A food festival, a boat trip and a peep into Italy

It feels like we just arrived on our trip here to Europe, but already it’s been close to a month since we left Sydney’s wintering shores.

And it looks like we timed our departure perfectly; the cold, wind and rain we’ve heard hitting the southeastern coast of Australia doesn’t sound like fun at all.

Meanwhile England has really aced it for us. There have been barely 2 days where it’s rained much and the long evenings are stretching out to 10pm, the cool evening air soothing the sun-glowed grass of the British countryside.

Mrs Romance’s exploits in Puglia, Italy are also ramping up. I’ve just spent my first weekend with her after her photography course and we’re having an incredible time.

We hope you enjoy this week’s IG Edition. We’ll chat to you again soon.

Cheers

Jim & Christina xx

England isn’t known for its fine weather, but the sun has really come out to play these past few weeks. And the sunsets have been very pretty too.

But more from me and my time exploring England in a minute. First here’s a bit from Mrs Romance and what she’s been seeing in Puglia the beautiful southeastern province of Italy.

Ladies first, after all.

I am full of joy and immersed in creativity at the Visionary workshop with Carla Coulson in Puglia.

Watch this space for more on this incredible region of Italy. It’s my first time south of Capri and I think this might just be the friendliest part of Italy.

Everybody loves having their picture taken. Everyone that is, except the nonna who lives in the apartment opposite me. I’m determined to get a smile out of her by the time I leave.

We’re staying in apartments in the old town of Martina Franca. I’m feeling so inspired by Carla’s workshops and this incredible group of women I’m with.

Huge shout out to the incredible Loc Boyle who has been helping shoot my hair while I’m on location. He’s an Aussie photographer who’s based in Paris.

You have to check out his body of work, which is absolutely stunning.

I don’t even know where to begin with describing what an amazing opportunity this is to focus on my photography. I need some time to process it all and will definitely be sharing more about photography and this gorgeous part of Italy soon.

We’ve experienced markets, religious processions, festas and lots of fabulous food. I feel I could spend months here and still only scratch the surface.

I can’t wait to show Jim around when he arrives this weekend. He better hurry up and get here as Nino (with the green trousers) is about to make his move!

He’s 70 years young and wanted to marry me. He gave me his home address so I can send him a postcard. He promised to write back…

Mrs Romance has certainly got me excited about getting over to the Continent. I’ll be flying this Saturday.

Back here in England, I’m with my mum and dad exploring some more of the little towns and rivers that make up the beautiful British countryside that I have missed so much.

This path runs along a tributary of the River Stour that runs through the county of Suffolk. The white you can see isn’t snow; it’s fluff from the trees’ catkins. Springtime here is so pretty.

As we come to the end of the path that leads to the town of Sudbury, we find an old millpond. Yes, that cow’s walking through it.

We’re in Sudbury today to check out the annual food and drink festival – Taste Sudbury – they have here. Set right in the heart of the town, the festival showcases some of the best local producers’ finest victuals.

As you can see it’s a popular event.

I love the name of this vendor. The Cheese and Pie Man – a fellow after my own heart! I could spend all day here trying and buying what’s here.

These guys run the Bakhtar Fresh Food stall and boast the best olives you’ve ever tasted. I’ve had some pretty good olives in my time, so I was a little dubious about their claims.

They were right.

We’ve bought a ton of olives and a whole load of their baklava. Delicious.

Right next to the Bakhtar olive stall is this cheeky chap. He’s in charge of the English Spirit Distillery stall. I’m well impressed with this one.

For the fellow gin nerds out there, this distillery makes their own base alcohol, which is an incredible effort (most distilleries buy it in). They also use the heads in the process, which is quite unusual.

The result is some of the finest gin I’ve tasted. If you like your craft gin, you should check these guys out.

Last of all, one of the best food vans I’ve seen is here at the Sudbury festival too. Mac Street Kitchen serves delicious looking mac and cheese from a converted ambulance to hungry punters.

Sadly these ladies have just announced they’ve sold out. None for me!

Just before we take off on our road trip, Mum, Dad and I have gone for a curry in a new Indian place they’ve spotted in Earls Colne called Riverside Spice.

As the name suggests, it’s right next to a river, which is probably the reason we’re here. Dad’s a keen fisherman and I’m suspecting we’ll have a seat by the window if possible!

The array of food here is great. My entrée of stuffed capsicum is excellent and the mains are looking very enticing too.

Really impressed with the presentation of the food here. The flavours are good too, though I could have done with a bit more heat in my Chicken Bahar.

My chili garlic naan is pretty awesome. Loaded with garlic and plenty of hot chili, this is exactly what I was hoping for. Definitely worth ordering if you want a bit of heat to your dinner at Riverside Spice.

And we’re off! We’re travelling in Mum and Dad’s enormous Dethleffs Globetrotter XLi that’s big enough to have 2 king-size beds and plenty of space for my folks to live in permanently.

As you can see their cat Mr Splodge is also very at home here.

I call this shot ‘cat-nav’. Sorry.

Now it’s my turn to get behind the wheel.

We’ve come to Potter Heigham in Norfolk where you can hire boats for the day to explore the river systems of the Norfolk Broads.

We’re staying at Causeway Cottage Caravan Park just near the river, so it was only a short walk to where we came to pick up our boat.

The boat company is called Maycraft Boat Services. The guys here are not only friendlier than the others, they’re also cheaper. For 5 hours of boating it was only £45.

There are some beautiful homes along the River Bure here in Norfolk. This place is incredible with its Tudor beams, thatched roof and sweeping lawns down to the river. Stunning.

On our way along the river, we’ve stopped off to check out some unusual ruins. From the river we could see what looked like an old abbey with a newer but still ruined windmill built into it.

We were pretty close.

This is Benet’s Abbey, which was built as a monastery over 1000 years ago. The mill was built in the monastery’s ruins in the early 1700s – a couple of hundred years after the abbey itself had been abandoned, pillaged and left to rot. The mill, which made oil from rapeseed and other crops, was in working order until the mid 19th Century when was damaged in a gale.

The building finally suffered a fire near the end of the 1800s. The ruins here are all that’s left of a fascinating historic building, whose story goes back to 800s.

The ruins left today of Benet’s Abbey are quite beautiful and are still studied by archaeologists, who are still finding facts out about it now.

The hole in the top of the mill lets in the most beautiful light and the mixture of the two buildings gives this place a fascinating air.

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So strange to see ruins like this so close to a river. I love the way you can see sails of ships seeming to appear out of the middle of the field like this.

This part of Norfolk has long been used by mills. Parts of this river feel more like Holland and its canals than the middle of the English countryside. These mills still turn as well, though the mill businesses themselves have long since moved on.

Potter Heigham Bridge leans over the River Bure and looks almost like it’s about to disappear beneath the water. It’s still wide enough and strong enough to take modern day traffic though, which is something we’re quite glad of as we motor out of town in Oscar – Mum and Dad’s beast of a motorhome.

It’s a lot of fun to be travelling with my mum and dad again. They’re excellent travel companions.

The next stop on our journey is Thetford Forest – the largest lowland pine forest in Britain. It’s not an old forest and is in fact manmade. It was started in WWI to provide a strategic supply of timber for the war effort. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful spot to hike through.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Edition. We’ll speak to you again soon.

Jim & Christina xx

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