Heaven and Hell: With Vashti Mouncer

Vashti Mouncer

Vashti Mouncer - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Vashti Mouncer, owner of The Neathouse, has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic for Dennington and the surrounding villages.

Opened in April 2019, when the first lockdown started she turned her much loved café into a shop selling basics, delivering to elderly people and making trips to the supermarkets for them.

She was recently nominated as a Rural Hero by Countryside Alliance.

Along with everything else, Vashti is busy organising the Dennington Fete, which takes place on July 17.

Here she talks to Gina Long

What’s been the impact of Covid-19 on your business and how are you adapting?
As soon as lockdown was announced, I adapted by changing my cafe into a shop.

I always sold milk and bread and a small selection of fruit and vegetables, [but] the pandemic took The Neathouse to a whole new level, offering essential items such as fruit and vegetables, bread, meat, milk etc.

I opened all week from 9am-3pm, then set off to deliver to those shielding in the community and surrounding villages.

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It’s been tough, but hasn’t it for everyone?

Hopefully, we are coming out the other side, and now is the time when we need to continue to support our small local pubs, cafes, butchers, greengrocers and milkman.  

What is your connection to East Anglia?
Both my parents and their families before them are from East Anglia. This is home. 

What is your East Anglian Heaven?
We’re so lucky to only be 30 minutes from the sea.

We have some of the most beautiful beaches in our region.

What is your East Anglian Hell?
Road diversions.

They never take you on the most direct route. 

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
There are so many. Orford Castle. Or Saint Andrew Church at Covehithe.

And Iken cliffs.  I spent days with My Nan-Nan there as a little girl looking over at Iken Church where my parents were married. From the water is just beautiful 

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
The fireworks at Thorpeness and Aldeburgh, during the carnival.

They always bring back happy childhood memories.

The Bury St Edmunds Christmas Market is a must too.

What’s your specialist Mastermind subject?
Oh...maybe about roads with pubs on them?

I never know the road name of anywhere, however, if you name a pub, I could most probably tell you where it is.

Is that a skill? Or a worry?

What is always in your fridge?
Broccoli, milk, wine and cider. What a great combination.  

Whenever I used to cook with my mum she would always manage to rustle something out of nothing, I think these are a tad far fetching!

What’s your simple philosophy of life?
Keep smiling and always dancing. Especially round the kitchen!

What’s your favourite film?
Dances with Wolves has to be one of the top three. 

But I’m a typical 80’s kid – Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman have to be the ones that could be on repeat.

What was your first job?
Easton Farm Park – helping out with the animals and Charsfield Three Horseshoes Public House – as a washer upper! I learnt a lot from both of those jobs.

What is your most treasured possession?
Most definitely my boys. Since starting The Neathouse in 2019, they’ve had to put up with a lot.

Who do you admire most?
My parents. Through the good times and bad times. They’ve both been my absolute rocks.

Love them both a million times over.

What is your biggest indulgence?
Chocolate. Well actually food in general.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
There are so many great restaurants in Suffolk and Norfolk. It, of course, has to be The Neathouse afternoon tea.

On a serious note, and in this current climate, I loudly applaud everyone in hospitality, never has it been tougher.

What’s your worst character trait?
Doing too much. I’m one of those kinds of people that puts their hand up for everything, which can be a good or bad thing....

Vashti Mouncer Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Vashti Mouncer, owner of The Neathouse, Dennington - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Any holiday and right now please! Cornwall is a go-to holiday in the UK.

Porthcurno and Sennen Cove are two of my all-time favourite beaches.

Best day of your life?
The days the boys came into this world. It’s the most surreal moment.

You’ve carried them for nine long months and that day that they are finally here are the days I’ll never forget.

How can you have so much love for such tiny things that have been in your arms for a matter of seconds? 

What’s your favourite breakfast?
Poached eggs and avocado, smoked back bacon on seeded bread.

American pancakes with maple syrup and streaky bacon or porridge with honey.

The list goes on and on......

What’s your favourite tipple?
Aspall cider. A good gin. It actually all depends on what meal its being drunk with.

What’s your earliest memory?
Feeding the lambs on the farm. Singing the Chicken Song while climbing to the top of a huge pile of muck.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I have a degree in early childhood studies.

Children fascinate me.

How we grow and learn at such a pace I enjoy a nature vs nurture debate.

I am fascinated by child psychology.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?
I’ve got my family and friends here.

I love that within a few minutes you can either be walking through the forest or sitting by the sea.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?
Now, is the time more than ever, that we need to continue supporting helping to ensure that all small independent businesses survive.

Please consider joining us at the Dennington Fete on July 17th.

For more information about The Neathouse call 01728 638957 or go to Facebook.

If you have a story, email gina@hallfarmfornham.com or follow on Twitter and Instagram.