A sunrise kayak trip to the Blakeney Watchhouse

A sunrise paddle across to the Blakeney Watch House to start the week. It’s one of our favourite places on the Norfolk coast (we’ve written about our adventures staying out there in previous posts).

From our Instagram, @North.Sea.Living (take a look for a couple more photos of the kayaking and the Watch House).

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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: February 20th to March 5th

Beginning of Spring

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

This time of year can have quite unpredictable weather. Year to year, and even day to day. The Japanese calendar labels this time with respect to rain water. While rain certainly features, I would describe the last two weeks as, changeable. One day I can find the warm earth under my hands in the garden, followed by snow and hail the next.

The geese continue to migrate, and birdsong can be heard in the afternoons. The current season from March 1-5 is named ‘Grass sprouts, trees bud’ on the 72 Season calendar and I couldn’t agree more. What a wonderful site, the new growth on trees. In the hedges the blackthorn is in blossom and on the verge the alexanders are starting to bud. 

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

In the garden when I look around it does not surprise me the yellow and purple are the colors of Easter. The Grape hyacinths and Anenome blanda are out in the courtyard. And on the road sides is another plant common this time of year that I just call ‘purples’. Their lack of official name does not diminish the joy they give when you see them. Meanwhile, in the cutting garden the first Daffodils have bloomed and are now adorning my dining room table. 
February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

Work in the allotment has begun in earnest. Tomatoes, Marigolds, and Leeks are going through the propagator. The earth is warming and we have started digging over the scanty winter weeds before they take hold. It is just too tempting to plant seeds on warm days. After digging over last years cosmo bed I scattered Nigella “White lady” seeds, only to have it snow the following day! All this work justifies a trip to the Cley Deli for their delicious pies for a hearty lunch, and a slice of their cake to follow. In the evenings, beef seasoned for a week and slow cooked for 8 hours, is a weekend treat. 

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

When we aren’t scratching around in dirt, the weekends find us on long walks with a warm breeze, but still dressed for winter. 

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

The kayak comes back into regular use and gives us an upclose look the the birdlife on the marsh. As the boating season approaches, mooring maintenance becomes a priority in preparation. 

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

February 20- March 5th: Beginning of Spring

I am filled with anticipation of warm weather and new life.
Events: Daffodil and Snowdrop Walks at Bagthorpe Hall 22/2 and Horsted House 21/2
Holidays: St. David’s Day, March 1st. 

First kayak of the year in Blakeney

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There was no denying it was a stunning morning. Cold and crisp, with frost in the shade and barely a breath of wind to disturb the incoming tide under a white winter sun. The only question was whether I could sneak in an outing in the kayak before starting work.

With the winds which have gusted along the Norfolk Coast all winter, this was the first time since the start of the year I’d had the opportunity to take to the water.

I paddled out, justifying the trip in my own mind by thinking I’d combine it with some scouting of the mooring location I’ve been eyeing up for our boat.

One of the great beauties of kayaking in the winter is that the colourful mooring buoys are not hidden by their boats. They stud the water with bright bursts of pink and yellow, contrasting beautifully with the ice blue of a calm winter sea.

I didn’t go far, conscious I ought to be back at my desk by a reasonable hour. Just down to where we might establish our mooring, finding to my satisfaction there was plenty of water, even with an hour of tide still left to rise.

I explored the channel which occasionally fills near the bank, wanting to take a closer look at the boat which had washed up there. She’s a sturdy twenty footer, but must have pulled free of her mooring a few weeks ago, and has been drifting around the harbour on the big tides. Last I saw her, she was on the shingle near the beach, up the Cley channel, but today she’d come for a visit in Blakeney.

A reminder of the care we’ll need when mooring our own if we don’t want her to take off for a solo tour of the harbour!

A photo essay of Norfolk seasons by the sea: summer

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.

Summer night sky over Blakeney Cut

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.

Picnic at Burnham Deepdale

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!

Mucky paws

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’.

Black bream

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Sunset through the fishing pots at Cley

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.

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.
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A good while later we arrived and could not have felt more grateful or cozy anywhere else in the world after that ordeal.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Fireworks over Blakeney Harbour

The colours come out to play after the sun goes down in Blakeney Harbour
The colours come out to play after the sun goes down in Blakeney Harbour

You never know when you’ll be treated to one of nature’s firework displays, but last night, a calm and cool night in the harbour, we enjoyed one of the best we’ve ever seen. We took the kayak out just before high tide and paddled out down the Cut, into the main harbour. The sunset behind the hills of the sea bank was spectacular in itself, flooding the water with golden light, but the sky glow which followed was beautiful.

We sat and watched, another kayaker paddling up to join us, and took a couple of photographs. There’s no processing in the photo above, that is really how it looked, although I still find it hard to believe such colours can appear in the sky.