Travel - Ivywood Cottage and Norfolk/Suffolk {Part One}

August 02, 2017

At the start of the summer, back in May I think it was, Ben and I looked around at the beautiful countryside and realised that summer is of course the very best time of year for England yet we always tend to have our mini breaks in January {or we spend our holidays abroad somewhere}. WHY?! I think we always just write off the summer at home because we think it will either be pouring with rain or it's the school holidays and everywhere would be full of kids. But actually to see England at her very finest, June and July are the best time of the year. Especially at the seaside. So we decided to take a couple of days break just before the main schools broke up and headed to Norfolk and Suffolk. We hadn't been for ages but whenever we have visited previously, we've loved it. So I searched on Airbnb for a cute little abode where we could base ourselves and found Ivywood Cottage - {use this for £30 free credit towards it}. It looked perfect and practically right on the border of both Suffolk and Norfolk so we could explore both areas. We only had two nights away but sometimes that's all you need for a little refresh and we loved being back at some of our favourite beaches and seaside towns.

Ivywood Cottage is in a tiny hamlet called Redenhall near Harleston. It's about forty minutes to Southwold in Suffolk and just over an hour to North Norfolk. It is kind of in the middle of nowhere and you would need a car but we found it was a great location in the middle of all of the places we wanted to visit.

The cottage itself was beautiful - a stylish rural retreat - and I wanted to steal alll of the decor inspiration from it. Soft Farrow & Ball colours, a scandi chic vibe yet in a beautiful Medieval beamed cottage. If you saw my Instagram whilst we were staying there you'll know how I couldn't resist posting a million photos, every little corner was photo worthy!

Whilst we were out for a lot of the time, it was lovely to spend relaxed mornings have breakfast here as well as late afternoons before dinner and I really wish we could have stayed for longer.

It had three bedrooms - two proper doubles and one in the middle of the two where the stairs came up that you could flip a sofabed out of so would be perfect for families, a couple of couples, or just the two of you. I fell in love with the kitchen and we were left cute little touches like a cake, card and fresh flowers everywhere on arrival.

Having somewhere lovely to stay can make or break a trip I think. This was definitely one of the most beautiful cottages we've stayed in in England though and everything from the bunting, antlers, bee knocker and rolltop bath was just up my street. You know when you just walk around in awe?!

The cottage is owned by Laura and James, a truly lovely couple who live in the main house next door with their adorable 10 month old twins. They recently left London to swap the city for country life. Nothing was too much trouble and before we arrived they were helpfully emailing us guides of things to do etc. I was itching to ask Laura all about her inspiration for the cottage, she told us that they bought it like this from the previous owners who had set up the Airbnb. I love how they've taken over the rental though and have kept the extra little touches going. 

You know all know how much I love a rolltop {!!}

... and pretty pink garden roses by the sink. 

I could have just moved straight in.

The kitchen was well equipped and we cooked in one night, making the most of the sun trap of a garden.

Having two big bedrooms was a luxury to choose between them. We opted for the one with the en-suite but both were lovely and bright with beautiful views out of the adorable cottage windows.

Fresh, country air with bunting and blue skies!

Have you ever seen a more Instagrammable cottage?!

I'd say the only thing it lacked was a logburner for a Wintry break. It obviously wasn't a problem in the summer and there were plenty of cast iron radiators around to keep toasty if needed.

In the garden we ate cherries and read magazines one afternoon and admired the huge apple tree laden with fruit.

Throughout the rest of our stay we explored the local area. Laura & James had sent us a guide before arriving and whilst we'd planned most of our trip, we didn't know about the local amazing restaurant until we saw it in the local guide left for us in the kitchen {more on that in part two},

Before arriving at the cottage we'd driven straight to North Norfolk to revisit some of our favourite spots. 

Burnham Market was the first stop. Nicknamed Chelsea on Sea it's a cute little village with independent posh pubs {The Hoste}, a fishmonger, a few delis, a bakery and a few regular shops like Joules and a big Jack Wills.

The houses {and doors} are worth visiting for as well as Gurney's famous fish shop. We bought crab from here for a lunch picnic and bread from the bakery upstairs. One thing we noticed actually throughout Norfolk and Suffolk are the amount of amazing independent retailers and farm shops in the area. It's like stepping back in time to the way that villages used to be. And there is so, so much farming around all the countryside. It's fun to get stuck behind a tractor or see the big trailers loaded with potatoes heading to be processed for the supermarkets.

Pink houses! Dress online here.

Hollyhock heaven! And old English cottages.

Next we headed 5 minutes down the road towards Holkham. 

Holkham Hall is worth a visit if you haven't been before. We wanted to head to the beach this time so skipped it.  We'd bought our folding bikes in the car with us as we remembered a great cycle route from Holkham to Wells. We parked at Holkham village and then cycled down Queen Ann's drive to the bike route one which runs the whole way behind the beach. We cycled until we reached the famous beach huts.

I love walking down this track to the beach that stretches out for miles and miles in front of you. It just feels like you're properly on holiday at that point.

Beach huts!! So many of them in all different shapes and sizes.

So fantastic when grouped together running along the edge of the pine fringed beach.

This was our favourite. Architecturally designed with a spiral staircase and a simple oar. 

It was really windy so we walked towards the dunes for some protection to eat a picnic.

Bright blue sky and a sea that was miles out. The beaches in Norfolk feel so vast with such big open skies.

We ripped up crusty bread and had Cromer crab, the best! Sometimes you can't beat simple, good lunches like that.

Beach treasure.

Sandals online here {the best for the beach as you can get them wet and they'll last forever}

From Holkham and the beach huts we carried on cycling towards Wells Next the Sea.

It's a funny old seaside town/port. Half of it fish & chip shops and arcades with a little of that seaside tackiness you nostalgically love. With the other half a more upmarket high street with a range of art galleries, cafes and shops. 

We really like it for a wander under the bunting strewn streets and there's a really great greengrocer for locally grown fruit. 

There was an amazing American style Scandi interiors shop too in which I wanted to buy everything. We ended buying a wall hanging for our new snug. 

Cycling through the lanes back to Holkham. It was such a hot day, I miss summer! It hasn't been the same ever since.

From there we slowly made our way to the cottage, stopping in at a couple of old favourites en route like the quintessential Stiffkey Stores.

And Wiveton Hall cafe, a fruit farm overlooking the sea. 

You can pick your own fruit here depending on what's in season or have lunch in their amazing cafe. We sat in the sun and bought a couple of their homemade fruit ice lollies. They were so good and refreshing on a hot afternoon.

Next up, our favourite Suffolk spots in Part Two.

You can find more on Ivywood Cottage online here {and their Instagram here}. If you haven't used Airbnb before you can sign up here and get £30 free credit with this link.

R <3 xx

- previous Norfolk trips and posts online here and here.

{with thanks to Ivywood Cottage for discounting our stay but as always all opinions are 100% my own and I'd never ever recommend anywhere we didn't truly love}

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