Fish and Ships Coastal Art

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I am about to give a very nice plug about my lovely husband artist Andrew Ruffhead`s Gallery :
Fish and Ships Coastal Art, here in Burnham Market, North Norfolk.

Last week we had the lovely photographer Keiron Tovell  (www.keirontovell.com) here filming Andrew at work in his studio, gallery and walking along the stunning Wells beach.

We are so pleased with film, so here it is: a lovely insight into how Andrew works, his love of living near the coast and what inspires him.

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Ancient House, The Victoria Inn, Holkham

h11 37 34 21 h3 24 22 32 33 h2 23 31 h4 h14 h12 29 30 h10 h9 26 25 27 h18 h19 36 What a treat. We were invited to stay at the newly-opened Ancient House at The Victoria Inn , Holkham. Just a few miles away from home, but an overnight stay with dinner was very special, and made us feel as though we had been away for much longer! The Medieval Ancient House (possibly `the house by the shore` mentioned in a manorial court roll from the 13th century, and variously a lodging house and bakery),  has been owned by the Coke family for 350 years, and is next door to the Victoria Inn. Now with a newly gravelled path, edged with Holkham Estate`s favourite signature planting of  Quercus Ilix, that leads you to the main hotel, it  has recently been beautifully restored; its barley-twisted `Tudor` brick chimneys are in top notch condition , the mellow red brick starkly contrasted against the bluest of Norfolk skies. There are ten bedrooms at Ancient House, all very cleverly designed in what must have been a tricky building to sort out, in terms of what was going to be where. The result is a triumph with ten (as opposed to twenty which it so easily could have been) spacious suites, each with a sitting room with sofa-bed ( plenty of room to add a z-bed too), and TV, which gives flexible space to accomodate guests. Our room `Wilbrahams` ( all rooms are named after Shooting drives on the Holkham Estate), was split-level, so it had the feeling of an apartment, which was great. Decorated in a palette of soft greys, blues, lime and moss, the rooms have a restrained country house feel, and the sparkling white bathroom was perfect; a large bath tub with hand held shower, lovely bath goodies, fluffy towels and bathrobes, and an amazing drench shower. Fab. Our dog Harry the Lurcher came too, and as dogs are only allowed in the bedrooms in the main hotel, he slept in a roomy, secure kennel with a run, situated in the car park. He was as happy as , well Harry… We had dinner in the bar area of the Victoria, as we love sitting by the big bay window there; watching the sun go down over the marshes. Dinner was perfect, in fact the best food we have eaten there, and Sabrina looked after us splendidly. We both had the sublime lobster cocktail to kick off with, and oohed and aahed over it together. We then choose the rib-eye steak with the chef`s salad and sauted potatoes. Perfect. Naughty chocolate puds followed, I had the yummy brownie with vanilla ice-cream and my husband had the chocolate torte and pistachio praline. Full up! At 6am this morning, the sun was pouring though our window, so after my husband had made himself a cup of tea, the plan was to head to Holkham beach for an early walk on the wide sands, before breakfast. Oh dear. the next thing we knew it was 9.30! The bed was so comfortable-  all plans abandoned! Harry joined us for breakfast, and the lovely waitress asked us if he would like a sausage. No need to guess what the answer was.

Smoked haddock, poached egg and hollandaise sauce was the order of the day for us, a real treat on a Monday morning. We had the most lovely time, as did Harry, even if we didn`t get that beach walk, and I envy the visitors who come to stay here on our beautiful coast. I forgot to mention the lovely gardens behind Ancient House, which are being planted with fruit trees under planted with wild flowers. How charming. We are so privileged living here in North Norfolk , but also to be allowed to be part of an Estate like Holkham.

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Natalie Prass

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This week I was urged to listen to the divine music of singer-songwriter Natalie Prass by a friend, ( thank you George!).

Her  debut album is out now; spelling binding country-soul, and I love it.

Natalie Prass ( born in Cleveland) is a songwriter’s songwriter and performer’s performer blessed with a golden voice and universal appeal—a singer who understands the vision and brings an undeniable talent to the process. She’s a joy for any listener to discover—a lover and a fighter and old-soul trader in genuine energy, aiming straight for the heart. Prass turns a sly eye to the pageantry of emotion, the drama of love and the mysteries of everyday life with a disarming mixture of sincerity and cosmic insolence, unapologetically romantic, spinning golden threads of lyric and melody, each inflection and melisma planned and considered, each word tailored for meaning and effect—the pop She delivers it all with carefree charm and nearly divine intuition. Her voice, at times so ethereal, is shot through by strength and sinew and just a hint of transient grit. The feeling is soft, but it cuts so deep, leaving any listener with a trace of a soul, thunderstruck and enchanted.

She is a powerful, beguiling performer ; one for the moment and one for the ages.

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Beachy summer evenings

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We have been to Wells-next-the-Sea twice this week, once with a friend to grab a ( jolly good) pizza from The Golden Fleece( bang on the quayside), and the next evening, hot and balmy and the tide rushing in, for a picnic supper on the beach, dragging ourselves away at nearly 10pm…The skies, the light, the water and the sands were just stunning. North Norfolk at its best. We are so lucky to live here.

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Two Lovers

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Having watched and loved the wonderful Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in `Walk the Line`, I took a peek at what else he has been in film-wise and  `Two Lovers` caught my eye. It was so very good; slightly Woody Allen-esque…

Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow star in this New York-set romantic drama. Aspiring photographer and lonely introvert Leonard (Phoenix) has moved back into his parents’ home following a recent heartbreak. His concerned parents try to set him up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the sweet and caring daughter of a family friend. All seems to be going smoothly until Leonard meets Michelle (Paltrow), the beautiful, but volatile mistress of a wealthy married man who has recently moved into an apartment in his family’s building, and Leonard finds himself caught between the her and the girl next door.

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Morston Anchor

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I had lunch with a girl friend today at The Anchor at Morston. it was her treat for a lesson on the intricasies of Pinterest!

It was busy and buzzy, and we had had the sense to book our favourite table by the window in the bar, so heaved a sigh of relief when we arrived ( late -after wending our way along the mad coast road with all the half term visitors), to see the very welcome  `Reserved` sign was still on our table. We decided to go for a starter and a pud ( naughty) ,and we both had the most delicious local asparagus, with smoked hollandaise, a crab beignet ( yummy-love a beignet) and watercress.Very pretty on the plate too.

My friend had the white chocolate torte with raspberry sauce and meringue, and I chose the Anchor creme brulee with honeycomb ice cream.

There were lots of lovely dishes to chose from, on both the printed menu, and from the specials blackboard; including fish soup, tempura courgette flower stuffed with rosary ash goats cheeses and salt baked beetroot, as well as old favourites such as crab salad and golden beer battered fish and chips.

Good , cheerful service and a lovely glass of Gavi.The perfect lunch!

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Two great films

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I always come to the party late so to speak, re watching the latest films, as we never go to the cinema and buy DVDs instead. We have seen two excellent ones this week.

Both very different but both love stories and both made me cry.

Firstly The Theory of Everything , just out on DVD,  an extraordinary and uplifting story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, and of two people defying the steepest of odds through love. The film, based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (Man on Wire). So well acted by Eddy Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

Secondly Walk the Line, an older drama following the life of the legendary ‘Man in Black’, Johnny Cash. The movie begins in 1955, when a tough, skinny guitar-slinger who called himself J.R. Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) walks into the soon-to-be-famous Sun Studios in Memphis. It was a moment that would have an indelible effect on American culture. With his driving freight-train chords, steel-eyed intensity and a voice as deep and black as night, Cash sang blistering songs of heartache and survival that were gutsy, full of real life and unlike anything heard before. That day kicked off the electrifying early career of Johnny Cash. As he pioneered a fiercely original sound that blazed a trail for rock, country, punk, folk and rap stars to come, Cash began a rough-and-tumble journey of personal transformation. In the most volatile period of his life, he evolved from a self-destructive pop star into the iconic ‘Man in Black’ – facing down his demons, fighting for the love that would save him time and again, and learning how to walk the razor-thin line between destruction and redemption. Reese Witherspoon won a Best Actress Academy Award for her role as June Carter, Cash’s long-suffering wife.

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