A couple of weekends ago, when the weather forecast was peppered with sunshine and it felt like summer had come along, even for a moment- I spent the weekend exploring Suffolk- a beautiful part of the U.K I hadn’t spent a lot of time in before and somewhere that, if anything, sends a strong message to the rest of the country proclaiming the world is a more beautiful place with pastel houses and front gardens sprawling with seemingly sky-high hollyhocks.
And who doesn’t love the thought of exploring quaint little towns dotted with clay pink homes lining the coast? With villages seemingly built on old-time nostalgia and beautiful old bookshops; green grocers with punnets spilling onto pavements and chippies seeping with the scent of sizzling oil and vinegar- there’s something special about visiting somewhere largely untouched by time, only to take things slowly whilst you’re there and soak them up at the pace they were intended.
And despite only having a few days to explore (and a list of what felt like a dozen bakeries to tick off), we managed to squeeze a fair bit in so I thought I’d share a little walk-through of some of the best spots we managed to visit, and a few places to note too.
Our home for the weekend was in the quaint market town of Woodbridge. Nestled in the centre of town, opposite the local bakery (late night wafts of bread, yes PLEASE) and a stone’s throw away from the main flurry of shops- our Woodbridge Hideaway* flat was the perfect bolthole for a few days; and was not only wonderful for exploring the town but was also handy for exploring nearby beauty spots too. With airy Scandi-inspired interiors that made the glowy afternoon light feel like magic, our little kip spot had everything you could possibly need for a true home-from-home experience (including but not limited to; cloud-like pillows, local treats stocked in the kitchen and a comfy sofa begging for a film night after a busy day). Plus, it would have also been an excellent spot to bring little people (the property came with a travel cot and high chair) and was the perfect spot to cosy up in after a day of exploring; whether that meant cooking an evening meal with the buzz of the radio, or filling up the bath for a leisurely soak; it was pretty perfect indeed.
Canteen/ New Street Market: A gorgeous little shop and café stocked with wonderful brands (including Soeur, Aligne and some of the most beautiful homeware and ceramics)- New Street Market also is home to Canteen, a delightful little café with a delicious fresh lunch and cake selection, from sandwiches to small plates.
The Table: Spice Bar at The Table is where we ate during our first evening in Woodbridge, and their Asian inspired dishes made for the ultimate summer dining experience in their beautiful outdoor garden. It’s worth noting dinner spots get quite busy around here, so booking ahead is always recommended too.
Two Magpies: Anywhere that is home to a strawberry and cream donut is somewhere I’ll be bookmarking, and every morning we collected fresh pastries and orange juice from here and they were unrivalled. I can also highly recommend their smoked salmon bagel and cookies for the road too!
Honey & Harvey: Tucked away on the high street, Honey & Harvey is a glorious breakfast and coffee spot; with a menu packed with all the breakfast classics, and a sun trap of a garden to enjoy them in too (if you’re lucky with the weather)!
Cinema: Although we didn’t go inside (it would be seemingly rude on one of the few sunny days of the summer), I go gooey for a small independent cinema- and this looked like the cutest little spot nestled next to the station to while away a rainy afternoon.
Walks: As beautiful as the town centre is, the walks alongside the River Deben; boat spotting and just sitting on a bench to watch the world go are pretty special indeed. We spotted people paddle boarding and sailing too, so I’m sure there are also ample opportunities to get out on the river too- but in case you just fancy a sunset stroll, it’s very much worth the short mooch out of town for.
(one thing I’d note is to check opening times of shops here; like most towns- shops here aren’t necessarily open on Sundays or at the beginning of the week, so if you’re wanting to have a mooch definitely check first).
Uniform Research: An amazing boutique stocking an impressive selection of men and women’s brands; from YMC, L.F Markey, Toast and Colourful Standard. Very much could have spent a small fortune in here- thankfully, only came away with a dress- just.
Pocket: I am like a moth to a flame with a children’s shop, and Pocket is the most beautifully stocked children’s concept store; with everything from design-led toys and gifts all with a sustainable stance.
Vanil: The most beautifully curated Scandinavian inspired home-wear styled beautifully and combining the most aesthetically pleasing designers and makers on the market.
The Merchants Table: I would only recommend making a stop here if you are willing to part with some serious cash as this place is interiors and design heaven. Stocking some of the most beautiful ceramic artists I’ve seen (and this was only through pressing my nose against the window)!
Vintage 49: An amazing selection of everything from collectables, decorative items, records and larger furniture pieces; the ultimate place for a peruse.
Oxfam Bookshop: Suffolk really *does* bookshops right, and despite there being a delightful selection a good rifle through, the Oxfam bookshop on Woodbridge’s high street definitely came up a winner.
Charlotte Crofts & Co: I literally did a small squeal when I walked past Charlotte Crofts & Co’s beautiful studio as it looked pretty much like the inside of my brain if it were a decorated location. Home of beautiful paints, papers, fine textiles, lighting and furniture- as well as an interior design studio, it’s an inspiration haven.
Our second day of exploring included an afternoon visit to the beautiful coastal town of Aldeburgh. With the high street parallel to the sea lined with pastel cottages and sorbet-hued shops; it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon moseying along the shops, picking up a book and then parking up on the beach to soak it all up. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so long admiring house-fronts in all my life either- there wasn’t a home that wasn’t boasting a front filled with wildflowers, sailboat ornaments in window frames or holidaymakers parked outside the front; shaking off sandy toes or deciding on the evening’s fish and chip order from their famous chippy. It had a real authentic British seaside feel, which made it all the more special.
One of our main ports of call was a lunch at The Suffolk*; a beautiful restaurant with rooms a stone’s throw away from the front. Boasting a menu that centres around fresh seafood, seasonal produce and British classics- it was arguably one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in a long time. Although the menu isn’t huge, it’s perfectly formed- unfussy and deliciously done. Flavours done well in an unpretentious way. Plus, one of the most delicious cocktails menus going (we’ll take a tangerine daiquiri and Shirley Temple, please and thank you!)
And for afters…
Because it felt rude to visit the seaside and not get an ice cream; make a stop at Harris & James for flavours that include (but are very much not limited to) croissant and cherry jam, jaffa cake and raspberry biscuit.
Although we only paid a very short visit to Orford on our way to Southwold, it would be rude to not include it because what a quaint lovely place it is! Whether you stop for a sugary Gibassier from Pump Street Bakery, or a bar of their infamous croissant flecked chocolate from their shop opposite- both are worth the slight detour alone (there’s also Butley Orford Oysterage which looked delicious, if you’re organised enough to book a table for lunch)! Plus, Orford Castle also sits proudly on the cusp of the town, which is one of Britain’s most complete keeps (and pretty incredible to walk around too).
Our last stop on our mini-Suffolk adventure was a trip to Southwold; somewhere I’d heard nothing but gorgeous things about and was very excited to visit. Although we only spent half a day here (with the majority of it importantly tackling the arcade game leader boards and reading on the beach), it’s not hard to see why people wax lyrical about this seaside spot. With the front lined with beach huts and the coastal walk to Walberswick taking you on a journey through sandy dunes (we did the walk to The Bell Inn for a fish and chip supper); along to Southwold harbour and all it’s fishing boats, fish and chip stops and shacks- it’s a pretty magical place, and already on my list to one day come back to.