My Suffolk - Fiona Siddall
Anne Gould talks to Fiona Siddall of Easton Farm Park about her life in Suffolk
I am born and bred Suffolk and came home to roost 12 years ago after lots of work, study and travel around the UK and other places. I love the rural landscape, the wild coast, the market towns, the familiarity of such strong communities and the quirks of Suffolk life. Despite the ease of communication via mobile, email, twitter and facebook, Suffolk is still heavily dependent upon word of mouth to spread news through villages – I love that!
Have you got a favourite place in Suffolk to escape to when you need to think?
A brisk walk along the beach at Thorpeness with the dogs puts life in balance and blows the cobwebs away and my mobile doesn’t work there which makes it a real escape from modern life.
Where do you walk?
With a toddler and newborn baby we stay fairly close to home on the footpaths of Mid- Suffolk trying to find puddles to jump in. One of my favourite walks is on the Green Trail at Easton Farm Park along the banks of the river Deben. As the river slowly winds through the farm and the animals all chill out in the safe pastures, everything seems to slow down.
If you were showing people around Suffolk who had never been here before where would you take them?
So many choices… I would take them to Aldeburgh for breakfast at Munchies and coffee at the Brudenell. Stock up at Friday Street Farm Shop and stop off for a browse around Snape Maltings. Off to the White Horse in Easton for lunch in front of the fire, a walk with the dogs and, if I really wanted to impress, supper at the Salthouse in Ipswich. Urban friends might be taken for a browse around the antique shops in Woodbridge with lunch at Paddy Hockley’s place and a walk along the river.
If you had to illustrate the county with a single photograph what shot would you take?
The perfect spring shot on the farm with lambs, Suffolk Punch foal and pink blossom.
Which restaurants do you like to eat at?
Having taken on the White Horse at Easton nearly two years ago, we tend to be more pub- biased these days, although I would never pass up an invite to Milsoms at Kesgrave Hall.
Adnam’s or Greene King?
Does Suffolk still have surprises in store? When did the county last surprise you?
When we went to the panto at the Theatre Royal in Bury. I hadn’t been to Bury for a while and had forgotten how vibrant it is, and we all loved the panto in this intimate and stylish venue.
Do you think it’s important that we shop local and support local businesses and tradesmen?
It is vital to support local businesses and trade in order to maintain a healthy local economy and sustain jobs for the future generations. There have recently been some key local community services lost around us, including Seagers of Wickham Market and Animal Health Supplies in Framlingham. These types of business are the heart of our market towns and should be supported and frequented so we don’t lose them. We love Henry Abbott’s in Debenham – what they don’t stock is probably not worth having, a real treasure trove.
Why is Suffolk a great place to bring up children?
We had a fabulous childhood on the farm, with summers on the Meare at Thorpeness – and it is still possible to have a “Swallows & Amazons” childhood in Suffolk with lots of country activities and a perfect blend of countryside, coast, rivers and space to run around. There are lots of great schools and inspiring teachers and I am definitely enjoying introducing my two tinies to our great county.
Do you support the arts? Where do you go?
I have to admit that we have been a little lacking of late due to sleepless nights at home. We like to visit the Alde Valley Art Festival in the spring and to wander around the galleries at Snape Maltings. I am looking forward to my two being old enough to enjoy the Children’s Theatre at the Wolsey and am sad that the Spa Pavilion is out of action as I was looking forward to some of the Children’s shows that they used to host. I keep one eye on the activities at the Regent, but am lucky not to have to travel too far as the Maverick Festival takes place on the farm and we are launching an exciting Children’s Festival this year in August with puppetry, literary theatre, music, clowns, canoeing and lots more