There I was, crabbing at low tide like an idiot, at Blakeney Point in Norfolk, feeling like a bit of a townie. We had caught nothing and Kitty was glaring at me like it was specifically my fault. Particularly as the family next to us was yanking crab after crab out of the water like… like… I don’t know… fishermen. And the mum had on this brilliant small-repeat red gingham dress on while I was wearing something awful and my left flip flop kept blowing its toe post.
Then the mum swanned up to me in her swishy dress and said she read my blog and I thought: at last I can find out where that dress is from. “Randomly, Cabbages and Roses,” said Victoria, of the dress. “Ooh that’s so random,” I said. “Yeah I know. Really random. And weirdly expensive. I look like a picnic.” Oh, that’s the whole point, I said. Picnic chic.
But she didn’t look like a picnic from three feet away – that’s the beauty of a small-repeat pattern – it was just a very nice coral colour. She was also eating a doughnut and her hair looked on-purpose and I was pretty envious about the whole set-up to be honest.
Then Victoria discovered the thing about me that you will only know if you approach me in public, which is that I will never stop talking to you, possibly ask if you’re free for a coffee and you will be scared and think “What’s wrong with this woman?”.
At one point she said “It’s okay, you can go back to your family now.” Then when I wouldn’t leave, she lent us one of her clever crabbing basket things – this explains their amazing haul – and then I dropped our net into the sea and her husband, (a farmer of such immense wealth that his wife can merrily buy expensive random dresses), had to rescue it for me and my humiliation was complete.
In Norfolk, we stayed in this amazing house on Brancaster Beach, which I found through a friend. It has historically been available on one of those renting sites but is no longer there (did the Corens put them off the experience forever?) but I had my first proper experience of Norfolk and thought it was delightful.
The house in particular with its white carpets and gallery walls and pops of neon made me want to go home and throw everything away and start again. Or at least chip in my house in Gloucestershire for a seaside whatsit in Norfolk. Giles will not allow this but surely I can daydream? And if I had my seaside whatsit in Norfolk perhaps with all my daydream money I would do it up exclusively in Cabbages and Roses wallpaper and prints while wearing a small-repeat swishy gingham dress and eating a doughnut.
No but seriously Cabbages and Roses do a very clever thing where they have sets of floral and stripe patterns in wallpaper and fabric in tonal colours so in theory if you were doing up a house or a room all in one go, you could paint the walls like a pale blueish and then do curtains in a stripe and the cushions in a tonal floral thing. Or even very dark walls and on of their more masculine florals (they exist). You just check the colour you want on the left hand side and then it presents you with a whole load of options and you don’t have to worry about what colour goes with what.
Isn’t that clever? Or have I just got Smart House Rental Head. At the very least I will be buying the same room diffuser as that Norfolk House (True Grace Rosemary and Eucalyptus if you’re interested).
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a doughnut – but alas it might have to be a daydream doughnut as in Norfolk I ate pizza and baguette for a week and now I’m fat.
Claire OC says
I have one thing to say – she was crab fishing in a dress that costs £350 + !! They are beautiful though
I applaud that! Very easy to put away a dress like that and never wear it. Wear it every day, I say – especially crabbing! To be fair it didn’t look like a very messy activity
I go crabbing up in Blakeney often and have never been asked what I’m wearing because I’m usually dressed like Paul Hogan in Flipper (we just watched Flipper). We used to go up that way every year for our anniversary until we finally moved closer and now we don’t do anything on our anniversary because we can go there whenever we want. We haven’t been yet this year because of arrgh blarrgh but it’s the thing we’ve promised the kids we will do before the summer is out. But do come again sometime because I’d love to run into you and talk at you about “the best spots” until push me off the harbour wall.
just remember to go at high tide
Please please please will you tell me about ‘the best spots’ instead? I’m going to Wells with my sister and her young family in 3 weeks and I would LOVE some tips. I live in very industrial and un-picturesque grey Manchester, so I can’t wait to go crabbing, paddling and all the rest of the seaside things people do.
You will have a wonderful time! Winhill Cider in Steermans car park Wells for apple juice and cider. Howells butcher, baker and fishmonger in the town for catering. The beach at Wells is lovely. Crabbing on Wells quay or Blakeney (Haribo being the crab bait of champions) No2 at Sheringham for excellent food. Difficult to go wrong I think. Holkham for a day out with bikes/picnic.
Oh, I love Cabbages & Roses- very “Saoirse Ronan in Little Women” which is a look I really like.
I cannot believe she was crabbing in such an expensive dress. Am I doing my entire life wrong?!
well it was a very relaxed, very expensive dress. it’s important to fight against the instinct to “save for best”, which means you only ever end up wearing jeans and a t-shirt… I mean it’s not like I think you ought to wear a ballgown to waitrose but a gingham smock for crabbing? perfect, I’d say.
Claire O'Connell says
yes your quite right and I do have too many keep for best clothes, I think it should be my post covid rule to wear and enjoy it all !
They used to have a tiny concession downstairs in Jigsaw in Richmond.
It’s a beautiful beautiful concept, very romantically pretty. I’d look crackers.
You were very lucky to eat pizza in North Norfolk. We always find it a fairly pizza and pasta-free zone!
The Jolly Sailors in Brancaster! Really perfectly okay pizza
Victoria Cushing says
I am Victoria and beyond thrilled to be on the blog. I loved meeting you Esther! Highlight of the summer. I did go home and think my god why didn’t I put the donut down! The dress thankfully hides all the pizza and donuts!
I mean it’s the Complete Dress! Looks great, tick; fashionable, tick; Hides doughnuts, tick.
Wow Victoria you lucky thing getting to meet Esther! I’d have made a proper arse of my fan-girl self.
I am a great believer in wearing the good things at all times, partly because I go to so few places at the moment that it’s important to enjoy our clothes, but it’s just good to wear lovely things
Lady Lu says
I’m in the “no saving for best” camp too. It hit me clearing out my gran’s wardrobe and seeing gorgeous dresses and accessories with labels still on. What are we really saving it for? Get a ball gown or “nice dress” on for that zoom meeting/ getting the post/ supermarket schlep/ taking the bins out. Throw a jumper/ sweatshirt over it. Cheers me up anyway.
I am a regular in Norfolk, my mum’s ashes are spread in Cromer so it’s part holiday part pilgrimage. Anyway, I rarely go on the beach in anything that wasn’t three pounds fifty from Asda Living so you would absolutely not ask me about my clothes if you saw me eating chips by Cromer pier. In fact, you would back away from the lunatic family who take their own salt vinegar and ketchup to the seaside. Classy.
God I’m with you. I sometimes spy somebody wearing an obvious expensive piece of clothing casually, and I immediately think how, why, who are your pricey family that you can just throw this on without any thought and waft around. I visit my sister in the UK and she lives on the south coast. When we walk on the beach it’s all visors and unflattering but cool bits and pieces cobbled together.
Dex, I take my own salt and pepper to restaurants. I believe many Americans born south of the Whatsit Line take their hot sauce of choice everywhere. ‘Self Condimenting – A Handy Guide’ available on Amazon now.
Also 100% not saving for best. Too many adored and hardly-worn things in my wardrobe I stand no hope of fitting into again, including shoes since your effing feet change shape if not size.
A life without the occasional pizza or baguette, especially on holiday, is a life not worth living
I went to school on the North Norfolk coast and both the best and worst thing about Norfolk is that it is not on the way to anywhere so you can’t just pop in on your way through. You have to go there deliberately. Also it is the rule that you eat chips or pizza on a seaside holiday. Or both.
I love Norfolk and we go every year, whatever else is planned. Holkham beach is my happy place. Brancaster is great too when you time the tides right
Glad you’ve discovered it too. Try a seal trip next time then dinner at The Anchor in Morston.
While I’d love to bump into you …my life was complete having a photo with your sister in law while my girls cooed over David Mitchell outside the theatre in Feb!
Mrs C says
Loved this blog and loved all the great comments…