Why I Love Suffolk: Tarnia Robertson

Tarnia Robertson, Managing Director, Ufford Park Spa. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Tarnia Robertson, managing director, Ufford Park Spa - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Memory

I was born and grew up in Suffolk – initially being born in old Martlesham, moving to Eyke and finishing in Woodbridge. I so remember living in Eyke when the American air base Bentwaters was operating. Huge American cars would drive through the village, and as children we were regularly frightened to death by loud airplanes going over head. We would go off for hours on our bikes and be home for tea – no mobile phones back then either if your chain fell off. We also adopted a dog at the time so would walk him in the woods at Eyke and Rendlesham Forest – sadly many of the trees, especially around Eyke, were completely destroyed by the Big Storm of 1987.

Landmark

I struggled to only chose one of these – I narrowed it down to The Abbey Gardens in Bury because they are always so cared for and stunning, and the shell sculpture on Aldeburgh beach but the winner for me is the Tide Mill in Woodbridge. I love to walk along the river path from Melton to Woodbridge when I have my children’s dogs to look after. You cannot fail to be wowed seeing the white wooden structure of the Tide Mill, surrounded by bobbing boats and majestic swans. A friend of mine is a local artist and so I even have a painting of it in my lounge.

Beach

We are lucky to have lots of beaches to chose from, but the one I go to time and time again is the stretch of beach between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh. We tend to park at Thorpeness and then walk along the breach to Aldeburgh where we get fish and chips (so long as the queue isn’t too long), and grab a coffee to walk back with in the winter, or finish with an ice cream at Thorpeness Meare in the summer months. 

Place to eat

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I have to say Ufford Park Hotel Golf & Spa for this one as it is independent and offers locally sourced food all day – there is plenty of room to sit both inside and outside and whether you are a golfer or not, you can’t help be impressed by the stunning views over the 120 acre golf course. I have three children and although they are grown up now it is hard finding somewhere with enough variety to satisfy all five of us, but we have always managed to do this at Ufford Park, either for lunch in the bar or in the evening in the Park Restaurant. Now we have two dogs in the family we can still take them with us if we eat in the bar or on the terraces. The staff are lovely and nothing is ever too much trouble, they also spoil the dogs.

Pub

If possible we like to find pubs where we can walk the dogs near then stop in for lunch or early dinner. So if I base my choice on where I go the most, it would be either the Coach & Horses at Melton or The Crown at Ufford. Both offer locally sourced food and a wide range of craft beers and spirits. The staff are always helpful and friendly and they are both good value for money. Plus they both allow us to take the dogs inside with us to eat, provided we eat in the bar areas, but the menu is the same so that’s fine with us.

Export

This was a tough one as we are so lucky to have so many products made in Suffolk but I will narrow it down to gin. Both Adnams and Fishers Gin offer excellent quality and although Adnams is now much more widely exported, Fishers won’t be far behind because of its uniqueness. A close second was Stokes Sauces – even my children, who wouldn’t eat anything without Heinz all over it, have now all converted to Stokes tomato sauce.

Town/village

I would pick Woodbridge – there is so much to do whatever your age. There is a huge choice of pubs and restaurants offering almost every type of cuisine. Almost all are independent, cooking locally-sourced food. There is the Riverside Cinema and The Seckford Theatre  - both thankfully survived the pandemic. I love to stop for a coffee and piece of cake at either Christine’s or the newly opened Two Magpies when I am with one of the children, for a treat – both are dog-friendly. I haven’t even mentioned the shops – there is the odd chain but the vast majority are independents. Thrown in the mix are local travel agents, so you can book your next holiday at the same time too, if you prefer a face-to-face customer service, which I know I like.

Attraction/day out

For us there is nothing better than setting off after breakfast on a Sunday to drive to Sutton Heath to walk the dogs – they love it there as they can be off the lead and despite the car park often looking busy, you can walk for miles through the woods, across the heathlands and on the sand tracks without hardly seeing anyone. It is such a relaxing place to be at one with nature. There are so many different routes to take you never get bored either. Even our children enjoy coming with us.