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Watering hole . . . a seaside retreat on the banks of the Orwell

PUBLISHED: 16:22 07 July 2014

Martin Bignell and Sarah Bateman have renovated a lodge at Priory Park, Ipswich in a coastal retreat theme.

Martin Bignell and Sarah Bateman have renovated a lodge at Priory Park, Ipswich in a coastal retreat theme.

Archant

Nestled in the trees on the banks of the River Orwell seems a strange place to find a seaside retreat.

Martin Bignell and Sarah Bateman have renovated a lodge at Priory Park, Ipswich in a coastal retreat theme.Martin Bignell and Sarah Bateman have renovated a lodge at Priory Park, Ipswich in a coastal retreat theme.

But step inside the log cabin of Martin Bignell and partner Sarah Bateman and that’s exactly what you’ll find.

Thanks to Sarah’s flair and creativity, their weekender at Priory Park, Ipswich, would just as easily be at home on the golden sands of Lowestoft or the shingle shores of Aldeburgh.

The couple bought the cabin in 2009. Monday to Friday they live in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, which is conviently close to London and their jobs, but they wanted a place where they could share their weekends with Martin’s son, Jake, who lives with his mum in Bury St Edmunds.

Initially they thought a caravan would be the answer, but when they were introduced to Priory Park following a camping holiday in Suffolk, they jumped at the chance to own a cabin. Priory Park is set in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 100 acres of south facing wooded parkland with panoramic views over the beautiful River Orwell estuary. The park has landscaped grounds and ponds with walks down to the water’s edge and offers holiday homes as well as permanent residences for over 50s.

Martin Bignell and Sarah Bateman have renovated a lodge at Priory Park, Ipswich in a coastal retreat theme.Martin Bignell and Sarah Bateman have renovated a lodge at Priory Park, Ipswich in a coastal retreat theme.

There’s a nine-hole golf course, bar and restaurant, two hard surfaced outdoor tennis courts, nature trails and woodland walks, a heated outdoor pool, children’s play area and a small boat compound with a launch area.

Martin and Sarah spent several months transforming their cabin, creating a comfortable family retreat on a distinctly nautical theme. Sarah has collected lots of seaside paraphernalia on frequent trips to the coast to make the interior welcoming and fun, as well as choosing practical flooring and furnishing that can stand up to sandy feet and muddy boots returning from the beach and woods. The couple enjoy family trips with Jake to the beach, crabbing expeditions to Walberswick and Felixstowe, eating out enjoying great local food and drink and exploring the countryside.

“We are here with Jake 48 weekends of the year and we’ve really embraced the Suffolk lifestyle,” says Martin.

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