Last Sunday we went across to Mersea Island, not an unusual thing as the children sail there most weeks in the summer, but on this occasion it was to go to an Open Day at the Packing Shed - one of Mersea's best known landmarks. It was built in the 1890's on Packing Marsh Island by the Tollesbury & Mersea Oyster Fishery Company and although oysters are no longer packed there, it has been restored and is now run by a trust for a variety of outdoor activities. It is a fascinating place to go to - you catch a launch from the causeway and for £3 can have a cream tea and enjoy the spectacular views. Whilst we were there storm clouds gathered making it look rather dramatic at high tide, when the foreshore disappears. It is next open on Sunday 19 August www.packing-shed.org.uk
Mersea is famous for its oysters and seafood - there are several local fish restaurants, but perhaps most famous is the Company Shed where a delicious range of sea food is served - oysters, salmon, crab, prawns, cockles etc. It is best to get there early and get your name put on the board as they don't take bookings, it is on a first come first served basis www.the-company-shed.co.uk
The highlights of the sailing year at Mersea are Cadet Week, at the end of July where the youngsters take to the water and Mersea Week, which this year is from 19-25 August where an amazing number of boats take part in the racing each day, including dinghies, cruisers, classic yachts and gaffers, smacks and Mersea Fishermen's Open Boats. There is also a Round the Island Race where the smaller boats sail round the island and are carried across the Strood - the bridge that connects Mersea to the mainland, but which floods when there is a very high tide. www.merseaweek.org The final Saturday of Mersea Week is the Town Regatta - as well as sailing, there is also rowing, punting, sculling, swimming and walking the greasy pole, with a prizegiving and grand firework display in the evening. www.mersearegatta.org.uk
The jetty or hammerhead is a great place for crabbing and on the quieter side of East Mersea there are lovely beaches and interesting walks as well as the Mersea Vinyard to visit.
We have been enjoying the lovely warm weather and it was great on Sunday to get to the coast. I love all the East Anglian coast and we have several favourite beaches, depending on what we want to do. Frinton is pretty close and wins for best sandy beach around here. It is smooth with a gentle inclination into the sea - so great for children who will love building sandcastles there too - the sand sticks and you can make excellent moated castles!
I took my first dip in the sea of the year - the water was cool, but refreshing and it felt like hot bath water as I walked back into the shallows afterwards! I really enjoy swimming backwards and forwards between the breakwaters and as the tide was coming in there were some good rolling waves too.
There was also a treat in store with an amazing range of kites flying on the green above the beach. Several goldfish kites and squid as well as a spectacular egg and chips kites with sausages and mushrooms below. All looking fantastic in a wonderfully blue sky. The day was rounded off with delicious ice cream from the Coffee Parlour at the top of Connaught Avenue!
Spent a beautiful day in Harwich on Wednesday, exploring the Buoy Yard of Trinity House, looking at the lightships (there are 3 in Harwich at present), the lighthouses and the old Georgian town steeped in history with plaques to the Mayflower and Samuel Pepys amongst others. I also came across the Electric Palace, beautifully restored with a very active programme of films and jazz - it is one of the oldest in the country, celebrating its 100 years this year. For details of the programme see http://www.electricpalace.com
Just been up on the coast in Aldeburgh, a good place from here for a day trip. Lots of fresh fish and sea air as well as galleries and interesting shops. The weather has been warm, so walks on the beach and marshes have been lovely.
The sea is not far from here and last Saturday we went swimming at Frinton. After getting over the ice cold chill of getting in, it was beautifully refreshing to swim in the sea, with clear water and a dissolving horizon - amazing for the first day of October! Although the photo doesn't show it there were quite a few people there, eating lunch outside their beach huts, building sandcastles (the sand is the best on the east coast) and swimming in the sea.