Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Norfolk Pit Firing

16th century thatched cottage, lovely garden on a lane to the beach. Beautiful weather. Drove up on friday night, stopped at a local shop on the way to pick up provisions. Skateboardy youths hung outside bikes thrown down and skateboards discarded. Man strides over, irritated there is stuff blocking his way he violently kicks a skateboard out of the way. 5 people pick out their essential items and get to the checkout with full baskets. On arrival we are greeted by the early arrivers. Cheese on toast for dinner but couldn't turn on the cooker. Cheese sandwiches for dinner. Stroll on the beach watching the sun set, sea lapping at the shore, sucking stones back down the beach. The earlies had been swimming in the sea and seen seals.

Later we lay in the garden looking at the stars. We watched satelite trajectories and shooting stars, milky way. I spilled wine in my hair.

Saturday spent preparing the pots in the garden. Those wishing to swim swam. Trailers arrived - Fran, superhost, Georg, with corregated steel sheet and sawdust, and the boys (driver overslept by 3 hours). Sense of anticipation built up over the day.

7pm everyone went down to the beach. Georg drove the sawdust and pots in the car. Lots of chiefs stood round with spades and discussed pits - size, shape, placement. They thought initially to use some existing holes as the basis of the pit and then abandoned them having decided it was harder to make it suit than start from scratch. Once decided to begin again it was dug in minutes. Then off for a dip in the sea again.

Tide seemed to be creeping in and the original holes gradually filled up with water. Then the pit started flooding. New pit site was chosen. Fran put a stone on the tide line to check when the tide turned. New pit was started and completed. Tide was receding. Pit was lined with sawdust, pots put in, filled up with sawdust. Screwed up newpaper covered the top and covered with sticks. Ceremonial lighting of the pit. Initial concerns about causing a public nuisance subsided when it transpired that all the parties on the beach were barbecueing, some with much more smoky fires. Lidded the pit and watched.

Half the party went off in search of fish and chips. Fran and Maddie returned to the cottage for snacks and came back with veggies to roast on the pit and carrots with their greens still on. Much wine was drunk. There is something very primeaval about sitting with a fire in a group. Back to how our ancestoers would have lived. Seeing the sky. Using the mateials around us. Cooking on an open fire, eating with fingers. Basic needs met, no luxuries, plenty.

The Polish group along the beach were burning a huge tree trunk. The men ran off for a dip and came back sans trunks, whooping and leaping while cupping their privates. Their women folk laughed egging them on, they played up to it with accidentally-on-purpose dropped towels, followed by fire leaping, risk of chargrilled balls.

The pit embers glowed but the warmth reduced. Wrapped up in blankets and huddled together eating 8 fish and 3 chips (ordered 8 fish and chips and 3 chips). The crowd drifted away as the wine ran out and tiredness overcame them. Then there were three of us, staying up, drinking wine until we were unable to stand, watching the sunrise begin. One swam in a sea that was much warmer at night than in the day. And then we went home.

Pit was opened the following morning. Pots were washed in the sea to reveal an array of smoky results.

Finally dragged all the firing schrapnal back to the cottage. Pots were cleaned up and polished and lunch was eaten. Then drove back to London.

A particularly wonderful weekend. My feet are itchy for more like that - open road, travelling, beach living, pottery.


la pergrina said...

Lovely. :)

Harriet said...

It so was!!