Why I Love Suffolk: Tamara Unwin

Tamara Unwin of Stoke by Nayland Hotel & Spa

Tamara Unwin of Stoke by Nayland Hotel & Spa - Credit: Dan Tidswell

Memory

Fruit growing has played a huge part in my life in Suffolk. Walking through the apple orchards on our farm has to be one of my favourite memories – and involves four generations of my family. I was born in the farmhouse at Hill Farm near Boxford, next to an orchard where I played with my siblings, and where my parents walked hand in hand in the evenings checking the crop. My husband Stephen proposed to me under an apple tree in that same orchard and we then enjoyed many walks in the orchards around our own house with our two children – and now two grandchildren.  

Landmark

Stoke by Nayland Church sits majestically on a hill overlooking miles of beautiful Constable Country. My grandparents and parents are buried there, Stephen and I married there, our children Jessica and George were christened in the church and Jessica later married her husband Steve there too. Stunning views of the church can be seen from all around our two golf courses at Stoke by Nayland Resort, and from the top of the historic water tower adjacent to our Apple Tree Lodges.  The iconic church tower was incorporated into our original Stoke by Nayland Golf Club logo over 50 years ago and is still featured in an updated version today. 

Beach

I really love walking by the sea whenever I get the opportunity, and one of my favourite walks is from the Old Felixstowe foot ferry, along the rugged beach past the golf course and towards the town and its colourful beach huts. That area is really unspoilt with a timeless feel about it, and it’s great to have the sea so close to the path where you can see the tides dramatically rushing in and out, and watch the sailing boats navigate their way through that tricky channel into the Deben. 

Village

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Boxford is less than two miles away from Hill Farm where I grew up. My sisters and I went to the little primary school there, which is still thriving, and has educated many more of our family members over the years. We used to cycle to the village to meet up with friends, and many of our staff on the farm and at the hotel live in Boxford.  It is a thriving, lively village with a real heart and soul, and offers every shop and service you could need, including the oldest village store and garage in the country. 

Place to eat

A favourite pastime is playing some relaxed golf with friends at Stoke by Nayland and then enjoying some great food and wine afterwards. Depending on our mood - and how well we’ve played - we either have a hearty casual meal in the Sports Bar or treat ourselves to the fine dining option in the resort’s two-rosette Lakes Restaurant, which has recently been refurbished and specializes in modern British cuisine.  

Pub

We are very fortunate to live close to two excellent pubs – The Crown in Stoke by Nayland which we’ve frequented over the past 20 years or so and has a welcoming feel, good wines and great food, and The Anchor Inn which has a lovely location beside the picturesque River Stour in Nayland – and hosts a Real Ale Festival each summer.  

Attraction or day out

Over the years, since our kids were tiny, some of our most memorable family excursions have been to Thorpeness Meare. We used to take hearty picnics to enjoy in the rowing boats, and Jessica and George chose The Meare for a couple of their birthday outings with friends. We all loved exploring the little islands around The Meare, pretending to be Swallows and Amazons, and having races in the boats, overlooked by the famous House in the Clouds nearby. A cream tea afterwards was a popular treat, often followed by a bracing walk on Thorpeness beach nearby.   

Shop

I love food shopping but I don’t like to travel too far for it.  So Hall Farm Shop at Stratford St Mary is ideal as it is just down the road and provides a wonderful range of deli foods, homemade cakes, farm-fresh meat and vegetables, and many other goodies that I end up spontaneously buying. I also like to support other family businesses and the Barrie family have worked hard to make a great success of their shop and café.

Export

I always feel that Suffolk has a wonderful reputation for its food and drink, with brands like Greene King, Adnams and Aspall’s leading the way. Copella has also been a brand leader for freshly pressed apple juice for over 50 years and was originally invented by my parents, Bill and Devora Peake, in our Suffolk farmhouse kitchen in 1969. Then my sister and I, and our husbands worked together to expand the Copella sales before selling the brand to Tropicana UK in 1997. The juice is still pressed on our family farm, still using many of our apples – and the label even has our mother’s signature on it today. So Copella remains close to our hearts and it’s great to see that it continues to thrive on shelves all over the UK.