Sunday, 5 August 2007

The Company Shed, West Mersea

Visited West Mersea’s justly famous Company Shed on Friday (see also here and here and here and also here, for some strikingly good photos of Richard Haward, owner of the Company Shed, harvesting Mersea oysters (go to 'food' and then 'oyster fishermen' )). Waiting for me at one of the closely packed, unadorned tables (it really IS a ‘shed’ – there’s sea water on the concrete floor and absolutely no frills whatever) was an old friend from way back (well, 'old' in the sense that we go way back – he’s only half a decade older than me . . . but then I’m getting on a bit myself, but . . . that still doesn’t make us ‘old’, thankyouverymuch).

Anyway, this youthful friend and even more youthful moi sat ever more squished into one corner of our table as the crowds piled in to sample the unique delights of the Shed. You have to take along your own wine. Sadly for me, some other people on our table hadn’t realised this, so my generous friend had already decanted half the bottle he’d brought for us into their glasses for them before I’d arrived. Luckily, I had brought some bottles of water, so at least thirst was not a problem, and neither was standing up afterwards. The point about the Company Shed (or one of its many points) is that it serves fish and only fish. In addition to drinks, you have to supply your own bread too. But the fish is the freshest you will find – you know this because large bearded chaps in wellies stride through the seating area from time to time bearing giant lobsters and the like. Fishing boats are moored just outside the back door.

Munching our way through a vast platter of assorted seafood and a side-order of lobster, we caught up on a year’s worth of gossip, discussed his recently finished first novel (which I had been allowed the privilege of reading in manuscript form a few months ago), and agreed that Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach is quite the most extraordinary and brilliant book either of us had read all year. Coffee in the garden at The Coast Inn was followed by a pleasant crunch along the beach at (very) high tide on one of the hottest days we’ve enjoyed this summer.

Had a bizarre incident with my mobile phone earlier on Friday, though. It alerted me noisily to the fact that it was out of memory, so I started deleting messages, reading them as I went, and then, later, received texts from various people asking why I had just sent them a blank message! Was this the heat affecting the telephone or what? No idea. But it was rather alarming . . .

And speaking of phone alarms – the ringtone on my mobile, which also serves to wake me every morning, is currently the opening bars of the third movement of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. It’s not Michelangeli playing, but one can’t have everything. It’s a lot better than the awful built-in noises that came with the thing and I never start rummaging for my phone when I hear someone else's ringing, either!

I've just changed the Mersea Island link on the top of this blog so it takes you straight to the island's fab new portal at .

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