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In search of gin in North Norfolk

The Gin Trap Inn, Ringstead, Norfolk

Back at the beginning of the year, during one of our Sunday drives with Boris the Defender, we took a detour to Hunstanton passing The Gin Trap Inn in Ringstead, Norfolk.  One of those spur of the moment, “let’s book a short break” thoughts happened (trust me, those moments don’t happen often) and so a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves staying at said Inn for a couple of nights, eager to sample a tiny number of the 120 gins that are available as well as explore a little bit of our favourite county.

Having not really touched gin since the 80s and reading about Norfolk’s recent love affair with gin (and most probably many other places too), I ordered my first g&t a hour or so after check in.  The Gin Trap Inn certainly know their gins and suggested a refreshing Edinburgh Pomegranate and Rose for my re-introduction to the tipple – it went down very well and now, thanks to The Gin Trap Inn, I am a gin convert!

The Gin Trap Inn Norfolk accommodation
A fantastic place to stay, our room was cozy, romantic and extremely comfortable with a spacious en-suite housing a luxurious deep Victorian bath (with a sky light above to view the stars) as well as roomy separate shower cubicle, we couldn’t ask for a lovelier place to stay.  The restaurant meal was superb, and the “gin tasting boards” the following evening, where we picked three gins each from a catalogue of the current selection, accompanied by two Fever Tree tonics, made for a relaxing evening spent in the outdoor garden at the back of the Inn.
The Gin Trap Inn Norfolk gin
Apart from drinking gin, our other aim  was to drive the North Norfolk coast road from Hunstanton to Great Yarmouth in one day.
mixed media hand sewn canvas pictures
We started out well stopping off at some delightful places like Thornham (the deli is amazing, perfect for presents, eats and great coffee, there’s even an outdoor gym in the playing fields), Brancaster (fantastic for leisurely beach walks), Cley (pronounced: Clie, like Pie), Stiffkey (a pretty General Stores that’s full of wonderful finds) and Holt (a lovely small town with plenty of unique shops).  By the time we’d reached Mundesley, ready for a (very) late lunch and finding no-where open to serve us, we gave up and headed back, via Sheringham.  Our next mini break will be in Suffolk, so we can drive the Great Yarmouth to Mundesley stretch to complete the journey.

panoramic view Cley-next-the-Sea Norfolk
view towards Cley-next-the-Sea

The following day we headed out to Burnham Market, a place we’ve often visited briefly or driven through, and stayed for a tiny shopping spree and wonderful lunch at The Hoste before heading back home.

Of course I couldn’t come away without bring a little bit of sewing to do.  This time, something to clip to my own bag – a lucky black cat bag charm, it’ll help me remember our lovely Norfolk holiday.
Ellie's Treasures black cat bag charm

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Commissions, local shopping and cream teas!

Commissions are always a joy to complete and this month has seen quite a few coming my way (thank you all so much).  One in particular put a big smile on my face, a bi-fold fabric wallet – an item I haven’t sewn for quite a long time.  It was good to get the batiks out of the fabric drawer and start the long hours of cutting, pressing and hand sewing.  There’s a tiny chance I may start making these again for the shop as they have always been popular due to the striking colour schemes and handy size – we’ll see 😉

hand sewn batik and upcycled fabric wallet purse

I can’t believe our luck with this long run of glorious warm weather (I’ve done it now, it’ll probably rain tomorrow).  The garden is coping well and the vast majority are sturdy enough to not need a good dosing of water, just those that are potted need a little help every other day.  I think it’s the first time in the 11 years we’ve been here that the water butt has been drained dry so I’m trying to be as economical as possible with water from the tap.  Flowers are so beautiful to have around the house too so I pick a little posy each week to display near my desk.  The small glass jar is one of a pair we found buried in the garden when we first  moved in … I do love hidden treasures of history.

picked from the garden summer posy

In a mission to step away from the PC and sewing basket for a short while and spend some time with friends, we recently headed out to the small market town of Long Sutton.  As it was market day we had a little mooch around the stalls and picked up a few bargain pot plants and dainty lace.  We also discovered a little haberdashery squeezed in among the other shops – so teeny tiny you could probably only fit 4 people in there at one time, but it was crammed full of colourful fabrics, felt, wool and all the embellishments you could possibly need.  I would never have know it was there, right on my doorstep, if I hadn’t ventured out to explored my local area and this started me thinking how I have slipped a little into becoming a slave to internet shopping.  Yes it has its positives, as in prices are often cheaper, but there’s also many downsides, most notably the lack of face to face contact, those friendly exchanges between customer and shop owner/assistant that can easily lead to a beneficial relationship for both of you.  Popping out to the local shops to support them and help keep them running is vitally important in this day and age where so many small businesses are struggling to make a livelihood.

shop local haberdashery

Before heading home we popped into another small business – Mal’s Vintage Tea Shop – a treasure trove of vintage and handmade items surrounded us as we sipped tea and coffee from pretty mismatched china and enjoyed the delights of perfectly baked scones, butter, cream, strawberry and blackcurrant jams. This tea shop is a real find and I’m planning on returning with hubs in tow.

Lincolnshire cream tea

Enjoy the sunshine everyone! I hope your month has been a good one – stop by and let me know what you’ve been doing.
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Eton Mess Rocky Road Summer Dessert

Eton Mess Rocky Road

Be warned, this is absolutely delicious … the ultimate dessert for the sweet toothed and those that have thrown their diet out of the window in order to indulge.  Perfect for summer picnics and parties, this recipe makes a good number of Rocky Road slices so it’s definitely for sharing, otherwise you’ll be burning off the calories for weeks!  The original recipe came from the delightful Hollie Berries; mine has been tweaked a little to use up store cupboard supplies, but do pop over to Hollie’s site, she has a lovely blog and beautiful shop full of handmade pretties.

800g white chocolate *
250g shortbread biscuits chopped into small chunks
200g fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
100g marshmallows (chopped if using large ones)
100g shop bought pre-made meringue

* ideally the best quality white chocolate should be used, but this made it a way over my budget so I used supermarket own brand white chocolate instead.
Eton Mess Rocky Road ingredients

Line a roasting tin (mine was approx. 34cm x 24cm) with baking paper.

Break the white chocolate up into small pieces and place in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, stirring the chocolate until melted.  Alternatively you can melt the chocolate in the microwave, but I do find the first method to be easier to handle and produces a smoother result (especially if using cheaper chocolate).
white chocolate melting over a pan

Remove from the heat source and stir in the broken shortbread biscuits, followed by the marshmallows and strawberries, a little at a time and mix well.  Finally carefully stir in the broken meringue keeping some aside for decoration.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the tin, smoothing the top and pressing it down and into the corners with the back of a metal spoon.  Crush the remaining meringue and sprinkle over the top.

Place the tray in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to let it set before slicing into squares.
Eton Mess Rocky Road slices

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New product alert!

hand sewn mixed media picture

The “Up, Up and Away” online market with Facebook’s Showcasing Dreams starts this Thursday evening at 8pm and it seemed the perfect opportunity to launch my new product range – mixed media mini artworks.

Choosing felts, fabrics and embellishments is a big part of my making process (and such a fun part too), and even more so when making these little pictures.  As the market had a theme, I chose an aeroplane charm to kick start the creation, adding printed tree fabric, a snippet of ribbon showing a suitcase, pretty trims, buttons and embroidered stitching finishing with the words “explore the world”.

Ellie's Treasures

The picture took an age to sew, tweaking this, adding that, and you can see from the work in progress photo that my ideas changed from first thoughts to finished product.

At just 8cm x 6cm (1.2cm depth), the picture is mounted on a little canvas and comes complete with a natural pine easel – perfect for displaying on a shelf or desk and a super gift idea for the traveller.

Ellie's Treasures mixed media canvas

If you’re looking for original and beautiful presents or a treat for yourself you will not be disappointed by the vast range of lovely items available to purchase so do try and pop along (put your legs up with a your cuppa and piece of cake as you browse).  The market will be open from 8pm Thursday 7th June until 9pm Saturday 9th and the password needed to purchase will be supplied at the start of the event.  Hope to see you there!

mixed media hand sewn canvas picture

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The month of May

I celebrated my birthday over the first bank holiday weekend and enjoyed a family barbecue followed by a pleasant warm evening in the garden with a bottle of Dark Horse and a selection of very prettily decorated cupcakes given to me by friends.  It was all very nice indeed and lovely to have a little break from sewing.

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Hubs bought me a set of 72 watercolour pencils by Arteza which is pure joy to look at – such a rainbow of colours – and exciting to use.  I’m not a fantastic artist, but I do enjoy a little doodle and have missed having a professional set of pencils to use.  I’m drawing little ditties to add interest to my product photographs – but I’m aiming to expand my drawing skills in time.

Ellie's Treasures hand sewn butterfly keyring

On the Ellie’s Treasures front, I’m over the moon to have secured three Norfolk based craft markets for later this year, Belles at St. Nick’s, Pensthorpe Christmas Craft Market and Deepdale Christmas Market – all the details of these can be found here.

Coming up very soon is an online Facebook market being run by Showcasing Dreams that I’m taking part in.  Running from 8pm 7th June until 9pm 9th June, the theme is “Up, Up and Away” – think of hot air balloons, rainbows, wings and all thing that fly!

facebook link

The selection of pretty items that will be available to buy is amazing – with six goodies entered by myself, some which have been sewn especially for the event and one item being a totally new product line for Ellie’s Treasures that I’m so excited about (more on that in another post).  There is also a generous giveaway attached to this market with voucher prizes to spend during the event.  You can find all the giveaway details here –  clicking the “going” button on the notification page will mean you are entered – entries close 6th June – good luck!

accessories and pictures hand sewn by Ellie's Treasures