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A Suffolk Travel Guide: Things to See and Do in Suffolk, England

 

A traditional English district brimming with history, culture and plenty of things to see and do, Suffolk is perhaps East Anglia’s best loved county, and it’s not hard to see why. With the lively towns of Ipswich, Felixstowe and Newmarket dotted in-between the quieter areas of Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and Long Melford, there is something for everyone in Suffolk. I’ve been coming to the county myself many times over the years as my grandparents moved there from Essex to enjoy their retirement and a slower pace of life. It really is a beautiful part of England and here’s what I recommend you see and do during your time there…

 

Visit Ipswich

 

 

One of England’s oldest towns, and known as the ‘capital’ of Suffolk, Ipswich is a great place to kickstart your time in East Anglia. With its waterfront location right on the River Orwell, it’s luscious green parks, lively shopping streets and vibrant night life, there’s something for everyone and things that will appeal to all ages. Why not check out one of the towns many museums to find out all about its rich maritime heritage? Or catch a show in one of the grand theatres? Whatever you’re looking for from your time in Suffolk, you’re bound to find it right here in Ipswich.

 

Explore Framlingham Castle

 

 

Located in, yep you guessed it, the market town of Framlingham, this stunning Norman castle was built in 1148 but was destroyed by King Henry II less than 30 years later after the revolt of 1173-74. Towards the end of the 13th century though, Framlingham was no longer a castle as it had become a luxurious Manor House instead, with enormous grounds and parklands that were used for hunting. Nowadays the castle has been restored to its former glory and remains largely intact. Owned by the English Heritage and named as a Grade 1 listed monument, Framlingham is open to the public and hosts various events and historical shows all year round.

 

Have a day out at Newmarket Racecourse

 

 

Founded back in 1636, when King James I was on the throne, Newmarket is a racecourse steeped in royal history. Over 30 years later, in 1671, the new King Charles II became the first and only reigning monarch to ride a winning horse right here at Newmarket. Nowadays, the thoroughbred horse riding venue is one of the most popular in England, with two separate racecourses named the Rowley Mile and the July Course. As well as horse racing, Newmarket hosts several big events throughout the year and are well known for their spectacular ‘Newmarket Nights’, a series of concerts during the summer, with 2019’s line up including the likes of Madness, The Kaiser Chiefs and Chic & Nile Rogers.

 

Relax and unwind at a top spa hotel

 

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GOLDEN TICKET SPA DAY OFFER! To celebrate the reopening of our fabulous hydrotherapy pool we have put together an exclusive one-time offer with limited availability. The first 20 people to book this Golden Spa Day offer will receive a complimentary upgrade worth £77 per person! What's included: *Welcome drink in our spa lounge *ESPA Natural Facelift Facial (80 minutes) *Delicious cream tea *Full use of heat & hydrotherapy facilities The first 20 to book will be upgraded to: *Welcome Drink in our spa lounge *ESPA Natural Facelift Facial (80 minutes) *Complimentary Hot Stone Back Massage (30 minutes) *Champagne Afternoon Tea *Full use of heat & hydrotherapy facilities Price per person: £137.00 To book your day of total relaxation call us on 01638 676130 – be quick though places are limited!!

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No visit to the great British countryside should be complete without a stay at a top hotel, and one with a spa is an added luxury that you won’t want to say no to. The Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa should be top of your list, and with its 4 Red Star Hotel rating and it’s 5 Bubble Spa rating, it’s not hard to see why. Located in the middle of Newmarket, right opposite the racecourse, the Bedford Lodge is perfect for those looking for somewhere to stay after the races, or just for a night away in a peaceful setting. The hotel boasts the 2AA rosette winning Squires Restaurant for exquisite fine dining, as well as the trendy Roxana Bar offering Champagne and afternoon tea. If it’s the Spa you’re most looking forward to though, you certainly won’t be disappointed. With exciting features such as a rooftop hot tub, private mud rasul, hydrotherapy pool, experiential showers and even an ice fountain, you’ll never want to get out of your swimsuit!

 

Wander around Sudbury and Long Melford

 

 

Located just a few miles from each other, these traditional English towns are a must see when in Suffolk. Long Melford is home to Kentwell Hall, a red brick Tudor mansion set in glorious gardens and farmlands offering a variety of events throughout the year, including open air cinemas and historic educational weekends. Long Melford is also reputed to have one of the largest High Streets in Britain, filled with shops, cafes and pubs. Sudbury on the other hand is a market town, with its twice weekly markets taking place in front of St Peter’s Church right in the town centre. Sudbury is also home to 18th century artist Thomas Gainsborough, with his house and birthplace, Gainsborough’s House, open to the public as a museum and art gallery, one of the towns most visited attractions.

I could list many more things to see and do in Suffolk, but these are the main highlights I suggest you should see during your time in this pretty county. Have you ever been before? I’d love to know if there’s anything you think I’ve missed off this list!

NB. This post was sponsored by The Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa but, as always, all words are of course my own.

 

September Newsletter

Hi everyone,

Another month has gone by and I’m reminded daily that we are in the latter part of the year now, with Christmas countdowns on and the nights drawing in it really does feel as if my amazing summer of 2016 is well and truly over! Noooooo!! I’ve had the best few months, and September has been no exception to that – here’s what I’ve been up to…

I had another announcement to make

 

 

So most of you will already know this, but this month I made ANOTHER exciting announcement and took a brand new step forwards in my travel career… I have been selected as an intern for UK Blog Awards and I couldn’t be more thrilled! As well as gaining bags of social media experience, I’ll also be expanding my blog writing and hopefully attending events and networking too, which will definitely boost my confidence. The internship is only for three months but I’m so excited to be working with such a fantastic company and I’m already hugely enjoying it!

I had the most amazing time on my Italian Escapade

 

Made it to the Collosseum! 🏟🏟 #Rome #twinnies #matchingeverythinggggg

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I literally flew back from Rome late Friday night and I had the BEST time on my Italian Escapade with my sister! We flew to Venice for 2 nights, then took the train to Florence for 3 nights before catching another train to Rome for 3 nights and then flying home on the 9th day of our adventure. We took a gondola ride in Venice, climbed the Cathedral in Florence and explored the ancient ruins of the Collosseum in Rome – more things ticked off the bucket list! We had SO MUCH FUN explore beautiful Italy and it’s left me already wanting to go back for more!

I attended the annual #bloggersfestival

 

Best backdrop ever 🌸🌸 #bloggersfestival @scarlettlondon #flowerwall

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It was my first time at the #bloggersfestival, hosted by Scarlett Dixon of Scarlett London Events, and I had such a lovely afternoon meeting new people and fellow bloggers! We were treated to goody bags galore by the sponsors and took part in competitions and fun events throughout the day. I left with tonnes of freebies and lots of new friends too – thanks for a wonderful afternoon Scarlett!

I collaborated with two local restaurants

 

 

This month I was lucky enough to be asked to review not one but TWO wonderful local restaurants, one in Oxford and one in a small village in Oxfordshire, and I was only too happy to oblige! I had two lovely evenings out tasting some fantastic food and enjoying lovely pub atmospheres; it was a pleasure to write the reviews and I know I’ll definitely be back to both places in the near future!

I continued to grow my brand new freelancing business

 

 

So my shiny new business is almost 2 months old, and I can’t quite believe it! I’ve been working my butt off to get things up and running; staying up late, having my lunch at my laptop and marketing myself on social media to gain new clients. I’m so pleased to say that it’s going really well so far and I’ve been maxed out with work for the past few weeks! I’m offering a range of services from social media management and content writing to Skype sessions for fellow bloggers and ad-hoc computer admin work for some of my larger clients. I seem to be getting busier as the days go on and am so pleased with how my little freelance life is turning out. Please contact me directly to see how we can work together!

I had a fun girly day out at Ascot Races!

 

Best day at the races with my girl 🐎🎉💖 #ascot #raceday #winners

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So today me and one of my best friends are attending a fab day out at Ascot Races, one of the most popular racecourses over here in the UK! We’re dressed up to the nines and are praying that the sun continues to shine for us and that our good fortune comes in when we pick our horses… wish us luck! 😉

Pheeeew, another month of madness over – and it’s time for October already! I’m looking forward to Halloween, especially as I’m going to Thorpe Park’s Fright Night for the first time EVER and I’m also planning a little visit to beautiful Bath in a couple of weeks too. How was your September, what did you get up to? I’d love to hear about your upcoming winter plans too!

Love Jess x

 

Arriverderci #Venice – you've been beautiful! 🇮🇹 #Italy #venizia

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Restaurant Review : The Perch, Oxford

 

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a local PR company asking me to review a fantastic local Oxfordshire restaurant, of which I was only too happy to oblige! I was asked to head to The Perch just off the Botley Road in Oxford and we’d booked a table on a busy Sunday evening on one of the hottest September days on record!

The Perch is one of the oldest pubs in Oxford, located just outside the busy city centre in Botley, and just a few minutes walk from the River Isis and pretty Port Meadow. Despite it’s central location, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled upon a country pub with it’s quaint riverside setting and stunning gardens. The interior décor of the pub is rustic but with a modern feel and the outside bar, patio area and secret garden, with walk-through arches and fairy lights, adds to the beauty of the site.

 

Can I have some of these fairy lights in my garden please? ✨✨

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Upon arrival we were greeted by Maddie and Ben who looked after us for the rest of the evening. The menu’s presented to us were varied and offered something for every taste bud. Between the five of us we were served bread and oils to start and opted for Blythburg free-range pork belly (£15.95), ale battered Cornish fish and chips (£13.75) and the chargrilled 8oz burger (£13.75) for mains.

menu-the-perch

 

The food was served promptly and was truly delicious; every mouthful of my burger was tender and perfectly complemented by the bacon, tomato relish and  farmhouse cheddar cheese with triple cooked chips just the way I like them! The pork belly and fish and chips received excellent feedback too – all were cooked to perfection and served with the perfect accompaniments; scrumpy braised carrots with crackling and pear mustard for the pork, and tartare sauce and minted peas for the fish.

The dessert menu was full of summery options including sorbet’s and posset’s; we chose the frozen raspberry ripple parfait (£6.25) and were pleasantly surprised! The white chocolate cream and hazelnut praline was a lovely pairing and the whole dessert tasted fantastic.

dessert-menu-the-perch

 

Overall we had a wonderful evening out at The Perch and will certainly be returning in the winter months! I’m looking forward to sitting by the roaring fire and soaking up the cosy Cotswolds atmosphere!

A big thanks again to Maddie and Ben for looking after us – we will be back! To book an evening, weekend, dinner or lunchtime meal at The Perch please contact the pub directly.

NB. Thank you to Crimson PR & The Perch for sponsoring my visit. All views and opinions are my own.

 

Family selfie for mums pre birthday meal! Beautiful evening out at a beautiful place 🍴💖

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July Newsletter! Back down to earth with a bump…

My little work helper! 🐶💖 #bloglife

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Hey everyone,

Well this feels rather strange.. I haven’t written a monthly newsletter since May!! MAY!! Yes you heard me right, May seems like FOREVER ago now, but I was out of the country for the whole of June and the start of July and then the rest of the month was over with in a flash! Now that we’re in August though (saywhatttt) I thought I’d summarise what I’ve been up to over these past few weeks…

I came back from my American adventure

So after 28 amazing days the time has come for me to leave the US of A and travel home from my first solo adventure! I've white water rafted in Durango, helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, parasailed on Daytona Beach, been speed boating in Miami and celebrated Independence Day in New York! I've had the time of my life with the most amazing people making 52 new friends as well as hundreds of new memories that will last a lifetime! Honestly the best thing I've ever done and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Now it's time for me to fly home from NYC in my contiki top and cowboy boots in true tourist style! Til next time America… Mum I'm coming homeeee 🇺🇸🎉💖 #noregrets @contiki @statravel_uk @travelstarwarsjoe

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So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month (or, ya know, you could just have been doing something else with your time other than reading my blog, it’s possible) you’ll know that I’ve just got back from the adventure of a LIFETIME! Yep, I’ve just spent the past month road tripping across America from LA to NYC on my first Contiki tour! Find out how my trip has literally changed my life, and why I think America is the best place on earth, by reading some of my previous posts.

I’m taking some time out for ME

Sometimes I just like to sit on fences and pose 📷🍃 #Cotswolds #oxfordshire #happymonday #countryside

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So, as you can imagine, I’m pretty damn gutted about being back home after my amazingly epic American adventure. Post travel blues generally suck but, this time, I’m feeling a whole other level of sadness and I don’t know why, I just can’t explain it. I’ve drafted something which kinda puts across my feelings, but I’ll post it when I’m good and ready as things are still a bit raw at the moment. Besides that I’ve been taking time out for ME and focusing on myself, which is something totally alien to me. Now that I’m not working it’s weird to adjust to not having a routine, so I’m trying to keep myself busy by enjoying long countryside dog walks, family days out and catch ups with my friends. For the first time in my adult life I don’t have to do ANYTHING I don’t want to do, and I’m just trying to embrace it!

I’m re-launching my blog

 

Yayyy, I’m so excited to be in the middle of a rebrand for my blog and I can’t wait to share the end result with you! It’s still a work in progress, but by now you should have noticed a few changes on the blog in terms of layout and theme, and I FINALLY have my own shiny new domain name – woooo! I’ve wanted to change my site for so long but work, life and America got in the way so, now that I’m back, this is my number one priority. Keep an eye out for further updates, but the finished project will be launched soon I promise!

I went to the beach (yes, it was in England!)

Beautiful day at a beautiful place 🇬🇧 #Cotswolds #wanderlustwednesday #visitgreatbritain #uk

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Okay, I know what you’re all thinking, why would you go to a beach in ENGLAND?! Wellll I’m happy to tell you that we experienced a somewhat freakishly hot heatwave last week across the UK and it was AMAZING, we haven’t felt heat like that in sooo long! What do us Brits do when we see some sun? We head for the beach of course! Instead of driving down the coast to all the tourist packed beaches though, me and my best friend drove the short 40 minutes to the beautiful Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire, our nearest manmade beach.

Row row row your boat ⚓️🚤 #Cotswolds #visitgreatbritain #uk #wanderlustwednesday

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It’s not quite the same, there isn’t sand that stretches for miles, or there’s not beautiful blue seas, but it’s as good as we can hope for in the Cotswolds with nothing around but hills, fields and, of course, the Great British countryside! We had a lovely day sunbathing, paddling and rowing a boat across the lake, as you do. Sun please make another appearance so I can go back to this wonderful place before the summer is over!

 

I celebrated my mum and dads Silver Wedding Anniversary <3

 

July also gave us a reason to celebrate as it was my parents Silver Wedding Anniversary – 25 WHOLE YEARS OF MARRAIGE?!?! Crazy, right?! We had a lovely day celebrating and we went out for a gorgeous Italian meal in the evening, just the five of us, before coming home to settle down in our pjs and watch my mum and dad’s wedding video! I’m so lucky to have such a close, tight knit family and occasions like this really bring it home. Love you mum and dad, thank you for always supporting me and for encouraging me to believe in my dreams! <3

I booked my next trip!

Thanks to @easyjet my next trip is now booked! Roll on a 9 day tour of #Italy in September with my sister eek!! #traveltuesday ✈️🌍

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Eeeek so probably the most exciting thing that happened in July was that I booked my next trip!! I know what you’re thinking, you’ve only just got back from America, right?! Yes, that’s right, but I also know that curing my travel blues is gonna take a lot more than pigging out on pizza and Ben & Jerry’s, so, I’ve booked my next trip! I’m off to Italy in September with my sister and we’re taking a full 9 day tour of the country visiting Venice, Florence and Rome. We are both SO EXCITED and are gonna be staying in boutique hotels, getting the train between each city and embracing the true history and culture of Italy during our time there. I’ll bring you more details once we’ve got everything fully booked, but if you have any city tips for either of the destinations we are visiting then PLEASE send them over to me- I want ALL your must sees and must dos!

So that’s pretty much it, my July wasn’t overly exciting compared to my June, but I’ve still been super busy and have had plenty to keep me going! How did your month go? Have you got much on for the rest of the summer? I’d love to hear your upcoming travel plans!

Love Jess x

☀️☀️ #happysaturday #sunshine #cotswolds #oxfordshire

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A Charming Cotswolds Retreat: Royal Afternoon Tea at Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham Spa

ellenborough park hotel

Image courtesy of www.ellenboroughpark.com

 

Last Monday I was invited to the beautiful Ellenborough Park, a five star Cotswold manor house hotel located on the outskirts of Cheltenham Spa, to review their Royal Afternoon Tea. The promotion is running until 30th June 2016 in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday celebrations and offers guests a fantastic dining experience amongst stunning settings on the original Cheltenham Racecourse estate. I attended with my sister, Hannah, who absolutely LOVES afternoon tea. I thought she would be the perfect plus one to help me with my review and, I was right, she definitely didn’t take much persuading! 😉 We had a fantastic afternoon in the most beautiful of surroundings and were suitably stuffed by the time we had finished! Here’s how we got on…

Upon arrival we were greeted by the lovely Jonathan, one of the waiters who looked after us for most of the day. We were shown to our table, or in this case, an exclusive lounge on the first floor of the dining room where we were made to feel like true VIP’s for the day. With quirky antique tables and chairs and large windows as well as a balcony overlooking the rest of the dining room, our executive lounge made the perfect place from which to enjoy our Royal Afternoon Tea.

 

Exclusive lounge for our #royalafternoontea @ellenboroughpk yesterday! 🍰☕️#Cotswolds #cheltenham #review #traveltuesday

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Shortly after we were seated, and had finished gazing in awe at our new surroundings, we were shown the menus by Jonathan and were able to select our teas. There was a wide range of teas from traditional English breakfast to raspberry, rooibos and even chocolate flavoured. We both chose the strawberry and mango infused tea which was brought to our table in a cute little teapot with cups and saucers. We then ordered the Royal Afternoon Tea for two which was brought to us promptly.

 

 

Hannah and I couldn’t believe our eyes when the afternoon tea arrived, there was literally SO. MUCH. FOOD! The menu, by executive head chef David Kelman, boasted three tiers of sumptuous goodies including sandwiches, scones, cakes and sweet treats. The bottom tier comprised of a range of sandwiches including honey roast ham with Tewkesbury mustard, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise with cress and cucumber with tomato and spicy relish. We actually swapped the smoked salmon sandwiches for cheese and pickle ones as we aren’t huge fans of salmon but we both love our cheese! The sandwiches were perfectly cut, neatly filled and incredibly tasty.

 

The middle tier was home to freshly baked Ellenborough Park fruit scones with jam and clotted cream. The scones were fresh out the oven and were still warm so the jam and cream set on the top just nicely and were mouth-wateringly good! Finally, the top tier showcased some of the most fantastic dessert pieces I have ever seen. We were treated to meringue swans filled with fresh strawberries (they were GENIUS!) and Her Majesty’s  favourite chocolate cake with white chocolate flag which was truly scrumptious. There was also a salted caramel Tudor rose chocolate which was incredibly rich as well as Her Majesty’s passionfruit hat, a passionfruit mousse set on a biscuit base with passionfruit glaze and edible sugar flowers which was a delight!

 

Hannah and I devoured almost everything on each tier and were fit to burst by the time we had finished! We thoroughly enjoyed each and every aspect of the afternoon tea and there was no item on the menu which wasn’t expertly made or presented. The 5 star surroundings added to the luxurious atmosphere and it was certainly a dining experience to remember.

 

Can I eat all of these again please?! ☕️🍰 @ellenboroughpk #cotswolds #cheltenham #review #afternoontea

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Ellenborough Park’s Royal Afternoon Tea prides itself on reflecting “the Queen’s love of horses, decades of fashionable hats for royal engagements and guardianship of the nation’s swans.” Executive head chef David Kelman’s “celebratory afternoon tea adds a touch of regal splendour to this quintessentially British delight, served on china fit for a queen.”

With its stunning buildings and sprawling grounds, Ellenborough Park prides itself on “providing guests with the finest hotel accommodation and service in the Cotswolds.” You’ll find 60 large bedrooms and suites as well as two on-site restaurants lead by award winning executive head chef David Kelman. Facilities include an impressive Indian-themed spa and a 15m heated outdoor swimming pool  whilst other leisure activities within the hotel grounds can also be arranged.

 

Beautiful day, beautiful hotel! Thanks so much for having me @ellenboroughpk ☀️🏨 #Cotswolds #visitgreatbritain #cheltenham

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To celebrate all things British and enjoy a quintessentially English dining experience book your table at Ellenborough Park today! Royal Afternoon Tea is priced at £22pp Monday – Thursday or £25pp Friday-Sunday. An optional glass of Champagne Billecart-Salmon can be added for an extra £12pp. To book, please call the hotel directly on 01242 545454 or email info@ellenboroughpark.com. Thank you to all at Ellenborough Park for looking after us and for giving us such a wonderful afternoon – I cannot recommend the hotel highly enough and I will certainly be back!

Love Jess x

NB. I dined with Ellenborough Park as a guest for the purpose of this review but all views are my own.