Belinda's Bash

by Belinda Naylor-Stables

Seaside Soup

Last week Robert and I took a break away in Thorpeness on the Suffolk coast. I had two quests – to find a good soup recipe book and to take stock. The pun is intended because it struck me that soup is a good metaphor for key ingredients to revive your creative soul…

Work up an appetite…

The Guildhall in the centre of Thaxted

Guildhall at Thaxted

Poppy's Tearoom in Thaxted

Poppy's Tearoom in Thaxted

We set off on a Monday morning and stopped off at Poppy’s Tearoom, Thaxted, Poppy’s grandfather was a tea planter and Poppy creates her own tea blend – a nice one to try. The town also boasts a windmill which is a pleasant walk by thatched cottages. It’s a windy place, ideal to blow off the cobwebs.

Find tempting recipes…

Guildhall in Lavenham

Guildhall in Lavenham

At lunchtime we stopped off at the Guildhall in Lavenham, owned by the National Trust. There is parking in the square in front and also a small car park beyond. The Victorians apparently started painting half-timbered buildings black and white. Somehow this hall still flaunts its original colours. A display through the rooms explains the Hall’s history, interlinked with the area’s wool trade. However, I just love the feel and atmosphere of these half-timbered buildings. As well as the café, there is a National Trust Gift Shop where I bought my find of the month: ‘The Soup Bible – All the soups you will ever need in one inspirational collection.’ It's a big, superbly produced book for the impossible price of £4.50 with an assurance at the front that a tree has been planted to replace the one cut down to make it.

Prepare to be delighted…

Thorpeness was a great starting point to forage for inspiration. In the 1800s it was a small fishing village reputedly on the Suffolk smugglers’ route. We stayed in a small refurbished fisherman’s cottage, let by Best of Suffolk. Thorpeness must have changed drastically when in 1910, Scottish barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, rich from designing railways all round the world, bought the village and surrounding area. He retained most of the land for farming, but developed Thorpeness as a holiday village for friends and family. He created streets lined with holiday homes, plus the country club and golf club – all in Jacobean and Tudor Revival styles. Then in 1972 the Ogilvie family sold off many of the houses to pay death duties. The village probably has more of a ‘lived in’ feeling than in Glencairn Ogilvie’s day. It’s comfortable now – like an old jumper – except on the shoreline where the houses on the edge are threatened by the sea. The jumper is fraying.

Get the best ingredients…

Thorpeness centre on the edge of the Mere

Thorpeness centre

The Fish Shack in Aldburgh which sells fresh fish

The Fish Shack

We made the mile long trek along the beach to Aldeburgh for brunch most days. If the sea is not enough for the soul – then The Scallop set on the sands just before you reach Aldeburgh might help. This giant stainless steel shell was created by Maggi Hambling in memory of Benjamin Britten who walked on this coast every afternoon. On the way back each day we stopped at the Fish Shack in Aldeburgh for our soup ingredients.

The Scallop by Maggi Hambling

The Scallop by Maggi Hambling

Mix it up…

For me one of the best ways to stir up creativity is to find contrasts and Suffolk offers plenty. I’d recommend sunset by the Martello tower, Aldeburgh. If you feel like splashing out (at £11 a go it's quite expensive) you can row on Thorpeness Mere. We set off north using the Byways from Thorpness to cycle to Sizewell beach. This is a fantastic beach even though dominated by the nuclear power station.

Minsmere

Minsmere

Sizewell nuclear power station

Sizewell nuclear power station

A sunny day spent at Minsmere, a simple lunch at their café, and at the end of the day a pint at the Eel’s Foot in Eastbridge is a day well spent. A walk through the reed beds to Snape Maltings leads to more sculpture, galleries plus tasteful retail therapy and eateries. On the way you will see a five ton cast bronze and cement sculpture called Perceval by Sarah Lucas.

Perceval by Sarah Lucas

Perceval by Sarah Lucas

Have a feast…

So if a break away is the soup, then getting back to real life is the main course. That’s something to look forward to. And there must be something to say about ‘just desserts’…

Do share your ideal Soul Soup break away – or your favourite soup recipe here! 

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