Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flashback Thursdays: Back in Bury St. Edmunds

    For reasons that escape me, I haven't blogged about some of the trips we've done so far this year. So what I've decided to do is scribble away once a week until I'm caught up.  Say hello to "Flashback Thursdays." Now, if you're not interested in what we're doing outside the area, you'll know which day to skip. On the other hand, if you've had it up to here with French markets and food and our constant hunting for vintage, you know which day to check. What am I saying? Wherever we go, we still chase down markets, good things to eat and jumble sales, thrift shops and anywhere else you can find the interestingly pre-owned.
   Back in May, we flew to the UK for ten days with Ryanair. The name of this budget airline may not ring a bell for anyone outside Europe. Most of us have a love/hate relationship with it, loving its occasionally ludicrously cheap fares, but hating the hoops you have to jump through to make sure they don't charge you for extras. And hating, hating their Machiavellian web site where, in order not to buy insurance from them, you have to tick the box artfully hidden in a pull-down menu of destinations.
   Anyway, we got a good rate, booked one piece of luggage to go in the hold and very carefully weighed our hand luggage. Anything over 10 k and they come at you with sharp instruments.
   It turned out that seven of the 10 days we spent back in my homeland were some of the sunniest that the UK had all summer. There we were, in sweaters, sitting outside a pub near Cambridge, swigging shandies and chomping away at our chips, when suddenly one of us (me) said: "Bit hot, innit?" So hot in fact that I had to borrow a T-shirt that same day and, subsequently, spend a tenner on summery wear at the charity shops that now abound in Bury St. Edmunds. I mean, abound. There must be seven or eight of them.
    We had a gorgeous ten days with the family. The first Saturday we were there, we trotted off to the farmers' market held every week at Wyken Vineyards just outside Bury, returning with a fine haul of cheeses and chutneys.

   Homemade cakes straight from a kids' storybook. Don't you just love the one with the Smarties all over it? Made me all nostalgic for my Mum's coffee-and-walnut sponge.
    What my vegetarian sister ate one day when we went out to lunch. Wild mushroom stuffed tortellini with a topping of rocket/roquette/arugula. I seem to remember those brown spots are reduced balsamic.
     Some days later, we spent the day with my eldest niece Sarah who lives near, and sometimes works at, South Farm, which is among the UK's favourite places to hold wedding receptions. Here's South Farm:

 Guests can stay in the main house, or in one of these delightful caravans.
    I completely fell in love with this cozy interior. Just look at its little wood-burning stove and the Persian rug on the floor. Can you imagine how comfortable you would feel tucked up in here on a chill night?
 On another day, a local steam rally was a mix of old tractors...
 ....vintage fairground attractions...
 ... and this Punch and Judy show--hadn't seen one of these since I was little when, Neopolitan ice-cream dripping down our Aertex shirts, we used to watch them on the beach at the seaside.
   Bury St. Edmunds, where I was born is an ancient town going back to a time when dates were in three figures. Friends who live near Aldeburgh took us here, to Leiston Abbey which goes back to the 14th century.
      Having lived without them for so many years, I know I will never tire of seeing and touching old stones.

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