Travels In England
My visit to the English countryside exceeded all of my expectations. I’d been to London four times, and apart from a bus ride to Stonehenge while in college, I hadn’t seen the real beauty of the countryside. This visit was to my friend Rachael who lives in Suffock, two hours east of London near the coast of the North Sea. Her home, built in the 1600’s, had been restored and expanded, just as most of the homes and buildings in that area. Rachael’s mum lives next door on their gorgeous farm surrounded by fields of barley, wheat, and corn. Mum’s garden was abundant with herbs, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and radishes. The trees were exploding with jewels of crabapples, plums, and cherries. I had just missed the harvest of elderflowers, which Mum collects and freezes for her famous elderflower cordial. I was the honored guest at her table one night when she made a roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and carrots, and peas. Dessert was custard made from the elderflower cordial. It was a meal I will never forget!
Each day we toured the area in Rachael’s convertible, looking like Thelma and Louise. The winding narrow roads that lead us from village to village were lined with stunning wildflowers and roses, including thousands of poppies in every color. Of course each village or town had its own ancient church with century-old gravestones leaning in every direction in the front lawn. A day trip to the coast town of Aldeburgh was a delight as I experienced crispy fish and chips served in paper bags with extra salt and vinegar. The village of Framlingham featured locals competing for the tastiest smoked fish and meats. I bought smoked salmon and smoked bacon that melts in your mouth. We shopped at the butcher in one village, and the baker in another. Of course, I sampled some of the finest cheese of England. On the last day at Rachael’s home, we hosted 50 of her friends and family for an English barbeque. There were four grills set up in the garden smoking with beef, sausages and marinated chicken from the local farmer and butchers. The guests brought family-recipe salads, cheese platters, vegetables, and heaps of strawberries that had just come into season.
Rachael and I celebrated our successful barbeque with a drive to Norfolk, the shire north of her home. We drove by castles, churches, and ancient villages. We shopped in Norwich where there were two huge kitchen supply shops, and found things we absolutely couldn’t live without. Our destination was Morston Hall, a Michelin one-star restaurant with a small hotel attached. We spent two nights there, and each night enjoyed an unforgettable seven course meal! During the day, we enjoyed long walks along the marshy coast, and visits to palaces and windmills. I cannot describe the beauty I saw in so many parts of the country. The people were happy, hardworking, relaxed, and eager to share their stories and food. It was such a bonus to travel with a silly and fun-loving girlfriend who appreciates food, and was so eager to share her life and friends. I cannot wait to return.