Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - It was hot!

By guest blogger Pete.

Well, to be more precise, "It was sweltering!" The week before our holiday to Suffolk the weather was great. Based on our experiences of how weather locally can quickly change we began to wonder whether or not we had chosen the wrong week for our East Anglian Expedition. Would we be snowed in or would the floods sweep away the cottage we had rented - and us? Would we see Lincoln again if we ventured out to our proposed destination? Well, the week we chose turned out to be absolutely sweltering. It was too hot to eat much but at least the local trade in cold drinks did well. The day we got home the weather broke and, on top of that, an hour after we got home a water pipe burst and we hadn't turned the water off whilst we were away. I think we were rather lucky there!!!!!!!!

One of our reasons for choosing Suffolk as the destination for our holiday was that it has a large portion of "Constable Country" within its borders. For those readers from other shores, Constable ranks high in the list of English artists. He was a Suffolk man and many of his paintings were set in that area around southern Suffolk and northern Essex. That area remains pretty well undisturbed by modern development, although some of the old houses have been taken over and converted into rather expensive and not always particularly good restaurants.

We started off our visit by calling into East Berghof - Constable's birthplace. In actual fact the house in which he was born has long gone but the church in which he worshipped remains unchanged except for the introduction of electricity. It appears that Constable's forefathers had difficult building a bell tower for their peal of bells. Perhaps the bells were too large and heavy - the present ones looked it - and the tower fell down . The decided on a temporary solution to this disaster and it was a temporary solution still in existence today. They built what I would describe as an open sided low barn and put the bells in that. The building is still in use, the bells still rung on a Sunday and the bell tower absolutely useless but rather decorative. I'll enclose a photo to show you what I mean.

Flatford Mill is the sight of a number of Constable's landscape paintings. Ignoring the not too many commercial signs, the area is pretty much as Constable would have known it. The house featured in, what is probably his most famous painting, "The Haywain" is still there and now privately owned. The River Stow at this point is much deeper that it appears in the painting and would suggest that only artistic license would allow a horse and cart to cross at the point it is doing in the painting.

The last place we visited had the unfortunate name of Dedham. Housed in the church here is one of only three non landscapes painted by Constable. This original Constable is on loan to the church and, although displayed above human reach, it is easy to see.

If you like ice cream and go to Dedham then walk down the road opposite the church. Just a little way down and you'll find a place that sells the largest ice cream cone I've ever come across and all for £1.40. If nothing else, one of those ice creams makes Dedham well worth visiting.

Keep on eating the ice cream - its wonderful stuff to be addicted to.

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