Golden morning view from the Blakeney Watch House

It is a wonderful feeling to wake up at the Watch House on Blakeney Point, the smell of the wood fire from the night before lingering in the grate, and looking out at a golden morning in the harbour.

Here are some more photos and stories from our previous trips to the Watch House in 2016, 2015 and 2014.

From our Instagram, @North.Sea.Living.

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.

Longest day of the year: sunset hike

Well, June 21st is an exciting day for us, but for different reasons. For me and my sun-worshipping, it is the day with the most daylight hours. For Marek, who loves all things wintery and bleak, it marks a turning point to when the days become shorter. Whatever the reason, we both found it a day to celebrate. And what better way than to experience the sunset on a hike.

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We took the last Coast Hopper bus from Blakeney to Sheringham, and there had the best fish and chips on the coast at Straights, followed by a visit to Ronaldo’s of Norwich ice cream shop (monster cookie and chocolate hazelnut, if you were wondering).

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At 7pm we set out along the golf course and walked the coast path back home. Here are some highlights.

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For more of the story in photos click here for the Flickr gallery.

Video: a squall on the Norfolk Coast

 

Walking along the coast path from Blakeney to Sheringham, I could see a squall chasing us from West to East along the Point. It swept the sea and sky into a single white cloud, racing along the beach. We (the dog and I), took shelter in one of the cave’s in the Weybourne cliffs and watched it roar past. It took about 10 minutes to go from sheets of rain and wind to bright blue sky (the video is sped up x20).

Flotsam or jetsam?

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The sea brings things: weather, tide and, of course, flotsam and jetsam (we remain undecided as to which is which). Living by the water, there is almost always something new washed up on each tide. If it is obviously litter, those who walk here regularly, ourselves included, will usually clear it away.

However, sometimes more intriguing things wash up. Sufficiently large or unusual that no one is willing to interfere with them just in case they’ve been placed there for a reason.  The massive, bus-sized inflatable fender from a container ship at Thornham earlier this year (Google it!) springs to mind.

The last week or so has seen this large plastic barrel sitting, upright, as if it belongs there, right on the path. I first noticed it in the bushes by the water’s edge but it must have been dislodged by one of the big tides last week.

I’ll admit, I’m curious. Where did it come from, what’s inside, who does it belong too? Will someone claim it or will the next set of big tides wash it back out into the North Sea to continue its journey?

For now, I ponder it each time I walk past and we’ve been training the dog to leap over it and – with limited success – balance on the top.

It is something to daydream about as one watches the big boats on the horizon, following our coast, but removed from it, part of their own wider world of sea lanes and deep ports.

First swim at Cley and first of the Cromer Crab

First swim of the year at Cley; colder than it looked
First swim of the year at Cley; colder than it looked

When we moved to the coast last year I imagined swimming in the sea every day. Naively, I thought I’d simply make sure I went in daily, such that a consecutive day would never be that much colder than the previous one. I presumed I’d just gradually become acclimatised if I could stick to this routine.

The particularly bleak spell of Arctic winds and snow from the North East put an end to such plans and the last time I went in was a couple of weeks before Christmas.

I’ve been watching the weather every day since, waiting for a day like yesterday, when the winds were light and from the South and the sun was shining. The water is at its coldest at this time of year, having lost all of its temperature over the long winter, so the key thing is to ensure that, upon emerging from the sea, there’s not a freezing wind chilling you to the bone before you can get dry.

Even with the sun shining, blue sky and a gentle breeze at Cley Beach, I though it best to warm up with a run and a quick bike ride and to pack a big towel and some warm clothes. Suitably invigorated by the exercise, I took the plunge. The water was burningly cold, but I wanted this to be more than a splash and dash affair: if I could swim in these temperatures, then it would only get better for the rest of the year. I managed just a few minutes, time for some frenzied front crawl westwards, and back east again to my start point.

There’s no denying this a masochistic pleasure. At this time of year it is more about the feeling of leaving the water and getting warm than it is about the joy of swimming itself. However, it reminded me how lucky we are to live close enough to swim in the sea daily and the glowing feeling of total refreshment it brings.

Wrapped in a big woolly sweater and windproof jacket, I lay back on the beach, basking in the sun, watching birds and vapour trails making patterns in the deep pool of the sky. The only sounds were of the waves gently churning at the shoreline and, further down the beach, the crab boats getting ready to go out for the first time this year.

Crab boats going out for the first time this year at Cley Beach
Crab boats going out for the first time this year at Cley Beach

The weather, it seems, had been holding them back too. Usually they would have been out earlier in the year, but these two little boats, probably about 16 foot, were venturing out for the first time yesterday.

They launch from tractor and trailer off the shelving shingle beach, loaded with pots for the crab, going out around low tide and returning on the high tide. You can buy direct if you’re there when they come back in.

‘Cromer crab’ is renowned, coming from the waters near a chalky reef that stretches for several miles along the coast. Apparently this unique habitat imparts a particularly delicious taste. The season is just starting and will last until autumn, with oysters and lobster coming a bit later.

I usually buy mine from the little shed in someone’s back garden: look for the sign on the A149 coast road as you drive through Blakeney.