The Red Lion at Alnmouth, Northumberland, is a traditional old coaching inn with lovely stone walls, flagged floors and wooden tables all shouting old world charm and with an atmosphere of warmth and cosines to match.
At the end of the pub garden is a decked area which has spectacular views over the estuary, the perfect place for a leisurely lunch in summer.
The menu is not huge but it has something to suit all tastes and everything is locally sourced and fresh.
For my starter I chose the wholemeal fusilli pasta in a smoked salmon and lemon cream, priced at £5.95, and, for my main course, steak and ale pie served with home-made chips, mushy peas and gravy – simple, classic and traditional and priced at £10.50. Just what was needed on a cold winter’s night.
The chosen libation was the house Merlot, which proved to be a good choice – full bodied and fruity and very smooth, a bit like me!
What a scrummy starter! The smoked salmon was shredded rather than in big flakes and the pasta was cooked just so, a little bit of bite and not too soft.
As for the sauce... sublime! I hate plates that are swimming in sauce and this lemon cream just bound the pasta and salmon together with a slight lemon tanginess and all perfectly seasoned. What a good start!
At last a proper pie! Don’t you just just hate things described as pies which turn out to be a bowl of stew with a puff pastry lid?
This certainly was a hearty meal and portion. The pastry was soft on the inside and a bit crispy on the outside, just as it should be, and the meat within was tender and full of flavour, slowly cooked and falling to pieces. I loved this, and it was topped off with smashing mushy peas and chips with eyes that look back at you!
I really shouldn’t have, but for afters I ordered the lemon posset with honeycomb and biscuit crumb. Tangy, full of lemon and with a lovely smooth creaminess that made me eat it all.
The treble espresso was as it should be, hairs in the back of your throat job!
The service was very discreet yet very attentive and smiley and just a little bit quirky. All in all, a splendid evening in welcoming surroundings.
Alnmouth, of course, is famed for a fabulous beach, as so many of our places around here are. After a blustery walk on the beach, this is the place to warm up and chill out. One for the highly recommended file.
For this iconic view of the Alnmouth estuary, I started with the usual outline drawing and a wash of sky in ultramarine blue applied with my large 1½ins flat brush. Washing out the brush, I then ‘sucked’ out a few clouds and waited for it to dry.
Then I changed to my ¾ins flat brush and pre-wet the hillsides. I dropped in a little yellow ochre quickly followed by a mix of yellow ochre and Hookers green, then gently stroked them to merge the colours slightly.
After that bit had dried, I used my No. 8 round brush to pop a few blobs of a slightly stronger Hookers green/yellow ochre mixture here and there to suggest trees and bushes on the hillside. For the distant water I used ultramarine blue with a touch of Hookers green and burnt sienna. With my ¾ins flat brush I filled that area in but not too strongly. I also added the little sandy wedge in the water using Charles Evans Sand followed by a little yellow ochre on the top bit.
Now for the boat. I painted the whole thing with my No. 8 round brush, using raw umber mixed with a touch of ultramarine blue for the top of the cabin while leaving the bottom as just white paper.
Remember to paint carefully around the windows.
Once this area had dried I used a mix of blue and burnt sienna to paint the inside of the cabin. Letting this dry, I then painted the windows – again using blue and burnt sienna but a lot weaker this time.
For the lifebelt I put a couple of strokes of alizarin crimson and left the rest white paper.
The masts and other nautical gubbins on the top of the cabin were painted using my No. 3 rigger brush – brown for the cabin and blue mixed with burnt sienna for the very top.
For the top part of the hull I used cobalt blue but stronger on the shadowed side than on the other. After leaving a strip of white in the middle of the hull, I painted the bottom bit with light red, again one side darker than the other.
Once all the detail had dried I turned to the foreground sands.
Again I put the Charles Evans Sand on first, followed by a little yellow ochre and then a touch of light red and finally a little ultramarine blue, stroking the colours together with my ¾ins flat brush.
Remember when doing the sand to save a little paint for some reflection in a puddle.
I turned again to my rigger brush for the ropes and a mix of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, pulling the colour from the boat onto the sand. I did the same for the pegs sticking up out of the sand while for the buoys I used light red and yellow ochre mixed.
Finally it was shadow time and a mix of ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and burnt sienna to put the finishing touches to an effective little picture.
All art materials used were by Winsor and Newton. For more free projects, art materials and courses visit charlesevansart.com or follow on Twitter @charlesevansart