Falling in love with Suffolk - why leading blogger Emma left London behind
- Credit: EMMA PATON
Fashion and lifestyle blogger Emma Paton and her family have fallen in love with Suffolk, and are glad they made the move from London a year ago.
Emma moved to the heart of the south Suffolk countryside with husband Liam, a composer, and children Finn, seven, and Violet, four, and is sharing their journey with her growing number of followers on Instagram.
She said: “We often try to persuade more people to move here!”
The 39-year-old mum has a background in fashion, and moved into lifestyle blogging five years ago.
Emma said: “We decided it was a good time to leave London back in 2019, as we had finished renovating our house, our kids were still young, we could both work from home and not worry about a commute, and many of our friends had also left London.
MORE: Suffolk village among most photographed locations on Instagram“Lowering overheads and more family time together also massively appealed. We were ready for a change, a new adventure and a slightly slower pace of life.
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“The hardest part was leaving family, friends and neighbours behind. but the best thing is they now (pre-Covid) could come and visit and stay with us for fun weekends. We love sharing the Suffolk countryside with anyone that visits.”
The Emma Paton Fashion and Lifestyle Blog covers a wide range of topics, from parenthood to home and decor, and Emma has also become a social media influencer, with nearly 30,000 followers for her Instagram feed.
The blog started “as a bit of a side project”. Originally inspired by her son Finn, it was at first called Finlay Fox, but was recently rebranded under her own name.
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“It was a lifestyle platform sharing unisex gift ideas, kids’ and mums’ fashion and articles on modern motherhood. Over the years, the blog has evolved into being more focussed on fashion.
“I worked as a fashion buyer (with Boden for 10-plus years) and the idea with the blog was to slowly grow it, so eventually I could work remotely one day and not have to worry about having to be in London for a job. The plan worked and it now works brilliantly around my family life, offering flexibility.”
Emma has always enjoyed shopping and hunting out fashion and gift ideas, and her weekly “Sunday wishlist” posts have been popular with blog readers.
One of her newer areas to focus on is home interiors and renovations. This has struck a chord with many of her followers, and she said: “The Moroccan tiles we had in our old bathroom renovation definitely could have had their own Instagram account, they were so popular!”
Emma added: “We renovated our last house and learnt so much from that. It sparked a real interest in how to make a home a special place to raise a family and create happy memories for all of us. I have always enjoyed adding a modern element (such as light from big panels of glass) into an old or traditional house, so the move definitely got us thinking about how we could turn our home into a more practical layout, which linked the kitchen (where we spend so much time) with the garden.
“We have now had planning permission approved to do a modern kitchen extension and also convert the barn in the garden into a summerhouse and music studio for my husband’s work. He will be relieved not to have to work out of a bedroom in the house any more.
“The interest in our new house/project has been vast. It is quite a slow process renovating it, but people always want to see more of what we are doing, so it will be a real focus for my blog and Instagram in 2021, when we hope building work commences.”
MORE: Suffolk designer’s top 6 interior trends for autumn/winter 2020 While working from home over the past months, Emma has made the most of her new surroundings. She said: “Over lockdown, I managed to discover all the Suffolk delights right on my doorstep which I chose to use as backdrops for fashion shots - from Sudbury Meadows and Abbey Gardens to my very own wild garden.
“It was so lovely to find all the amazing local spots whilst spending time with the kids. We had plenty of adventures over the summer.
“What we love most about Suffolk is that you have so many types of places to visit and they are all so different - from the coast (we love Orford, Felixstowe and Walberswick) to pretty villages like Lavenham and Kersey. You really get to embrace and enjoy the great outdoors here, plus there are some great pubs and National Trust places.
“We have ended up in such a pretty village, with lots of historical buildings and pretty pink cottages, it’s always a joy to take a step outside.”
Emma describes Suffolk as welcoming and friendly, and a “brilliant place to raise your kids”.
MORE: Fashion brand films advert in SuffolkShe said both children have settled in well. “The biggest change was for my son, going from 60 kids in his year at his London school to the really small village school with just nine in his year. Although I think this has suited him really well, as it makes it so easy to get to know everyone.
“My daughter just started Reception and the community feel in the village has really made the move so easy and everyone has been so welcoming and friendly, we quickly made friends by immersing ourselves in the community. Being wedged between the village shop and a couple of pubs has also really helped.
“The kids have slowly been finding their country feet, and are well accustomed to wellies and walks these days, and we are considering getting a dog too.”
Emma also feels Suffolk has benefited her family’s wellbeing. She said: “We love being immersed in nature here, and the changing seasons are fascinating to watch as you drive through open fields and pretty country views. It’s refreshing and good for our mental health.”
In the future, she said she wants to write more about the move and her favourite Suffolk spots. “I think Covid has sparked a massive interest in people moving out of big cities. Come to Suffolk!”