Fish Shack, ‘bay-bee’, Fish Shack

Books in my Handbag Tour

Fifteen miles from nowhere, we saw a faded sign for ‘Fish Shack’.  We followed a road to the middle of the beach desert until we reached a decaying old boat that was almost as big as a whale. Yes, and the B52’s track was playing in my head…

Parking the car on the uneven tarmac, we hobbled over the pebbles to the shack.  Luckily, I found a table overlooking abandoned boats and Dungeness Power Station.  Optimistic that my husband had reserved a love shack to celebrate two decades of marriage, I congratulated him on this romantic setting.  Alas, always thinking of his stomach, the Fish Shack was the destination.

Expecting greasy fish and chips, I was handed plaice and salad with a large cup of builder’s tea.  The food was absolutely delicious!  The plaice, caught only hours earlier, was cooked in olive oil on a hot plate. The fresh salad had an olive oil and lemon dressing. It was served in a small cardboard box, but they will probably steal this idea on the Great British Menu. And builder’s tea could be the new Pinot Noir.  I must confess that I declined the bread roll, but understood that it was a nod to the fishermen who eat this food.

Seizing the moment, we decided to go for a walk on the beach.  We were told it was fine to walk on the beach if we didn’t touch the ‘fishing tackle’!!  Forget visiting a maritime museum, there were artefacts on the beach such as rusty anchors and abandoned nets.  These savvy people are obviously protecting the objects d’art to prevent art galleries and Michelin starred restaurants from displaying them in their gaffs.  The food and the setting were perfect: The Fish Shack is indeed a funky little shack. Get yourselves off to the food getaway!

Who knows? Maybe this place will become either the Dungeness Modern Art Gallery or even the Derek Jarman Modern.  An art gallery and restaurant without walls could be the new concept of the 21st century.  Visit now as in the future you may need a credit card without a limit.

Funky Fact

Derek Jarman, the artist and filmmaker, lived in Prospect Cottage, Dungeness.

 

Please see all my travels and adventures at Handbag Adventures.

Wine tasting in Blighty

Au revoir France and goodbye ferry. Hello, White Cliffs of Dover. Where are the bluebirds?

Have you guessed? We stayed in Blighty for our holidays. But I feared that we would miss the sunshine and the dégustation. A ‘Blightycation’ ahead of us, we visited: castles, gardens, castles, seaside towns, pubs and yet more castles.

 

Barnsole Vineyard

Travelling the roads, in search of another castle, I spotted a brown sign for a vineyard. Barnsole Vineyard was perfectly situated in a picturesque Kentish village. The entrance to the bijou vineyard took us straight to the vines. Alors! We were en France. We were invited to sit on a terrace surrounded by flowers. My mind wondered back to those many, many heady days of wine tasting en France. I wanted to say, ‘Bonjour. Dégustation s’il vous plait?’ But my schoolgirl French wasn’t required. The only headache that threatened was from the wine, rather than trying to dredge up my language skills.

 

Proprietors of Barnsole Vineyard

The proprietor gave us a warm welcome. She was passionate about the vineyard and keen to point out that ‘nature throws its challenges’ at the winemaking process. This vineyard oversees the whole process from the grape to your glass. Despite the hard work, the proprietors were relaxed. They had learned the art from the previous Polish owners. On the day that we visited, their friends were bottling the sparkling wine. I felt like I had walked into a scene of the many romance novels that I have read. However, I was concerned that the lovely proprietor was spitting out the wine onto the grass. I didn’t like to comment at the time!

We were welcomed with a tray full of bottles to taste. No complaints were heard from me as I wasn’t driving. The only hint of Blighty was the cool breeze that threatened to bring a few drops of rain.

The wine was delicious! We enjoyed the fresh citrus flavours of the white and another had a slightly floral taste. The red wine tasted of berries. My tasting senses were working! According to the experts the Red Reserve 2013 had ‘redcurrants and sense of delicious spice’ while the Recheinsteiner was ‘complex with a great body’: I don’t remember him but I was right about the berries. We also bought some sparkling English wine for Christmas. I did feel a warm glow from the effects of the wine tasting. However, I could walk in a straight line to the car. Feel free to congratulate me on this because I concentrated with all my might! Apparently, I am lined up for an award.

Nodding off on the journey home, I did see the bluebirds. This Francophile may have been converted. We will all be delighting in ‘Blightycations’ very soon – just you wait and see. Meanwhile, I am thinking of organising a pre-Christmas wine tasting celebration. Would you care to join me?

 

Please see all the articles in my blog at jessiecahalin.com

What the Dickens?

Holiday adventures…

Broadstairs was the fifth seaside town we had visited on a glorious, Arctic summer’s day. Nostalgia fatigue was attacking my senses beside the seaside, and I didn’t have any ‘Great Expectations’.

A sickly scent of palm oil signalled the end of lunchtime.  Ignoring the proud white villas, I noticed the litter on the beach.  I snubbed another ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ presenting the British souvenirs from China.  Branded eateries and coffee houses were shoehorned into the old buildings, and the walls seemed to be bulging with despair.

I couldn’t find any inspiration.  The stark, white house in front of me was as blank as my mind.  A tourist, wearing shorts and flipflops, pushed past me.  An optimistic tourist was buying a sunhat. My husband was pointing to another plaque above a door. I considered retrieving my thermal gear from the car.

The plaque was attached to the indistinct Royal Albion Hotel.  The sooty coloured plaque indicated that Dickens had lived there and written part of ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ during his time there.  Now, I marvelled at the view that would have inspired him.  The Royal Albion Hotel had sheltered ‘Our Mutual Friend’. Turning to my phone, I googled information about Dickens in Broadstairs. My twenty first century phone found a gateway into the mind of the nineteenth century Dickens who spoke to me of:

‘prowling about the rooms, sitting down, getting up, stirring the fire, looking out of the window, teasing my hair, sitting to write, writing nothing, writing something and tearing it up.’

Dickens teased those ‘Hard Times’ faced by authors into the long sentence, each thought slamming into another comma, then another comma and another.  What the Dickens?  If the master suffered writer’s block then it must be fine.

On returning home, I ‘lit the fire’,’ teased my hair’ and began to write. The ink bottle remained unopened as I tapped on the keyboard. I pressed delete, delete, delete and rejoiced that there will be some ‘Hard Times’ before the story flows.  Indeed, Dickens knew that:

Hungry for more inspiration from Dickens. I searched for the places he had stayed in I found out that Dickens had also stayed in Folkestone.  Dickens stayed at Albion Villas, Folkestone and wrote part of ‘Little Dorrit’ in the house. He also used to frequent The British Lion.

What the Dickens? We used to live on The Leas, in Folkestone, and I had never known about the connection.  My travels revealed that:

‘Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight when it comes.’

 

Please see all my travels at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.