Monday, 16 October 2017

The fishing boats and wide landscapes of Suffolk

We have recently returned from a weeks holiday in Suffolk, on the East coast of England (opposite Holland.) We spent the week enjoying time exploring it's coastline, river estuaries and birdlife. It seemed a flat landscape compared with our cliffs and rolling hills. 

One of my favourite and fascinating places was the tiny village of Dunwich. In the 13th century it was the 10th largest town in England, but severe storms in the 13th and 14th century lost most of it to the sea.  Legend has it that if you stand on the beach and listen carefully you will hear the sound of the bells tolling beneath the waves, they didn't seem to be ringing when we visited!

It was a tranquil place to sit and enjoy the sunshine, although hard to comprehend the scale of land that had been lost below the waves. The only buildings close to the water were fishermen's huts.

We rented a cottage in the attractive town of Aldeburgh. The seafront overlooking the pebble beach is lined by colourful buildings. It has been a popular seaside resort since the 18th century. This was also the home of Benjamin Britten and his opera telling the tragic story of the fisherman Peter Grimes was based here.

It was lovely to walk along the seafront and on a Sunday morning and watch children having fun sailing their boats on the Model Boat Pond, helped by their parents and grandparents. It was almost a scene from the past.

The fishermen launch their boats direct from the beach and sell fresh fish from their wooden huts that sit on the edge of the beach, you couldn't get much fresher than that! The local fish and chip shop was very popular and it was worth the long queues to taste their food.

The fish and chip shop in Southwold also caught my eye, as did the beach huts and views from the pier.

Over the last few years I have become interested in how settlements along the coast have developed.  The tiny fishing hamlet of Thorpeness was bought in 1910 by Stuart Ogilvie ,a Scottish baron who converted it into a fantasy holiday village for the upper middle classes.

The most eye catching building is the ' House in the Clouds', which was converted from a water tank into a very different holiday home.

There were some grey days but the colour of the skies just seemed to enhance the landscape.

We enjoyed exploring the distinctiveness of Suffolk, I hope you enjoy this sample of it too. Finally I couldn't finish without featuring this amazing sculpture of a scallop on the beach, which was designed by Maggie Hambling to celebrate the life of the composer Benjamin Britain, mentioned above.  The sculpture splits opinion, I loved it and it seem to encourage many to walk a distance along the seashore to see it close up. 

Those words ' I hear those those voices that will not be drowned', almost take us back to those lost bells at the beginning of this post.

Sarah x

Monday, 9 October 2017

Beth Chatto gardens

When we were planning and designing our previous garden, over 20 years ago, we would read many gardening books for inspiration and advice. There were many garden designers whose ideas and vision helped us along the way and one of these was Beth Chatto.

Her own garden, which has been developed since 1960, contains many different planting conditions including dry, wet, and shady and the manta 'Right plant in right place' helped us to avoid making too many mistakes over the years.

It was therefore a great treat to have the opportunity last week to visit the garden that we have often read about. As you can see by the pictures it was fabulous. Just look at the amazing colour at this time of year and how the colours and contrast in textures look so good together.

Have you been to Beth Chatto Gardens or read any of her books? My favourite ones include The Dry Garden and Dear Friend and Gardener Letters of Life and Gardening the latter one contains letters between Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd (gardening at Great Dixter), who share their gardening achievements and failures.

Beth Chatto is now 94 years old, it must be amazing to look out on to this wonderful garden from her home and still be involved in it's development.

My only regret in visiting this fantastic garden was only having limited time to view and enjoy it. Needless to say I didn't leave it empty handed, despite limited space in our garden, I returned home with two plants that hopefully will thrive and remind me of this wonderful garden.

Sarah x


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