09 July 2008

Tagged (A Day in Hadleigh, Suffolk)

Lu threw down the gauntlet and tagged me to prepare a post representing my favourite country, my city or state. I have chosen to blog about one of my favourite places on Earth - Hadleigh, Suffolk, England.

Whilst preparing this blog, I found that Lucie's post and mine would be similiar in that despite the geographical differences, England and France, have quite a bit in common.. well, like most other European countries, (Marcus would kill me if he knew I referred to England/Great Britain as "European"...) English folks like to eat, drink, and socialize.

First a bit of background info...Hadleigh is a small village in the county of Suffolk in East Anglia on the eastern coast. I always relate Hadleigh's location to something most people know - it's about 2 hours northeast of London. Hadleigh has a special place in my heart because it is where Marcus's family lives. I have made many happy memories there.

Hadleigh’s history is a long and fascinating one, so much so that the Council for British Archaeology placed Hadleigh among 51 towns “so precious that ultimate responsibility for them should be a national concern.”

Archaeological finds from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age have been unearthed in the area, as have the remains of a 1st century Roman villa and other Roman artefacts and there is evidence of a 5th century pagan Saxon occupation in the area around George Street.
Hadleigh later came to prominence as one of Viking King Guthrum’s royal towns and it is thought that the Danish leader - who died in 890 - was buried in what is now St Mary’s churchyard.

This area of England is particularly beautiful in my opinion because it is mostly a farming area. It reminds me a lot of East Tennessee with its gorgeous rolling green hills. In the spring time, the countryside is lined with beautiful yellow fields which contain rapeseed flowers.

Rapeseed field along the road to the next village, Kersey

So now we shall embark upon a typical day in Hadleigh. ..

The English are no different than other folks in that they love their food. Despite its bad reputation, I have to say, they have some excellent culinary offerings.

The day might start out with a full traditional English breakfast which consists of eggs, bacon (thick and hearty - not the puny Oscar Meyer stuff), sausage, tomatoes (one of my favourites!), baked beans, mushrooms, and black pudding. I pass on the black pudding as it is is a blend of onions, pork fat, oatmeal, flavourings - and blood (usually from a pig). I generally just have porridge and toast. Of course, the only drink to accompany any meal in England is a nice "cuppa" of hot tea. While we have tried to find American substitutes, there is nothing greater than the tea in England. We always have to get a supply of PG Tips tea bags when we visit.

After our breakfast, we venture over to the lovely walking paths right near my in-laws house. The path takes you along the River Brett to Toppesfield Bridge. There are always ducks in the river and Fiona loves to go feed the ducks. Here she is with Auntie Stephanie throwing bread to the ducks on a recent visit to Grandma Rae's.

Following the river walk brings us into the town center where we do a little sightseeing...

The Guild Hall

In the center of town are some beautiful buildings featuring gorgeous architecture. The Deanery Tower was built in 1495 and was intended to be the entry way/gateway to a grand residence for an archdeacon. However, the stately home was never built. The Guild Hall was built in the 1430s and was used to trade wool and cloth. It has housed a number of different businesses and non-profit entities. It was once home to a grammar school which Marcus attended as a boy.

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church is one of the grandest Suffolk churches. It is one of the only churches in this area that is adorned with a medieval spire. It was built in the 14th century and is also one of the longest churches. I love to walk amongst the graves and crypts that are scattered in front of this magnificent church.

After browsing in the second hand book shops and boutiques along the High Street, we head out to the nearby village of Monks Eleigh for a nice lunch at Bridge Farm Barns (formerly known as the Corn Craft). This family farm features a gift shop, a quaint restaurant, and craft shop. "Corn dollies" are featured prominently through the farm. Creating the dolls from the last sheaf of corn is an art form dating back to the pagan times.

I have to visit every time we go because I MUST get my cream tea fix. A cream tea consists of English scones, Devon clotted cream, garnished with strawberry jam and a hot pot of tea. The pictures do not do a cream tea justice - believe me! It is a little bit of heaven on Earth.

After a bit of shopping at Bridge Farm Barns and a full belly, we head back to Hadleigh. There we would meet up with some friends at the pub - an English tradition. Pubs are the focal point of most English communities. No doubt the regulars will be stationed on their favourite bar stool. Over a pint of traditional British cask/real ale, a stout, lager or cider, we would discuss the lastest football (soccery to the Americans), rugby or cricket matches or perhaps try our hand at one of the many 'fruit machines' - gambling games that feature many different themes.

Since we have had a few pints, we could then hop on the bus and head into Ipswich city centre for a little shopping. Public transportation is cheap and easy to find in England. With petrol prices the equivalent of $8.00/galloon USD, many people park their cars and take advantage of buses and trains to get them around. For those who do drive, they tend to drive small, fuel efficient vehicles like the Smart Car.

Once in Ipswich, we could browse around "Marks and Sparks" - Marks and Spencer, one of the most iconic and widely recognised chain stores in the United Kingdom. For more upscale shopping, we might head over to Debenhams or for those who are looking for fashion on a budget, how about H&M? My trip to England isn't complete without a "poke 'round" my favourite shop - Accessorize - a store dedicated to nothing more than jewelry, purses, and scarves.

All this shopping may have stimulated our appetite so we venture over to our local "chippy" for a "take-away" order of fish and chips. A traditional dinner would consist of battered cod or haddock fish, thickly cut potatoes slices (french fries), doused in vinegar and wrapped in white parchment paper.

If you aren't in the mood for fish, how about another British staple? A nice curry! Curry is the English description of any of a general variety of spicy dishes, best-known in Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan, Nepali, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, and other South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Curry houses are quickly outnumbering the traditional fish and chip shops. In a relatively short space of time curry has become an integral part of British cuisine, so much so that, since the late 1990s, Chicken Tikka Masala has been commonly referred to as the "British national dish".

After a nice dinner, it's back to the pub for karaoke or heading out to the nightclubs with your "mates".

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the East of England. Cheers, Kimberly

1 comment:

Lu. Lu. said...

I loved your post Kimberly, I'm so glad I tagged you! And now I really really want to go with you to England and recreate this perfect day. I would love that, I hope one day we can make this happen...and we could show you around France in exchange for our visit to England;) ~
see you very soon!