Saturday, March 21, 2009

Our room marked with an X

UK 08 continued.
Have I mentioned that the plan for the first part of this visit was to spend time in one place? Specifically, to stay in some part of East Anglia and bicycle around to moated sites. Because on a previous visit, I'd picked up a map of Moated Sites in Suffolk, and had noticed how close together they were.
(Yes, I am just that much of an anorak--and you're reading me!)
While researching it, we'd spent a fair bit of time on Simon's East Anglian churches site, and discovered the Saints, several of which are moated or near moats. Much of this within bicycling distance.
So where to stay? Well, how could we resist staying at a 16th century timbered farmhouse on a moated site? The Gables Farm looked perfect. And yes, it was. (Only a brisk walk or short cycle from Wingfield College too.)
Our room is the furthest right window, upper floor. Looking out onto the moat.

The other side of the house lets out to the drive, and to the farmyard. The chickens that provide breakfast eggs (and eat the breakfast scraps) are only a few paces away.
Breakfast is generous. Even when Mark and I got to the cycling about, we found that breakfast and one other meal carried us through the day.
I must say, food in England has improved massively since we visited in the 80s. On the downside, many village pubs have closed (many villages have become bedroom communities, and long commutes don't make for going down the pub after, apparently). On the upside, those that survive have become gastro-pubs, which is a dreadful word but a fine concept.

The breakfast room. The picture on the wall is of the restoration of Gables, which was in sad shape when the Herveys bought it (very nearly sight unseen) and devoted themselves to freeing the original timber-frame farmhouse from a few hundred years of overbuilding and neglect. As you can see, it's gorgeous now.
It's funny how much of restoring is similar, even to the 'and then we found this old bit still under the wall' and 'they'd chucked that into the ditch/moat' and 'some fool had cut away half the supports and plastered it over' anecdotes, regardless of whether one's restoring a Victorian house, or a Norman stone manor, or a Tudor timbered farmhouse.
One notable thing about Gables is that (like many timbered houses) it wasn't built for people much over 5 foot. Several times in the next couple of days it will be Mark's habit of leaving his bike helmet on until reaching the bedroom that will save him from knocking his head on one particular beam. Mike Hervey is pretty much the same height as Mark, so I have to guess he's had time to practice.

This is Daisy, one of the two dogs. You can see Poppy in the picture at the top of the Accommodations page here. Poppy (black spaniel) is a complete moocher, who stares soulfully at you while you eat breakfast. Well, soulfully at me, because however much I inform dogs that I don't like them and am in fact a Cat Person, they unerringly realise that I am still a soft touch.
Daisy is a rather cat-like dog, as you can tell from her perch on the back of a chair, where she watches for arrivals. She is conveniently lap-sized, and I spend an hour or so one drizzly afternoon napping in an armchair with Daisy.

The view from our room, which is the Mullion Room. Every morning I took a photo from this window, and called it the Many Moods of the Moat series, but I won't inflict that on you. You can see a nice picture of the room on the website, but here is my blurry one.

On the upper right, where you can't see, is a television on a mount. And to the right where you can't see at all, is a lovely bathroom. With lots of hot water, and no tricky switches or taps hidden away that need to be dealt with beforehand.
Lucia had the Gable End Room, I think.

After Wingfield College, we drove to Hoxne (pronounced Hocksen) and reached the church just as it was being locked up, but the sexton(?) kindly let us in for a quick look round at the wall paintings. The lych-gate is quite fine too, and I have a picture of Mark and Lucia standing at it, but I'll save that for a churches post.
Mark had a drink at the Swan, a 15th c. pub, and we determined to return another day, earlier in the day.
For supper we followed Sue Hervey's recommendation and went to the Crown in Weybread, good pub food more than gastro-pub, and I had excellent fish & chips.
Seated across from us at the Crown were a father and son also staying at the Gables for a bicycling holiday, though a considerably more strenuous one than ours. That day they'd cycled to the coast and back--my tone of slightly-fearful awe doesn't seem to have an appropriate font, so I'm going with the italics.


bobbie wickham said...

Ooh, you're fairly near my grandparents old house - if you happen to go past the De La Pole Arms, pop in for some of the best Fish and Chips Britain has to offer.

I just thought I'd have a nosy at your blog, hope you don't mind.

batgirl said...

Of course I don't mind! It's a bit odd chatting to the unknown, and nice to be reminded that there are eyes and ears on the other side.

We did manage a couple of meals at the De La Pole, and they were luscious (also I learned that I _do_ like cider). That first evening, though, they had a theme dinner, and it was booked full already.
Hey, we probably bicycled past your grandparents' house!

Bobbie Wickham said...

You might well have done, actually! It's quite close to a cycle route. They always used to get apologetic cyclists asking to refill their water bottles, and they wouldn't be allowed to leave until they'd had a slice of cake and a cup of tea.

Ah, I haven't had any cider since my Grandad gave me some at the Arms when I was 5 - it's given me a lifelong aversion to it!

Enjoy the rest of your trip round the UK!