Sometimes you just have to . . . the urge to go to a beach on a sunny day is too strong to resist.
So, yesterday we went here . . .
A brilliant blue cloudless sky; the calls of curlew, sandpipers and oystercatchers; a haze of blue sea-lavender over the mud-flats – if ever there was perfect a day for walking over a North Norfolk salt-marsh then this was it.
And . . . what's this? A pirate captain's beaded chain washed up among the shells and pebbles in a beach pool!
Not really . . . I just couldn't resist photographing my new necklace that Emma helped me make on Saturday morning (well, Emma did most of the work!) – I made the patterns in the silver clay "shard" and arranged my beads – the large multi-coloured glass bead and the circular stripy one were part of a bangle I bought at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma; the bangle was far to too big for me, so I'm very happy that I can now enjoy wearing some of the beautiful beads at long last. To describe to Emma what I wanted to make, I "painted a picture" of a dangerously attractive pirate wearing a chain of eclectic sea-washed gems and a shard from a silver treasure found on an ocean shore.
Right . . . back to North Norfolk on Sunday afternoon . . .
In late June/July the mud of the salt-marshes sprouts with the glistening green shoots of the marsh samphire (Salicornia europaea) making a miniature landscape of forests and winding rivers. Samphire is one of those gourmet foraging treats; you need to be in the right place at the right time and eat it as fresh as you can manage – quickly blanched and served with fresh fish or seafood, samphire is a sharp crunch and the flavour of the briny sea.
We had more than enough for our supper – but there were plans for the rest ;-) Pickled Samphire for a cold winter's day to remind us of sun and sky and piping birds.
Carefully clean the samphire in lots of fresh cold water, then blanch it in boiling water for a minute. Refresh with cold water and lay on a clean tea-cloth to drain and dry a little.
Then pack the samphire into jars and top up with cold white wine vinegar; or use spiced vinegar that has been left to cool. I did some of each. For the spiced vinegar I used 'spices' grown in our garden: semi-ripe sweet cicely seeds, a few green unripe lovage seeds (not too many these are powerful!), dried coriander seeds, and a couple of bay leaves. I strained out the seeds before adding the cooled vinegar to the jars, but slipped one of the bay leaves into the side of the spiced vinegar jars to identify them from the plain ones.
If you live near a salt-marsh where marsh samphire thrives – happy foraging this July!