Harwich Festival, Secret Gardens and the Occasional Sail

The summer marches on and what beautiful weather it has been. An amazing thunder and lightning storm last week lighting up the skies for more than 2 hours in the early morning.

We had the Harwich Festival which was once again superb, lots to see, hear and take part in, including weaving a whale out of willow on the beach which now hosts children playing in it, dogs peeing on it and sparrows using it as a giant perch for catching tiny spiders for their breakfast, lunch and tea. The whale is surviving well so far, avoiding vandals and high tides with delicate grace, and the dogs are keeping it well watered…..

The fabulous Italian Luca Ciarla Quartet playing at the Electric Palace

The fabulous Italian Luca Ciarla Quartet playing at the Electric Palace

The willow beached whale

The willow beached whale


And the Secret Gardens were brilliant the weekend before last.

IMG_4839I’d ‘pimped my sun brolly’ the day before, replacing the faded and moulding tassels I’d sewn on three years ago with bright much commented on signal flags.  I had 363 people through the cottage and back again (and three dogs). The weather was good, only raining at 3.50pm on day 2 with ten minutes to go until it finished. The only downside to hosting is that you don’t get to see the other gardens. I will have to have a rota of pals next year to give me a hand. I was on cinema duty that evening so no rest for me. I thought I’d pulled the short straw as Baywatch was being screened. Expecting it to be dire, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was hilarious, a spoof on the original TV series, with cameo appearances from Hasselhoff and Anderson, it was a hoot.

We sailed up to Wolverstone on the River Orwell with Clive’s daughter Niamh, before she flew to Western Australia last Monday to spend her third University year there, reading International Business Studies. It was hot sunny day alas with very little wind so we motor-sailed to get there in time for a late lunch. It was the first time Niamh has been out on DD and she loved it.

Niamh as our figurehead as we headed into the River Orwell

Niamh as our figurehead as we headed into the River Orwell

And Clive and our friend Roddy sailed again up the Orwell to Pin Mill last weekend, overnighting on the river. It was Roddy’s first time sailing and he is a natural! I joined them later in the evening with Fergus, who is on holiday in Harwich, for a barbecue on the beach with some of the chaps from Harwich Town Sailing Club, which combined peace and tranquillity with fun and adventure. Trying to find them in the first place was almost traumatic as they weren’t actually at Pin Mill, they were about a kilometre down river, accessed by a long walk through the woods for about 2 km and back again 1 ½ km, where I found Clive who’d squelched his way round the reed beds along the river bank to try and find us. And squelch, squelch, mud inbetween the toes and up our legs until we reached sand with a fire going in the distance, and there was the posse and barbecue ready for our sausages. Sod trying to get back the same way, especially as the tide came right in – Fergus, who detests boats with a vengeance, was going to have to get in the rib with the rest of us to get back to Pin Mill and various boats on their moorings. Second adventure, trying to find our way back to Pin Mill in the dark on the river – and boy was it dark! No moon though lovely stars and eventually, slowly phutphutting our way round various obstacles in the river, boats, buoys, more boats, we found a pontoon which I hopped onto, Fergus crawled onto, bidding good night to the others who then made their way to Distant Drum to drop Clive and Roddy off.

The boys heading back to our mooring buoy in the Stour

The boys heading back to our mooring buoy in the Stour, a storm heading our way whipping up the sea

Ominous skies promised lovely rain

Ominous skies promised lovely rain, which came down in buckets a short time later

Fergus is very sprightly for his 14 years and four months age and at the Pin Mill barbecue he kept everyone playing ‘throw my stick’ for about three solid hours, never giving up. Consequently he spent Sunday fast asleep, lifting his head from time to time to see if I was close by before head thwumping down again, eyes already closed for the next snooze. I tried to take him for a walk at about 11am & half way down the beach he about-turned and headed for home and bed once again. That’s the trouble with getting old, it takes more time to recover from having a good time, than the having a good time took in the first place!

IMG_5896I have just about finished the cottage renovation, replacing all the internal doors with lovely reclaimed, paint stripped, pine doors, beautifully hung by Mick the carpenter and his son. Cottage duly transformed.

Sanding the doors down in the garden

Sanding the doors down in the garden

Two doors hung downstairs and three on the next two floors

Two doors hung downstairs and three on the next two floors

It’s the Harwich Brewery annual beer festival this coming weekend and Clive and I are working the taps on Friday and Saturday evenings, helping pour the pints for the masses. I do hope the weather is good. It’s a fantastic venue in the Redoubt Fort. All the barrels get lowered down into the centre of the fort using pulley wheels. Well worth a visit if you’re in the vicinity. Only £3 to get in, it is worth it just to see the beautifully restored fort.


We’ve been to a couple of great parties this summer with a few more to go. This makes a welcome change and it’s so lovely catching up with old friends, there is very little better. And on that note, I’ll leave you with this little gem…

En route to Walton this farmer has a great sense of humour

En route to Walton this farmer has a great sense of humour


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