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 

Advertisements

24Seasons of Blakeney: May 7-21st

Start of Summer

This is the time of year when ‘firsts’ and favourites come thick and fast and it is easy to forget to be mindful and take it all for granted. The Japanese natural calendar marks this past season as ‘the beginning of summer’. Britain’s calendar keeps this until the Solstice at the end of June but I am going with now! Maybe I am just impatient. Maybe it is the harbour walks barefoot and the year’s first swim that convince me that it’s close enough. 


In the courtyard the large frogs have been joined by a multitude of tiny frogs. I celebrate them for eating the slugs! The last of the tulips are fading and give way to the plethora of summer. I can see the first heads of allium waiting to take their place. 

Out in the larger gardens the lilacs are in flower followed closely by the never to be out done laburnums. The elderflower a are only just starting but we await them eagerly to start preserving. Even the horse chestnuts are in flower. Their stately blooms remind me of the queen’s hat perched on the grand dame’s head.  


In the wild the Night Jars curr on the heath and look out for the Montagu’s Harrier, they are a rare special sight these days. 

On the allotment things are coming on by leaps and bounds the last two weeks, especially the weeds! In the cutting garden things have diversified from tulips only to ranunculus, white verbascum, iris, cerinthe, and red scabious. 


We also spent a long Saturday digging over and building a windbreak for the tomatoes. We think it looks whimsical using scavenged marsh drift wood to keep costs down. Very pleased to keep things super-local. And super-economical! 

Sharrington strawberries are out! And asparagus! The first true seasonal specialties! What a treat. Can’t wait for our own strawberries to ripen. Well, here’s to the start of the summer season!

24 Seasons of Blakeney: April 22 – May 6


Green

Since our last update the acid green buds on the the trees have mellowed to an apple green. Blossom flutters in the air; the sloes are putting on a good show this year. We walked down the lane from Wiveton to the coast road and the petals snowed down on our heads from above. 


Everything is starting to fill out and become lush. The vivid blue ceanothus clouds glow from garden walls. The long-awaited dark pink blossom on the corner of Saxlingham road has finally come out: warm magenta hues.

 The air is now full of birdsong. The nightingales’ serenade can now be heard. The odd cry of the Northern lapwing calls over Blakeney and Cley marsh. The first swan pair glide down Cley Channel. 


On Mariner’s Hill the tiny white flowers blanket the southface. They spread a little further each year, around the bluebells and fennel. In the evening light they glow like a snow dusting. 


Barefoot season has started with a walk down the harbour at low tide! I always say there are two halves to the year in Blakeney, barefoot season and welly season. So pleased! We have also had our first BBQ’s on Cley beach. Fishing and sea bass sandwiches! This also leads us to start work by on the boat again and planning for a launch date! 

In the allotment the squash seeds have gone in. Sweet pea seedlings go along the dahlia walk. I can’t wait for their sweet scent to fill the house all summer. In the kitchen, the smell of slow cooked gammon hocks over lentils permeates. Rhubarb, rhubarb, and more rhubarb! Crumble with Banana! With pomegranate in cheesecake. Allotment produce is increasingly finding its way onto the table. Locally caught crab from Andy’s Crab Shed on toast with pea shoots and avocado! Delicious. 

And the tulips continue their show in the courtyard, on the allotment, and at East Ruston Old Vicarage. A must see!


24 Seasons of Blakeney: March 22- April 5

Vernal Equinox
The Equinox brings with it the return of longer days, seemingly all of a sudden. The clocks go forward and the evening is extended, so much so that we are now able to take the dog out for his evening walk after work. This treat lasts only six months for me between the Equinox.

  
The boats start to return to Blakeney Quay around Easter. In fact it marks quite a few things. My birthday being this time of year we usually have a rather elaborate tea with more cake than sense. Easter brings with it Mothering Sunday and daffodil walks. The world is bursting into bloom and bud. Blakeney Quay awakens and the tourists return for the first “busy” days of the season. (It feels busy compared to February but I suppose we are never as busy as the south coast, even in August)

  
The gorse is in full bloom and just to be on the Heath above Kelling or Salthouse is to walk through a cloud of coconut fragrance. Cuckoos have arrived on the marsh, and we found frog spawn in the garden. In the hedges primrose blooms and wild garlic unfurls. 

   
 This leads to many a tasty Spring treat. This year we have made wild garlic aioli, mayonnaise, and focaccia. (Try this recipe!) we were also advised to substitute the wild garlic in for leeks in potato soup by chef friend Jackson Campbell. For Easter we had 7 Hour Lamb which was amazingly tender. 

    
In the garden the magnolias are in bloom and we all pray there are no frosts to spoil their glory. Itss fragility may make it all the sweeter. Winter jasmine adds to the yellow overtones of the floral season along with the daffs and primrose. In addition to the ipheion bulbs, our first tulips start to colour. It’s the start of a month or two of drama in the tulip beds.  

   

    

 
Finally April brings with it some truly warm days, so long as you stay out of the wind. We often have our first picnics and BBQ’s on the beach and in the garden. The dunes at Burnham Overy Staithe provide good shelter, or under the cliffs at Weybourne.

   
   
Holidays: Mothering Sunday, Easter

Events: East Ruston old vicarage- Mother’s Day; Chestnut Farm – Snow Drop Walk 

The Watch House stay

Having lived in Blakeney for two years and three summers we have only just made our first trip to the Watch House! (Half Way House to you Cley residents) What an oversight!! We should have done this every year, and will from here on in. Our adventure started with a vision. A raft. A swimming platform. This dream has taken us all summer. By which, I mean, we have sporadically made a token effort to build said raft. But the trip was upon us and we had no means of transporting our provisions. So a last ditch effort was made and the raft took form. Largely untested I was nervous it would even float and when high tide and sunset on an overcast day coincide, there is little margin for error. Luckily she floated! A gusty north wind and the tide against us we made quite a spectacle on the quay.
IMG_4261-0.JPG
A good while later we arrived and could not have felt more grateful or cozy anywhere else in the world after that ordeal.

IMG_4250.JPG
IMG_4283.JPG

IMG_4260-0.JPG
The morning was clear and bright and many adventures were had, including mud racing, skim boarding, swimming in the waves, cub, and most importantly the BBQ!

IMG_4263-0.JPG

IMG_4262-0.JPG

IMG_4264-0.JPG

IMG_4267-0.JPG

IMG_4266-0.JPG

IMG_4265-0.JPG
As sunset approached our raft became a swimming platform swiftly followed by a kayak with a seal for the boys and wine on the dock for the girls. Dinner mainly consisted of cheese and wine and cards.

IMG_4278.JPG
IMG_4268-0.JPG

IMG_4269-0.JPG

IMG_4270-0.JPG

IMG_4271-0.JPG
Breakfast BBQ anyone? Bubble and squeak with samphire, sausages, bacon, fried and poached eggs and grilled tomatoes! I always make a point of travelling with a chef!

IMG_4272-0.JPG

IMG_4273-0.JPG
All too soon it was time to go. We packed up the raft and dragged it out into the main channel. The return trip could not have been more different to the way out! We casually drifted into Blakeney and arrived in style on the quay.

IMG_4275-0.JPG

IMG_4274-0.JPG

IMG_4276-0.JPG

IMG_4277-0.JPG

What a trip. What a place. A mile from my house we found a little paradise. Holiday is definitely a state of mind. I can only advise annexing a small spit of land like a pirate to everyone to make you forget your problems.

Cley Eye

20130716-090516.jpg

Last night Marek and I did one of our traditional summer ‘after work BBQ’ at Cley Eye. Until recently we just called this Cley Beach, but after a visit to the Cley Art Festival we realised a bit more of the history here. But more on that another time.

Last night we headed down to the water front around 8:30 and fired up our mini portable BBQ for some steamed fish in foil, pre-baked sweet potatoes, and fresh grilled courgette from the garden. Dinner time entertainment was provided by some little people in and swimming around their grandfather in his kayak. This was until the discovered they were being watched by a young seal! How cute. Once discovered, he splashed them and swam off. All the while a fantastic sunset carried on in the background. The after-sunset was even more spectacular as an orange blaze painted the clouds with purple shadowed background.
The birds were also enjoying their evening, dive-bombing the water to grab the fish for their dinner. Presumably the was what brought our seal friend in the first place.
Dessert was bake banana filled with chocolate from the fire embers. It was a beautiful evening and for a Monday, not too shabby. Who said this was just for the weekend?

20130716-091058.jpg

20130716-091104.jpg

20130716-091113.jpg

20130716-091121.jpg

20130716-091128.jpg

20130716-091149.jpg

Picnic by the river

Picnic area by the ford at Glandford, North Norfolk
Picnic area by the ford at Glandford, North Norfolk

Today I was out riding my bike and came across this sign for a picnic area beside the beautiful ford at Glandford.  It is a meadow beside the River Glaven, with several big logs cut to serve as benches and tables.   We’ve always loved this spot, but never noticed the picnic area before.  I wonder if perhaps it is a new endeavour of the nice people at the Wildflower Centre, just upriver, who maintain nature trails around here?

The Glaven is a clear, cold, clean river and the whole valley is made lush by its waters.  If you stand on the footbridge overlooking the ford either North towards Cley or South to Letheringsett, particularly on a late summer evening around harvest time, you are rewarded with idyllic rural scenes in all directions.

We’re already planning a future riparian picnic here on a warm spring day.

The turning for the ford is opposite the Art Cafe (one of our favourite places).  Follow the road down, past Sir Alfred Jodrell’s Shell Museum (worth a visit if you like eccentric endeavours) on the right.  You’ll see the ford ahead.  Unless you know what you’re doing and are properly equipped for off-roading, I’d recommend heeding the sign about it being ‘Unsuitable for motors’.  It is deep in places and the river bed is very loose rocks.  There is parking before the ford, and you can cross the little bridge on foot to find the picnic area in the meadow on the right.