A 'Mary Poppins' of Bed & Breakfasts, Washingford House in the United Kingdom is Practically Perfect in Every Way!
To that end I found myself browsing Sawday's, the website for an award-winning Bristol-based travel company that offers "Special Places to Stay, Drink & Eat" that they've handpicked themselves. On their website they state that they have "met every owner, seen every bedroom and bathroom, and - on our lucky days - eaten the food" so I figured that they probably had a pretty good idea what they were talking about whereas I had NO clue about anything over in England.
Hmmm ... originally built in the 1600s with later Georgian and Victorian additions, surrounded by ten acres of its own gardens and parkland, a delicious fresh-cooked breakfast that wouldn't be served way too early in the morning, located six miles from Norwich and only 18 miles from Lowestoft where I could see a lighthouse if I chose to wander that way? Why it sounded like the Mary Poppins of English Bed & Breakfasts - practically perfect in every way!
I immediately sent an email off to inquire if there was availability at the time of my visit and was delighted to hear promptly back from Paris - one of the owners - that indeed there was and she'd be happy to make a reservation for me at the cost of £85 a night for a room with two twin beds and en suite bath. That sounded quite reasonable to me (even with the awful USD exchange rate) for the chance to stay in a lovely historic home in the English countryside so I booked the room for two nights and looked forward to my stay with great anticipation.
We arrived rather late on a somewhat cool & cloudy afternoon (in other words - typical British weather!) to a very warm welcome and after exchanging greetings like we were old friends rather than house guests due to the emails that we had exchanged prior to my arrival, Claire and I were shown to our very large room on the second floor.
Our room (yes, pictured below) had two very cozy twin-size beds along with lots of bright, cheery prints on the wall and windows with a lovely view of the grounds. There was a nice dressing table and also a comfy wicker chair for relaxing - though I neglected to take a photo of it - gasp!
The bathroom was ginormous with an excellent tub for stretching out and relaxing in once I figured out the rather complicated looking faucet. Another great feature of the bathroom was a bookcase full of great reading material that really would have come in handy if we'd spent more time relaxing and less time tromping around the countryside! There were even a few familiar titles on the shelves.
The views from the bedroom windows were quite nice looking out towards a well-manicured side lawn (complete with requisite brooding British clouds) and a view of the terrace from the back windows. There was even a nice dish of marbles just in case I had managed to lose a few of my own during my wanderings!
Our room also had a lovely bouquet of flowers that was bright, cheery, and smelled quite nice as well as a pot for tea that we could enjoy upon our return in the evening after popping over to a nearby pub for dinner. Another thing I forgot to get a photo of was the tea setting ... I must be slipping!
After a very restful night, the next morning we made our way downstairs to breakfast which was served near an inviting sitting area that no doubt is even nicer when there's a fire going in the hearth. As it was mid-June, no fire for us.
Paris had the table all set for breakfast and had put out all kinds of cereals, fresh fruit, yogurt, jams & jellies, juice, and more that we could choose from while she prepared the rest of our breakfast in the nearby kitchen.
While eating we could look out through the windows at the gardens which were still under gray skies our first morning there but brightened up considerably on our second morning. While Claire dried her massive mane of magnificent hair on Day Two, I took a walk around outside and snapped some photos to share.
To the front of the house was a small flock of sheep which - silly American that I am - I found to be quite delightful. The gals were nice enough to pose for a few photos for me though I'm sure they were perplexed about the whole thing!
This photo that I took below of Washingford House is identical to the one that was on the Sawday's page which first captured my attention and made me decide that I simply needed to stay there. Now go ahead and tell me that does not simply scream "English Country Manor!!!"
All in all, Washingford House ended being the ideal spot for our wanderings in the Norwich area as not only were we quite close to Norwich and received some lovely tips on where to park, places to be sure to see, and more helpful hints from Paris before we set out in the morning to see Norwich Castle, the Cathedral, and other sites ...
... but as the skies were clearing on our way back from a dreary day in Norwich and it looked like it might be a pretty sunset, we made the quick decision to make a run down to Southwold (about 24 miles or so) in order to check out the lighthouse there as well as enjoy some beautiful seaside views before returning to our room for the night.
It was absolutely perfect and all that I had hoped for and more!