I came out of a shop in Holt the other day and there he was, with his face pressed up against the glass. Marek had noticed The Owl Tea Rooms’ window of sugary delights. We poked our heads inside and were ushered into their secret garden for coffee and cake. The Indian summer has done well by us that we could sit out in the last week of October and enjoy the sunshine. All the cake is homemade and the garden was a little oasis. Charming.
We’ve been living by the sea in Norfolk for two and a bit years. This is the first in a series of four photo essays documenting each of the seasons on this coast. With the glorious summer of 2014 just passing, it seemed the right place to start.
The photographs were mainly shot on camera phones, a discipline with its own challenges.
I returned home to Blakeney Quay after kayaking the harbour on a warm, still July evening. Turning to look back north and west, the quiet glow of the summer night sky continued long after the sun went down. We see this rainbow of the dusk each night from May to July as we walk up to bed, looking out from the staircase window and framed by the gables of old houses. In June it is still there at midnight.
Purslane and muddy sand, the bright colours of mooring buoys and the blue expanse of the Norfolk sky. Taken as we sat for a quick picnic at Burnham Deepdale, on our way to collect weekend house guests from Kings Lynn station – a recurring theme of summer when your family realises you live in a house by the sea with spare bedrooms!
Ankle deep in squelching mud from a walk down the harbour at low tide. It’s always fun to see how visitors from the city react to what our little nephew calls ‘The Blakeney Blurgie’.
Taken at Cley Beach, cooking locally caught fish over a charcoal grill. Light the barbecue, dive into the waves and swim as the smell of the fire drifts over the water. By the time you’re out, the coals are ready to cook. We love it best on a Sunday evening, when the coast empties of weekenders and there’s still time for an evening on the beach before the working week.
Samphire is at its most tender in early summer. We always pickle some to stow away in jars and eat at Christmas. I love to go early on a summer’s morning to cut a few tips for a breakfast of scrambled eggs and samphire on sour dough bread.
The summer of 2014 will be remembered for the endless bounty of strawberries. These were some of our own and, once we’d picked all those, we had them for several months from neighbouring Wiveton Hall and Sharrington, a few miles inland.
Picnicking in the church yard at Cley under an impossibly blue sky.
Taken in the Glaven Valley, between the ford at Glanford and Bayfield Hall. It is a staggeringly beautiful spot and sometimes I’ll just stand on the bridge looking South down the valley, drinking it all in.
It was one of those special days when the summer sun is high in a blue sky, but little patches of coastal fog hung beside the sea. This was taken at Kelling Quag, a remote pond you pass on the way down a long lane to the deserted beach at Kelling Hard.
It is impossible to sit on one of Norfolk’s pebble beaches and not play with the stones: to throw or collect or build. Cley, after a swim.
The sun sets over the water at Cley Beach throughout the summer. We will often sit in the lee of an old fishing boat, between the sea and the pots, keeping warm by the charcoal barbecue after an evening swim.
We have been hearing good things about The Duck Inn since we got to Norfolk. Having finally stopped in for an impromptu lunch we were sorry we hadn’t been earlier. I find I have to agree with our friend Jackson Campbell, chef and owner of Oyster Catcher Catering here in Norfolk, that there is ‘a lot of love’ in this food. We only popped in for lunch in the apple tree filled garden, but we will be heading back soon for dinner.
The soup was delicate, and the open face sandwiches were simple but fresh. The pastrami was even made in house. It’s the attention to detail that makes a meal special. I am sure dinner will be even more of a demonstration of their skill.