In praise of the silver darlings of the sea

Yesterday was all about local specialities. I began the day with a breakfast of seaweed picked from the local beach. Laver, as it's known, is easy to spot but takes an age to cook - about 4 hours. For that reason it's not top of the list for camper van breakfasts. But it's a local North Devon delicacy so you can't live here without trying it at least once. I have bought it a few times from the local chippy, where they sell it deep fried in batter. I've never been particularly sold on it. Can't think why. So I thought I'd cook it in the traditional Welsh way rolled in oats and cooked in bacon fat. It was really very nice indeed. A bit like you would want a girder to taste if you had to eat girders. Full of iron.

Next up, a trip to Clovelly, a small fishing village a few miles down the road. It's a very beautiful place that now relies on tourism rather than the sea. Despite this massive shift in the village's industrial fortune there are still some devoted souls who work very hard to keep the community and traditions alive. And it's that spirit that took me there yesterday, as they celebrated the 'silver darlings of the sea' at the annual herring festival.

Today, of course, things have changed. The harvest is no longer quite what it was, but those that are caught are landed in a way that will ensure we will be able to enjoy a few cold smoked kippers in the years to come. So there's every reason to take a wander down the quayside to snap up a couple to take home. And, unlike the laver, they only need a few minutes under the grill. Another good reason to keep them on the camper van breakfast menu.


  1. O, we left the home grounds in the month of June
    And to canny Shiels we soon was bearing
    With a hundred cran of the silver darlings
    That we'd taken from the shoals of herring

    I love the song, despite being a veggy myself. But this beautiful tune rings in my mind as I read the lyrics. It really is superb.

    Cheapo Pete.


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