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Ham Yard Hotel

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A late afternoon train journey took us to London ( back on the last train, home at 1.45 am not so good), for a fun evening to celebrate my son Tom`s birthday. How can I possibly be old enough to have a son who is to be 28!! We hot footed it to the stunning Ham Yard Hotel for a quick drinkie, as I had been dying to see it. We love all things Firmdale-usually staying at the Knightsbridge Hotel, and I am a great admirer of Kit Kemp`s wacky, eclectic styling. We were not disappointed. I have to say that it was shock after travelling through a much more bucolic vista, to be amongst the very airless heat and restaurant smells of Soho on the walk there. Jostling on pavements with office workers keen to get that early doors drink in one of the plethora of pubs and bars was not my idea  of fun.

But, Ham Yard. Wow. I was greeted at the entrance to the bar with a “hello darling, how fabulous is this! ” by a gorgeous guy ,who  showed us to a great spot ( for people watching ) at the bar. I loved it all. The interiors are colourful, bizarre, hectic, calm, odd and stylish  all in one go, but they work. Fantastic lighting. We will be back.

Dinner was to be at Jason Atherton`s Social Eating House in Poland Street. We were meeting a friend as well as Tom, for drinks  in the bar upstairs  bar-table duly booked, and again buzzy and loud with chat and music. Hot( why did I wear boots) , busy, but fun. I actually had a Marguerita-well two (!),and a bottle of Sauvignon and a Negroni were also imbibed-not by me I might add.

So to the food. So very good. Pretty on the plate .I am not usually a fan of `deconstructed` arrangements-as they tend to look as though they may be others left-overs scraped onto the plate, and if not done well, the food can be , well, too deconstructed. I liked the fact that the menu-pushing the fact that they serve British grown seasonal produce( of course) list it all on the back , noting exactly how many miles it has all travelled; for example, Lamb rump from Romney Marsh 70 miles, wood sorrel from Wales 220 miles, plums from Kent 45 miles, shrimps from Dorset 125 miles. Love it.

The food was perfect. One of their signature dishes , which my husband had,is Wild mushrooms from a bag, cep puree on toast.We all had to taste it. Bliss. As was the Baby linzer potato and Epoisse fondue, Iberico de Bellota shoulder, red chicory and tarragon. Each mouthful bursting with flavour to grunts and murmurings of pleasure ( I think that is know as a `foodgasm`!!!).

Andrew being a tartare fan, chose the Smoked Black Angus tartare, radishes ( boy has this year been the year of the radish!), wood sorrel, horseradish and egg jam. Again we were all digging our forks in. Melt in the mouth. Tom being a serious carnivore had the slow-cooked venison loin, fig jam, cavelo nero, Ryefield goat`s cheese. Sublime. My South Coast Plaice, confit potato, samphire, onions, and brown butter hollandaise was more than delicious and I am going to copy it at home.

We all shared the most divine pudding-Lemon meringue pie, lemonade, black pepper pastry and sour yoghurt, and managed to wolf down a bottle of Barbera Mora( Tom) and two more bottles of Sauvignon Mauzac, but we did shove a cork in one and brought most of it home. They very kindly produce a cute cake box with a chocolately confection in it for the birthday boy, which was lovely , as I don’t even remember telling them it was his birthday when I booked. So a fun foodie, hectic evening, as always came home full of ideas and inspiration.Walked back though a very quiet Carnaby Street to grab a cab and snooze on the train, Kings Lynn bound. Fab.

https://www.firmdalehotels.com/hotels/london/ham-yard-hotel/

http://www.socialeatinghouse.com/

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Great art , great food

images untitled images996S2NN9 fb fb6   fb17fb5 fb4 fb3 fb2 fb1 fb14 fb16 fb15 fb7 Our Frank Beanland paintings FB12 FB11 FB10 FB9 FB8 I love an organic , artisan bakery. I so wish we had one here in our village. Delicious proper sourdough, baguettes, croissants and wood fired pizzas. ( and cookery classes and education for children  blah blah blah).The bakers in the village is for sale actually so come on ,somebody please do buy and set one up for us all. As good as the Two Magpies Bakery that`s making waves on the coast in Southwold, or just-discovered-by-me the fabulous e5 Bakehouse in the East End of London; situated in a stripped back railway arch ,making artisan bread, cakes, with a café, master bread making and cookery classes, music and now exhibiting( until Christmas), the colourful statement art of Frank Beanland. We are fortunate enough to own 5 pieces of Frank`s simple , bold, abstracts, and we really love them. I met him several years ago through an art dealer friend and it was quite amusing because Frank came here to our house, and I proudly showed him one of his paintings on our wall. ” But it`s upside down!” he said. No matter, I still love it and we haven`t moved it! I love the colours and shapes he makes, they have great depth with hints of other shades underneath. He works with oil on board, and also acrylic paints on newspaper, which he loves as he can revel in the speed at which he can set down ideas, and also in the freedom to experiment more that no-cost paper encourages. He is influenced by nature, country and coast ( he lives in Suffolk),and that is probably why we love the paintings which hint at harbours, and sea and boats. Wierdly, I found out about this exhibition at e5Bakehouse quite by chance. I had posted a photograph of a corner of our sitting room on Pinterest , that featured a painting by Frank with #frankbeanland, and I received a message from his daughter, Printmaker Lydia Beanland, who had spied our painting. It was great to hear from her. I love all these random connections .So if you get the chance do pop along to the Bakehouse for some great food ,and to see ( and buy) some great art.

e5Bakehouse:http://e5bakehouse.com/ Burnham Market Bakery for sale:http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-32045826.html

More info about Frank Beanland Frank Beanland (b. 1936) Frank Beanland was born in 1936 at Bridlington in Yorkshire. He attended Hull College of Art from 1952 to 1957 and, after two years of National Service, studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, from 1959 to 1961. Beanland won a scholarship to continue his studies in Stockholm before returning to live in Cornwall, for many years a major centre of abstract art in England. In 1962, Beanland was invited by a fellow Slade student to join a number of other artists in Porthleven and paint by the harbour. They exhibited under the banner of the ‘Porthleven Group’. It was during this formative period in Porthleven that Beanland became an abstract painter. Previously he had been making sculptural, monumental landscapes using a palette knife, but here, perhaps unconsciously influenced by the proximity of the pebbles on the beach, his images began to fragment. Putting down mark upon mark, layer upon layer he reformulated space on the surface of his paintings. As a result, Beanland achieved his first two one-man shows in 1963 and 1965, both held at the Drian Gallery, London. In 1964 he took up a teaching post at Swansea College of Art. It was at this time that Beanland swapped his palette knife for a brush and his ‘spot paintings’ began to emerge. His focus moved from texture to light and colour. The building up of surface now consisted of putting a spot at the centre of another spot to give it greater intensity. These loose discs of colour, or ‘flower heads’ as he often called them, act like the impressionst’s hasty tache, describing the experience rather than the appearance of the landscape. However, as Guy Brett remarked in The Times, by ‘employing crowded, all-over compositions, Beanland gives his paintings a force more reminiscent of Jackson Pollock than Monet or Renoir’. When they were first shown at the Grabowski Gallery in 1967, Beanland’s spot paintings proved popular. Subsequently he developed a good working relationship with Peter Cochrane of Arthur Tooth & Sons where he had three one-man shows between 1969 and 1974. Beanland currently lives and works in East Anglia and his recent paintings are abstracted from nature.

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Autumn wardrobe

Shapes of London
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Willow cashmere

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A few images from my Pinterest board `My Style`
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As much as I love Summer, the sunshine, being out of doors, being on a beach (it is the only place I want to be) , I do actually much prefer autumn and winter clothes.I love simple shapes, I love black , grey, and fawn, and I find it much easier to dress when it`s cold. I feel that I look better and of course when we feel good we look good and so the circle goes around…I do spend a lot of money on clothes, but I tend to buy in such a way that I am just adding to my wardrobe; allowing what I have already to be reinvented, and given a new twist. I buy basic shapes, tops, dresses, over-shirts and tunics-and if I love something I buy two or three of the same thing-if you don`t do that an decide to go back and get another, I can guarantee that it will be sold out-so grab your chance when you can. I then spend money on accessories, fabulous bags scarves and wraps that can add colour and verve to the occasion. I don`t think that I follow fashion, although I am of course interested in, and inevitably influenced by trends; I am much more interested in style, having a definite style, and being effortlessly stylish. I try.
I discovered Shapes of London in the summer, and have bought several pieces from them, including some silk palazzo pants ( sadly I don’t have a palazzo to waft around wearing them), and I have just bought a black dress and top-both pictured above. I know I will love wearing them ,with boots and cashmere wraps this season. All their pieces are simple, slouchy, interchangeable and stylish. I also love anything by Willow Cashmere, who also send their goodies out in lovely cotton, ribbon tied bags which are very useful when travelling. I think I have their gorgeous over-sized wraps in every colour-all muted tones of course. I love their new season cashmere gauzy crew, and their throw-over ponchos. Take a peek , it`s almost worth losing a bit of sunshine to be wrapped in these gorgeous clothes. Also do look at my Pinterest page `My Style`, where I am collecting images of what I adore and how I want to look.

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Blanc

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Store Manager Alistair

Store Manager Alistair

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A tale of two cities in two days. Not like me at all. But having ventured to London on Tuesday( see previous Blog), I had to journey to the not so big city of Norwich today , ostensibly for both an eye appointment; my every two years eye test, and also for my hair to be highlighted , low lighted , cut and conditioned, and generally given an overhaul after weeks of sun, salt, wind and sea.( I did pop into Waitrose as well-oh what a rare treat-spying and buying goodies the like of which I rarely see in North Norfolk).

BUT, as we were unable to go to the VIP Preview evening last week, of the just-opened FABULOUS, brand spanking new WHITE COMPANY store, I just had to go see.
I have to say it looks stunning, the former Dixons( I think) store, having been wrapped in white -looking so stylish and contemporary, and bang opposite the market place, and next door to the Royal Arcade, so what a great location.
I love The White Company. I love white. I love white houses, white walls, white floors, white crockery, white cushions, white sofas, white bedding and white linen. I only wear white occasionally mind you, and only in the summer months ,and usually abroad. But there you go. I wear black most of the time. But our house is white. Very white. And includes all those lovely white things that I have just listed, with just a tad of colour here and there. The thought of sheets and pillow cases, duvet covers and throws that aren`t white would be enough to make me refuse to go to bed, I detest them so much…
We are good friends with Mark and Sally Winstanley, who have a house near us here on the coast, and Mark is Creative Director of The White Company, so we knew many months ago about the Norwich store, so we have waited with baited breath to see it. Mark and I both studied Textile and Fashion Design at Loughborough College of Art ,and indeed my artist husband Andrew Ruffhead taught Mark at Loughborough as well. So we know him and his family of old-consequently when we meet we do a lot of design and art, and well `white` talk with each other!
As you approach the new store, the entrance is flanked by olive trees, and then you get a waft of things to come, The White Company sell a great range of both room fragrances and eau de toilettes, and I was reliably informed that the sweet smell of success that permeated the store and the pavement (!), was the gorgeous crisp, floral, juniper berry, white geraniumy scent Blanc I couldn`t resist a tiny spritz of it. Love it. Love it all really.
I particularly love the stoneware bowls, the mercury table lamp, the white on white bedding , (especially the Colville bedspread), the Petersham sofa, the downy mattress toppers( we have them on all our beds), and I love their clothes- do check out their luxury loungewear. I adore the Chunky Rib Poncho , the White Drop Shoulder v-neck tee ( I already have two of these), and the Trench-a must-have for this season.
And so what did I buy? well apart from room spray-White Lavender, a new one for me, a matt white pepper grinder and two Dome Tealight Holders, I bought the fabulous Boiled wool Jacket with leather sleeves, and the colour? well black of course!

The White Company is at 22-23 Gentlemans Walk in Norwich.
Don`t forget they also have The Little White Company range there as well.
Telephone: 01603 673777

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Sunshiney September day in London town

Breakfast at Cecconi`s

Breakfast at Cecconi`s

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Conor, Audie and Emma at Anderson and Sheppard

Conor, Audie and Emma at Anderson and Sheppard

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Louis Vuitton

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My purchases!

My purchases!

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Brinley and I

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Early start -and early train (6.52am) ,as I had a ticket for the Matisse `The Cut-Outs` exhibition at Tate Modern at 12, and wanted to squeeze in a little retail therapy  first. I was a woman on a mission. My lovely husband decided that he would drive me to Kings Lynn station, as the last time I parked there, my car was bumped into-the car park is tight to say the least, resulting in several hundred pounds worth of damage. Ouch.

Knowing what to wear for a trip to London is always a nightmare, and I know of old that the minute Autumn strikes -despite it being rather hot yesterday, that winter clothes will be worn. So I wore black suede boots. Hot feet. Very hot feet, and after five months wearing flip flops or flat gold sandals, my flattest of all feet are now in shock having been lifted to an angle that they only know in the winter months. Plus I did a bit of walking too.

The train pulled into Kings Cross on time and a taxi whizzed me to Bond Street for 9am, to find that nearly all of the shops ( including Louis Vuitton) where my mission was to start, were closed. In fact this particular shop wasn`t opening until 10. Grrr, I was on a strict time limit too. So I hotfooted it, ( literally) to Cecconi`s, and sat at the bar to wait. So latte and almond croissant and answering emails it was. Cecconi`s full of power breakfasting suits tucking into bacon sandwiches and eggs Benedict, with the occasional girl picking at avocado on granary toast with a poached egg atop. Slight disaster while I was there, as a waiter reached up to add another salami to the rack above the bar, and it fell with an almighty crash, to gasps from the diners; as about 12 bottles of every brand gin and vodka you can think of fell to the floor. Amazingly only one bottle smashed…

Before going back to Bond Street I popped into my favourite Anderson and Sheppard in Clifford Street to see the lovely Audie. As I have written this on my Blog before, I love this shop, the styling, the colours, the art ,the whole vibe. It is essentially menswear, but they have the most divine scarves-well wraps really, as they are so huge, and earlier in the year Audie had shown me the sample colours she had chosen for `Fall`. As usual her eye is impeccable, in fact she said ” I am not going to bring the grey one out as I know you will have it”, and I have so much grey anyway-so instead she showed me a fabulous tomato red and a very stylish rich mud/marron one which after much deliberation I went for-having removed various items of clothing/jewellery that clashed violently. As Audie said `you can`t wear Turquoise once September comes`. I have to admit she was correct.I adore my new purchase. So very `Fall`.

Next Louis Vuitton, and I knew just what I wanted so that was easy- another `cross body` `Eva` bag ,I have several-very practical and stylish, but this time in their `Damier` chequerboard design . Love this too. Fab.

Time rolling on, sun hot, feet hot, hair flagging. I zipped over to the Conran shop to have a quick looky. Always inspiring to me. Loved their windows, a bit of a Greek vibe with a blue and white tiled sort of Taverna-chic theme going on. I love looking at their amazing table settings and cool lighting. I love to cook and I love to cook for friends, so I always seem drawn to images of dining and place settings and wine glasses. Dived into Bamford on Draycott Avenue-bang opposite Daphne`s; an old haunt of mine-I frequented it on a  regular basis in the `90s…

I love everything Daylesford and everything Bamford, the style, the white, the taupe, the organic thingy, the spa, the stores, the food and on and on. But ,my goodness they know how to charge. Their colour palette for this season is delicious- duck egg blues, grey(!),white and aubergine, but I spotted a range of scarves that Anderson and Sheppard have-albeit in different colours, but exactly the same-and here they were £200 more -each. At this rate Carole Bamford will be the only person who can afford to shop here!

I am not a fan of Tate Modern, too big, too ugly, too busy,  hard floors, too up and too down and far too far away. But I still went. I had bought a ticket for the Matisse exhibition earlier in the year , but I found out the night before that there was to be a taxi strike that day , and that, coupled with hot sun, made me forfeit my day, and ticket, and stay at home in my flip flops. So it was really was last chance saloon as the exhibition finishes this week.

I LOVED it.

I have always been a fan of Matisse, but seeing his `cut-outs` in real life , so to speak, was a treat. I loved that they were done in gouache so the colours have a slight chalkiness about them and the colours , although bright, are slightly `off`. I also loved the almost three-dimensional aspect to them too, you could see slight curls in the paper and the odd nick and layering of paper -almost patched in places. More interesting than flat colour. I particularly loved the scale of the huge works, and I loved the studio photographs- poignant pictures of Monsieur Matisse at work cutting organic shapes into painted paper with scissors, as he sat in bed in his bedroom/studio at the Hotel Regina in Nice in his later years. In fact I like his later work;1950-1952 executed shortly before he died, the best of all. There was also a fantastic video running at the exhibition of him at work as well. I sneakily snapped some pictures seen above. Great stuff. I wanted them all!

Lunch. And so to the Wolseley. Bring on the wine. Love The Wolseley -love the buzz, love the food, you knowwhat you are getting, and love the people watching. My gorgeous son Tom back from holiday in Bahrain, Oman and Tuscany, and work in Lisbon and Porto, was on good form, and we had much catching up to do. I always try not to have the same starter but I always to seem to do so, as it is yum-a sliver of a croute with quails eggs, duxelle of mushrooms and hollandaise. So we both had the same.

Just as our starter was about to arrive, we had a `you can`t go anywhere` moment, as  friend Sarah who has a holiday house in our village tapped me on the shoulder , and then another great friend Brinley came marching over too. Small world indeed. I guess we all like the same places. I went over to chat to Brinley later, who was lunching with the famed private chef Blo Deady , and tucking into Negronis and oysters. Nice.

After all the frivolity and exchanges of mwah mwahs, Tom loved his Veal Holstein-both he and my husband love anything with an anchovy and a fried egg on it, and I loved my scampi-an unusual choice for me, but perfect. Light and flavourful, served with tartare sauce. I am sucker for a lemon wrapped in muslin too!

All in all a most perfect, happy, spoiling day in London with the pictures to prove it……

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Seal trip on the Sarah Jane

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Of all the days that we could have chosen during this ( mainly), glorious summer here in North Norfolk, to go on a Seal Trip-we had to choose today. Long planned and booked well in advance; due to tide times, busy diaries and suitable days for friend`s grand daughter to join us, we chose today, safe in the knowledge that the sun would be shining. But,we woke up ,despite the weather forecast to the contrary , to at least fifty shades of grey. And drizzle, and lots of it.( Oh but with promises of sunshine later-a fat lot of good that was at 10am ). A truly rubbish day and a rubbish hair day. As another friend put it so well-‘boat hair`. I wouldn`t have minded the rubbish hair if we were just doing the boat trip, but we were meeting my friend’s daughter and another friends for lunch afterwards at our favourite Wiveton Hall Cafe for lunch so I had to look half decent -in a casual seasidey manner anyway-at least. I decided the only answer was to take my hairdryer and styling brush,( the rain gives me wings-and not ones that are of any use!), and after the seals , head for a swift coffee at the Blakeney Hotel and tart up…

I love a Seal Trip and we love Bean`s Boats. I love the day-glo orange kit they wear, and I love the notion of a `Mr Bean` at the helm. I was even more thrilled to see that the `boat du jour` was the `Sarah Jane`.My namesake , so it had to be my very own boat!

We piled in with soggy families, bemused children, and two gorgeous greyhounds who didn`t look that happy at the prospect of life on the ocean wave.

Gorgeous George the skipper, went through the old routine of safety and Seal information. I say `old` and it is obviously very important ,but I am a bit of an old hand at a Seal Trip; heading to Blakeney Point at the drop of a hat. Perhaps now that I have a boat named after me, ha ha, I should lose my first-time-out Quba Sails jacket, and don an orange one.

As grey as it was , and as drizzly and grim as it was, the trip was great fun as always, and friend`s grand daughter loved to see the seals `waving` just at her… there were more seals basking and beached than I have seen for a long time. They were also dozens of grey seals frolicking and splashing around in the water, and when we went out to the spit of sand alongside the point, the seals there all rushed into the sea at once looking rather like a Christmas Day charity dash by hardy( aka mad) swimmers, on a freezing cold English beach.

Chugging along the creek we spied oyster catchers, the fabulous Juno sailing barge , built by Charlie Ward and available for half  day and full day charters, samphire and mud-lots of it.

So, back to the Blakeney Hotel for coffee. But first the hair, which looked rather good I thought-wet, bedraggled, and the aforementioned `wings` .I also had a great smudge mascara down my cheek, thrown in for good measure. After discovering there were plugs in the ladies loo, (all powder rooms really should have a built-in hairdryer I think ), I asked a waitress who suggested I use a plug in the small sitting room, but as family were ensconced in ther,e all nicely relaxed, I didn`t think that they would appreciate the blast of hot air from my hair dryer disturbing their morning. So while my friend struggled at the mirror, I ( on a mission) found a discreetly tucked away near the Billiard Room, plug, with the added bonus of a shiny brass door plate to use as a mirror, and very happily blow dried my hair back from the brink.

The Blakeney hotel has a jolly nice sitting room , all cool blues, greys and mauve linen, with oversized basket lamp bases and a rather stunning yacht on display. It also has a rather stunning view of the harbour, so warmed up and plied with coffee , it would have been easy to stay awhile.

But lunch beckoned, and to Wiveton Hall Cafe we went. As busy and colourful as always, and a bottle of Pinot Grigio on the table, soon pushed all thoughts of wet feet and wet hair away. A delicious lunch as always, fresh crab sandwiches, a humungous Wiveton Salad-with herb infused coleslaw, pearl barley, feta, beetroot, and potato salad being just a few of the components that make up this feast on a plate.

I had the baked Camembert with Courgette pickle( yum), red onion marmalade, rocket salad and toasted focaccia. It`s ages since I have made this at home as husband isn`t a huge cheese fan-and I had forgotten how lovely it is.( The camembert is rubbed with garlic, and spiked with rosemary, and baked whole in its box until it is unctious, even more creamy and very dippable.)

A jolly, very North Norfolky kind of a day, and as we snaked our way along the coast road heading home, the clouds broke and the sun shone through.

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Beautiful Blakeney

Blakeney by Andrew Ruffhead  www.fish-and-ships.com

Blakeney by Andrew Ruffhead
http://www.fish-and-ships.com

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Andrew Ruffhead design for the Anchor Gift Shop, Blakeney

Andrew Ruffhead design for the Anchor Gift Shop, Blakeney

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The Moorings

The Moorings

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And so to Blakeney. We love the drive along the coast road, despite the numerous hiccups when one meets large oncoming 4x 4s, and it becomes a battle of wills as to who will give way first , oh and who thanks who , if at all. Such is Summer driving in North Norfolk. Grrrr.

We were off to see our friends Fren and Ed Ewing who live in Blakeney ,and run several businesses there; Groovy Campers, Blakeney Boltholes  and also the Anchor Gift Shop.

Artist husband Andrew has been busy working on various designs for the shop, which are being used for prints, tea towels and mugs-the latter having just arrived. They are great fun, and come in four suitably seasidey colours, three shades of blue, and one, not fifty shades of grey!

Blakeney was looking just fab with its muddy creeks, marshes, boats tinkling in the harbour, (the tide was racing in), and a burgeoning, burning, hot pink sunset to boot.

Supper was to be at The Moorings , a few yards from the Quay. Fun, busy, buzzy atmosphere, where we felt very much part of the `we`re on holiday ` crowd.

The Moorings offers unpretentious modern British cuisine in a relaxed setting.

They serve fresh, honest food – fantastic local fish, shellfish, game in season, delicious meat and vegetarian dishes, dreamy puddings, and a well chosen wine list-which includes an excellent Gavi which we love.

We had a great evening, and I have to say the most delicious food, simply presented (always the best way).Yummy scallops-with the coral still on-hooray… Letzer`s smoked fish platter -perfect and served with rye bread and sweet dill mustard dressing ( haven`t seen a smoked sprat for a while!), and our other choices of fish soup with rouille, cheese and croutons, and grilled king prawns with avocado, tomato and chilli salsa, hit the spot.

I love sea trout-much better than salmon I think-so I tucked into  that with Morston samphire and potted shrimp butter, Fren had baked fig, goats cheese and red onion tart, with honey and caraway dressing-pronouncing it delicious, and the men chose the rack of English lamb with rosemary and thyme crust, wilted spinach and caramalised garlic jus. perfectly pink and sublime-I pinched a bit. We were all too full for one of Angela`s puds so had more wine instead!  All fab. Lovely to venture to eat at that end of the coast too, and I highly recommend The Moorings.

I am back tootalling along the coast tomorrow as I am off on a Seal Trip, so watch this space for tales from Blakeney Point!

http://www.blakeney-moorings.co.uk  01263 740 054

The Anchor Gift Shop, 35, High Street, Blakeney. 01263 741555

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