Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Die St John

When Stephen first told us he was planning on going to Bury St Edmunds, my first thought was 'who is St Edmund and why do you want to bury him?' Turns out Bury, which Lauren christened Die St John and Cremate St Bruce (depending on how sacrilegious she was feeling), is in fact a very cute historic small town a couple of hours by train from London, where the Christian Saxon king Edmund was said to have been turned into a pincushion by Viking archers. Stephen, history hound that he is, had sniffed out an opulent country mansion called Ickworth that he wanted to visit. Ickworth was built by the Herveys, a scandalous and showy noble family. And by scandal I mean scandal - from a bisexual 17th Century cabinet minister to a bankrupt gay jewel thief, the Herveys were a racy bunch.

Amazing what you get when you put money and looniness together. And I don't mean Stephen.

To get to Ickworth, we had to do a bit of a cross country walk. Given how unfit Alice, Stephen, Lauren and I are, and how many bits of Suffolk we had to cut across, this was a bit of a mission. There were turnip fields. There were wrong turnings. There were black-faced sheep. There were sore legs. There were pheasants bursting from the bushes. There were cow pats. There was the old lady with the vacant smile. And there was the mental institution, where four lost Kiwis carrying an assortment of packs and sticks fitted in quite well.

Alice, Lauren and Stephen a-wandering

Tane, God of the Turnips

It was a great weekend - fireworks, a really cool little museum where you could see a lock of Mary Tudor's hair, a restaurant with very tasty French wine, a huge ruined abbey and bed and breakfast in a house dating back to Anne Boleyn's time. History, food, drink, fireworks, exercise and turnips. What more could you want from a weekend in the country?

The former St Edmund's Abbey

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