The second part of our English staycation started in Dedham Vale, a designated ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’, made famous by the romantic paintings of John Constable. John Constables father owned Flatford Mill, which still stands today as a National Trust site, therefore a perfect location from which to explore.
Flatford Mill is an 18th century watermill, which is free to visit (although parking charges apply) and we were lucky enough to visit on a beautiful day. We walked through the floral gardens and along the riverside and took in our gorgeous surroundings.
We soon decided a better viewpoint would be from a rowing boat, available for hire from the mill. My brother, his girlfriend and my mum set off on one boat whilst my Dad and I were rowed by Adam. At first Adam couldn’t get the gist of rowing, much to our amusement and there were certainly some laughing when his efforts pulled him right off his seat onto the floor of the boat.
He soon got the hang of it and we spent a lovely hour rowing around on the calm waters, taking the occasional break and drifting along and trying to stop the dogs from jumping into the water. We soon returned to the land to walk amongst some cows that we’d noticed in a nearby field. Whilst on the boat we’d noticed a large amount of people walking through and petting them and as I’ve never petted a cow before I was pretty game!
All was going well until the cows took a bit too much interest in the dogs and started chasing us. A ton of bovine can get pretty scary so we left the field quickly, nervously giggling as we scarpered through the gate.
We drove onto the Hare and Hounds pub in the nearby village of East Bergholt, where I enjoyed a lovely pie and mash accompanied by a cider, which was lovely to sip sitting outside in the beer garden.
Our final stop of the day was the Dedham Vale Vineyard, luckily a dog friendly location. We were able to tour the vineyard as well as do a tasting of the wines they produced. The cost of a self guided tour was £5, however because it was English Wine week we got to do it for free! They left us alone with the wines so they were very trusting, the sparkling wine was very nice and was certainly my favourite. The Vineyard was set in some very nice grounds and we had a walk around, resting on the hay underneath the trees and enjoying our surroundings.
We were very lucky the next day to have another day of sunshine to end our English seaside holiday. We made the most of it, heading to Brightlingsea beach where we enjoyed some ice cream at Batemans Cafe and my mum even paddled in the sea. I mostly enjoyed the cute pastel beach huts!
From there we headed to Clacton, the quintessential seaside resort. We walked the pier, ate warm sugary doughnuts on the beach and this time it was my time for a dip in the sea. That night we had a typical pub dinner at the Red Lion, back at St Osyth before driving back home the next morning.
I have to say that despite my initial apprehensions I really enjoyed our little break away and the chance to spend time with my family…although I still would have rather been in Croatia!