Wednesday, 27 April 2011


The unprecedented fine weather we have enjoyed this April has meant that Poppy and I have been moved to spend more time floating up and down the Estuary than in any April before.

At midday on Maundy Thursday we slipped off down river with the tide and did not come back to our mooring until eight o'clock in the evening. I watched the turn of the racing tide from the safety of the sandhills of Dawlish Warren where the sun shone and the skylarks were pouring their full hearts from heaven,or near it!

On the way home I landed on the Cockle Sand which still lives up to its name although the cockles are`far fewer and much smaller than heretofore. It took me twenty minutes to find two handfuls of cockles for my Good Friday tea.

I observed once again the curious way in which the cockles, who had opened up a millimetre or two to observe the great and glorious world beyond their shells, snap tight the moment they are picked from the sand and how sometimes they spit as though disgusted with their fate, as though making their comment on the capture that dooms them to being boiled alive.

There is a notice where I tie up my dinghy on the Green at Lympstone telling the world that all shellfish taken from the Estuary must be boiled for at least three minutes. This seems a small precaution to take considering the history of poisoning attributed to the Exe shellfish. I boiled mine for six minutes just to make doubly sure. I did not want this to be my Last Supper! The boiling perhaps makes them taste a tad more wersh but pepper and salt and a drop of white wine and a little fresh thyme soon puts enough joy into them.


  1. I'm sure the cockles are brilliant, but I've never eaten molluscs since around 1970, when I got major food poisoning from cockles from a stall in Portsmouth. It's irrational, I know, but that's how food prejudices are formed: we get sick after a food, and we're off it for life. There's a classic case of someone who had a lifetime disgust of watermelons following beihg sick after eating one - even though the nausea was caused by sunstroke.

  2. Same with mussels. I just need to look at a plate with the shells, and it makes me feel queasy. And I know I'm missing great stuff: moules marinière, classic paella, etc.

    Crustaceans I'm fine with (which shows how irrational it is, since they have little different origins).