Cley, or to give its proper name, Cley Next The Sea is not next to the sea at all. It used to be before a greedy landowner decided to attempt a bit of land-grabbing whilst the rest of the busy trading port were distracted by the Plague. This caused the river to silt up and the sea retreated and a nature reserve was born. I suppose they considered renaming their village but decided that "Cley Quite Close to the Sea" didn't the the same ring to it! So the only sea I've seen is a thin sliver on the horizon beyond the fields from half way up Cley Windmill. Entering the balcony I carefully hook open the door to ensure I'm not stuck out there should a particularly blustery gust of wind slam the door shut behind me. Well I guess they picked the perfect location for a windmill, when its job was to grind corn not necessarily to house passing visitors to Norfolk. Retreating back inside after taking a few photographs espy the ladder leading up to the Wheel Chamber. This is the most sought after room in the mill, it can only be reached by this ladder and once up there a second ladder will take up again to the bathroom. There's a handy winch to help pull your luggage up into the room and the views I believe are even more spectacular.
For breakfast for a change there was smoked haddock and poached egg. If you pre-booked this or the kippers this night before you could start the day a littledifferently otherwise it was a full English. I intend to enjoy the blue skies again and avail myself of some goodies from Picnic Fayre and find a grassy knoll to fling my new picnic blanket upon. I generally seem to explicably acquire picnic hampers despite the so very rare opportunities I have for picnicking (I've alluded to my addiction for hampers before when I mentioned the 'hamper porn' both Fortnum & Mason Harvey Nichols send me every year). This time in Holt I was able to hold myself back on the hamper front and succumb to another lovely picnic blanket instead. Though today I'm most grateful for this transgression as it would not be pleasant sitting on the sodden grass otherwise and now I can perch on a soft spotty waterproof backed blanket to enjoy my impromptu picnic.
Picnic Fayre is a wonderful deli we discovered last year and I'd set my heart on one of their famous venison pies. And whilst I was there I picked up some Snowdonian cheese with garlic and herbs, roasted, salted broad bean snacks and a bottle of proper local apple juice. If I didn't fear that I'd ruin my appetite at the special Wine and Dine event at the mill tonight I would have availed myself of more of their fine fare as it was very tempting. (on returning home the first page this month's Delicious fell open was to a familiar shop front - Picnic Fayre has been short-listed for 'Deli if the Year' - it seems I have good taste!)
Across the road from the deli is Made in Cley, which as well as some jewellery and local photographs sell their own pottery. Much of it is too colourful for me but I love the minimalist white flan dish and being without a picnic hamper I am devoid of plates so I could make use of it for my small feast and gain an attractive dish into the bargain.
I found a idyllic spot to soak up a few rays of sun and see if the venison pie is as delicious as I remembered and delighted to find that it was as moist and meaty as last year and definitely worth the acclaim. The apple juice washes it down rather nicely. The whole situation seems redolent of "piles of ham sandwiches and lashings of Ginger beer" that used to fuel the intrepid adventures of Enid Blyton's Famous Five and marked my first forays into solo reading. I harboured dreams of being George, Ann was too insipid for me and George had no siblings as myself.
Sadly my quintessential English picnic got rained off I shouldn't have really been surprised I was possibly tempting fate the moment I threw my picnic blanket on the ground. A little bit like when you light the barbecue and you think "was that wise, have I really angered the sun god now?" Actually the shower didn't last very long and perhaps I could have lingered over my venison pie but as the first few drops spotted my improvised picnic plate I packed everything up and walk back to the windmill. My plan was to drop off my tripod and find a spot nearer to the mill to reconvene my picnic however it was very fortunate that I went back to my room when I did as suddenly the heavens opened and the brief shower returned bringing back all its friends to form a torrential downpour and it would have been a very sodden picnic if I'd stayed on my grassy knoll.
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