We decided to try and get away for New Year. The girls are old enough to look after themselves for a night or two, so we can spread our wings a little.
It's also Melanie's birthday just before the new year, so that gives the opportunity of a double celebration.
We had a look around, and there are lots of places doing new year breaks. We wanted something not too far from home (which ruled out places like Scotland or the South West) but not in Cambridge itself. We wanted the night before new year, whereas a lot of places offered new year and the day after. And I definitely didn't want somewhere that was a formal black tie dinner.
We went to Seckford Hall, near Woodbridge in Suffolk. The distance was about right, the facilities looked good, and it met all our requirements.
They have old rooms in the main house and some more modern rooms. We went for one of the older rooms, with a 4-poster. It's a little more quirky, and has more character, although the floor isn't exactly very level!
The package included cream tea. It's more like stuff-yourself-until-you-burst tea. Lots of scones, jam, clotted cream, cakes, and of course tea. Delicious and very filling.
We had a good meal in the restaurant. We decided to sit in the bar and have a small drink beforehand, and they brought canapes out, let us peruse the menu, and took our order while we were still in the bar. Then, only when they were almost ready with the starter did they take us through to the restaurant. This is definitely more pleasant than occupying time at the table reading the menu, taking your order and then waiting for the food to arrive.
The food was excellent both in quality and quantity. I had smoked salmon cannelloni to start, with pork medallions for the main. Now, I'm rather partial to a cheese board for dessert, but decided against it as I would almost certainly have exploded if the quantity had matched all the other items we had. And coffee was again back in the more relaxed seating of the bar.
We took advantage of the small leisure facilities at the hotel. We swam several times and treated ourselves to a massage with Mary Scott.
On new years eve, we drove up the coast to Southwold. OK, so we did have a little walk along the beach and the pier, lost a few coins on the penny falls. But the primary reason for the trip was to do the brewery tour. This was really interesting. The last time I went on a brewery tour was (I think) about 25 years ago in Oxford. The Adnams brewery is somewhat more modern. The time of year meant it wasn't in operation during our tour, but this did have the advantage that we could get around more freely and study the equipment more closely. And of course, there's the obligatory tasting session and the free beers from the shop!
On to the New Year Dinner Dance. I have to confess that this sort of thing has never really been my cup of tea, and a gammy knee and broken elbow don't make it any easier. Of the dancing I'll just say that there was some, and I was occasionally seen to stand on the dance floor shuffling from one foot to the other. Any photographic evidence has been systematically destroyed. We were put onto tables of 8 (or so) for the meal. The hotel had clearly given a little competent thought to the groupings, so we were put with some very nice people and had a very enjoyable evening.
So, I would recommend both the general idea and Seckford Hall itself. Despite my general bah humbug attitude, I haven't ruled out doing something similar in a year's time.