Simon Rawlings’s Suffolk

The creative director of David Collins Studio since 2007 has worked for the company for 18 years and oversees design projects including Jimmy Choo stores and London’s The Delaunay

Simon Rawlings in Orford, Suffolk
Simon Rawlings in Orford, Suffolk | Image: Chris Aadland

“Four years ago, I was holidaying with some friends, renting one of Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture properties, The Dune House, in Suffolk. On a cycle ride to buy some bread, we ended up in Orford, at the Pump Street Bakery. I saw the owner, Joanna; our eyes met across the crowded room, and that was that – we ended up getting married. Now we have a nine-month-old son and live between London and our tiny cottage in Orford.

On a Friday evening, it’s a two-hour drive from east London. As soon as I get to Orford I meet Joanna – who usually goes down earlier with our son on the train – and either friends or my in-laws at the Butley Orford Oysterage, one of three restaurants in the village and my favourite place to eat. It’s been there since 1959 and I don’t think the menu has ever changed. They have their own oyster beds, and the fish comes straight from the sea. I always have cod with a herb crust served with boiled potatoes, and oysters with horseradish. I know my weekend has arrived once I’m there.

On Saturday morning the first thing I do is walk to the quay, look out to the endless river and sky and blow the cobwebs away. Then I’ll make a beeline for the Pump Street Bakery for breakfast. There’s very much a Saturday-morning club, where we all catch up on gossip. Joanna joins me when she can, which is great. I’ll have the homemade granola with seasonal fruit and maybe sneak in a pastry – they do a wonderful gibassier, a Provençal pastry flavoured with aniseed and orange-flower water.

My weekend revolves around eating, so the rest of the morning is spent trying to source ingredients for the evening meal – but without going to a supermarket. There are wonderful farmers’ markets and shops at Friday Street and Snape Maltings. I like vegetables from Newbourne Farm and we often get Blythburgh pork from Salter & King, a good butcher in Aldeburgh.

The afternoons involve a long walk, generally along Orford Ness, a National Trust nature reserve that’s beautifully rugged. We’ll take a little boat across and go and see the lighthouse and old military pagodas. It’s magical. Another place I love is Shingle Street, further down the coast. It’s desolate and exposed, and has one of several Martello towers in the area – small Napoleonic defence forts built along this stretch of coastline – that you can also rent as a holiday cottage. Late afternoon is spent in front of the fire, and preparing dinner; I often slow-cook in a Big Green Egg – like an outdoor oven – in the garden. We’ll often have friends over and huddle round the tiny table.

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On Sunday we’ll get up early – I rise with the light – and head to Darsham Nurseries, which has a beautiful shop filled with homewares, from Japanese secateurs to delicate porcelainteacups. We’ll stay for brunch; there’s a constantly changing menu that’s slightly Middle Eastern in feel and uses produce from the gardens. I like the shakshuka – baked eggs with spicy tomatoes and feta.

Then we go antiquing. Framlingham is a gorgeous town with lots of antique shops including In Da Cottage, an 18th-century barn with fantastic finds, from taxidermy to artworks. Or there’s a huge bric-à-brac place in Yoxford, which I love trawling through.

In the summer when the tide is high I swim in the river at Iken Cliff – actually an estuary – or go canoeing.

My favourite meal of all time is a Sunday roast; I’ll cook a local Sutton Hoo chicken on a slab of sourdough bread, so the sticky juice and fat soaks into the bread. It’s delicious.

Then it’s the drive back to London, listening to a podcast – something like This American Life.”

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