What I Love About Where I Live: Country Drives Full of Surprises

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Last year, we started taking country drives as a coping technique. We didn’t have a home yet, had few belongings or acquaintances, and really didn’t even know what to do with ourselves on the weekends shortly after we arrived in England. Amelia and I had cabin fever, being car-less before school had started. We couldn’t do any shopping for things for our home without knowing where we were going to live… But we could buy food! We quickly discovered that taking a drive in England is very different than driving anywhere else we had ever lived. There were farms shops to stop at, little stands at the side of the road, unexpected opportunities to feed horses, cows and sheep… And the views! Oh, the views were just gorgeous. Now that we’re settled into our home and have plenty of things that need to be done and lists of places we’d like to see, we still love the country drives. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of hopping into the car on a Sunday afternoon, with either no idea or just a vague plan for where we’ll go.

This week, we wanted to go back to the raw milk stand we discovered on one of our first country drives. This time, though, we couldn’t leave it up to chance. I looked it up, and we headed out toward the coast. We stopped at a couple of stands along the way, and picked up gooseberries and cucumbers, as well as a basil plant. We found the “milk shed,” marveled at the good prices, and then started to head home, wondering if that was it. We had thought we might make it out to the coast, but the sky had gone dark, and it would inevitably be pouring soon.

OK, can I just stop here and say that I am super excited about this picture? So fun!

So, we decided to just head back to Bury St. Edmunds, yet hoping we’d see something fun along the way. It didn’t take long! We came across this sign:

St. Peter’s Brewery? The St. Peter’s brewery? We thought we’d check it out! We followed the signs, and passed a field of cows lazing about in the grass, just as we crossed a moat onto a beautiful property. Sure enough, there was the brewery for a brand of beer we had known about for years! We had no idea it was anywhere near us, and the property was really small and unassuming. (By the way, this is the point at which my camera battery died, so the only pictures I took of it were on my phone.)

The old church, it turns out, is a restaurant! The brewery is housed in a series of more modest brick buildings– maybe an old rectory? At three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, we were just in time for a tour.

This chatty gentleman is also a professional toastmaster, and had so many interesting things to tell us about England and their beers. (The subject of Vikings came up several times.)

 Have you had St. Peter’s beers? They are recognizable for their unique oval-shaped bottles.

After viewing all of the brewing equipment and processing rooms, it was time to do some tasting.

My favorite was the grapefruit beer. We also tasted two that we really thought were awful– one had local whisky in it and tasted of bandaids, and the other was supposed to taste like peat. Blech. Mr. Toastmaster agreed with us.

Also, this kid is a very good sport.

 After, we walked around the beautiful grounds. The restaurant had just closed, but it looked so special inside.

 We will have to go back there for lunch the next time we go pick up some raw milk.

So many wonderful surprises all around us– all we have to do is get in the car and drive… It is so fun to explore whenever we get the chance!

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised to discover something kind of famous in your own back yard? I’d love to hear about it!

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8 Responses to What I Love About Where I Live: Country Drives Full of Surprises

  1. annie July 18, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Looks like a fun day!
    My parents have friends who own a brewery outside of Oxford somewhere. We toured it and ate lunch there. Evan loves their hop cologne! It’s a very cool place. You’d have to ask my mom for details, though. I don’t remember the name.

    • Ariana July 21, 2012 at 11:09 am #

      Very cool! We will have to make a trip back over there, and see if we can get hooked up with them. Thanks for volunteering their contact! 🙂

  2. alison owen July 19, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    that’s funny- my favorite whiskey (laphroaig) smells like bandaids to me. I wonder if I’d like that beer- do you remember what it’s called?

  3. Marisa July 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    These kind of unexpected discoveries and adventures are the absolute BEST!!!! So fun. I wish I could make an accidental discovery today 🙂

    • Ariana July 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

      Marisa, I imagine that Seattle still has some little gems hidden away for you… Although it may take the form of a bakery or cafe you’d never visited. That’s how Portland was for me.

  4. steven capricorn July 24, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    a very interesting story …… I like it


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