Friday 23 August 2013

Such larks as never

It must have been my jaunt on the marshes, but I couldn't get one of my favourite films out of my mind. Not the whole film, but the first three or so minutes. The 1946 David Lean adaptation of Great Expectations, especially those first few minutes are probably some of the most atmospheric cinema minutes I know. Spine chilling for a young lad, poor old Pip - I dare not show it to my children......not just yet anyway.

Monday 19 August 2013

Signs I like

I don't know about you, but going for a drive these days seems to be like driving into a Christmas tree - multi coloured signs telling you to do this, do that, look at this, look at that and you should be thinking this! 

These on the other hand are just the ticket - oh for the days when all signage was like this. The boys in Norfolk had style. My own Dorset directional signs are a thing of beauty and I was heartened to see recently that you could actually adopt one of your favourites to help keep them preserved and maintained. 

Friday 16 August 2013

The mermaid's kiss

I always thought glasswort sounded like a good name for a bad gnome in BB's The Little Grey Men. It is of course another name for marsh samphire (Salicornia europaea) - like a breath of summer its season is short which also adds to the mystery. A delicious salty vegetable delicacy that I take great delight in harvesting on the annual family holiday to the North Norfolk coast. Harvesting bare footed through the crust of mud on the marshes it's not only the samphire that is the draw, but the call of curlew and oystercatcher. If you are lucky, as I was, you may spy a peregrine causing havoc among the bluebirds. This will divert your attention, but keep an eye on the flooding tide. 

Picked by hand in the low water gap between the tides it needs a bit of preparation before eating or preserving. Trim to remove any woody stalks and give an almighty wash to remove any flotsam and jetsam.

I like mine pickled - blanch and then fill sterilised jars with the samphire and vinegar. Leave for as long as you can. I like mine as side snack with a pork pie.  

The traditional Norfolk way is as follows: Wash the samphire well in fresh water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. It is cooked when the fleshy bits slip easily from the stalk. Serve with melted butter or sprinkle with black pepper and vinegar. You eat it by sucking the leaves off the stalks.         

One of the nicest variations I have had is a new one on me - samphire, black pudding and a duck egg on toast. Cook the samphire in the pan after the black pudding, adding more oil - the salty samphire makes a nice alternative to bacon.

Like asparagus, this sea veg season is short. We are at the tail end now, but I have a feeling it may run a bit later this year.

I am going to leave you now in the most capable and lovely hands of Mr Screw Palmer. Picking Samphire at Blakeney in 1961 (Outlook - BBC East, courtesy of the East Anglian Film Archive) a short hop from where mine came from. 

Thursday 15 August 2013

Happy Holidays!

Wells, Norfolk - See Britain by Train, British Rail Eastern Region, Lance Cattermole
Norfolk For Happy Holidays - John Bee, British Rail Eastern Region
Norfolk - See Britain by Train, Talbot Kelly