When we refurbished the barn and built the guest wing seven years ago, in keeping with all ‘Grand Designs’ – type projects we ended up way over budget. We just about managed to get it finished and roughly furbished, but we didn’t even have enough cash to build decks for the guest rooms let alone spend any money on our personal area. So our space remained pretty much as we found it when we arrived.
We live at the far end of the barn and we always make sure that the door to it from the ‘Insta side’ of things remains firmly closed so that no one can see inside. Part of the problem is a lack of space – no storage and only one bedroom. Embarrassingly when friends have come to stay, they have taken a room at the B&B and paid for the privilege. We have also been super anti -social with no space in which to entertain friends and family. Bruce and I have been together for seventeen years and given that we spent seven years renovating our house in Peckham, we have only spent one year of our time living like ‘grown ups’. We are a bit bored of living like this to be honest.
So about a year ago we sat down with our architect friend John, and started to map out a fairly modest extension to give us a little more space and a generally nicer environment in which to live. There is a strange little patch of ground that separates the barn from the drive (some distance from the guest areas you will be pleased to know) and the challenge was to create a space that made the most of the area.
The result will be quite an unusual building. In the middle will sit a conventional double height volume with a pitched roof and around it angular flat roofed spaces will take the build to the very edge of the plot. Everything will be wrapped in black corrugated iron. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste but we’ve seen a similar finish on John’s home – it looks great!
Before we could start building we had to clear the area including our neighbour’s Leylandii hedge. Having done this it is strangely open and we can more clearly seen how close the barn is to next door (which would have been the farmhouse). Fortunately we have very supportive neighbours and they quite enjoy our builds (well that’s what they tell us anyway).
Once the land is cleared you have to start digging to create the footings, add drainage, insulation etc … That said we hadn’t quite realized just deep we would have to dig as there is quite a difference in height between the drive and the back door. After all the digging it does look more like we are building a swimming pool than a set of footings.
Fortunately the land is very sandy with no clay to worry the builder (the story about never build your house on sand turns out not to be quite true). In fact when you get down a few feet the sand is bright yellow as if it’s straight from the beach. Then once you have spent days digging the hole you start to fill it (in the case of the sand it’s the same sand that we dug up in the first place!).
That’s as far as we have got. ….
The whole build is set to take five to six months – though some of this will be refurbishing the existing barn. If you have any questions or concerns please do just ask!
Whet your appetite
We are so lucky to have many fantastic producers of food in Suffolk. We are also fortunate to have some really great places in which to eat it– whether it’s seafood served from a humble fishing shack, a three course meal at a top gastro pub or a delicious donut from Orford’s famous Pump Street Bakery.
That said, we keenly felt the loss of a couple of our favourite restaurants during the first Covid lockdown – Darsham Nurseries and Mains. They were the ‘go to’ restaurants for both our guests and when we fancied a meal out ourselves.
Much as we happily walk down the road to our brilliant local pub – The Parrot & Punchbowl (or simply ‘The Parrot’) – it’s always good to discover some new places. These are some recent finds:
The Suffolk (www.the_suffolk.co.uk – originally a Covid relocation of Soho’s L’Escargot, The Suffolk is here to stay and is already very much a fixture on Aldeburgh’s high street (and soon to be with rooms – though perhaps I shouldn’t dwell on that- and a rooftop bar). The menu changes but you will always find delicious lobster and oysters on the menu.
Southwold Canteen (www.oldhospitalhub.co.uk) – Darsham Nurseries is dead – long live the Southwold Canteen!. The chef, Nicola Hordern, has bought her amazing flair and creativity, from Darsham Nurseries to this quiet community location set away from the hubbub of Southwold’s High Street. It has the vibe of a neighbourhood eaterie, with a seasonal menu prepared using wonderful ingredients, cooked beautifully served up with super friendly service. Lunch only at the moment – so go easy at breakfast!
Watson and Walpole (www.watsonandwalpole.com) – this has been a regular destination for us and guests over the last year or so. The Watson of the title was the original TV Hotel Inspector and has brought her eye for detail to this buzzing restaurant (though despite her formidable TV persona I hasten to add it is relaxed and informal). It’s in Framlingham – so a bit of a trek – but this regional Italian dishes are definitely well worth the effort. I have to confess I am a little addicted to their zucchini fries, unadventurous as that is. They also have an excellent vegan menu.
Greyhound Inn at Pettristree (www.greyhoundpettristree.co.uk) – this pub near Wickham Market has always been on our radar because it had a good reputation, however it changed ownership a few weeks back and word quickly got out that it is well worth a visit. We can confirm that indeed it is! A beautiful Suffolk pub set in a quiet, out of the way village. The food is modern British with everything cooked to perfection. Here is my delicious oxtail ravioli starter.
Down on the Farm
We are very lucky to have a public footpath at the bottom of the garden that takes guests, eager to walk off their full English breakfast, to either Aldeburgh or Thorpeness through Suffolk’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (we have a very detailed set of notes to make sure that no one gets lost – though rather worryingly a few have struggled to get out of the garden!).
We don’t always have time to walk to Thorpeness ourselves so we have a shorter route that we use to exercise Ruby – our beautiful Hungarian Wire Haired Vizla. As we do the circuit on pretty much daily basis, rain or shine, we have got to know Ute and Mike who have a small farm along the way. We always stop to hear how the animals are and – from time to time – feed the lambs. Glad to see that they are doing well despite the recent cold spell.
In case you pass by the little calf is called Rosie and all the lambs are named after herbs (it’s not the most commercially run farm) – so if you shout Rosemary, Dill or Nutmeg – some little critter is sure to come bounding over…