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Dedham Vale & The Sun Inn


Did you think that Essex is the land of uber-tanned folk and bejazzled...well, everything? Think again!
Last Saturday I spent the whole day in the wonderful Essex-Suffolk border, in the picturesque Constable Country.
 

John Constable, was one of the romantic English painters of the late 18th century, who thought that if you are going to paint anything, then you might as well portray the land where you come from, as well as you possibly can.
I'm paraphrasing off course, but that's the gist of it. 
What a grounding thought, that shot him into fame, nevertheless.


How I came to spend my Saturday there? 
Early on Saturday I had to pick up one of my oldest school-friends from Stansted airport; but since I had to drop her off again, to catch another flight a couple of hours later, I looked into what else we could possibly do in the area, apart from visiting Cambridge.
I love Cambridge. If you knew my obsession with learning and my appreciation for academia, you would understand how much so; but on a Saturday afternoon, I wanted to avoid the traffic and instead of wasting time looking for parking, tuck into good food and cosy up in a nice pub to catch up with my dear friend, who I hadn't seen in more than a year.


We drove to Dedham, the most popular of the Vale villages. It's about half an hour away from Stanstead airport.
The road off the main square in Dedham, leads to river Stour and if the day would be sunnier we would have jumped into one of the rowing boats, down at the Boathouse. But cold and rainy as it was, we braved the wind and strolled around for a bit, before sitting down to a yummy lunch in the Sun Inn. 

The river banks are dotted with footpaths, and although we didn't have wellies on, we did our best to catch a glimpse of the ever famous Constable's landscapes. It seems that very little has changed since the late 1700s. The river was braking its banks, since it's been raining quite heavily the last couple of days, but swans were cruising around and all else seemed peaceful.

The houses around the village are colourful and some have interesting carvings, paintings above the front door, art-deco railings...quirky little details that will attract your attention. 


The Sun Inn is popular with locals and tourists alike, everybody seemed to know each other. Three fireplaces were lit throughout the pub, which is great, because the scent of burnt wood always makes me feel welcomed and reminds me of old village houses. 
After lunch we moved into the lounge, to chill out in one of the comfy sofas and make space for a hazelnut tiramisu. The staff were very relaxed too, they didn't come after us for the bill when they saw us moving to the lounge and there was no rush to leave after we finished our coffee and cakes either.
Upstairs there are cosy rooms too, where you can stay and I did catch some conversations between visitors thanking the pub stuff for their recommendations around the area. 

I had lovely smoked Haddock with spinach and crispy cauliflower florets alongside the ultimate comfort food: potatoes gratin with mushrooms; layers for fluff, with hints of butter, in other words. My friend had the risotto which looked a bit unconventional, with a red tomato salsa on top, but after the first bite she declared it delicious and finished every single grain of it! 


So, get out of London this Easter weekend people, go explore the countryside and yes, even Essex can surprise you!

PS: here's to good old friends, who sit down and chat for hours like not a day has passed since the last time you caught up...

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