Food + Flowers = Happy. It's a pretty easy piece of arithmetic for me. These are simply the things that make my heart sing. On our recent trip to Suffolk, top of my list of of places to visit combined both seasonal food with flowers. I also wanted to have a quiet, slow holiday without too much sitting in the car and driving long distances. We made one longish journey to the coastline and visited Orford and the nearby National Trust site of Sutton Hoo, but everything else we did was local to the campsite. We walked through meadows to enjoy cider in pretty pub gardens and took a trip to Diss to eat at the lovely vegetarian restaurant Amandines (pudding was Damson Gin ice cream - yum!). But by far my favourite part of the holiday was visits to these two places I've shared below - Darsham Nurseries and Wyken Vineyards.
I'm kicking myself for not taking more photographs at Darsham as it's incredibly beautiful but it was busy with customers and I don't really like snapping strangers as they are trying to eat, it kind of feels like an invasion of privacy. I've wanted to visit the nursery and cafe for years and had planned to go last time we were at Ling's Meadow but simply didn't have enough time to fit it in. It did not disappoint at all, in fact, it totally exceeded my expectations. Recently named as one of the UK's Top 100 Restaurants, the food is seasonal, the produce grown in their own kitchen garden (check out the sample menus here). The cafe has a laid-back rustic feel, a blackboard listing the fruit and vegetables currently being harvested and freshly picked flowers on every table. We went for breakfast and it was so good. I opted for shakshuka, Harry had pancakes and the husband had the sourdough toast with lemon and thyme marmalade. We drank bottomless cups of coffee and it was delicious, I only wish I'd asked at the time which roaster it came from as it was one of the nicest cups I've had in quite a while. Afterwards we wandered around the shop which is full of local and unique finds - ceramics, soaps, gardening equipment, books and some indoor plants. The nursery is well stocked with perennials, shrubs and herbs and there were some beautiful plants I longed to bring home with me, but it's kind of difficult buying them to take back home to Yorkshire when you are camping. By far the thing that impressed me most about Darsham was how lovely everyone who worked there was. Happy, friendly and engaging with all their customers, it was a real pleasure spending time there. I'd be visiting regularly if it was near me. One day I'll be back for sure.
My second place that combined food with flowers was Wyken Vineyards and only three miles away from Ling's Meadow. Home to the Leaping Hare Restaurant and Cafe, a seven acre vineyard, a Country Store full of beautiful clothing, interiors, books and the wine from the vineyard plus beautiful gardens to wander around. Oh and as if that wasn't perfect enough, they have a Farmers Market every Saturday celebrating local producers of food and flowers. Sadly we were coming home on the Friday and didn't get the opportunity to try that. Again, one for next time.
We started off our day at Wyken with coffee and cake outside in the garden. I opted for the wholemeal scone and clotted cream. It was warm from the oven and really delicious. Harry chose Wyken cookies and we were all totally won over with the plate of five differently flavoured cookies, freshly made to order. After cake we took a wander through the gardens which are open to the public every day after 2pm apart from Saturdays. There is a £4 charge per adult but kids go free.
There is a series of gardens that connect the manor house to the surrounding countryside. From a beautiful knot garden, a cottage garden stuffed full of my favourite lupins and echinops, a kitchen garden which also supplies the restaurant with produce to a fantastic maze that really does challenge both old and young to find the centre. Best by far is watching the strutting peacocks, chickens and guinea fowl who call these gardens home. Wandering around the orchard they seemed happy pecking at the fallen apples and clamboring on walls and utterly oblivious to all the people wandering amongst them.
We all loved Darsham and Wyken Vineyards and would absolutely visit again. The food and flowers were simply perfect and next time I'll be having lunch at both and also filling my car with plants to bring home. Suffolk, I do love you and I hope to be back soon.