Orford - castle, crabbing and carrying on Regardless
PUBLISHED: 10:46 23 August 2016
(c) copyright citizenside.com
Sara Green and her family head off to Orford
Orford means a great deal to us. To the children and their cousins it means visits to the castle, hot chocolate from Pump Street Bakery, crabbing from the quay and boat trips each summer on the fishing boat, Regardless. To me it means romantic evenings with my husband at the Crown and Castle (location of our first date). To all of us it means shopping trips to Pinneys by the quay, and to Hebe, our rather scruffy dog, it means long walks whether in the sunshine or on wet drizzly days.
I spoke to someone recently who had owned a holiday cottage in Orford. She visited many, many times over the years but rarely felt the need to venture further than the village itself. It wasn’t until she moved here properly that she discovered the rest of Suffolk is quite lovely too. I know what she means. I could happily while away weeks at a time in a cottage in Orford, never leaving until I really had to.
One Saturday morning in June we decided on a day in Orford. Our visit coincided with the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations and the village was decked out with swathes of bunting. The place was bustling with the type of quintessentially English life that makes your heart sing – it was glorious. The sun was shining, it was warm (note: Orford does ‘wet, cold and windy’ very well) and everyone was very busy setting up tables and preparing for a street party later that day. The weekly country market was taking place in the town hall where everything for sale must be home-produced, home-grown, or hand-crafted in Orford. It was a veritable hive of activity.
We started with a wander round the ruins next to the church of St Bartholomew and then walked towards the castle. Alice and I popped in for a look around. Hebe wasn’t allowed in so she sat outside with the others. We’ve visited the castle on so many occasions that it wasn’t exactly an historic exploration, rather a reacquaintance with the parts that we love. One place in particular always makes us giggle. It’s the men’s loo built into the wall of the Constable’s Room, listed on the English Heritage website as one of their Top 10 Historic Loos no less.
However, our visit was curtailed by Hebe who had developed a severe case of insecurity and could be heard screaming from inside the castle. At least, I think it was Hebe . . .
We popped into Pump Street Bakery for some of their scrumptious hot chocolate. It was a warm day but Pump Street’s hot chocolate has to be tasted to be believed.
We must have picked one of the most beautiful days of the year to visit Orford. The flowers in the cottage gardens were incredibly pretty. We took a little path called Bakers Lane from the Market Square past the now, sadly, closed Richardsons Smokehouse, and along beside beautifully kept Beatrix Potter-like vegetable patches. We came across a delightful butchers in a shack which must be one of the most idyllic places in the world to buy your BBQ ingredients. We walked back down the hill to the quay and along the riverbank for a walk before lunch. The river was still and peaceful, and I keep promising myself that one day I will book one of the cottages right by the quay for a weekend away. I actually spotted two people I knew who had done exactly that and they only live in Bury St Edmunds. I didn’t say hello – I didn’t want to spoil that feeling that Orford has of being ‘away from it all’, even if home is less than an hour away.
After our walk we stopped for lunch at The Jolly Sailor. The children love it there – the menu suits everyone and Hebe always finds a bowl of cold water to gulp down. After a long lunch in the warm sunshine we departed for home feeling as if we’d had a very short holiday.
Don’t miss a trip on Regardless
Every summer for the past five years or so we have taken the children on a children’s activity trip up the river from Orford on Regardless. She’s a 25ft clinker open launch boat, but to us she’s just a beautiful old fishing boat. During the summer school holidays, Regardless departs from Orford Quay every evening, depending on demand, and Saturday evenings during term time (May to September). It is advisable to book to confirm availability and times.
The wonderful trip lasts about an hour. Wrap up warm, take a blanket and enjoy the gorgeous views of Havergate Island and the coast. Hear a running commentary about the local flora and fauna, and look out for marsh harriers, avocets, brown hares and, perhaps, a seal. You will stop at lobster pots, the contents of which – usually crabs, but often lobsters – are unceremoniously tipped into a crate for children to pick up and look at. You will watch as claws are quickly held in place with elastic bands to prevent the loss of fingers and you will stare in amazement at head-standing lobsters. When the lobsters tire of being held and passed around they are positioned on their heads which apparently sends them to sleep. w