Crabbing Off Cromer Pier

Yesterday was the nicest day in terms of weather the ENTIRE half term week, so we took advantage and spent as much time outside as we could.  We first started off at the Gresham Village Car Boot sale, but it was really nothing much.  Nils picked up a DVD of Anton Senna, his favorite Formula One driver and I picked up a Mini Mode shirt for Maebh for only £1.  Apart from that and a lot of dog poop, it was nothing and we have no need to rush back.

However, the car boot sale up at Beeston Regis, which I think is pretty good, was also yesterday so we headed there after.  I picked up a couple things.  A nice tin and two shirts – all for a total of  £3.00.
Afterwards we headed up to Cromer to do some crabbing.
The plan was to do some crabbing off the Cromer Pier but fist we had to have lunch so we ate at the Rocket Cafe.  Nils had a burger, I had a vegetarian wrap and the kids had carrots with hummus and mac and cheese – all very yummy!  It was very busy but glad we got a seat with a great view.

Bubbles were fun for their short few minutes.

I love crabbing, but I just get so nervous of the kid standing and/or kneeling on the benches as if one is going to go over.  I get it is highly unlikely but I can’t relax about it.  I think if we were at Blakeney or Wells-Next-The-Sea, I am still not sure I could relax – lol.

We had some hiccups or frustrated, angry crabbing moments as if we were there for a million pound crab tournament, but the good news was caught FOUR crabs… which was three more than our last try.

Soren is a rock star picking up the crabs and looking for excuses to pick them up.. first to see their size. Then he wanted to see if one was a boy or a girl by looking at a part of their bellies.  Then he wanted to feed them, then show Maebh how to pick them up by putting your fingers on the side behind the pincers.  I was quite impressed that Maebh wanted to pick up the crab and really tried and did it.  A couple times though, I was nearly certain someone was going to be pinched.

As our rocks were washing away, we had to head back down to the beach twice to pick up some more, so all three kids & I headed off.

When we were done, Soren took his “catch of the day” proudly under the pier to return them to the sea.

It was fun under there, until he banged his head  – poor guy is such a klutz sometimes!

I was a little bummed as many of the people around us had tons in their baskets but a friend pointed out that the crabs have a LOT of choices as there were so many people crabbing and are probably full so no interested in our selection of bacon (and sand eels which was donated by a fellow crab fisher).

The kids loved it and we’ll go again – perhaps try Wells-Next-The-Sea so they can play at the beach, walk around the town and play at the Pirate ship playground – a favorite of the kids.  Plus Nils won’t have to keep pulling it up so might relax a bit too!

Cromer Crab & Lobster Festival, Cromer, UK

Last year, we took the kids to the Crab & Lobster Festival in both Cromer & Sheringham. We all had a great time and so of course, we returned (but only to the Cromer portion) this time.

The kids started off getting their faces painted.  Maebh asked for a butterfly as she was one last year (her first time ever) but Soren asked to be a Dutch lion, which they couldn’t do so it quickly became a tiger, but he loved it!

The Punch & Judy show was happening in the same tent and just as we were finishing their faces it began – but Soren says he hated it and was quick to escape.  Maebh, however, asked to stay for a few to watch it.
While Soren and I walked around we came to the Bee guy who is at every event.  He loves spotting the “queen bee” which was conveniently marked and had a turn at rolling his own bee’s wax candle.

We spotted Sheila, Maebh’s teacher, so we did the Tombola table with her and between the two kids won THREE things – lucky us, more junk!

Part of the appeal of the Cromer portion of the festival is that the kids love to go on the rides including the trampolines, blow up slide, water walker ball and paddle boats/canoes.

 Soren tried the water walker last year and had a lot of fun, despite it being difficult.   Maebh even requested to go inside this year. I assumed she’d only last a couple seconds and want out and that was pretty much it. Once in, she realized how hard it really was, but as she had the confidence to go in and try it I didn’t want to spoil it for her.
And then the slide….

Next up was chips (french fries) from No. 1 Cromer outside by the seaside – very British!

And then onto the Cromer Pier where the kids “helped” crabbers with their catch.

As we were leaving the pier a Coast Guard helicopter flew over the town and circled back.  Was very neat to see…

It was a nice day for all.

Whale Watching in Cromer, UK

On Friday afternoon, a 25-foot Minke whale was found washed up on Cromer’s East Beach, not too far down from The Rocket Cafe.

Some specialists from the Sea Watch Foundation said they believe it was a young adult female and had been dead for one or two weeks.  While there has been porpoises washed up on that beach and about 20 years ago there was a dead basking shark on Sheringham Beach, a minke is a rare sight.  They speculated that the cause of death could possibly be ship strike because the whale’s upper jaw had a clean cut, but as it didn’t die on land, they would not investigate further.

These are a few photos and a video I found on the internet.

We took a trip over to the beach to see if we can see it too. But turns out that the NNDC took it away last night!

Even though we didn’t see the whale, the kids had fun on the beach, throwing rocks into the ocean and then running back.  Soren came so close many times and one time, he leg got wet.    Plus with a promise of a hot chocolate at the Red Lion, they had no troubles walking down.



I found a white rock with a perfectly round hole in it, which would be fun on the Christmas Tree.   Soren and I had a little fun with it while we walked towards Maebh & Nils who were farther ahead.




Speaking of whales, there has been a continued sighting of a humpback whale in the distance near Sea Paling and some fisherman have reported to see three of them.  Being from New England, I’ve been on many whale watch sightseeing trips.  In fact, the weeks before we moved from the US to UK, Soren, Nils & I went out on a Sunset Whale Watch from Newburyport.

Update:  Today, Monday, November 26th, another Minke whale was found dead.  It was in nearby Sea Palling Beach, which is about 1/2 south of Cromer.  That whale was a healthy, well-fed female and appears to have been stuck behind the reefs and couldn’t get back.  The same expert came to take a look and this time, they’ll do some tests.  Sad!

Cromer Crab & Lobster Festival

Today we headed to the Crab & Lobster Festival – a weekend celebration of the two lovely coastal towns of Cromer & Sheringham.

Historically they are rival towns, but this weekend they joined together to raise money for local charities. Saturday’s events were based in Cromer and Sunday’s events are in Sheringham.  Our hope was to go to BOTH and we did!

Here are some photos of Cromer, I took as we walked around town.  The weather on Sunday, was gray, but thankfully did not rain.










There is a “Lifebuoy Art Trail” around both towns, which local artists, school children and businesses decorate and display.  They will be auctioned off on August 25th, during Carnival week, with proceeds given to charity.  We didn’t do the official art trail today but rather just a few photos – but the kids & I want to do it over the course of some days – something fun to do.


There was so much to do & see and everyone had a great time.  We left the house around 10:45 am and didn’t return until around 6 pm!!  Walking both directions, we also go in some exercise!  We ran into a friend of Soren’s from school and hung out with their family a bit too.

When we first arrived at the Evington Lawn area, the kids had their face painted.  I think these ladies did a good job – not professionals by any means, but donated their time for this event.  Maebh was a butterfly and Soren was a Cheetah.  Many people confused him with a tiger, so after a while he started correcting them and telling them he was not a tiger but a cheetah and even did a growl!




With their faces painted, we were off to see what was up on the top portion of the field. There were about 20 stalls with crafts, foods like crab sandwiches, hot sauces, dips and a bread baker with AMAZING stuff! There were a few other hands-on exhibits like a crab dressing demo, where you can learn how to dress a crab and then you keep your crab – with a small donation.  Making crab pots, holding crabs & lobsters and even a beekeeper selling honey and displaying a queen bee and all her babies.



There was a large, beer tent area with some seats along with a cooking truck set up with some local chefs from nearby restaurants, the head fish monger/trainer at TESCO and a “celebrity chef”, Alex MacKay, all demonstrating various dishes.  He as there promoting his new cook book.  Nothing that I was interested in though, but I do want to see the Rocket House Cafe’s new cookbook.  Of course, the cooking portion was my favorite part.




After walking around a bit, the kids decided they wanted to play on the large, blown up slide.


From a distance, we noticed they had this large clear balls which you go inside and attempt to walk on water.  Soren had never done it, but wanted to try it.  First he had to get in the ball, the attendant (aka Mr. Personality!!), blew it up with an electric pump, sealed it and then pushed Soren into the water.  I had so many laughs with him trying struggling to walk.  I think once he got in and had trouble, he had second thoughts about why he wanted to try it. He said had a lot of fun!  🙂 I guess you are supposed to take small, yet big steps up the side.  Perhaps one day, I’ll try it, though I’ll probably pee my pants in laughter inside.














After getting bashed around in the large, clear ball, we headed across the street for a ice cream.


With ice creams, we walked down to the pier to see what was happening with the “World Pier Crabbing Championship”.  Turns out that due to the choppy seas, they postponed the event until August 25th – great news for us, now we can participate! 🙂  While on the pier, we ran into the boy who had won for the past few years. He showed us some of his catch today, which included a pregnant crab. His mum was so proud, she had him hold up his trophy for us.





In the RNLI shop, we bought Soren and Maebh a new toy – a shark on the end of a stick.
Soren named his Snap and Maebh named hers Rosie!

As we had some time to kill before I watched the cooking demonstrations, we decided to get some chips and eat them near the water.  We had a choice of two places – a busy place without a name which sold everything you could imagine and Stravin Marvins – which was dead and the worker was outside smoking the ENTIRE time we were there (see her in the black on the corner)




Then we had some fun with Snap & Rosie.













We headed back up from the promenade to the Evington Lawn so I could watch a demonstration and the kids could bounce on the trampoline with their friends L & J.   We also learned that these will be here all summer, so we’ll definitely be back!













Once the kids had their fill of jumping, we walked back across the street to the little ponds where they could look for tadpoles with their friends.   Soren wanted to take some money from the wishing well – and explained he’d only take the money of the “Badies – you know the ones who wish bad things like people to get pinched by crabs!”.  LOL




As it was after 5, we decided to get moving towards home, as we had about a 20 minute walk.  As we walked by the Cromer Museum, we saw the magician who also did the puppet show, so we stopped for a bit and had a laugh as he was tied in a straight jacket by an audience member, but was able to get out.









As it was the national event – Night at the Museum, they were having a special reading event “Meet the author Clay the Cromer Crab”.  If the kids were not already so tired, we would have stayed.

We got home, quickly fed the kids and gave them a bath (which looked like Africa) before bed.  They were beat but had a wonderful time and are looking forward to tomorrow’s events in Sheringham and seeing the YOW YOWS!


Cromer Pier Crabbing with friends

This morning we headed over to the Cromer Pier for our try at crabbing with the group for a couple hours.  It was a little slow at first with yesterday’s bacon, but once we bought and put on some new bacon, we ended up catching THREE crabs of our own.  Then a nearby fisherman donated two to us!  Soren was the only one willing to reach his hand in the water to hold up the crab and even got a little pinch.

It was a lot of fun – and we’ll definitely do it again.  But I just wish they would put up wire mesh fencing along the entire edge, as it’s really high and with little ones, I’m always afraid one will go over the edge.




On the way out, we stopped at the rides on the promenade.  They were a little run down and the baby in the booth was very sad but the kids did have fun!  The three boys rode the Helter Skelter a couple times and then they all took a ride on the double-decker bus before heading home.  

Note baby in the window!!


And keeping with the crabbing theme, Jana quickly popped up the hill and picked up a four dressed Cromer Crabs to eat back home.   As Nils is not a fan, Soren ate his crab!  I think both Jana & Phillip agreed, the white part is the best and the delicacy of the darker portion has a very strong taste and not their favorite part.

Crabbing on the Cromer Pier

Every since we came to the UK, we’ve been wanting to try crabbing and today we did just that.  With the temperature near 20 (70 F) we took advantage of the great, sunny weather and headed for the place most famous for crabbing near us – the Cromer Pier!




First, we stopped off at a local shop and picked up two nets and some bait.  We used our own buckets but next time, we’ll get the bigger ones.  We picked up a pouch of each – tiny squid and some smoked mackerel.  We were told the other day to pick up a mackerel head so I thought the smoked bait was just as good.



Before we got on the pier, Soren & Nils headed down to the water fill up their buckets for the crabs to sit in and some rocks to weigh down the nets.


Once we got on the pier, we picked our spot to sit and took out the nets.  Immediately I noticed there was not a tiny mesh pouch like we have seen in some other kits.  Turns out that with this type of  basket net, you don’t have a mesh bag.  So Nils walked down the pier to ask in the shop and was told that you are supposed to tie your bait to the bottom of your net.  (But you are not given a string other than the one you use to tie on the net.) The bags work better at Wells-Next-The-Ssea & Blakeney Quays as you only have 4 feet from water to your arm but – you have to hope the crab held on from the water to the top.  Finally, we managed to hang the fish – one basket was better than the other, a few large stones and then Nils set them off over the edge but not before tasting the delicious chum.  Then we were off – our first go at crabbing.



After some waiting, creative pulling in due to the wind and getting caught on the beams below, we headed over to the other side of the pier where it was less windy.  Same deal, Nils set them up correctly for us and we waited…. and waited… and waited.  Nils said that  we had a crab on the OUTSIDE of our net once and I didn’t even see it.  A family came over next to us and shared some tips.  They actually gave me one of their many squid pieces which they brought.  Immediately he started catching crabs – three in 5 minutes.  Lots of waiting and adjusting and pulling up the EMPTY net, we were some what discouraged as many of the other people on the pier were catching little buggers.  Soren had a great time pulling up the line, as if he was an old pro at this.











A little frustrated we needed a break and left the pots.  Time for an ice cream break!

We got ice cream at the end of the pier – but we’ll never get a ice cream at that place again – it was like soup.  Before we paid, it was completely melting and had to get cups to dump in our cones.  The kids wore half of it, but it was fun, nonetheless.


You can start to see some freckles on Soren’s cheeks!

Back to the pier to check on our, once again, EMPTY nets.  Maebh was then a little bored, so Nils took her over to see the RNLI Lifeboat– which is so cool being located on the END of the pier.   When he was on that side of the pier, he noticed several people catching a lot of crabs, so we moved again.

Third time the charm, right? Ah, NOPE!  Sadly, even over there, we got nothing, but we did get to watch a guy to our left catch quite a few and a spider crab.  The Japanese tourists to our right was catching dozens of them… loads of laughs, camera shots, Facebook updates.  I asked what they were using for bait and they used BACON but I did see some squid and what I think was chicken in little bags off to the side.







So despite Soren’s best efforts and great attitude – “we can’t give up, until we catch a crab”, we left crab-less but the kids had a lot of fun & memories and we’ll be back.

At dinner, we all agreed it was fun and that next time, we’ll try bacon!