a taste of east anglian life

One Saturday at the height of the summer, I went on a long-awaited trip to Stowmarket to visit the Museum of East Anglian Life. Outdoor museums are one of my absolute favourite things ever, so when I discovered a few years ago that there was one I hadn’t seen just down the road from me, I made up my mind to visit it while I still lived nearby. The trip involved trying out a whole new bit of train line that I had never been on before (always fun), and when we arrived in Stowmarket I realised that, museum aside, the town itself was very pretty and worth a visit. It was one of those really super-hot days, and the sun was shining like there was no tomorrow, so it was the best kind of day to visit anywhere. The station at Stowmarket is beautiful, with curly Dutch-style gabled roofs. Part of the station building was for sale at the time – it would have been tempting just to move in then and there.

Inside the museum, which is right in the centre of the town – just a ten-minute walk from the station – we soon discovered what an enormous range of different things are bundled into East Anglian life: everything from farming equipment to old reconstructed shops and workshops (including a huge, working printing press), to the largest collection of gypsy caravans that I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of those to share, but they were quite something. And then on top of all their usual exhibits, it just so happened that when we went to visit there was a bonus collection of quilts on show to boot! OK, I lie. In truth it was no accident – I knew this would happen all along, I just thought it would look like a more innocent suggestion for a daytrip if I neglected to mention the quilts. There were several great quilts there, and one really lovely one that I particularly liked made out of wool tweed fabrics, quilted in concentric circles:

I have always wanted to make a patchwork quilt out of wool fabric. I love these colours, and I’ve always thought it would make for a perfect autumn or winter throw (especially in times when I have dreamt of living in very cold places). But I also have to share a picture of another quilt, even though it wasn’t by any means my favourite, simply because the sentiment of this patch is one that I wholeheartedly agree with. Where on earth would we knitters and textile lovers be without the humble sheep? I commend the maker of this quilt on her well-placed respect.

And speaking of sheep, if like me you are a fan of these adorable but disappointingly nervous woolly creatures, I recommend so highly that you take a trip to the Museum of East Anglian Life, as it has in its grounds by far the friendliest sheep that I have ever encountered, anywhere. These sheep were so great: they actually came running towards us as we approached their enclosure, and they even allowed themselves to be stroked! How many times does that happen with sheep? In fact, their inquisitive nature meant that they were quite hard to photograph, as they were quite keen to get intimately acquainted with my camera through the fence. I ended up with many pictures just of bits of sheep face, taken far too close-up. This was more along the lines of what I was looking for:

I also recommend the rabbits, while you’re there. Always happy to be fed the greener grass from the other side of the fence. We got along super well.

We also saw inside lots of old buildings, had a lovely walk along a riverside, and finished off the day with ice creams in the sunshine. So all in all, it was a great day out, and one that I would recommend to anyone in striking distance of Stowmarket. Or even anyone who’s not – the sheep are really worth it.