RSPB Havergate Island Photography Day

Eighteen months ago, I went on a Photography Day to Havergate island and I was delighted to find out that these special days are going to be repeated again in 2015 .

Monika Koch, is offering the events in a brand new cooperation with the RSPB under her own flag of ‘Wild Adventures under Suffolk’s Skies’. Kevin Sawford, Jeremy Hennell James and Celia Bartlett are joining her for the new venture. They will start in March and after a breeding season gap, offer events from July right through the year up to December.

I remember the day well, both for the island’s tranquil beauty and  the helpful and friendly photography tuition. It was a bit of a stretch getting up at 5.30am to be on Orford Quay for 6am but it meant we were on the river in the golden hour to see the sun rise over the water. We were lucky as it was a clear and sunny day.

DSC_0072

The only sea birds I can identify with certainty are Puffins, after reading Puffin books as a child and I knew we wouldn’t be seeing any of those. So I packed my camera, another lens, spare battery, clean re-formatted memory card, tripod, remote switch, camera wipes, manual, bottle of water, some emergency sweets and chocolate, my Kumfie sit mat, spare thin fleece, waterproof trousers, hat, fingerless gloves, another pair of gloves, notebook, pen, scarf and last but not least, my Observer book of birds from when I was a child. In the morning, Jeremy  taught a session on landscape photography and I learned more about moving close and moving back to find the right angle to take the pictures.

Havergate Island

Havergate Island

The beauty of the Photography Day is that there is hardly anyone else there so you can wander off and concentrate and simply absorb the island’s haunting beauty. I wanted to try and capture some pictures of Orford from a completely different perspective.

Orford from Havergate Island

Orford from Havergate Island

In the afternoon, I had a session on macro photography with Celia and looking closely at bark and lichen. The rapt concentration needed clears the mind of all extraneous worries.

I also had time to wander around to the different hides and the  more expert bird watchers identified the birds for me.

Entrance to bird hide on Havergate Island

Entrance to bird hide on Havergate Island

 

I looked at details and liked the grain in the wood and the lines on the door of the bird hide.

Bird hide on Havergate Island

Bird hide on Havergate Island

Mackerel sky on Havergate island

Mackerel sky on Havergate island

 

I’m not a confident photographer as I didnt even own a camera until a few years ago and I know there is a lot of scope for improvement. I am easily intimidated by other people with their huge cameras and lenses but everyone was so friendly and welcoming that I surprised myself and had a really good day. Not only can I shut my eyes to remember those unique Suffolk skies, I now have some photographs to remind me as well.

Details on the  days and dates in 2015 and how to book are available here.

Smoked trout and celeriac, apple and fennel salad.

It’s October 12 and we had our lunch in the garden today. Long may this Indian summer continue. It’s apple season and it’s tempting to just fill the blog with recipes using apples from the apple trees in the garden.  I am trying to use apples in savoury ways and this crunchy celeriac, fennel and apple salad goes really well with smoked trout from Pinneys . I went shopping in a T shirt this morning and the shadows in the picture are from the sun shining on the table.

Smoked trout and celeriac, apple and fennel salad

Smoked trout and celeriac, apple and fennel salad

I’ve also made blackberry and apple jam and apple chutney and we’ve have had  blackberry and apple crumbles,  baked apples, an almond and apple cake  and an apple and honey cake. I am freezing stewed apple like crazy for quick puddings and to go with pork and pancakes.

Laden with apples

Tree laden with apples

As ‘The Great British Bake Off’ has been delighting us on TV, I tried one of  Mary Berry’s apple cake recipes which got a big thumbs up as the apple layer in the middle meant it wasn’t dry. The recipe makes enough to fill a Swiss roll sized tin  so it’s great for packed lunches as it lasted all week.

Mary Berry Dorset apple cake

 

Celeriac, apple and fennel salad

I only made enough for two as I like it when everything is crunchy and fresh but it’s easy to scale up the amounts if cooking for more.  Sometimes when I’ve made this, I’ve put in some chopped dill as well but I didn’t happen to have any today.

100g celeriac, peeled and cut into matchsticks

100g fennel, cut into matchsticks

100g apple, cut into matchsticks

Tbsp yoghurt

Tbsp mayonnaise

Zest and juice of half a lemon

Half tsp mustard powder (optional)

Mix everything together in a  bowl and season to taste,

Blackberry sorbet

After a successful summer’s lettings, it felt wonderful to be back in the cottage for just one night before more lettings through September.

View from Orford Quay

View from Orford Quay

The apple trees are laden with fruit and we picked blackberries from the garden.

Garden view from the kitchen window

Garden view from the kitchen window

Everything had grown a lot but we had time to weed and deadhead and pick apples before the next guests arrived.

Apple tree

Tree laden with apples

There are so many blackberries around this year and they are earlier than ever. Maybe it’s global warming or simply the effect of a mild winter and warm summer. Blackberry sorbet is fresh and low fat and doesn’t actually have that much sugar in it for each portion or scoop so it is a relatively low carb pudding as well. I made the puree using a mouli legumes or you could use more elbow grease and push it through a sieve. I didn’t use an ice cream machine to churn the fruit although of course you could if you had one. I just made the sorbet one evening and then set the alarm on the oven to remind myself to take it out the freezer each hour where I whizzed it with a stick blender.

Brambles

Blackberry sorbet

INGREDIENTS

110g granulated sugar

100 ml water

450g blackberries

2 tbsp lemon juice


2 tbsp creme de mure (optional)

METHOD

1. Dissolve the sugar gently in the water and then boil for two minutes. Pour into a jug and leave to cool.

2. Whizz the blackberries in a blender, food processor or with a stick blender to make a puree and then pass through a sieve or mouli legumes to get rid of the seeds.

3. When the sugar syrup is cool, add to the puree with the lemon juice,  (and creme de mure) if using. Stir together and then use an ice cream machine to churn and then freeze. Alternatively pour the mixture into a plastic box and put in the freezer. After an hour and half, scrape the frozen sides away from the edge of the box and whizz everything together with a stick blender or mixer to break up any ice crystals that may be forming. Repeat every hour or so until the mixture is frozen but smooth.

4. Take it out the freezer half an hour before serving so that it softens up enough to scoop easily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I did with my gooseberries. Part 2

For the sake of completeness, I did promise I would say what I did with the rest of my gooseberries. I made this brilliant Nigel Slater recipe of pork with gooseberries which made a change from pork chops with apple sauce.

Nigel Slater pork with gooseberrie

Nigel Slater pork with gooseberries

Then I stewed the last few in the microwave and put them on top of my Bircher muesli with some orange slices and a few chopped walnuts to make yet a different variation for my breakfast one day.

Bircher Muesli with gooseberries and orange

Bircher Muesli with gooseberries and orange

 

What I did with my gooseberries. Part 1

I heard that High House Fruit Farm didn’t have many gooseberries left so I rushed over and bought a huge bag of them. There was no PYO this year as the bushes were netted to stop pigeons eating the fruit.

High House Fruit Farm shop

High House Farm shop

There’s always anticipation about what to make but first on my list was Diana Henry’s gooseberry and spelt cake which was quite delicious, the tang of the gooseberries giving a welcome sharpness and the organic wholemeal spelt flour from Maple Farm, a nuttiness which made it feel quite wholesome.

Diana Henry gooseberry and spelt cake

Diana Henry gooseberry and spelt cake

We ate the cake in the garden, where the flower bed was in full bloom.

Orford cottage garden

Orford cottage garden

My husband wanted pie so I  followed Simon Hopkinson’s recipe here with a packet of Jus-Rol  butter puff pastry, in a golden wrapper I think it’s fine using it as long as you check that the one you buy is made with butter.  Lots of them are not and just don’t taste the same. I used the whole 500g packet in a 23cm tin as if you are going to make a pie, then you might as well make a big one and I just added more gooseberries until they were heaped up pleasingly in the tin.

Simon Hopkinson gooseberry pie

Simon Hopkinson gooseberry pie

The third thing I did was make gooseberry and elderflower curd, following a recipe in Mark Diacono’s book,  ‘A Year at Otter Cottage’ and using the very last of the elderflowers which are infused in the curd.

Mark Diacono gooseberry and elderflower curd

Mark Diacono gooseberry and elderflower curd

I then used some of the curd to make a strawberry and  gooseberry and elderflower curd Eton mess, also from ”A Year at Otter Farm’, although I have to confess I used bought crushed meringue nests.

Mark Diacono strawberry and elderflower Eton Mess

Mark Diacono strawberry and elderflower Eton Mess

PS Part 2 of what I did with my gooseberries  coming next and although High House Fruit farm may not have any more, they are still for sale in the shops. ( and a proper review of ‘ A Year at Otter Farm.’)

PPS We didn’t eat all of these at once or else we would be the size of barrels but gooseberries do freeze very well, so do catch the last of them in the shops.

 

 

Walk around Orford, Part 2

 

This walk links up with the one I posted here to make one big loop around Orford. You can do either half or do them both together. These pictures were all taken on a hot, bright and sunny Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago but I imagine that this weekend, the weather is going to be the same. The second half of this walk starts in the Market Square from where you can spin around and see St Bartholomew’s Church and the 13th century Kings Head pub,

King's Head and St Bartholomew's Church, Orfor

King’s Head and St Bartholomew’s Church, Orford

the Butley Orford Oysterage, famous for its locally caught and smoked fish

Butley Orford Oysterage

Butley Orford Oysterage

the Pump Street Bakery, renowned for its bread, pastries and now chocolate

Pump Street Bakery

Pump Street Bakery

and over on the opposite side, the Crown and Castle,  a hotel with a really good restaurant, the Trinity.

Crown and Castle

Crown and Castle

Carry on past the hotel and you will come to Orford Castle, which is now run by English Heritage.

Orford Castle

Orford Castle

Follow the road round to the left into Castle Lane, and past a pretty row of cottages.

Castle Lane, Orford

Castle Lane, Orford

At the bottom of the lane, turn left and then follow the public footpath sign to the right of this house through the holiday barns to reach open fields. If you wanted to, you could carry straight along Broad Street and back to Quay Street.

Orford house

Orford house

This footpath leads down to the River and you can see the sails of a boat in the middle of the picture as it sails along the River Alde.

Footpath to river

Footpath to river

If you look back across the fields, you can see the back of Quay Street.

Back of Quay Street

Back of Quay Street

There is a well marked path climbing up onto the flood defences and then you turn back left along to the Quay.

Orford Quay

Orford Quay

Turn left into Quay St and back to the Market Square past the Jolly Sailor, another great Orford pub.

Jolly Sailor, Orford

Jolly Sailor, Orford

Strawberry and elderflower cordial

There’s an elderflower bush or tree at the end of the garden which encroaches onto the lawn and could probably do with a bit of a prune but at this time of year, it’s brilliant for cutting elderflowers as no dog has been near it, it’s not near a road and it’s totally organic. They are a bit later than other blossoms because the bush is not sheltered and prone to the power of the East winds.

Elderflower at the end of the garden

Elderflower at the end of the garden

The flowers are a creamy white, smell of muscat in the warmth and are brilliant for cordials and cakes.   Last year I had great fun making elderflower fritters and elderflower vinegar.  This year ,I rang the changes with a batch of elderflower cordial by adding macerated strawberries, following the recipe from the British Larder blog which gives me constant inspiration. Their buttermilk and spelt soda bread recipe  and the carrot cake  which I made here are two of my absolute favourites. Their restaurant is magnificent and there’s a copy of their cookery book in the cottage because I found another one in a charity shop. ( More fool the donor.)

Elderflower blossom

Elderflower blossom

I followed the recipe exactly and put the cordial in little zip lock bags in the freezer. Then I can bring them out, top up with soda water and serve with ice when we want. It’s refreshing and just a little bit different. When the next bag comes out the freezer, I am going to experiment with a cocktail… or maybe two. Watch this space.

Strawberry and elderflower cordial

British Larder strawberry and elderflower cordial

Cottage bedrooms

The upstairs bedroom overlooks the garden. It has a king size bed, a dressing table with wall mirror and two fitted wardrobes, either side of the bed.

Double bedroom

Double bedroom

Twin bedroom

Twin bedroom

The twin bedroom overlooks the front and has two beds, a fitted wardrobe and a chest of drawers.

Twin bedroom overlooking the street

Twin bedroom overlooking the street

From the twin bedroom, stairs lead to the loft extension which can be used a single bedroom, a playroom or as a study area. There is a view over the garden from the loft extension window.

View over the garden from loft extensio

View over the garden from loft extension

There are plenty of toys and children’s books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels.

Children's books for all ages and toys

Children’s books for all ages and toys in the playroom

Smashed pea and ricotta bruschetta

It’s hot and sunny and bruschetta make an easy lunch.

Time for lunch in the garden

Time for lunch in the garden

The poppies that we bought from Woottens of Wenhaston nursery are in full flower.

Cottage garden

Cottage garden

I used Pump Street Bakery’s sourdough bread and followed Henry Dimbleby’s and Jane Baxter’s recipe for pea and ricotta bruschetta here.

Pump Street Bakery Vermont sourdough

Pump Street Bakery Vermont sourdough

The recipe will become staple in our household when I can’t think of what to have for dinner as it’s so quick to make and Parmesan, lemon and garlic are three staples I always have in the fridge as well as peas in the freezer. It’s fresh and summery and quite delicious. The other topping was simply chopped tomatoes with torn basil leaves in some olive oil.

Pea and ricotta bruschetta and tomato and basil bruschetta

Jane Baxter’s pea and ricotta bruschetta and tomato and basil bruschetta

 

Darsham Nurseries, 17 May 2014

A sparkling review in ‘The Independent’ led us to Darsham Nurseries which turned out to be my  idea of heaven, both an excellent cafe and a nursery full of tempting plants.

Darsham Nurseries

Darsham Nurseries

The cafe entrance  has a welcoming vase of flowers and some sample menus.

Darsham Nurseries table at entrance

Darsham Nurseries table at entrance

Inside, there is a simple room with hesperus flowers on a half wall, delineating a big table for a group from the rest of the grey painted tables, arranged in two lines with mismatched wooden chairs. Some of the chairs are more comfortable than others .

We started with the signature cocktail, a Rhu-bubble,  a mixture of rhubarb spirit, rhubarb syrup and Prosecco. This was so good that I am determined to copy it, fresh and original and a change from the ubiquitous Kir.

Darsham Nurseries Rhu-bubble

Darsham Nurseries Rhu-bubble

The menu has a list of plates of food which you can either share or eat all by yourself, if sharing leaves you feeling a bit anxious. We did a bit of both, and started by splitting a plate of vegetable crudités with wild garlic mayonnaise and a young vegetable salad  with Fielding goats curd and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Darsham Nurseries vegetaable crudities with wild garlic mayonnaise

Darsham Nurseries vegetaable crudities with wild garlic mayonnaise

There’s a delicacy and a precision about the food. We played guess the vegetable with the translucent slices of heritage carrots, beetroot, fennel and turnip.

Darsham Nurseries vegetable salad with Fielding goats curd and toasted pumpkin seeds

Darsham Nurseries young vegetable salad with Fielding goats curd and toasted pumpkin seeds

Then, I had Summerhouse smoked salmon, picked and wild fennel which was light and bright and delicate.

Summerhouse smoked salmon with picked and wild fennel

Summerhouse smoked salmon with picked and wild fennel

My husband had a more substantial and seasonal dish of roasted hake with asparagus and wild garlic and walnut pesto which had a freshness and vibrancy about it. I could put hashtag no filter about the photograph.

Darsham Nurseries roasted hake, Suffolk asparagus, wild garlic and walnut pesto

Darsham Nurseries roasted hake, Suffolk asparagus, wild garlic and walnut pesto

I wasn’t going to have a pudding, (said I beforehand) but my crack cocaine, salted caramel was on the menu. It came in its own little milk jug to pour onto three scoops of vanilla ice-cream. My husband had a chocolate and olive oil mouse with creme fraiche but thought I had made the better choice.

Darsham Nurseries vanilla ice cream, warm salted caramel

Darsham Nurseries vanilla ice cream, warm salted caramel

It’s  a happy, friendly place and we have already booked to go back which is really the best recommendation anyone can make.

Darsham Nurseries, Main Road,  Darsham, Suffolk  IP17 3PW Tel 01728 667022

To get there from Orford, go out the village on the road through Sudbourne to Snape. Turn left onto the A1094,   and then right onto the A12 at the junction. Carry on up the A12 and Darsham Nurseries will be on the right just before the BR station. Booking is strongly advised at weekends.