Three Birthdays, a Beer Festival and Free The Quay

We returned to Harwich on Thursday 21st April and our first hour was spent blitzing the cottage, which had been let on Airbnb for two months and needed a complete clean. I detest cleaning however it is lovely when it’s done, and between the two of us, it doesn’t take long – the advantage of living in a small cottage. It was great to get unpacked and make ourselves at home once more. The garden is looking divine and it’s such a suntrap it’s like having an extra room, which with the cottage just like a real cottage, only smaller, is a blessing.

Our first birthday celebration was Katrina Olive’s 40th bash aboard the LBK6 at Harwich & Dovercourt Sailing Club. Katrina and Roger run the lovely Swan Gallery in King’s Street and Katrina’s mum is a mistress of cake baking, so sampling many cakes was on the menu for the evening.

Our second birthday party was on the 30th April, my Uncle Peter’s 90th and my cousin Mark was over for Oz for the occasion. He’d picked up my parents the day before and Clive & I drove over to west Essex on the Saturday morning. We had a fab lunch at the Dukes Head in Hatfield Broad Oak with champagne and birthday cake afterwards back at Peter and Sheila’s house.

Peter and Sheila, and the birthday cake

We spent the night at a B&B just a few hundred yards from their house and on Sunday it was my dad’s 88th birthday. Further feasting took place at The Lemon Tree in Bishop’s Stortford, a really excellent meal and my brothers Tim & girlfriend Juliet, and Guy & his wife Alice came too. It was great fun, relaxed & unrushed, and good to see everybody together.

Clockwise, Ma & Pa, brother Guy & Alice, brother Tim & Juliet, me with Clive and Sheila, cousin Mark with Alice – Mark has this spring been to all eight Stranglers concerts in Oz and NZ!

Back on the east coast the Harwich Ale Trail was underway. The sun was out and the beach was amazing and covered in shells of oysters and all sorts. Clive & I had helped Katrina and Roger on the Thursday evening, serving Weird Beard Brewery ales to many happy punters. Brewed by Katrina’s brother Brian, the ales complemented the excellent exhibition of work by Hugh Tisdale & Dan Murrell (which had featured in the New Statesman). On Monday together with Sue & Howard we visited a few of the other venues, (The Globe, New Bell, Alma, Hanover, Sailing Club, Café on the Pier) sampling a half in each one, and it was a brilliant event, a great celebration of Harwich and its fine homely welcome to visitors near & far.

Just a few of the barrels of ale at the Harwich Ale Trail, and Down On The Beach at low tide

Yesterday we took part in the Free The Quay event up at Mistley. We set sail on Bonify, Howard and Sue’s lovely gaff rigged concrete boat, along with Wavy Davy, for a bit of civil disobedience up river. There’s a company called Trent Wharfage who bought some buildings in 2008 at either end of the quay in Mistley. They proceeded to build a 2m high, 130m long, fence all along the historic public quay, in front of other businesses and terminating 500 years of access to the River Stour, This company is based in Newcastle, in the north of England, and they don’t give a damn. Huge protests have taken place and about 18 months ago, a court ruled the fence should be taken down. The company are appealing and it’s now taking the case to the High Court in London. This event was to help the local population raise much needed funds to fight this case. You can read more about it at Up close, this fence is ridiculous, it’s not even a nice fence and it’s so hostile. The locals want the fence removed legally, and though a few spanners and hack saws would do the trick perfectly the company flexes its muscles mightily any time anyone goes close. A flotilla of vessels from Harwich, Ipswich and everywhere inbetween, including the Royal Harwich Sailing Club and local fishermen joined the protest, rafting up on the rising tide and leaving as it turned and we were all very well behaved (how boring I hear you protest).


Sue on the bow of Bonify and the shores of the Stour including the fabulous beach huts at Wrabness

More photos to follow…



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