There's something about Autumn that pushes me outside.
It's the season of walks through air as crisp as apples. It's the season of picnicking, huddled against each other for warmth, with peat and bracken underfoot. It's the season of getting yourself thoroughly chilled out, in every sense of the word, and heading back home for comfort food and a warm bath.
(Which is, in my opinion, an absolutely faultless way to spend a day).
We descended upon Southwold from Cambridge last Friday. Driving down through the encroaching evening gloom, we passed picture perfect villages and landscapes, their outlines barely visible in the shroud of darkness.
Arriving at the house (a family holiday home so sadly no Airbnb link to share!), we unpacked the cars, dashing between them and the house in the pelting rain.
We made our beds, turned the heating on and got ready for a thoroughly cosy evening.
Michele got to cooking up a storm, giving Lizzie a masterclass in Italian cooking (handmade gnocchi with a rich tomato sauce, followed by the weekend cheese bag we bought from Cambridge Cheese Company).
And we all set about getting thoroughly tipsy!
In the end we must have spent a good two hours sat around the dining table, eating and drinking to our hearts' content, until we collapsed on the chairs beside the fire and began playing ridiculous boardgames like Telestrations (the best game ever!)
No phones, no internet, no emails. Just laughter and wine and friends.
The next morning dawned incredibly brightly through the gap in our curtains...
Keen to make the most of the good weather before the rainclouds returned for Sunday, we pulled our walking boots on (mine borrowed from Lizzie's male housemate - yes my feet are bloody massive) and wrapped our heads in scarves and set out into the biting Suffolk air.
We walked through Southwold, across the common and headed towards the marshes. The town quickly dropped away and we found ourselves in an area ripe for some dream house spotting. And then this too fell behind us and we were in traipsing through woodlands, watching pheasants dart between the gorse bushes and trees.
(I apologise for the quality of the photos so far - I hadn't realised that the ISO setting was so high on the camera and apparently that makes the pictures go all blurry and horrible. Lesson learnt!)
We saw so many interesting mushrooms, like the white one that looked like it had been made out of dragon skin earlier in the post (which was huge by the way. Like, freakily huge.) and cute little toadstools that meant I had the music from Fantasia in my head for the rest of the day.
(But I'm an old lady and I could listen to Tchaikovsky all day, every day, anyway).
After getting lost and wandering off the path a little, we finally found our way to the gravelly paths that cut through the Suffolk marshes.
The marshes between Southwold and Dunwich were unlike anywhere I've previously been in the UK.
As far as the eye can see, there's nothing but the gleaming heads of the marsh reeds, rippling and hissing in the wind.
The Walberswick windmill was built in the late 18th century but was used for target practice during WWII and was finally destroyed in an arson attack in the 1960s. Now the remains of the edifice are Grade II listed, standing alone in the midst of the marshes.
We were treated to a gorgeous golden light that stretched our shadows out behind us as we made our way through the marshes, towards the town of Dunwich.
When the winds dropped, there was nothing but a profound silence, punctuated only be the distant cries of gulls.
Immediately upon leaving the marsh, we passed through a gate advising walkers that Exmoor ponies were grazing on the land.
We didn't expect to come across them so quickly, grazing just around the corner in the middle of the path!
They seemed fairly interested and followed us along a little while which was slightly unnerving!
And then we reached the end point of our outbound journey - the Ship Inn in Dunwich.
Dunwich is a very interesting little town - once it was one of the most important ports in England with beautiful churches and a thriving town (the same size as 14th century London!!!). However, a series of coastal floods and erosion over the years has forced the village into its current diminutive size. The churches too slowly toppled into the water, disappearing bit by bit until the last tower had vanished beneath the surface of the sea.
Being the kind of person I am, I had already read the menu before arriving (as in - I studied it whilst lazing around in bed that morning) and knew exactly what I wanted!
Creamed cauliflower soup with chives, creme fraiche and truffle oil to start...
You know when you order something because it sounds pretty tasty and then you're blown away by how the hell they can make soup taste so bloody good? This was it. I could eat this soup every day for the rest of my life, hands down.
Michele went for a vegetarian scotch egg made with beans - and wouldn't even let me try a single crumb! So presumably it was good...
Next up, I went for the Guinness and wild mushroom pudding made with vegetarian suet, served with local winter greens and creamed potato. The flavours in this were quite subtle but very well balanced, with the earthiness of the mushrooms contrasting nicely against the lightly salted potato. It tasted like the season.
Sadly I was unable to persuade my fellow diners to get dessert as we were all thoroughly stuffed by this point. So we braced ourselves for the icy temperatures once more and set off down the coast towards Southwold.
Now, Michele is a bit of a joker at the best of times. But he was an absolute bastard on this particular walk.
We kept seeing what looked like odd bits of sea glass washed up on the shore. One bit was especially clear and sharp-cut - it looked just like an ice cube to me. I said so - and Michele told me to pick it up. So I did. Or tried to anyway. I didn't quite manage to because it was actually a fucking jellyfish.
How everyone else knew that it was a jelly fish, I have no idea because to me it genuinely looked like a piece of ice and I have never seen jelly fish like that before. But hey you learn new things every day!
Particularly that your fiance will happily sacrifice you for a joke!
As we neared Southwold, the wind and the rain began to catch up with us again so we dived into shops and huddled in the warmth on our way home.
And then finally, we were tucked back up in that cosy house, another night of cheese and wine and curling up by the fire with a good book ahead of us.