Wonderful Wood Fired Pizzas at Wiveton Cafe

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Artist Andrew Ruffhead and owner of Wiveton Desmond MacCarthy

Artist Andrew Ruffhead and owner of Wiveton Desmond MacCarthy

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Andrew and Café shop manager Emma

Andrew and Café shop manager Emma

 

The wonderful Wiveton Farm Café has just reopened for the season. Last night their Wood Fired Pizza Oven was launched, and we and a group of friends were there to sample the first of the pizzas. We love Wiveton. It`s bright, contemporary in style, a fun place to visit, fabulous views over the marsh to the sea, and of course the best food.

There is something for everyone this season, and they have been working very hard over the winter to bring more ways to enjoy North Norfolk`s produce at Wiveton, with Pizzas served Monday to Thursday from 4.pm-6.30 pm, suppers Friday and Saturday, and their famed Tapas night the last Friday and Saturday of the month. This is on top of their usual fruit picking, breakfasts, lunch, tea ,coffee and cakes ,and new for 2014 the Blakeney`s Farmers Market on the second Saturday of each month. Keep up-I think you need to write this all down in your diary!

Wiveton has evolved so much since the conversion of owner Desmond MacCarthy`s tractor shed into the cafe seven years ago. But the ethos remains the same, and they continue to strive to provide the best seasonal dishes, sourced right there on the farm, or from the excellent local community, such as asparagus, eggs, raspberries, samphire, lobster and crab.

The new pizza oven ( blessed by the local vicar no less!),is fantastic idea, cooking these delicious thin crispy numbers in between 90 seconds and three minutes, would you believe, so they are freshly made, cooked in a jiffy , giving a new meaning to fast food.

We sampled one of each -Tomato, mozzarella and basil, Fruit Pig Chorizo and oregano, Goats Cheese, red onion marmalade and thyme and Anchovy, caper, oregano and mozzarella. All fab.( well actually I am not a fan of anchovies so avoided that one -but my husband and friends loved it as it was to their delight very heavy on the anchovies).

The perfect quick supper with a bottle ( or two ?) of wine. I am sure the pizza night will be packed in the summer months with families keen to feed the children early after a long beach day.They have also enclosed what was a sort of outside eating area next to the café and added heaters so it will work all year round, so well done to all at Wiveton.

One suggestion is that they do a `Wiveton Pizza`,maybe with seasonal vegetable, pesto and mozzarella-taking advantage of what`s fresh on the farm and it would become the signature pizza…..

Desmond was there to welcome us, as was his lovely dog Teddy, and we had a quick nose in the new pizza `kitchen as well .Andrew Ruffhead ( best husband) has always exhibited his Fish and Ships Coastal Art at Wiveton each year( this year his exhibition is in the Café from July 27th-August 31st), and also sells a small range of his artworks and prints in the revamped Café shop, so we put our head around the door to say hello to the new shop manager the lovely Emma.

So all very happy that we can enjoy the lovely drive along the coast road to Wiveton Café once more, and revel in the view, the food, and the atmosphere, and hopefully sit outside in the hot sunshine again.

Tel; 01263 740515   http://www.wivetonhall.co.uk/
http://www.fish-and-ships.com

 

 

 

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Charity dinner at Koffmann`s Knightsbridge

Harvey Nichols 5th floor bar

Harvey Nichols 5th floor bar

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Pierre Koffmann

Pierre Koffmann

 

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Martin Corry and Neil Back

Martin Corry and Neil Back

 

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Kings Cross station

Wednesday night is usually very much supper and film night at home , but this Wednesday we headed to London to a fundraising Six Nations Rugby Review dinner for Scotty`s Little Soldiers at the Pierre Koffmann`s restaurant Koffmann`s in Knightsbridge. I must admit that it was jolly cold on the train, as I wasn`t dressed for the great outdoors more for , well, dinner at Koffmann`s, and I was having serious hair angst as it was spitting with rain, and that is when I have bad hair meltdown. But it seemed to survive, just, and didn`t look too bad.I had had visions of searching for a hairdresser on arrival in London!

Being very aware that trains can be late( more of that later), we arrived with a good hour to play with ,so headed to Harvey Nichols ,a stones throw from the restaurant, ostensibly to have a drink in the 5th Floor Bar, but I did have time to peruse the earrings on the way. I did spy some fabulous vintage YSL ones which I would loved to have snapped up, but they had a rather fabulous price of £520 on them so I resisted. They were on sale in the newly-opened Atelier Mayer which has some interesting vintage pieces.

Easter had arrived in the food department with tables groaning with easter eggs of all sizes and colours, and lovely boughs of frothy pink blossom.The stunning Fifth Floor Champagne Bar is inspired by Emile Gallé’s iconic 1902 anemone design for the Cuvée Belle Époque Champagne bottle, and it`s yonks since I have been there. We always like sitting at the bar too, as it`s more fun, more sociable and we love the barmen`s banter and watching all the cocktails been shaken and stirred or not as the case may be. I love the drinks served with a flourish, and a drinks coaster and napkin and a dish of delicious honeyed sesame nuts, all done with a bit of pizzazz, which you seem to get in London and on the continent, but not where we live sadly…and as I sat drinking my second glass of Chablis I thought how much fun it would be to have a proper bar like this here in North Norfolk.

It was our first visit to Koffmann`s restaurant, and we weren`t disappointed. Pierre`s cooking is a combination of rustic gutsiness and haute cuisine, with a combination of delicious flavours that compliment each other perfectly. After several glasses of champagne, we enjoyed the most wonderful food-simple and perfectly cooked . Faultless. I loved the marinated mackerel in white wine wine with cauliflower as it had a really pretty salad of pea shoots and flowers and tiny jellies bursting with flavour, and the saddle of lamb was the best my husband had eaten.

Lots of money was raised for the charity( read all about it below),with an auction of various rugby-themed prizes , tickets and dinners and the like, and there was also a silent auction , followed by fun rugby banter by Neil Back MBE,and Martin Corry.MBE.

I noticed that the pink blossom thing was also going on here too, proving that Spring really has sprung. I remember seeing a humungous display of it many years ago at the Mark Hotel in New York and loving it then. I think the key is to go really overboard in scale and quantity, and these smart London restaurants and shops do-all very stylish.

And then… it started to go wrong. Taxi to Kings Cross to grab the last train back to Kings Lynn, full of jollity , admiring the lattice ceiling of the station before checking which platform to head for. Our train wasn`t there. It had been cancelled. So, a train to Hitchin, a bus to Cambridge and another train to Kings Lynn. Soooo cold, soo late, and soo tired , getting into bed at 3.30am , after a 4o minute drive in thick fog. Not great as was by then unable to sleep so started to answer emails, click` like` to facebook updates, and google Pierre Koffmann, vintage earrings and missing plane latest…

But a fab evening and fantastic food! Thankyou so much to our hosts and friends Glenn and Jackie Ratcliffe for having not only us, but rugby and foodie mad son as well!

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Scotty’s Little Soldiers is dedicated to supporting the children of men and women killed while serving in the British Armed Forces.The charity provides Christmas and birthday gifts, treats, trips and activities for the families of the fallen as well as enabling them to use the charity holiday lodges. Inspired by the experience of army widow Nikki Scott, the charity honours husband Corporal Lee Scott’s memory – both as a loyal soldier and a loving father – and provides a practical yet personal way for the public at large to show their appreciation for those brave individuals who make the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers launched on 28th August 2010 after Nikki witnessed her young children, Kai (5 years old) and Brooke (7 months old) struggling to cope without their daddy.  “When I took the children away on holiday about nine months after Lee had been killed, I watched Kai smiling and having fun in the pool with his cousins and I suddenly realised I had not seen my little Kai laugh like that in months.  That is when I knew I had to do something to try and help him and other children who had also sadly lost a parent, so along with my family and friends we set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers.  The charity for children of the fallen.  Nikki wanted to let the children know that it is ok to smile and to show them that people care and will always remember their daddies as our country’s heroes.  Now through Scotty’s Little Soldiers she is able to do that.Funds for the charity are raised through events, fundraising, donations, merchandise and corporate sponsorship.  Children receive letters, cards, birthday presents, Christmas gifts, tickets, gift vouchers at tough times of the year, help towards clubs and activities and holiday breaks.  Currently Scotty’s Little Soldiers supports over 100 children of the fallen and has been able to purchase two amazing holiday homes in the UK, one in Great Yarmouth and one in Blackpool.  The holiday homes are stunning three bedroom lodges filled with everything a family could need whilst on a break away from home.  The Scotty members can use the

lodges whenever things get too much and they are in need of some time away from all the struggles of living life without a loved one.  The charity is able to pay any travel expenses and the family receive a £100 gift voucher when they arrive at the holiday lodge.The charity’s next goal is to purchase the third holiday home in the South of the country.

http://www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk/

 

 

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Bellissima Venice

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Novecento Boutique Hotel

Novecento Boutique Hotel

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Ponte dell`Accedemia

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Tea at Caffe Florian

Tea at Caffe Florian

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Gondola workshop in Squero San Trovaso

Gondola workshop in Squero San Trovaso

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We arrived in Venice the only way to arrive-by taking a private water taxi from the airport. Yes expensive ,but then you are paying for the driver`s fur-lined designer parka(!) as well. But what a trip, we sped into the Canale Grande as it came upon us like a stage-set, with its dazzling palaces, and then proceeded slowly along the water taking it all in, with the late afternoon sunshine welcoming us to this magical city. The weather was amazing, and helped to make our trip all the more special. We stayed at the very lovely Novecento Boutique Hotel, fifteen minutes walk from St Mark`s Square, and situated two minutes walk from the Canal in Calle del Dose, almost bang opposite the Guggenheim Collection;the very house that the colourful Peggy lived in for many years. They said that the Venetians knew when Summer had arrived ,as Mrs Guggenheim was to be seen sunbathing on her roof terrace.

The Novecento is one of two hotels ( The Hotel Flora being the other), owned by the Romanelli family, and ours was run by the rather gorgeous Gioele Romanelli and his wife Heiby. The Novecento has nine bedrooms, a pretty courtyard where we ate breakfast, and it is rather like staying at a friends house, albeit in a rather grand Venetian building. We were also upgraded to a bigger room with a fab bathroom which was very kind of them. Stylishly decorated with a nod to the style of Mariano Fortuny ,the hotel is full of exquisite fabrics and interesting artworks. Gioele and his staff were all charming and helpful and recommended wonderful places to eat.

We walked and we walked and then we walked some more, up alleyways, over bridges, alongside narrow canals echoing with the voices of Gondoliers singing `Volare`-corny but rather lovely too; just drinking it all in really. We had tea at Caffé Florian-reputedly Europe`s first coffee house, drank wine in the sun in the Piazza San Marco ,and ate olives (and a whole load of nuts!), mind you not as `nuts` as many of the tourists we spied. Why oh WHY would anyone want a photograph of themselves with a pigeon on their head? But then in my opinion why would anyone buy a rather tacky mask, or a ghastly piece of glass of which there were a plethora. My favourite building was the Doge`s palace; a commanding ,shimmering confection of pale pink and cream stonework standing proud with its twin facades facing both the piazetta and the quayside. As we got off the nearest vaporetto stop to our hotel the towering white Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute was ever present, and in the late afternoon we often sat by the waters edge, all walked out, and my husband sketched, where many have sketched before him, marvelling at how of course everything from rubbish, to bags of cement and Amazon deliveries all come by boat.

We had the most wonderful lunch at Osteria Artisti, a tiny bar/café watched over by a rather chic orange-cashmere clad owner, while his staff bustled around bringing us complimentary glasses of Prosecco as soon as we had put our feet through the door. My husband who has never been a huge pasta fan, suddenly tucking into `prima piatti ` at every meal.we ate delicious herb filled ravioli, steak tartare and veal milanese-it was Monday so no fish… On our walk back from that lunch we stumbled across the amazing canal-side wooden hut and gondola workshop in Squero san Trovaso.Fascinating. It is only ten minutes walk from the lovely wooden Ponte dell`Accademia where we , like many visitors before us, fixed a `love padlock` to the bridge…stunning views here too.

We ate at Riviera, a lovely long vaporetto trip in the early evening, ( and a magical ride back), a smart-but a little too precious for us- restaurant serving the freshest fish from the lagoon, but not our favourite eating experience in Venice. the dining room ( sadly the tables weren’t laid out by the waters edge for us that night) was full of people who looked as though they had worked all their lives in the hope of eating in restaurants like this.

We loved the busy, bustling with white-jacketed waiters Trattoria alla Madonna near the busy Rialto bridge. Delicious tiny pink shrimps and oily spaghetti vongole served with an Italian flourish.

As it was my birthday we headed to the legendary Harry`s Bar for the must-have and very pricey -icy Bellinis. But we loved it there, served by old-school waiters in a setting reminiscent of a 1930s yacht…And just around the corner from our hotel ,in a large square was one of our favourite places to eat , the Neopolitan- owned Acqua Pazza in Campo S. Angelo. We had the most wonderful calamari sautéed in lemon , carpaccio pulpo with pomegranate seeds,and again spaghetti vongole. So good we ate there twice. The same meal twice. They were very generous with complimentary cicchetti ( tapas) of fried mozarella, tomato and basil bruschetta and ricotta-stuffed pastries, tiny sugar coated biscuits with coffee and own bottle of both limoncello and mandarincello to imbibe. Some of the best food we have ever eaten.And all sitting outside, which is always the best place to dine.

We simply had to go to the fish market at the Rialto and what a treat, how I wanted to be a Venetian shopping there each week. Amazing fish and seafood-loved the inky squid, and also amazing piles fresh fruit, salad leaves, herbs and vegetables including the bang in season  `Castraure`, the first floral shoots of the artichoke cut in a way to `castrate` it-a regional delicacy so tender that it can be eaten raw with extra virgin olive oil ,lemon and shavings of parmesan, as well as sauteed in oil and garlic. Pretty.

Visiting the Guggenheim Collection ( after the rather wacky installation art at the Punta della Dogana-a stunningly renovated barn type building that marks the entrance to the Canale Grande ,was a real treat. We loved all the art, from the Picasso and Calder mobile that greeted you in the entrance, to the sculpture garden, and the early Jackson Pollocks. Each room displayed a wonderful photograph of  Peggy Guggenheim at home as it was in her day, and you really do feel as though you become sort of part of her world. She had an amazing eye for the contemporary art of her  day, discovering and patronising( and marrying!) many new artists. Back at the Novecento, we discovered from Gioele that one can get married on her roof terrace ,and many parties and drinks receptions are held in this spectacular house full of spectacular art.

So we left Venice as we arrived, by water taxi, this time weaving our way through smaller canals , in the hot sun, full of inspiration and with a determination to go back and do so many things that we didn’t have time to do in four days. Such as go to the Lido, the Palazzo Grassi, and visit Torcello, oh and eat even more clams. I loved the sound of the church bells every half hour, the eccentric Acqua Alta bookshop with second hand books stacked in old gondolers, the pink glass in the lanterns around the Piazza San Marco, I loved the oh-so-stylish Venetians with their obligatory puffa jackets, furs, scarves and small dogs, and I loved all the doorways and door bells and interesting window grills, as you can see below-interesting little artworks in their own right.  Arrivederci Venezia, we loved you.

VENETIAN DOORS, BELLS AND GRILLS….

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Seasoned by Chefs

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Seasoned by Chefs magazine at Arnaud Stevens Sixtyone restaurant

Seasoned by Chefs magazine at Arnaud Stevens Sixtyone restaurant

Galton Blackiston

Galton Blackiston

Morston Hall

Morston Hall

Ben Handley

Ben Handley

The Duck Inn

The Duck Inn

Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

The Ingham Swan

The Ingham Swan

`Seasoned by Chefs` is a brand spanking new, mega glossy , beautifully photographed magazine; showcasing the UK`s gastronomic greats. Published by We R Publishing, edited by Rick Game with contributions by well-known food writer Rosie Birkett and yours truly. In this issue I `wow` about The Lone Star in Barbados-recently visited and loved.

The magazine has an Editorial board that includes  famed chefs such as Michel Roux Jr, Arnaud Stevens, Theo Randall and Sam Williams. The first issue is just out , hot off the press with Francesco Mazzei owner of L`Anima in Snowden Street EC2 on the front cover and inside, `Food from the Soul`, talking about his passion for Southern Italian food, and his preoccupation with simplicity and provenance. The magazine will spotlight 8 chefs each issue, and includes recipes to go with their favourite dishes.

Here in Norfolk, I will be interviewing Galton Blackiston from Morston Hall, Ben Handley from the Duck Inn at Stanhoe, and Daniel Smith from The Ingham Swan, which I am very much looking forward to. The magazine is quarterly, and is being distributed to all the best restaurants, but you can buy it on subscription from iSubscribe. Go get!

http://www.isubscribe.co.uk/Seasoned-By-Chefs-Magazine-Subscription.cfm

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The not so swinging `60s

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The reason I called this Blog post thus so, is because I was born in 1960, so was busy growing up, learning to read and write, watching` Watch with Mother` and the Moon landing, and choosing clothes from the Ladybird catalogue, so no time to `swing` except on a rather bumpy splinter-ridden seat of the swing in the playground.

They say if you remember the `60s you weren`t there…well I most definitely was, along with Blue Peter, milk that froze on the doorstep, the Milky Bar Kid and Topsy and Tim.

So where is this leading you may ask… Well, I absolutely love PINTEREST, a place online where you can store ideas and images that you love, be it for work-many Interior Decorators use it to show clients `storyboards`, or just for pleasure. You can keep them to yourself or `share` your ideas with other `pinners`. Now many of my `boards` feature cool, arty type photographs, with headings such as `My Style`, `Coastal Home`, `Favourite Spaces` and so on. All inspiring and exciting and a good place to find new `stuff`, be it clothes, earrings, places to visit et al. But the other day I started a whole new Pinterest board. One full of memories. A friend , a similar age and newish to Pinterest, started `pinning` photographs of her childhood memories of things from the 1960s, and so it began that we both have gone a little bit mad with it, but hey what fun it is. I have to say I love looking at my `boards` as bar this one titled ` Memories of 1960s and 1970s`, they all look stylish and inspirational. This one looks  bit of a mish mash, but it`s very personal and anyone who was born in the same decade as me will be oohing and aaahing like we are. It is all great fun and we have been texting each other re various images we have found online to share with each other. Who remembers those ghastly, but innovative at the time, walk-about hairdryers that had a sort of plastic bath hat affair in which hot air was blown in via  heated dryer type funnel thing. I had one and carried it around in 1971 listening to my hero of the time , David Cassidy singing to me(only me of course), and we found pictures of things like Bunsen burners-every school Biology lab had one–a good trick was to fix the rubber tubing to the taps and switch on! What struck me most looking at pictures of old toys and games was that there were toys and games, something that sadly so many children miss out on now in this age of computers. I realised when I saw books like Milly Molly Mandy and the Enid Blyton series of stories like The Elves and the Shoemaker, that I had bought them all again when my son was small, wanting to recreate a few of my childhood memories for him too. Above are just a few of the images I have saved and what they mean to me.

So, the Test card, this seemed to be on the television screen rather a lot, possibly due to the fact that in the 1960s there wasn`t actually  a lot on TV.We really only watched BBC of course anyway.

One of my favourite programmes apart from Blue Peter, was Bewitched,  which was in black and white and I was allowed to watch (circa 1969 ) after tea and before Brownies.

A 1960s Christmas Cake complete with rather naff festive figures( which came out each year) still with a greying lump of Royal icing attached. I have to admit I trawled Ebay and have bought similiar ones and replicate this now retro look each year.

Two of my favourite books were Topsy and Tim and Milly Molly Mandy, and I still have the full set which I subjected my son too. There was a Topsy and Tim book for each day of the week, and I also loved Milly Molly Mandy`s adventures with Billy Blunt; cooking baked potatoes on the fire and other , to me, rather brave things like sleeping outside…

Sweet cigarettes-horror of horrors to one who hate hat hates smoking. I though I was the epitomy of sophistication sporting one of these. I also had paper ones that if you blew into them you puffed out a talcum powder type waft of something resembling smoke. The sweet cigarettes were only any good if they had a red tip, the plain ones being far less authentic.

Tressy-the doll everyone wanted. She had a rather odd button in the middle of her tummy which you pressed and if you pulled her hair at the same time , it grew, well a long `tress` really, so you could style away and pile it on top of her head. I chewed my doll`s hands to buggery and then the day came when we were allowed to take our dolls to school and I was so embarrassed about her hands, that I fibbed and told everyone that my younger sister had done it.

Green Shield stamp books, collected by every mother in the land, you got them at the till of the supermarket and at garages when you bought petrol I think.  My mother kept them in a drawer until she had sheets and sheets of them, then I was allowed to stick them in using a sponge. We then spent hours looking in the Green Shield stamp catalogue to see what we `qualified` to get.Exciting things like oven gloves…

Gonks, like Trolls, were widely collected and kept on the bed. Scary really.

Rolling down the hill. This was only possible if you lived near a hill,which we did living in Buckinghamshire. Great fun, you got covered in grass stains.I don`t think children ever do today.

Ah Pretty Peach by Avon. The Avon lady never visited us but I had a set of this for Christmas in about 1967 and absolutely adored it. So grown up,I can still smell it.I particularly loved the `soap on a rope` a new thing then.Too good to use.

A leather bound pencil case. I think I used to get these for Christmas, a veritable array of goodies including a compass, which my Mother always took out as it was deemed too dangerous for a delicate flower such as me.

A ballerina jewellery box, this had a key which you wound up;being careful not to overwind, and the dancer pirouetted for you. My cousin-whom I hated as she seemed to have everything I ever wanted ( including birthday parties with a clown, and holidays on cruise ships) had one of these. Another reason to hate her.

Bunty was one of the comics I had as a child, and I loved the cut-out clothes so you could dress the cut-out doll.There was also a story in it called the `Four Marys` who were at boarding school and rather butch, and I was convinced that they were men!

The Fishing game I am sure is one that most people had  as a child. I bought one for my son who loved it. Each time I opened the box, however careful I had been putting the magnetic rods away, they were seriously tangled, so much so I would go to my parents house with it and get my, much more patient than me, mother to sort it out for him.

As a child I used to go and stay with my glamorous granny in Yorkshire and to emulate her, I would persuade her to buy me makeup sets and these rather awful looking `high` heels which had an elastic strap across that pinged and broke after about an hours wear. But I used to teeter around her sitting room with lipstick on, two balls of my grandfathers yellow(?) typing paper shoved up my jumper and these gorgeous heels.

Animal Bars were the only chocolate my little sister was allowed to have. I guess it was a small bar, and also we collected the rather jolly wrappers.

We all played the recorder at school. Good old `London`s Burning, London`s burning`.Terrible noise. Luckily I don`t think my son progessed higher than playing the triangle.

Spain. We first went to Spain in 1968 I think ,and it brought new riches, like these lovely Spanish Dancer postcards, Spanish dolls and Bull fighting posters on which you could have your name printed.

When I was eleven I discovered Jackie magazine. Oh wow. Full of gorgeous men like David Cassidy and Donny Osmond, high fashion purple suede tasselled belts, and Cathy and Claire, this was who you wrote to with a `problem` and of course the most read page. Being at an all girls school a copy of Jackie was most coveted, and we would huddle around it at break giggling aloud.

My first hamburger( called beef burgers in those days) was in 1970 in the Wimpy Bar in Bury St Edmunds after going to the dentist. I remember my mother struggling to drink a cup of coffee and have a cigarette with a frozen mouth.

And finally the Galloping Gourmet` the first of all the many many TV Chefs, and where food `porn` all began. He would cook, groan with pleasure and slurp red wine, then lay a table complete with candles and flowers, and grab a woman from the audience to join him to try his cooking. More groans of delight. I think it`s know as a `food-gasm` nowadays. He left TV at the height of his fame to become a Morman…

 

Ah simple pleasures.

See my Pinterest boards online here: http://www.pinterest.com/sjruffhead/

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My Hurt My Pain My Story

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“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
“It’s not about the situation, it’s how you deal with it.”

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“I’m proud of you Will, and I love you, now remember one thing… Work hard in the morning, play hard in the afternoon and seek nothing but damn fine company in the evening.”

And this, unbeknown to me at the time, was the last time I ever spoke to my Dad.

Paul Howell aka Asparagus farmer!

Paul Howell aka Asparagus farmer!

I have to admit that the title of this Blog post does not refer to me. These are words taken from a new book by William Hunter Howell, and one which I am keen to share. It makes, at times uncomfortable reading, but interesting, joyous and satisfying as well.

Affable in Adversity:The Bereavement B*tch ( Kindle Edition)

 “I lost my confidence, my self-assurance and my social buoyancy, all of which I struggled to contend with.”

This first book by William Hunter Howell shares the chronicles of a young man dealing with bereavement and the journey it entails, negotiating the complications of life, love, drugs, guilt, expectations and the importance of knowing who he is at a crucial time and throughout all the trepidations he’s faced with. The memoirs of William Hunter Howell, the son of deceased European Member of Parliament Paul Howell, is a gritty, witty, sad and clever account of bereavement and the struggles it imposes on a person at a young age. It is pure and genuine, understanding life with a beautifully positive message at it’s inspiring core. This book is a must read for all, but crucially those affected by bereavement, whether immediately and directly, or as a parent, partner, friend or acquaintance. It’s unimaginably poetic in its no holds barred honesty and humble truth.

It is available to download on amazon .

And as for me, I have known William since he was born; in fact I remember going to visit him a few days afterwards, when he was first brought home. He is a charming, articulate, clever (maybe too much so, hence the thinking and analysing all so very much) and slightly wacky young man. He is super cool and the language he uses at times, the music, films, etc that he refers to , also reflect this. Being an older bird I recognise this!!!

I know William`s  brother ,and I know his mother. I also knew his late father Paul. I first met Paul when I was 22, so 30 years ago. Paul was larger than life itself. He too was a bright young thing, a charismatic, clever , wild dare devil of a man. Always up to tricks, whose life after several recent hiccups had just been turned around to much happiness and a new future. He was very sadly and shockingly killed in a private plane crash. I guess the only way Paul would leave this wonderful life.

It was William`s third day at University when he heard the news of this terrible tragedy. As  a mother of a son, I feel his pain, and his angst written thoughts and questioning of who and why he was. This, coupled with obvious residual guilt and anger from recent times with his father made it disturbing reading at times. But the book was, I am sure, a cathartic experience for William, and because of this , I as the reader found it at times rambling and repetitive and dare I say a tad too clever and mannered. It is complex as is William.But overall in my opinion it is a triumph. William is going places!

He is a clever writer, and I hope he reads it from the beginning again, to see how he has `moved on`; that terrible cliched phrase that seems to be bandied around during loss. Life is a journey William, albeit a bastard one at times, and we don`t always know who we are, why we are, and where we are going. We should just `be`, and just enjoy the ride. Don`t question everything so very much, just do it. And you will look back and realise that while you were getting on with life, you turned into yourself ,and that is who you and most definitely your dear Father would be most proud of.

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Back Holme

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After such a very cold day yesterday with the wind chill factor lowering the temperature , we were itching to get outside instead of being holed up indoors in a fug of cosiness. I love Holme-next-the-Sea beach, just for its vast open space and its silence- save for the waves breaking on the shore. I love the Sea Buckthorn that edges the bumpy track down to the beach , we actually have eaten these interesting berries  in various guises at The Gunton Arms. We always come down this lane past a real hotch potch of houses, and finishes by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust house. Did you know that singer David Gray has a house here , a rather cool contemporary pad which he built no doubt as a respite from his usual lifestyle, and he really will be hidden here.

So off we went this morning for said walk , ostensibly to collect oyster shells ,to be  made into key rings to sell at our Fish and Ships Coastal Art Gallery.

It`s been a while since we were there, and we always love that first glimpse of the sea through the pinewoods, and the moment when Harry the Lurcher is allowed off his lead and can`t believe his luck so runs and runs and runs. This time we were quite shocked at the difference in not only the dunes that edge the woods at the top of the beach-so broken up and hanging awkwardly over the sand, where the sea had cut into them,but the walkway down to get onto the beach. One usually walks down rickety steps fashioned out of a sort of picket fence on the ground type affair, but today it was completely flat. As those of us who live near the sea know, one has to always marvel and be very aware of the sea and its power. The tremendous tidal surge and flooding that took place along this sometimes precarious coastline in early December, was no doubt responsible for the great shift in sands that we saw today. I think the top of the beach had at least three foot in depth more sand.Amazing. I have always said that I love how each time we go to the beach in along this coast, it is different due to tides and shifting sands, but today you could see just how delicate the balance can be.

The sky was the bluest of blue, and the wind was just a whisper coming from inland, so it was surprisingly warm, and when we first arrived  we were once again the only people sharing this wondrous space with just sea birds and sunshine and the rhythmic break of the sea on the shore. Harry of course soon started digging. We always say he digs for victory-and are only so pleased that we don`t have any grass, just decking and gravel at home else we would not be enjoying our lovely outside room as much as we do. It would surely be wrecked in a few hours with Harry left to his own devices!  He always finds a friend on the beach too, and it becomes a race. Having more than a touch of greyhound in his genes, this proves impossible for most dogs to keep up. So it becomes a battle with Harry taunting whichever dog( and usually small dogs with attitude) that are brave enough to take him on.

We collected a great horde of shells, some really huge, it`s most definitely the best place for oyster shells, there were swathes of razor clam shells strewn about  too , but sadly they are very brittle and break  easily, and came back a little weather beaten and full of the joys of living here in North Norfolk. Home to poached eggs , coffee and the Sunday papers. Lovely.

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