Sunday, 19 June 2016

Two very different parts of English coast

Only two weeks into the final term of the year and it's still safe to say that the past two weekends of coastal escapism have been very much needed. This weekend was spent at home in Norfolk while last I was taken sailing around the South coast.

Gosport to Poole was my very first sailing experience and it was absolutely glorious! Fortunately not too much was expected of me in terms of knowing what to do with ropes or technically-termed bits of boat but I did enjoy pulling or releasing things and wandering about with a float to 'fend off'. I think most of my enjoyment though of course came in the form of basking in sunshine (when there was some) and revelling in so much sea. There really is no better place for head-space than on a boat in the middle of water.

Breakfast with a view.






The first day we travelled to Poole on extraordinarily calm and still sea. Sadly the lack of wind meant that not much actual sailing occurred but I was more than happy to sit and admire the view as we pootled along for 11 hours at about 3 knots. The sun truly shone in the evening so we sat on deck to enjoy celebratory champagne and chilli.

The next day was rather different to the first weather-wise. This time, it took 6 hours as we sailed along (this time with sail) at an average of 6 or 7 knots. We awoke to higher winds and choppier seas and I must say that cooking a Full English in such conditions is an experience that will never be forgotten. As for eating it... well getting food from plate to mouth has never been such an entertaining challenge! All in all, a weekend spent on a boat in excellent company enjoying good food, drink and music was truly a luxury and something I would definitely not pass up the opportunity to do again (it put quite a shadow over my summers spent in a topper on Snettisham beach).





This weekend by contrast has been everything that an outsider to Norfolk might expect and more. We really did experience all eccentricities that the Norfolk coast has to offer and it was marvellous! Today has been spent pottering in the garden enjoying intermittent sunshine and no showers (at last). There is dirt under my fingernails and I feel the ultimate balance of relaxed and productive.








Yesterday we took the magical mystery tour of the Norfolk coastline and the day definitely began as it meant to go on. Avid 'Normal for Norfolk' viewers, it was decided that we would begin the day with a venture to Wiveton Hall for tea and a spot of Desmond spotting. Well we were not disappointed as upon arrival the first fellow customer we spied was his 100 year old mother Chloe enjoying her elevenses and it was then not long before Lord of the Manor himself came to join her.



Want this wall.


We stayed a little while after our tea to investigate the gift shop (where you could purchase Desmond's eyebrows (and I do realise this is totally lost on anyone who has not watched the documentary series on BBC)) and were then treated to guests arriving by helicopter. Back in our Ford Fiesta, we made our way along to Blakeney.

With many places we stopped at throughout the day totally unchanged since my last visits 5 or 6 years ago, all of the childhood memories came flooding back. We lunched in Blakeney in a small church café run by the friendliest, most talkative little old ladies then visited Wells-Next-the-Sea where we meandered along the old high-street and popped in and out of antique and second-hand book shops. We stopped for hot chocolate from the seafood stand on Brancaster Staithe which we drank in the car admiring the view.




Norfolk crab sandwiches. Had to be done!









Our final stop was Hunstanton where we sat a while longer in the car listening to jazz and enjoying yet another view before finally stretching our legs in the direction of Fisher's for a fish and chip tea. After food we walked down to the prom and my wellies finally came into their own as I had  a paddle and walked along the water's edge for a while, enjoying the drama of the crashing waves with the sun's rays streaming through the clouds above.






It will probably be a while now before I'm back at the coast which saddens me because I do love it so. Bring on the summer!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Isabella Plantation

Just when we thought we'd covered most of Richmond Park, today we ventured further to find Isabella Plantation and discovered a whole lot more park as well. Isabella Plantation was another garden hideaway mentioned in my Quiet London book so I've been wanting to go for a while. 

Striking colours as far as the eye could see confirmed that today was a great day to visit. 40 acres of woodland garden full of azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias and the occasional pond, it is so pretty and just wow. 

With the flowers all in full bloom, hollow tree stumps aplenty and stepping stones across tiny streams, it truly felt like the sort of fairy kingdom described in great detail in children's books.