Wednesday 1 July 2009

Jolly Boating Weather and Other Seaside Miscellany

It was indomitable Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture critic of the Wall Street Journal, who said ~ “Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jewelled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world.”


And speaking of drunk, the first time I ever tasted Pimms I drank it fast, like a glass of delicious cooling fruit-juice. It wasn’t long after my second tall glass of this delicious summer nectar that I fell into the fish pond. But that is another story for another day.

I expect many of you have had a Pimms or two – and because you sipped it languidly, you probably behaved exceedingly well despite its hidden potency.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this strangely potent but wonderfully refreshing English drink, here is a little history of how Pimms came about and my own particular recipe for the nectar.

Pimm's was created in the 1840s by one James Pimm, a shell-fishmonger who owned a small chain of oyster bars in the City of London. In those days, foul-tasting unrefined gin was the thing, but Pimm felt that his clientele (and his oysters) deserved something better. Using gin, quinine and a secret mixture of herbs, good old Pimm served up the brew as an aid to digestion, dishing it out in pint tankards and the No. 1 Cup moniker was born.

Pimm's potion soon became more famous than his oyster bars and by the 1860s it was being sold throughout London for three shillings a bottle. After the Second World War, Pimms extended their range, using other spirits as bases for new cups. Scotch lent its name to No. 2 cup while No. 3 used brandy, No. 4 rum, No. 5 rye and No. 6 vodka. However, the original No. 1 cup still reigns supreme.


In a large bowl mix together, according to taste:

  • Bottle of Pimms No. 1
  • 75cl lemonade
  • 75cl ginger beer
  • 75cl soda water
  • ice
  • fresh mint leaves
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • strawberries, halved, to garnish

Splosh everything into a chilled jug and stir gently, pour into highball glasses and garnish each with a sprig of mint and a strawberry.


Guy and I went down to the pretty Georgian seaside town of Lymington last Saturday where we sat, after a day at sea, at a pub on the quay watching boats glide by like bejewelled dragonflies. I sipped my Pimms daintily while he drank his beer as all good Englishmen do, politely but with a certain gusto.


It was a hot, blue summer evening and the temperature felt more African than Anglo. While Guy gazed out to sea, dreaming of days on the water with his childhood friend and fellow adventurer, I had my sketch book in which I had intended to capture a pretty boating moment.


I took a photograph of the boats rather than drawing them because I felt I just couldn’t do the scene justice. Instead, I drew this.


“Cat on a Hot Thin Ruth”


Sailing the Solent – off Lymington.


Across the bay – Newhaven, Isle of Wright

cap'tn Anthony

Long-time friend Capt’n Anthony is a Lymington regular.


First Mate

jump ship

The crew jump ship – Beani & friends bound for the pub.


Safely docked and time for Pimms.


Lori ann said...

whoa whoa wow.

what a fantastic post!

what kind of camera do you use Tessa darling?

I don't know where to start, your photos are gorgeous!! your adventure sounds dreamy, the water,boats and countryside look spectacular, your drawing, brilliant. Whoa. wow.

I've not tried Pimm's, but i'm making a note now!

pink dogwood said...

never had pimms - but sounds great. love you pictures and "Cat on a Hot Thin Ruth" :)

Elizabeth said...

What fun!
we wanted to make Pimms yesterday but failed because of the lack of English lemonade.
I like Thin Ruth.

What weather you are having.
I would give anything to go to the IoW just now.......echoes of lost childhood.
Greetings from sticky NY

Eleonora Baldwin said...

Ohhh me too, me too, me too!!!

I've not forgotten that invitation for a breezy afternoon in your English garden sipping Pimms, m'dear!

Now can we also daintily sip some after a sailing day too?

I absolutely LOVED this post, Tessa. And the photos are superb.

Lola xx

soulbrush said...

we lived in verwood and then bournemouth for years, i love all of dorset and lymington is gorgeous.are you enjoying the heat? ruth is terrific.

Rosaria Williams said...

Great day by the water/on the water. Love the pictures; adore the lovely picture you drew, such a whimsical creature to admire and smile with.

Ces Adorio said...

Oh Tessa this is lovely. The boat phorograph is absolutely classical and beautiful. I love your drawing and even more so your great sense of humor! I love this one. You are all beautiful!

Delwyn said...

Hi Tessa
through your lovely photos you have made me feel like seeing this part of the world, but then again I notice that even though it is a hot day you are all still well rugged up...
Pimms is a quintessential English lady's drink...common in NZ too in the 50s. Tally ho!

Happy days

Cindy said...

How wonderful! Your post made me miss England even more than I already had. I've only visited once--last summer--but it was enough to convince me that I was born on entirely the wrong continent. It was during that fateful trip almost a year ago that I had my first taste of Pimm's and lemonade. Lovely, lovely drink. I wish we had it in the States! Thanks for a post that made the dreary clouds of Juneau feel a bit more English and summery :)

Elizabeth said...

What an incredible post -- photos, summer, and a Pimms recipe. Thank you so much.

Summertime is one of the most beautiful words in the English language -- I think Henry James said that.

Caroline said...

Hello Tessa. This is such a delicious post - photos, story, HotThin Ruth, Pimms recipe - I loved it from start to finish. What a great day out it's made for us all! P.S. I'm very wary of Pimms too - I think it definitely reaches parts other drinks don't! Once had a couple of pre lunch glasses and never mind going straight to my head, it went straight to my feet! I found I couldn't actually stand up afterwards - very embarassing!! Thank you also for your lovely comments on my blog - truly honoured!

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I love this one and love Pimms too. This reminds me that I haven't had any this year and I think it is time to put this right, quick before the weather breaks!

Natalie said...

What a fantastic post, Tessa! I SO loved your photos.....PERFECT.xx♥

Hana Njau-Okolo said...

Napenda sana your new layout Tessa.

A Cuban In London said...

An absolute gem of a post. And I am teetotal.

However, I did use to drink and like your Guy I used to drink beer mainly (coming from a hot climate and all that jazz). I have heard of Pimms before and the nice taste it has. But what I really enjoyed was that fantastic view from your vantage point. Ahhh, I was sucking each moment! Many thanks for such a fab tale.

Greetings from London.

kendalee said...

Oh Tessa, great post - captures the glorious English summer we're having so perfectly! I LOVE that quotation - a new one for me and exactly how days like this make me feel. And what beautiful pictures of the seaside!

I too have a 1st Pimms story, which involves too much, too quickly and an embarrassing fall off a chair when I misjudged how far back it was from me... Pimms initiation rite - drink, enjoy, fall? All too deceptively yummy. I do still love a Pimms (who can bear it a grudge for long?) but I learnt the lesson and now take mine far more sedately.

Happy Summer! :)

Irene said...

I've never had a Pimm's, never having been to England, but I suppose it's a delicacy I will have to indulge in when I do and then you can watch me stand on my head and say silly things.

The photographs are great, as usual, with good introductions by you. You do know how to enjoy your life with Guy and make the most of it. I think we can all use a Guy in our lives. He seems to simplify the complicated.

Renee said...

What a refreshing post Tessa just like you; refreshing.

I am going to see if they sell that pimms, I think even I could make that recipe.

Love Renee xoxo

Hana Njau-Okolo said...

The photographs are wonderful and I love your drawing!!

Ces Adorio said...

Tessa, you are like the modern version of those Merchant Ivory films, somehow you just remind me of those wonderful classic English stories films.

So Dmitri assassinated the father of apartheid? I need to read more about that now. I like it when there is a personal connection to history. Thank you for your lovely comment. I love seeing your avatar on my blog!

Ces Adorio said...

Oh wait, before Dmitri Tsafendas there was a David Pratt who attempted it.

Michele said...

Tessa...these are just amazing feels as though you could step right into them. What an eye you have! Do you mind if I ask what camera you use?

Tessa said...

Raising my glass to all of you! Thank you so much for stopping by - I linger over each and every comment from you guys...and then keep them as my little treasures.

Ces, yes - it was David. Lori and Michele, my constant companion is a Nikon D60.

Beth Kephart said...

Oh, gosh, this is a GORGEOUS post.

Everything about it — but perhaps most of all the spirit that animates it.

But, Tessa: Did you really fall into a fish pond? Not face first, I hope?

Linda Sue said...

BEAUTIFUL! All of it, every moment! Pimms would be dangerous for me...Hot Thin Ruth HAHAHA, clever girl!
Thanks for this wonderful summer post, the photos are amazing!

Grace Albaugh said...

Your recipe sounds delicious. I don't drink alcohol but I think it would be really good even without it. I'll give it a try and let you know.

I may just jump in the fish pond for fun!

Woman in a Window said...

Every bit of it is, words, photos. What a time.

Never a Pimms for me. Never heard of it 'til now.

kj said...

i've never had a pimms either, but you know now i'll be on the lookout for it. oh that wild hair, tessa. i think, unlike your paintings, your sketches show a wilder-who-cares side of you. :)

what a grand day. i love boats and shimmering water. and a blue sky with a warm sun....

love to you, my friend!


Meri said...

Love "Cat on a Hot Thin Roof." Made me laugh, a difficult assignment when it's only 6 am here.