29 September 2009

blanket coverage

Two new blankets to alleviate the evening chill, both knit using my favorite Cabled Throw pattern from Debbie Bliss' Simple Living:

I used Rowan Magpie Aran (purchased in a long-ago Liberty sale), so they feel quite 'sturdy' compared to the one I knit last year in Cashmerino Aran. But what they lack in drape, they certainly make up for in warmth!

27 September 2009

cookie monster, part two

These Pecan Biscuits (from Linda Collister's Baking Bible) have featured on the blog before. But they're so good, I think they deserve another mention!

They're perfect for this time of year: the golden caster and demerara sugars combine with the pecans to produce a wonderfully deep flavor that's altogether autumnal. Just the thing with hot coffee on a chilly morning.

20 September 2009

getting smutty

Our last big adventure in North Norfolk was a ride on the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway. Or perhaps I should call it a little adventure, as the train was quite small!

Here's G peeping out one of the carriage windows:

We sat in an open car, knee-to-knee, to feel the breeze and get the best views. This was a super idea on the way to Walsingham, where the driver gave the train a quick tune-up:

But not such a super idea on the way back to Wells, when we were covered in coal smuts! I had one in my eye, and it wasn't nearly as romantic as it seemed in Brief Encounter...

19 September 2009


It would be wrong to spend a week in Norfolk without eating seafood.

Can you guess which item I ordered from Gurneys' placard below (keeping in mind I can never resist a cleverly named food product)?

Cray'n'aise: as close as you can get to lobster roll without a lobster!

18 September 2009

something blue

If we count the house as 'something borrowed', we can skip right ahead to 'something blue':

While the Wiveton Farm Cafe is just a few steps down the road from Cley, we approached it via the marshes. More round-about perhaps, but I reckon the brisk walk made our coffee and cakes extra tasty!

Even in September, the Farm was doing a brisk pick-your-own trade. Here are the punnets ready for filling:

There were also ready-picked punnets available from the shop...

and with raspberries this gorgeous, who could resist?

17 September 2009

something new...

We've just discovered another super reason to visit Holt (not that we've ever been short of reasons):

Mrs Jones opened a few months ago round the corner from Old Town. The ground floor is stocked with home goods, from the whimsical and colorful (think Anne-Claire Petit) to more minimalist pieces:

And the upper floor is filled with fabulous French fashion. Ever since my first visit to Comptoir des Cotonniers, I've been passionate about French clothes: such sophisticated colors, interesting cuts, and always a perfect fit.

So feeling very chuffed with my new Vanessa Bruno blazer. Chic yet works with jeans: très bien!

16 September 2009

something old...

We couldn't be so near Holt without dropping by Old Town. When we last visited, they'd sold out of Canvey Caps. But this time we were lucky: they had one left in stock, and it fitted perfectly!

I'm just a bit worried by the fact it's a large. Does this mean I have a big head?

While pondering this question (uh-oh), click here for a fabulous behind-the-scenes look at Old Town.

Nick Hand, the filmmaker, is currently cycling round the coast of Britain, raising money for the Parkinson's Disease Society. And along the way, he's been making a series of soundslide films, documenting the artisans living and working on his route.

Please visit his website to learn more about Nick's amazing journey and to see more of his brilliant soundslides, including one about Made in Cley!

15 September 2009

perfect pie, part two

Our first stop after arriving in North Norfolk was Samphire, my all-time favorite food shop:

As you may remember from our previous visit, the shop is set in the grounds of a National Trust estate. All the products are sourced locally from small producers, and all the meat is from ethically reared rare and traditional breeds.

After lunch at the picnic tables outside--there's a choice of three deliciously simple filled rolls--we shopped for the week ahead. Here's Roberta packing up two of their justly famous pork pies:

Before our first visit to Samphire, I was convinced I didn't like pork pies. But these completely won me over. The texture, the taste, everything about them is just perfect:

This time we branched out and tried several more products over the week, including pork and wild mushroom sausages, a wonderful goat cheese and onion quiche,

Fairfields Farm Crisps, and shortbread and florentines baked in Samphire's own kitchen. G later declared the gloriously large florentines the best he'd ever tasted!

And on our way out, bulging grocery sack in hand, I picked up two more Samphire booklets--one on keeping ducks and the other on keeping pigs--because you never know...

14 September 2009

cley-(nearly)-next-the-sea, part two

We were back in Cley-next-the-Sea last week, staying in Manor Coach House, just a few steps from the famous windmill:

The house was just as perfect as we'd remembered,

filled with light and decorated in the most soothing shades of white and pale gray:

the perfect place to relax after a bracing walk by the sea.

Luckily it wasn't gray on the beach. Here's the beach at Cley, which despite the 'next-the-Sea' moniker, is actually a mile from town:

Even more spectacular was the walk from Holkham to Wells-next-the-Sea:

Stumbling up and over the grassy dunes,

we came upon the most amazing beach, with a seemingly endless expanse of sand and surf:

At Wells, we spied some fabby beach huts,

before turning inland to make our way back through the pines, which were planted as a wind and sand break for the fields behind. After the blowiness of the beach, the calm was very welcome. And equally welcome was the cart selling homemade Holkham Ice Cream!

We also walked through Sheringham Park, designed by Humphry Repton in 1812 and now part of the National Trust, where we were greeted by a herd of cows,

before the fields gave way to cliffs and more views over the sea:

Sun and surf, sand and shingle: the British seaside holiday has it all...

and cows to boot!

07 September 2009

north norfolk

We're headed off on our belated summer holiday. See you next week!

In the meantime, click below for an essay by Miss Ellie Finlay, recently published in the Old Town Evening Star:

© Old Town Evening Star

06 September 2009

hansel & pretzel

On our way home from Petersham, we stopped by my new favorite deli, Hansel & Pretzel:

The Deutsche Schule London is on Petersham Road, and thus the area is home to some super German food. We came away with the most delicious weisswurst and pretzel:

Oh how I've missed proper pretzels: that wonderfully chewy texture! And in any case, who could resist a pretzel from a deli called Hansel & Pretzel?

05 September 2009

figs and grapes

Where did we go for coffee and (birthday) cake this morning? Just one clue...

And happily, Petersham had my favorite fig and almond cake. So moist and moreish, the only thing missing was the candle!

While it was warm in the sunshine, the gardens and greenhouses looked positively autumnal, with grapes in abundance:

There were still plenty of flowers,

but the blooms were mainly in russety reds and oranges:

Even the shop displays were being re-worked to reflect the changing colors outside:

Fall has arrived...at least for me, and it seems for Petersham, too.

02 September 2009

crayola crazy

I was never keen on going back to school, but I was always very keen on buying new school supplies!

I could spend days selecting the perfect Trapper Keeper and lunch box, not to mention all the other bits and pieces. And those other bits and pieces invariably included a box of Crayola crayons:

While I could have used my crayons from the previous year, the perfectionist in me demanded a pristine, freshly sharpened set in a crisp yellow box.

Looking back now, I wonder what happened to all those old, half-used crayons. If only I'd known about homemade crazy crayons,

because, just like a good puzzle, I could never resist a good craft.

01 September 2009

very corny

We've just pulled up two beds of blighty tomatoes. But we're not feeling too downhearted, as we still have bushels of sweetcorn:

This year we have a whole bed-full of tall, sturdy stalks. Standing in their midst, enjoying their papery rustle, I can easily imagine myself in an Iowa field...

While the sweetcorn is delicious as-is, quickly boiled on-the-cob and served with butter and salt, it also makes a super Sweetcorn and Spring Onion Tart with Polenta Crust:

The polenta crust is the most amazing yellow, ever-so-pleasantly gritty, and works wonderfully with the delicate sweetcorn filling. But what a nightmare it was to make. G had to rush in and take charge, as the brittle dough crumbled and I collapsed in tears...

We'll most definitely be making this tart (from Tamasin Day-Lewis' The Art of the Tart) again. So light and tasty, it's the perfect late summer/early autumn dish. But we might need to gather a few polenta pointers first!