Bang! Cafe.Bar in Wells-next-the-Sea






Our good friends Johanna and Christopher Tennant, very kindly invited us to stay at their (newly-opened this year) Bar, Café and B&B , BANG! just along the coast from us in Wells-next-the-Sea. We decided ,as Johanna has organised a fab programme of live music to be featured there, alternate Thursday evenings until late March 2016, that this would be the perfect night for our visit. We had such a fun evening with them both, and we were joined by Christopher`s mother Lady Anne Glenconner ( and what a great dancer she is!).

So why `BANG!`? . Christopher`s late father was the colourful Lord Glenconner, Colin Tennant, ( he who bought the Caribbean island of Mustique ), and whom latterly owned a restaurant in St Lucia called `Bang between the Pitons`, and therefore Johanna and Christopher thought it a fitting ( and fun), name in memory of Colin.

I visited the building when the refurbishment of this Grade II listed building was taking place, and boy was there a lot of refurbishment to do! Johanna has worked extremely hard to create a colourful , cool café serving delicious, simply cooked food served all day from 8.30 am, and four lovely en-suite bedrooms with a pretty south-facing courtyard.

On the menu is a great selection to eat , including Full English breakfast with local sausages, Corned beef hash with fried eggs, potted shrimp with granary toast, fish finger butty ,and freshly baked cakes and crumpets.There is always a soup and hot dish of the day such as fish pie.

We stayed in `Feathers` ,a large , dog-friendly room ( yes Harry the Lurcher came too, and was made very welcome with squeaky toys and doggie treats).In a coastal colour palette of navy blue and white, with stripped boarded floors, and  an amazingly large walk in drench shower, the room was lovely. Thoughtful additions like board games , Kilner jars of chocolate bars( and yes we did pig ourselves on kit-kats at midnight!), and the usual tea and coffee making facilities. My only gripe was that there wasn`t a shelf or caddy in the shower to hold toiletries. The Eccosssential ones provided in the bathroom were lovely too by the way. I also thought that some large black and white framed photographs of Wells would look cool in the bedroom too. Maybe just one huge image in each room…

The band playing last night were called `Against the Grain`, and I really didn’t know what to expect, but they were so good, playing blues music that evolved into well-known classics by Van Morrison, Johnny Cash and The Doors. The place was packed ,and we all danced and drank rather a lot (hence the midnight feast!).What a fun atmosphere.

With more music to come ,check out the BANG! website to see what`s next.

We slept well and woke up to a rainy grey Friday, which was a shame and put paid to a walk along the harbour , but breakfast was perfect. Herby sausages and eggs , smoked haddock and poached eggs, and lashings of tea and orange juice. All beautifully presented.

Johanna and Christopher have done such a great job, and the Café is evolving all the time .It`s in such an historic building , and well-positioned on the corner of Staithe Street, and the perfect place to hang out in for coffee and cake , free WIFI too. Go!

(BANG! logo designed by Andrew Ruffhead at Fish and Ships Coastal Art ,in Burnham Market.)

And on a final note a must-read book to find out so much more about Colin Tennant, is `Lord of the Isle` by Nicholas Courtney.



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Film choice: I Anna


Last nights DVD viewing was the  2012 noir thriller film,` I Anna`, written and directed by Barnaby Southcombe, and based on Elsa Lewin’s novel of the same name. The film stars Southcombe’s mother Charlotte Rampling (who is definitely having a come-back of late, as she is also in another recent  `45 Years` with Tom Courtneay), , Hayley Atwell , and the fabulously, broodlingly sexy ( yes I really do like him!!); Gabriel Byrne.

The film is very stylish and haunting ,with amazing cinematography. It`s also gripping stuff .

DCI Bernie Reid’s latest case is the mystery of a man brutally murdered in a London apartment building. As an insomniac going through a divorce, Reid’s concentration on the case is further complicated after an encounter with Anna, an enigmatic figure( obligatory high heels, Burberry raincoat). He tracks her down to a party, where Anna denies any knowledge of having already met him. Despite her protestations, there is a mutual attraction between them. Bernie’s professional ethics come into question as he grows more attached to Anna, who is about to unveil a dark mystery

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Guest Blog post

Blakeney Cottage Company

North Norfolk Eateries: Fresh and Local Emphasis

 Sarah at Wells-next-the-Sea beach

North Norfolk is quickly becoming one of the best loved holiday spots in the UK. People come from far and wide to enjoy trips to the beach, walks in the unspoilt countryside, visits to bird and nature reserves, or to sample the delicious local food.

Local blogger Sarah Ruffhead has lived in Norfolk for 45 years. She moved to North Norfolk 13 years ago, and can’t recommend the area highly enough.

“It’s a very special place and I haven’t looked back since the day I moved here. Like anywhere, there have been changes over the years. More houses, more shops, more places to eat and more people who want to spend time here, whether it be for a holiday, every weekend, or full time. But the heart of the place hasn’t changed.

“It’s an area of beauty, with many wide open spaces and quiet corners, interesting local characters and a somewhat arty crowd. I love the mix of local and not-so-local. It’s ever-changing in that way, with new people and new experiences which is what keeps it alive.”

Sarah is a bit of a foodie and a keen supporter of the ever growing range of eateries in North Norfolk.

“We have such a plethora of fresh and local food, including cheese, asparagus, wild mushrooms, mussels, lobster from the Wash, freshly-caught sea bass and crab galore. A host of new chefs have moved here in recent years, all keen to produce creative innovative dishes using the best local ingredients. We’re very lucky indeed.”

One of Sarah’s favourite places to eat is the café at Wiveton Hall. She spoke to us about why she loves it and gave us some recommendations for other great places to eat in North Norfolk.

Wiveton Hall and Café

The view from Wiveton café

Wiveton Hall is a 17th century Jacobean manor house with farm, gardens and café situated in Holt, near the Norfolk coast.

“Wiveton Café is at the end of a dusty drive, flanked by fields full of raspberry canes, strawberry beds, other soft fruit and asparagus, all of which is available as PYO. The Hall’s west wing is open to rent as a holiday home, and the gardens are especially beautiful in summer – a flower enthusiast’s dream. You can easily spend a day amongst it all, or if you fancy a trip to the beach, there’s an easy walk along the coastal path to nearby Blakeney.”

The café is very popular with locals and visitors alike, often fully booked and with a queue of hungry people at peak times.

“I love the food and the colourful interior and exterior decoration. It has a lovely outside eating area of vibrantly painted wooden chairs and tables and there is no place better to sit on a sunny day. You can people watch surrounded by the fruit canes, with the marsh and sea as the perfect vista.”

Local and Seasonal Produce

Nearly all the fruit and vegetables used in the café’s meals are grown on the farm and can be bought daily from the shop. Anything not from the farm is from local farmers and fishermen, all of whom enjoy a strong relationship with the café.

Freshly caught crab

“The Wiveton salad is famous and a meal in itself, full of leaves, new potatoes, tomatoes, herbs and beets. My favourite food to eat there is probably their celebrated asparagus, served with melted butter, sea salt and black pepper, or mixed into the crab and chilli linguine.”

“The café also has themed food nights. They serve home-made delicious pizzas from their wood-fired pizza oven that was blessed by the local vicar no less! If you like Mediterranean food then you’re in luck, as they have Tapas evenings every Friday and Saturday, accompanied by live Spanish guitar music. These are always great fun to go to with a crowd of friends.

“For visitors, crab seems to be the favourite dish and they serve it baked with cream in its shell, or simply with salad, homemade mayonnaise and new potatoes. I think their cakes and sweets are very popular too: fabulous chocolate brownies and enormous home-made meringues are delicious with strawberries and cream.”

For manager and head chef, Ben Pert, the fresh, local produce is the star of the show.

“Our ethos at Wiveton Hall Café has remained the same since it opened 10 years ago, when Alison Yetman was at the helm. We produce fresh, seasonal food, utilising as much of the produce grown on the farm as possible. We are extremely lucky as chefs to have such incredible ingredients delivered to the kitchen door every morning, and during the busiest periods, we have some amazing local producers who help us keep up with the demand.

“We are proud to use some of the finest local businesses in North Norfolk and have great working relationships with them. They are almost as passionate about Wiveton Hall Café as we are and they enjoy coming as paying customers as well. For instance, we have fishermen from Sheringham who turn up with a boot full of freshly caught fish, which are sometimes still flapping. We then plan our menu around the season and their bounty.”

Fully Stocked Shop

All Wiveton Hall produce is sold in the shop including home-made preserves, granola, salads and dressings, plus the freshly grown fruit and vegetables. They also stock locally produced goods ranging from wine, oils, honey, crisps and chocolate to tea and ice cream. Flowering plants and herbs from the garden are available throughout the year, plus small businesses showcase their goods, which include pottery, homeware, art, stationery, children’s toys, books and cookware.

Local Artist Exhibitions

'North Norfolk'

The café has a separate Art Barn where it showcases the work of different local artists and photographers every month. The artwork is also displayed on the café walls, where it often receives praise. Sarah’s husband, Andrew Ruffhead, is a popular local artist and one of the exhibitors this year

“He has a studio, Fish and Ships Coastal Art, in nearby Burnham Market and this year he’s exhibiting in the café from July 26th for a month. He also has a small selection of his fun fish and whales on sale in the café shop all year.”

Other Top Spots

Sarah had some recommendations for other places to eat nearby too.

Best place for fish and chips: The recently opened Eric’s Fish and Chips in Thornham does great fish and chips with a modern update. They use only fresh, seasonal fish and local produce, have numerous vegetarian options and can cater for gluten free. They also have an extensive wine list.

Best place for picnic food:Humble Pie deli in Burnham has been open since 1980 and stocks the yummiest of picnic foods.” Everything is hand-picked and is always taste tested before being stocked.

Best place for family dining: The Anchor at Morston serves classic pub dishes for a family supper, with fresh, seasonal fish and buttered samphire on the menu.

Best place for foodies: The Duck at Stanhoe has won numerous awards and special mentions, including being a front runner in The Good Food Guide’s ‘Best Restaurant’ category for East Anglia. “The quail’s egg and black pudding Scotch egg is fantastic.”

Best place for afternoon tea: Enjoy the great view of the quay and boats whilst sampling a traditional afternoon tea at the Blakeney Hotel.

Best place for dinner and a view:The White Horse at Brancaster is the perfect place to sit and just drink in the amazing view along the coast. You can sit out on the deck at any time and watch the tide slowly rise up. It’s the only place on the East coast that faces West, so you can enjoy the fiery sunsets towards Hunstanton and the sailing boats racing in the distance.”

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Yay Retro!



I love the website  Yay Retro! and I have bought many things from it including 1960s/70s floral trays, fishy dishes, cool coloured butter dishes, and various retro  printed pots. Owner Sue kindly asked me if she could feature our gallery
  Fish and Ships Coastal Art on the Blog on her website,and so here goes!(Bloggers rule!) A big thank you!

It`s a  great little precis of my husband Andrew Ruffhead`s cool coastal art!


yay retro





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Sexy Fish




My son first told me about Sexy Fish in the summer. It`s the latest glamourous restaurant offering from Richard Caring, and during the renovations it tempted would-be diners with  a huge image of a Damien Hirst neon fish emblazoned on the façade, on the corner of Berkeley Square.

I was determined to go, and to go when I wanted to go, which was yesterday. So having pestered them with phone calls, I was very pleased to receive a call when I was wending ,my way up the cobbled streets of a white village in Spain a few weeks before they opened, informing me that my table for lunch with my son was booked. Fishtastic!

I have read a handful of reviews since it opened at the end of October. All good. Each review I read said that as the doorman opened the door, they were asked if they had a reservation. They didn`t ask me. I take that  as indication that I looked as though I should be dining there!

It is bold and brash and full of marble and wood ,and artworks by Damien Hirst, Frank Gehy and Michael Roberts. It has a proper bar complete with proper waiters making proper drinks, and the whole place does have a feel of permanence about it. It has an old school, 1950s New York glamour vibe , and I loved it. I spied various `names` also enjoying it , including David Tang, Piers Morgan, Geordie Greig and Lord Hindlip. Owner Richard Caring was working the room.

And so the food. WOW WOW WOW. It is Asian fish and seafood. My ( and my husband`s) absolute-could-eat-it-every-day favourite. You can watch it all being steamed and sliced and wok-ed in the corner of the dining room too, which is always fun (and heartening).

The waiter suggested that my son and I choose several dishes to share, which was good idea, and enabled us to taste a few more of the amazing flavours. The food was very pretty, `clean`, simple, with delicious additions of fruit and oils and herbs all presented beautifully.

It was quite tricky to decide what to have , but we did so, happy in the knowledge that what we didn`t try, we will do so next time.( I adore soft shell crab and octopus carpaccio ,so they will most definitely be on the list). So Tom and I shared the Sexy Fish Roll, the Seared Yellowfin Tuna with dried miso, wood sorrel (I`m a sucker for a micro herb), and pickled cucumber, and the Tartare of Beef with sour plum, pickles and squid ink crisps( a revelation).It was soooo good; I oohed and aaahed through each mouthful. We shared the Madagascan Prawn with shiso salsa for our main course, which was like a slightly small lobster really with light lemon grass and coconut flavours, and also had the Mixed Vegetable Tempura-the lightest of battered cauliflower, squash, aubergine, courgette, and Sautéed Spinach with ponzu. What a treat.

The flavours were divine. We really didn`t need a pudding. No we really didn’t need a pudding.. but Tom had the Matcha and Ginger Marble cake with gingerbread ice cream and caramel sauce, and I had the Cinnamon Doughnuts with chocolate sauce and citrus curd-which was a bit like lemon posset. Oh my.

I brought the menus home so I could show Andrew just what he had missed and we swooned again. We will be back.



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Ai Weiwei and Frank Auerbach



















a4 a3


I enjoyed a bit of an art fest yesterday, going to exhibitions at the RA and Tate Britain back to back.

Firstly to the Royal Academy, one of my favourite places to visit. I love the courtyard there; a respite after the  busy road a step away. And Ai WeiWei`s tree installation is stunning there. A place to linger in .His work is thought provoking, visually attractive, and technically very accomplished. You need to buy the exhibition catalogue and read all about him!

This major  artist and cultural phenomenon `s work is brave, provocative and visionary, and despite being one of the most significant cultural figures to have emerged from China in recent decades, he is so controversial within his native country that until recently his name was removed from Chinese editions of art books. He employs traditional Chinese craftsmanship to produce art works that reveal an unflinching determination.

Ai Weiwei became widely known in Britain after his sunflower seeds installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2010, but this is the first major institutional survey of his work ever held in the UK, and it bridges over two decades of his extraordinary career. Curated in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing, on show are some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to present day. There are a number of large-scale installations created especially for this exhibition, as well as works showcasing everything from marble and steel to tea and glass. With typical boldness, the chosen works explore a multitude of challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.



I have never been a real fan of Auerbach`s paintings, especially his early work which is thick with oil paint( still drying), a very 1950s` style`, but I also find it angst ridden and a tad depressing, if compelling. His techinique forces you to look deeper at the imagery. His early portraits  I find particularly harrowing.  they are quite sinister creating a presence, but I think that is what good art is about I guess, stirring up emotions and reactions. Those of you who know a little about Auerbach , will know that his german parents sent him to England to escape persecution by the Nazis , and they later died in a concentration camp. His work , like he, is intense. I watched a film a while ago about him, that was made by his son Jake, and he is quite dark and serious. But….
moving on into the 1970s his work cheered up for me, I love his bold colourful abstracts of Mornington Crescent and Hampstead Heath .They are wonderful, with a lighter touch and sweeping brush strokes; conjuring up light and movement.Never static. I came out of this exhibition loving his work and wanting to take home at least six pieces. It is a thoughtfully curated exhibition. Go!

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You MUST buy…well actually no, you must download this book. `Techbitch`. Ghastly title I know, but oh so good!

It`s the Devil Wears Prada on quinoa and avocados….

I understand the `dilemma` completely, and it is very funny and very `now`. Oh times they are a changing…

Until two years ago I had approximately 500 CDs, sooo old hat apparently, so I buy an IPad and upload/download and so on. I now have 4000 tracks on my Ipad, But no ,now it`s Spotify, then it`s streaming… oh and You Tube videos and channels, and Blogging and Vlogging, and now it`s Podcasts and so on and so forth. I think I am quite techno savvy really, but maybe not. Keep UP Sarah!

So, the book:

Imogen Tate, editor-in-chief of Glossy magazine, is a legend in the fashion world. But when she returns from a sabbatical to find her twenty-six-year-old former assistant, Eve Morton, behind her desk, she realises times are changing. Armed with a business degree, naked ambition and an iPhone, Eve announces she has been brought in to turn Imogen’s beloved magazine into an app. With herself at the helm. In this terrifying new world, Imogen is almost invisible. In place of her team of dedicated staff is a constantly evolving line of twenty-something bloggers at their desks day and night (‘Only losers need sleep!’), amateur snaps instead of elegant photo shoots, and a URL address in place of Imogen’s glossy pages. But Imogen isn’t ready to give up her hard-earned career without a fight. Where Eve has Twitter followers, Imogen has experience, talent and real relationships, and she’s prepared to fight for the fashion world she knows and loves. Even if it means going to war with a ruthless Techbitch.

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