Possibly the most wholesome bank holiday in years. And with that statement I include a 12 mile run, staying up until gone 2am drinking sloe gin, throwing back champagne at 1 in the afternoon and eating doorsteps of cheese and chocolate, so before I look too smug in the face of Notting Hill Carnival hangovers fear not.
It was the type of virtuosity you get from visiting the family in the country, No I didn’t go raving, but I did eat my own bodyweight in (every type of ) dairy product and may possibly be sweating red wine for the next two weeks. But heck, I did it surrounded by floral bedspreads, open fields and 60s Jazz. So wholesome it most definitely was.
The aunt’s garden is a picture from The Good Life.
Plum trees drape – heavy with fruit, elderflower bushes stand perky ready for turning into wine and a hedge of sloes bursts with purple berries. There’s even a tree-house, for the nephews when they’re there. For a G&T when they’re not.
My uncle Nigel has been dedicated to his sloe gin, allowing a year for the love affair between berry and liquid to languish. We were willing taste testers. A sweet and sour flavour that’s perfect for sipping. A summery liquor that’s perfect for cutting through the foody layers at the end of a feast, perky enough to wake you up, but less heavy than whiskey. Or Sambucca, which is what my aunt usually favours.
We slept off layers of food, cheese, chocolate, the most delicious (if very sweet) white wine (Vouvray) I’ve ever had, in this beautiful little room decorated with Laura Ashley wallpaper.
In the morning we ate scrambled egg with home-made bread and home-made plum jam. I love that my family doesn’t so much as bat an eyelid when I pile butter on my toast so thickly it looks like cheese, then spread gooey jam on top, before spooning on buttery egg and then crushing salt in my fingers over the top. Hello heart attack.
All the greedy consuming filled me and The Boy with enough energy for a 12 mile run. I dragged the big sister along for the first 3 miles, am impressive effort, as she hasn’t run in yonks.
We ran along to Felixstow Docks, through bridle paths, along the coastal rocks, bumped into a 12 week old husky puppy, along county roads and past prickly brambles. It was forgiving on the knees to run on squishy grass for a change, but you had to have your wits about you – knots of craggy grass and protuding branches make for easy injuries. I nearly went down on some rough gravel while ogling a gigantic farm-house.
Before heading home from Manningtree, we feasted on fresh squid, hand-cut chips and a side of Suffolk samphire from The Mistly Thorn. Super staff, a wonderful menu and killer puddings (bourbon and pecan tart anyone?) Deelicious.
While waiting for the train, we admired the gorgeous gold-painted table in the station waiting room and were disappointed that the station bar was closed, as a whisky would have been the perfect antidote to the wind that had whipped up outside.
Highlights of the weekend include snuggling with Mr Chunks – the gorgeous British Blue addition to the St Johnston family household. Listening to live renditions of Sunslide. Lots of laughter with family over garden-fresh food and way too much alcohol. Can it be a bank holiday every weekend please?