home to some bizarre but incredibly impressive modern art. However, if history is more you’re thing then you can cross over the Millenium Bridge to St. Paul’s cathedral.

You could easily spend a day at almost all of these locations so if there a number of things you want to fit in then plan wisely. Getting around London is easy with a day ticket for the London Underground. Try and avoid travelling during rush hour as it can get incredibly busy with commuters leaving the city.

London 2012

The fantastic spectacle that was the London 2012 Olympic Games has now come and gone, but the venues were it was held still make for an excellent day out. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as it is now called, is home to some excellent sporting venues all set with a huge outdoor area dedictaed to the olympics. From parklands to cafe’s there is plenty to keep you entertained.

The park is also home to the ArcelorMittal Orbit – the tallest sculpture in the UK. If you don’t get the opportunity to go to the London Eye, then you can also ascend the sculpture to a height of 80m to see the London skyline from the observation platform.

Nightlife

The city is often just as lively and fast paced as it is during the day! There are thousands of bars, restaurants and night clubs catering for every budget.

If you’re looking for some variety then head to Covent Garden. As well as a selection excellent of places to eat, it’s always home to some fascinating street performers and other artistic events. And when you are in London you have to visit the West End for a show!

For everything else to start planning your trip to London it is well worth checking out Time Out London which lists all the key things that are happening across the city throughout the year. You won’t be left bored that’s for certain!

Cropped and resized image | cc | credit: **Maurice**