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.