I’m frequently told that flower photography does not require strong sun but benefits from the diffused lighting and lack of shadows resulting what real old Kodak 35mm or 120 roll film boxes used to call cloudy bright. Well, today was cloudy and, I suppose, occasionally bright. Again!
Francine has this thing about lavender fields, which are stunning in Provence but which we usually miss because we run away from Satan’s Little Disciple season. Just up the road from us nearing Hunstanton is Norfolk Lavender which we decided to pay a visit. My ultimate goal was to visit Cley-next-the-Sea just about in the centre of Norfolk’s north coast where there used to be an excellent smokehouse selling sublime smoked eels, amongst other taste-bud-tickling goods. There were various other places of potential interest in between.
Norfolk Lavender: this turned out to be more of an exhibition/collection/museum, with a few rows of several different species of lavender on display, rather than massed fields of commercially grown lavender, together with the inevitable couple of typical why-would-anyone-buy-any-of-this-stuff gift shops. Well, all right, some of the lavender potpourris would probably be OK for granny but most of it was mugs with cringingly sweet pictures of dogs, table mats with chocolate box scenery, etc. – not for me. There was an interesting wicker figure in a modest field of lavender which was quite nicely done. Norfolk Lavender apparently has 100 acres of lavender under cultivation somewhere but where, I know not. The best bit was a delicatessen with a good collection of meat and cheeses.
Heading for the north coast with olfactory organs reeling from lavender, we happened past a field full of bright red poppies; quite a colour change. We found a farmer’s gateway to pull off the narrow lane. This was reminiscent of the field of massed poppies that we found last year in France near Le Loir. We’d never seen this many before in the UK, though. The poppies, plus a few other intruders, seemed to be polluting a field of rape, no longer yellow, of course.
We tore ourselves away and fought our way through Burnham Market, where the world and his dog were parked and gawping [wouldn’t want to live there], and headed next for Wells-next-the-Sea. Quaint phraseology, some of these Norfolk town names have. Wells was being rebuilt. OK, not really, but it was having some serious renovation done on the harbour front creating what looked to be ultimately expensive apartments in an old warehouse building. A fishing boat was offloading crate-loads of delicious crabs. Avoiding the renovation work, Francine tried a stitched panorama of the water channel and harbour.
We worked our way further along several more miles of the coast, passing through Stiffkey, pronounced Stookey. Quaint pronunciation some of these Norfolk town names have. Soon we arrived at our final destination of Cley-next-the-Sea and its wonderful smokehouse. Not only is Clay notable for its world class smokehouse but also for its having a free car park – brilliant! The smokehouse counter was filled with all manner of nostril-tempting smoked goods. Well, not quite all manner, more most manner. A swift enquiry revealed that smoked eels were no longer on the bill of fare. Fair enough, in fact, jolly good show. The poor old eel, with its complex life-cycle of breeding way out in the Sargasso Sea, is yet another species in serious decline and is now protected. So it should be. Eels have been over fished, over jellied and over smoked over the years. My love of wildlife overrides my love of fine food, so I wholeheartedly approve of the eel’s protected status.
Having made a 60-mile round trip pilgrimage, we contented ourselves with a few other no less delicious smoked temptations as a consolation prize.