It has been such a lovely festive period at The Stable at Mullion Barn. It was our first Christmas and New Year and wow what a lovely space to decorate and celebrate!
We started off the festivities at the award winning 4-day Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre burystedmundschristmasfayre.co.uk (always the last week in November!), which is one the country's biggest Christmas fayres with over 300 stalls.
We then set about decorating the barn, and oh what fun we had! Soooo many fairy lights, three Christmas trees and a couple of reindeer out the front too. We welcomed lots of family and friends over Christmas and the new year and confirmed that the barn really is such a lovely space to entertain - what fun!
We have recently spent a day at the beautiful and historical village of Lavenham in Suffolk. It's only 10 miles from The Stable and a lovely drive through the countryside and some very pretty villages to get there. It isn't the first time we have been, but it has certainly been too long since our last visit and it won't be as long until our next one!
Lavenham is a well known town and regarded as the finest surviving example of a medieval town in England. The splendid church and fine timber-framed houses intermingle with small cottages and crooked town houses, a lasting legacy of the wealthy clothiers in the 15th and 16th centuries. The medieval street pattern still exists today, complete with the Market Place and over 300 buildings which are listed as being of architectural and historical interest. You could spend the whole day just wandering around the local streets looking at the amazing historical architecture and beautiful buildings!
We discovered a really fun way to explore Lavenham by completing this fantastic Treasure Hunt Trail where you simply follow a map (available here www.treasuretrails.co.uk/things-to-do/suffolk/lavenham) and find out loads of interesting things about the medieval town. It takes in all the important bits including Lavenham Guidhall (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lavenham-guildhall). It took a couple of hours in all and kept adults and kids entertained, perfect!
We even managed to stop for an amazing (yes, really amazing and 'taste-bud-tantilising') afternoon tea at the Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Room (https://www.lavenhambluetearooms.com) on the Market Place. Located in the downstairs of Amanda's Grade II listed cottage with views of the Market Square and the Guildhall, her Traditional Afternoon Tea is a must! All cakes, desserts and sandwiches are either homemade or baked locally in Lavenham and I must say it is one of the best Afternoon teas we have ever had. They also catered for the fussy kids and provided half portions of cake for the little ones which is always a bonus. Oh and don't leave without a bathroom stop - you will see why, as the bathroom is just gorgeous!
We couldn't leave Lavenham without browsing a couple of shops, including the aptly named Retail Therapy (https://retailtherapylavenham.co.uk) on the main street through Lavenham. They sold some really lovely clothes, handbags and gifts that we hadn't seen in other shops, they even have two shops opposite each other so if you want to see more just cross over the road! If you are interested in wool, spinning and yarns then don't miss out The Wool Room, they spin Alpaca wool which is really unusual.
On this occasion we didn't stay for dinner, but previously we have come to Lavenham just for a meal as there are a couple of restaurants that are worth a visit all on their own, especially if you are celebrating because they really are a special treat:
- The Swan (https://theswanatlavenham.co.uk); which is a hotel and spa too, but The Gallery Restaurant is just exquisite and always deserves 5 stars.
- The Great House (http://www.greathouse.co.uk), a must if you fancy some award winning french cuisine.
Finally, if you want to find out more, Lavenham has a great website: http://www.discoverlavenham.com
Let us know what you think if you visit!
With our most local pub The five Bells in Hessett currently being refurbished (very exciting!) it has pushed us to discover some of the other pubs in the local area - and oh wow we really are spoilt for choice!
We have been frequent visitors of The Bear Inn in Beyton, but our new favourites are The Swan in Woolpit and The Six Bells in Felsham. To make it easier to find the type of pub you fancy visiting we have put a few of the local ones below, accompanied by some of our thoughts on what makes them fabulous. Please do let us know if you visit any of them, or if we should be adding some more to the list!
The Bear Inn, Beyton - 1.7 miles to the north
Great local friendly freehouse with a fab list of gins and a modern food menu, popular with locals and visitors alike. We like the way they use locally sourced ingredients and they've been in the CAMRA good beer guide for 4 years now so beers are fab. They have also redone their small garden area recently so there is lots of seating outside too.
The White Horse, Beyton - 1.5 miles to the north
Friendly country pub, currently the nearest pub to The Stable and perfect for watching the footie and enjoying a good pint of the local beer that has all the Green King specials. The food menu is wholesome pub grub, and you can even pop in for a full english breakfast! (not tried it yet so let us know what its like!).
The Swan, Woolpit - 3 miles to the east
Visited here for the first time last month and was pleasantly surprised by the food menu - modern, fresh flavours with some unusual combinations and beautifully presented. We loved the light dishes and devoured the watermelon salad, the felafel and the tempura prawns. Lovely decor and furnishings inside too; can't wait to take our friends and family to this one. No kids menu, but we quite liked that ;-)
The Bull, Woolpit - 3 miles to the east
Thought we'd try The Bull for a last minute early Saturday evening dinner with the family, and with our expectations being pretty average when we walked in, they really came up trumps with a perfectly cooked tuna steak and Mediterranean fish stew to die for! Great kids menu and a decent size garden area - we will be back!
The Six Bells, Felsham - 3 miles to the south
After driving passed this gorgeous looking pub a couple of times on the way to Lavenham, we decided to cycle here recently from The Stable (20 mins on the bike) for a Sunday lunch and were both pleasantly surprised with the pub itself and the food. The other half had the chicken roast and I had the quorn roast, both of which were yummy, perfect roast potatoes and seasonal veg. We wiped the plates clean! It was a beautiful day so we sat outside on the decking behind the pub, lovely and quiet and shaded. We also noted that it's dog friendly pub so great for bringing the parents and their dog next time they visit!
The Horseshoes Inn, Cockfield - 7 miles to the south
A CAMRA pub, so a great range of beer, serving filling traditional British homemade pub grub, really well made with friendly service. If you like The Stable's historical architecture you will love it here too because it is a Grade II listed building built in 1350 AD with thatched roof, huge fireplace and exposed wooden beams. We shouldn't forget the really fabulous garden with gorgeous views across the local valley and a play area too!
Fox & Hounds, Thurston - 3 miles to the north
We have been visiting this little gem for years now and it being a pub that's won awards from CAMRA, it serves a great pint of beer (..or number of, more like!). They serve large plates of food from a large varied menu, so perfect if you're hungry, with a great children's menu too. But be warned you often need to book on a weekend or wait a while for a table as it's not big and it's really popular. The big plus for us is a lovely beer garden with plenty of seating and a little play area.
The Bennett Arms, Rougham - 1.8 miles to the west
No frills traditional local pub with a massive new (2018) play area and a bouncy castle in the summer months. We still haven't tried the food here yet, but we are planning to as the menu looks good. Perfect local stop off for refreshments!
Spring has most definitely arrived at the barn. So much green and plenty of beautiful spring flowers! I had to get the camera out and share it all with you; the current guests at The Stable are really enjoying the bright colours of Spring and of course the birds singing high in the trees...
The previous owners Colin and Sandra, purchased Mullion Barn during Spring 2007. At the time the old barn structure was on the point of total collapse, three of the seven livestock bays had already fallen in and the Structural Engineer thought that the entire building would not withstand another winter!
Their first task was to clear the site, as it was virtually covered by brambles, nettles and ivy. They erected scaffolding inside and out to prevent futher movement of the barn frame. At this point they were ready to start removing the roof and stripping off the old wooden cladding that covered most of the building. Part of the inside of the barn had cladding and also evidence of lathe and plaster. It was behind this covering in The Stable part of the property (the current self-catering holiday annex), that an early 17th Centuary, fully intact oak diamond Mullion window was discovered. This was inspected by a Conservation Officier who dated it around 1610.
During the summer of 2008 they made great progress on the conversion of the barn, sometimes having up to ten people working at any one time on site. Sandra would bring out refreshments from their on-site caravan, iced juice when hot and soup when cold, and gallons of sweet tea plus home made cakes!
The barn was sufficiently finished to enable them to move into it by late December 2008, giving them a nice warm family Christmas. Internal decorating continued for some months and come Spring 2009, work on the garden commenced.