October colours in the courtyard

The Staghorn Sumac tree we planted five years ago is performing its annual show, warming the courtyard with flaming orange and red as the weather cools.

From our Instagram, @North.Sea.Living.

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The walk home

You feel lucky to live in Blakeney most days, but some especially so. It is always worth taking a little detour when running errands around the village just to walk home down the high street and watch the marsh and sky gradually revealed, framed by the cobbled cottages.

From our Instagram, @North.Sea.Living.

Heading down the ‘road’ for Grey Seal coffee

One of the many joys of living in the Glaven Valley is riding the farm tracks to pick up local produce. A favourite monthly jaunt takes me over the fields from Blakeney to Glandford to restock on coffee at the Grey Seal Roastery.

They’ve been supplying us with beans for our home coffee machine since they opened a few years ago. Each month, they select a new variety to try. This time it was a fruity, bright Ethiopian roast. Last month we had a double batch (a kilo of their award winning Three Bean and a kilo of a lighter, experimental Burundi) to slake the thirst of eight of us on our annual Watch House stay.

One of Grey Seal's award winning coffee roasts
One of Grey Seal’s award winning coffee roasts

If you get chatting to the owners at the roastery, the depth of their knowledge and passion for their craft becomes apparent. On my last visit, I was treated to a science lesson which took me deep into the chemistry of how coffee forms its character during the roasting process.

Small wonder these Norfolk-based producers are now attracting international attention for the delicacy with which they bring out complex flavours from their beans. They’ve transformed my own taste in coffee from the traditional, heavy and dark towards brighter and subtler notes.

Coffee and cake on a recent trip the Grey Seal café at Sheringham
Coffee and cake on a recent trip the Grey Seal café at Sheringham

There are now Grey Seal cafés in Blakeney, Wells, Sheringham and Cromer, as well as their original home at the Art Café in Glandford. Well worth a visit to try exceptional coffee produced by expert baristas (their buns and cakes – all baked in-house – also come highly recommended).

Our ageing Delonghi Magnifica 3300 espresso machine
Our ageing Delonghi Magnifica 3300 espresso machine

We make our coffee at home with an ageing Delonghi Magnifica 3300. Received as a present about ten years ago, it is truly ‘the gift that keeps on giving’. Not a morning goes by when we don’t wake up excited by the prospect of enjoying an espresso produced from freshly ground coffee.

Feeding the morning caffeine addiction
Feeding the morning caffeine addiction

When it developed a fault a few months ago, the team at the Grey Seal not only helped us get it up-and-running again, they also provided a tutorial on how to service it ourselves. I was able to install a replacement pump without having to send it back to the manufacturers and a serious caffeine crisis was duly averted.

Grey Seal beans ready for grinding
Grey Seal beans ready for grinding

The beans go in the top and then you set the dials to adjust the grind, the quantity of coffee desired and the amount of water used in the brew. The lever for the steamer has long since snapped off through over-use and has been replaced with one I whittled from a bit of oak.

A little homemade 'modification' to our coffee machine
A little homemade ‘modification’ to our coffee machine

If all goes well delicious, fresh coffee is duly produced with a satisfyingly mechanical whirring of cogs and clunking of machinery. I find it strangely mesmerising to watch in slow motion…

Coffee

 

Autumn brings big spring tides in Blakeney

Panorama of Blakeney Quay flooding on a spring tide

The strengthening winds of autumn, low pressure in the North Sea and the natural cycle of spring tides will often bring the sea flooding over Blakeney Quay as the year wanes.

I could see it from the bedroom window this morning and ventured out with Bonzo, my trusty four-legged assistant, to take a few photos before breakfast.

Spring tide flooding Blakeney Quay, lapping at the steps of the Blakeney Hotel

Full moon over Blakeney Harbour on a big spring tide

Bonzo helping with the photography

Tell-tails fluttering in the breeze in Blakeney dinghy park

Panorama of Blakeney Quay flooding on a spring tide

From our Instagram, @North.Sea.Living. Bonzo, who is considerably more famous, has his own @bonzosworld.

Blowing from the North and West

The wind was in the North and West this morning, bringing the tide flooding over The Carnser in Blakeney. One of those gusting, squalling days which speaks of a North Sea changing its temperament and settling into the grumpiness of winter.

A single boat was braving the harbour chop, spray breaking over its bows, as the professionals from the boat yard continued about their business, bringing the leisure craft home for winter.

See our Instagram for a video with a rather different perspective on the same tide…

From our Instagram, @North.Sea.Living.