Watchouse 2016


It’s that time of year again! Watchouse 2016! Four days and three nights in our own little oasis. Last week I casually mentioned it in my post about finishing the boat. What fortuitous timing! We didn’t have to use the raft again! Now, making a bit of a spectacle of ourselves on the quay is a bit of a tradition what with furiously hammering together a ramshackle driftwood raft as the tide races in. This year we had little Snipe. And thank god! On one of the biggest tides this year there was no way we could have controlled it in the currents, even once we could touch the bottom again! We loaded the boat as the tide came in, getting ready to leave at the top of the tide, when the water would not be racing. By this time, however, we were waist deep on the quay and clambouring onto the boat with a large crowd watching. Par for the course really. And we were off!


As ever the weekend was about friends, food, and fun. Mornings usually saw a big breakfast followed by sailing expeditions on Snipe. One morning we headed down to the point and anchored. The boys jumped out and swam around the boat. We girls waited to see if they could get back in. Only barely! The seals were basking as we were!


The lovely Fiona and Jackson from Oystercatcher Catering provided meal after meal of joy! Afternoons saw lunches, kubb, fishing, and yoga in the sun. We really lucked out and the weather was sunny and warm. Later in the afternoon beer and cocktails came out leading up to some fantastic dinners. I don’t know how Jackson manages to produce the quality of food we eat in that ‘kitchen’ (and I use the term loosely). Pallella, rich and creamy fish stew, and mega-BBQ followed by cheese and red wine. There is something about being out in the sun and wind all day that makes you sleep amazingly!

Now, things couldn’t go too perfectly, and on the way back our engine conked out while we were preparing to enter the cut. We threw down our anchor and came up with many possible senarios for getting all of us back to land with our belongings. But lo and behold, up comes our friend Chris who helped us get Snipe back in the water. And who then gave us a tow back…? Bless them! We arrived in style on the quay under tow and created another mild spectacle just as we would have had the raft been there. Its just fate!


Another spectacular year on Blakeney Point. Already looking forward to next year! 

A little boat called Snipe VII


When I first met Marek he had a boat in the garage. That was 11years ago (this Oct!). It was a wooden boat his grandfather had built in the family garage in the 1960’s and was passed through the family down to Marek. It had not been in the water since the 1990’s and needed some serious love. We toyed with renovations every few years but had only managed to sand her down, to what we thought was the base level until August 2015. With a bit of an unexpected windfall we brought her up to Blakeney from her shed in West Sussex for some intensive work. 



I will fast forward through the highs and lows of learning about power sanding and epoxy and skip to this past week or so. With a newly bought engine she was ready for the water!!


Of course two days after her relaunch were some mighty big tides and 40mph winds. What a baptism of fire, for her and us!

Blakeney Quay storm tide with northerly gale

Her triumphant return and maiden voyage (matron voyage?) was our annual trip to the Watchouse on Blakeney Point. With the highest tide of the year (or thereabouts) it was quite a spectacle on the quay loading 4 people and two dogs (for a day trip). And don’t forget ll that lovely food from Oystercatcher Catering


I suppose all there is left is for me to learn how to sail!! 

August

So it’s been a while since last posting. This is my favourite time of year and I get swept up in the allotment, swimming, kayaking, and all the outdoor fun. Today I just thought I would share a single day spent entirely in our courtyard. 

The morning started with reading and meditating in my favourite space. 


Then some bench assembling. This was a project Marek had been putting together from driftwood from the marsh. 


Lastly, this photo was taken sitting on said bench for a lovely dinner. Note that the days are getting shorter and it is dark enough for candles! Here comes Autumn!

Evening Kayak

We were in the middle of watching an episode of Grand Designs when Marek looked out the window and saw the sky lighting up with pinks and oranges. The tide was coming in and it all just came together for an evening sunset kayak. So we turned everything off and out went. Here is a taster of that sunset feeling. 





So pleased we noticed and went out. It is a great way to calm and settle before bed. 

Harvest!

Just a quick one today. Today I spent 6hrs at the allotment and came home with our shallots and garlic. Let’s just say it will probably last us some time!


Going fruity


It’s all gone off on the allotment this past month. Yesterday we took in our first redcurrent harvest to joint the cacophony of strawberries. But there is also a list of greens to join in as well. Artichokes, mange tout, broadbeans, and our first onions. Now just holding our breath for some tomatoes and squash! 

24 Seasons of Blakeney: June 21 – July 5th

Solstice

June 21 - July 5th
Ah the Solstice and the start of Summer! So much! So much… Too much? No. It’s just a wonderful time of year. Preserving starts, the allotment is lush (too lush), and the days are longer to take it all in!
To start, the Solstice itself is often a night we try and celebrate outdoors. Two years ago we walked from Sherringham to Blakeney towards the sunset. It was magical. Last year we feasted in Salthouse at the Dun Cow, and did the same. We swam in dark off the quay when we got home.
This year we went the other way. In the kayak. Leaving the cut we headed towards The Point. The sky was dappled in clouds backlit by a rainbow sky. We seemed to glide over the rippling water. It was breathtaking.

June 21 - July 5th

Then we landed on the point and walked up the biggest dune to have a No.4 cocktail (Gin, honey, cardamom, and black pepper with rosemary sprigs) and watched the sun set. The wildflowers glowed in the dusk as we walked back to the kayak. On the return journey we were treated to a large strawberrymoon rising over Cley! What a sight! What an evening. And all on a Tuesday night.

June 21 - July 5th

June 21 - July 5th

June 21 - July 5th

June 21 - July 5th
At home the allium has raised their heads in time for the 4th of July (you can take the girl out of America…) The staghorn sumac is flowering above and the lavender is blooming below. The garden is thick and lush with globe thistle, roses, and california poppies.

June 21 - July 5th

June 21 - July 5th

On the allotment is it artichoke season! The 50mph winds did go some way towards thinning our crop but there are so many there is more than enough! The broadbeans have been harvested for hummus, and the strawberries are rampant. We have already picked 4kg and so many more to come!

June 21 - July 5th

In the hedges the dog roses are in bloom with their classic delicate fragrance. The elderflower too has come out fully. Of course this can only mean one thing! Preserving!

June 21 - July 5th

The kitchen has been a hive of activity! Rose and lavender syrup for cocktail experiments. Elderflower cordial for the same, but also cakes. The strawberries have been put to good use in Eton mess with pistachio meringues and honey…. And jam. So. Much. Jam. Some with rhubarb and vanilla. The house smells sweet and sticky and floral with it.

June 21 - July 5th

June 21 - July 5th

June 21 - July 5th

The house is also fragrant with sweet peas from the cutting garden. The first posey of many we hope. With all the rain they look strong this year. But the delphiniums are the drama queens of my cutting garden at the moment. They are both dramatic and delicate and are putting on quite the show in their second year. And let’s not forget the charming country cousin the ox eye daisy. Fresh and cheerful they sit for weeks in a vase looking amazing.

With so much going on it is even more important to sit and reflect on each tiny joy on its own to full appreciate what is going on around us.

And now for something more joyful…

Amidst the angst, anger, and anxiety of the last few days I have been comfort-preserving. Here are a few highlights.

Lavender syrup

The first stages of rose petal syrup

Pistachio meringues (not preserving but delightful)


And of course strawberry jam. 


The syrups are intended for some much needed cocktails. 

24 Seasons of Blakeney: June 6-20th 

 Sea Thrift or Sea Pinks


This time of year the sea thrift carpets the marsh with low pink flowers. They seem to thrive here, even in areas that flood. I love watching the incoming tide creep between them and form a pool so that only the flowering tip is tall enough to poke out from the water! 


In the verge the elder is now in full bloom and syrup seems to be the obvious choice to save this flavour for colder days. Cakes, cocktails, ice cream. We want to get a bit more adventurous than just cordial this year. 

The poppies that brought this area the name ‘Poppyland’ in Victorian times are in their prime as well. This year the field of corn behind Blakeney is full of it. Not sure how the farmer feels about it but it is beautiful! 


The avocets should be hatching and they have the cutest chicks. We haven’t spotted any yet but last year there were a few down the Cley channel so we may need to make a trip to look for them and experience the new harbour in all its opened up glory! 


The garden has exploded and the red hot pokers, Marek’s favourite, are having a good year. They thrust themselves out from the background of geranium, clematis, lavender, nasturtiums, and California poppies. In the courtyard the roses are performing well. We have four varieties, but my favourites are the lemon scented yellow rose and the sugar scented rambling magenta rose. The succulents are back out full time as the only plants that will survive on my south facing table. 


This is the first year we have made it to Sherrigham Park for the display of rhododendrons and azaleas. Definitely worth the visit!


In the allotment high winds flattened some of the artichokes but they were getting a bit too thick anyway, and they have been made into mulch. The strawberries are coming in thick and fast now after some actual sun! The ox eye daisies are rife and self seeding so may need the chop. The squash didn’t make it through the torrential rains but I have put in seeds direct and they seem to have taken. Only a minor delay! 


The cutting garden has been producing well this time of year for the first time. The verbascum have always been glorious but they are now also profuse. We have also added a cultivated red scabious and the ranunculus has come up for the first time. I have never had much luck with these until now. I almost gave up, but here they are and I now understand why florists love them so. 


On the dinner table steamed fish with a lemony asparagus risotto was a real treat! The samphire keeps coming and grilled sea bass sandwiches are now a staple, if only we had caught them ourselves! Oh well, a little longing is good. You can’t have everything. 

On evenings when high tide coincides with sunset we make a special effort to get out in the kayak. So peaceful. Takes away the cares of the day and is a perfect way to get ready to sleep. 


Marek’s birthday, on the same day as our friend George, is usually an outdoor affair. This year we had a beach BBQ with our friends from Oystercatcher Catering. A simple affair with sea bass, crab, and an oyster bar (of sorts) on Cley beach. Of course no beach party is complete without a swim!



Events this period: Marek’s birthday June 9th, Father’s Day