Archive for March, 2017

Flavourings, fur and fishy business.

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Ah yes, the blog…….

This month, in Suffolk/Norfolk Life, you can read of my mellow yellow encounter – Norfolk Saffron, which is actually much more red than yellow, it being just about the highest grade of saffron you’ll find. In fact, you don’t find much saffron at all in the UK these days, Iran being the main source of supply, but it was big here in Tudor times and up until the 18th century when other – and cheaper – spices and flavourings became available. Saffron is still reckoned to be the most expensive, pound for pound, or rather, gram for gram because a tiny amount goes a long way, especially Norfolk saffron.

In the same issue, you’ll find the Curious Corner of Slaughden, the erstwhile hamlet adjacent to Aldeburgh on the narrow neck of land where the River Alde/Ore nearly reaches the sea  before turning south to run nearly 10 miles inside Orford Ness to do so. It’s an erstwhile hamlet because the sea has taken most of it, leaving a boatyard, a couple of sailing clubs and a Martello tower. A hundred years ago, the river side still held a trading and fishing port but things were already on the slide and commercial activity had finished by the 1930s.

And then in this month’s Countryman magazine, I’m talking about rabbit warrening in East Anglia’s Breckland. Rabbits arrived properly with the Normans and for centuries were an exlusive source of food and clothing, so exclusive that they were raised in guarded warrens extending to scores, and sometimes hundreds, of acres. And they could thrive on land which was too poor for good arable crop yields and Breckland had plenty of that. In the end of course, the stock went feral and the exclusivity faded.   

But talking again about fishing, the next two issues of Fishing News will each carry a feature on Suffolk fishing. One, on the 16th March, will look at Lowestoft, its history and its situation today where the port owners, ABP, are edging fishermen out because they want the space for wind farm boats. You’d think that in a port with that much space that they’d have room for both, but they don’t seem to.

And then in the issue of the 23rd, I’m looking at the inshore fishery, made up of boats launched from beaches and river moorings along the Suffolk coast, and the draconian measures being taken against them, supposedly to protect stock levels. But the evidence for any degree of over-fishing is thin to the point of implausibility and there may be – probably are – other forces at play. It’s small boats like these which are the endangered species.

Endangered species - small fishing boats at Aldeburgh