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Another Week On Grande Girl 1

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I have had a few beers Mouldy and so will read the continuation of your  tale tomorrow but what fantastic pictures you have posted.

Have you submitted any for the NBN calender, as they really are deserving of a place .

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Friday 29th September


So the morning of our last full day afloat dawned, or it would have if it hadn’t have been so cloudy.  It was raining too.  I was up first as usual and with a cuppa in hand I watched as the murk became just a little lighter to show that night had turned to day.  The wife and Iain were both up too and I went for a shower as they went out with the dogs.

While I was in the shower, some total clown raced past causing a wash so severe that I was almost knocked off my feet.  I pulled back the shower curtain to try to identify the boat, but all I could see through the steamed-up windows was a white hull and blue cabin top, heading towards Ludham.  He must have been in a hurry.

Iain and Debbie arrived back on board before I had finished getting ready, neither Simba nor Harley were great fans of the rain apparently and had both decided when they had walked far enough.  I finished getting ready and emerged from the aft cabin when finally dressed to find the others watching a very gloomy weather forecast on breakfast television.

The plan for the day was, as usual, a visit to Ranworth and the church, and overnight at Salhouse, but seeing how busy the rivers had been, I was keen to get away and see if we could find a mooring at Ranworth Staithe.

Rachel was in the shower as we cast off and headed back down the Ant.  There was loads of clearance at Ludham Bridge and no need to wind the saloon roof down or lower the windscreen, which was a relief due to the rain.  Debbie lit the grill and cooked some crumpets for breakfast, hot and dripping with butter, just as I like them!  Breakfast finished, the others went, in turn, to get ready.

We soon arrived at the end of Ranworth Dam and headed along it towards Malthouse Broad.  I had taken a pair of binoculars with me and as soon as the staithe came into view, I peered through them to see if there was room.  It looked quite busy, but I thought I could see a space, so I headed for it.  As we drew nearer, there was definitely a space there and it looked narrow, but I thought we could fit, so gave it a go.  It was a little more tricky with the roof up, the rearward visibility somewhat compromised, however I squeezed Grande Girl in and we moored up safely.

By now, the rain had eased, so it was agreed that we would head for St Helens and treat ourselves to a coffee and slice of cake each in the café behind the church.  I had already wrapped some potatoes in foil and put them in the oven to cook for lunch and with the buggy set up, Harry strapped in and a couple of umbrellas we set off and soon arrived at the church gate.

The lighting for photography was flat and the sky grey and gloomy, so I set my camera to simulate black and white film and took a few photos of the outside of the church before changing back to recording in colour and going in.  Debbie, Rachel and Harry stayed outside whilst Iain and I went in.  He ventured up the tower and a couple of minutes later, at 11:00, the church bell rung out.  I hoped that he hadn’t been too close when it had rung!! 

I wasn’t in the mood for clambering up the stairs that day, so went out and stood with the wife (who was keeping Harry amused) whilst Rachel went up the tower to find Iain. 

I went round to the café to find it closed again.  I had been looking forward to a slice of their cake, someone there makes exceedingly good ones and I’m sure it isn’t Mr Kipling.

We were joined by the others and we went out through the gate and followed the lane round the back and past the village hall.

Rachel, Debbie, Harry and the dogs went back to the boat.  Iain and I went along the boardwalk to the floating Norfolk Wildlife Trust Centre.  I climbed the narrow spiral stairs, found a pair of binoculars and looked through the windows to see if I could spot anything unusual, but as usual, was disappointed.

I’ve visited there several times over the years and can only ever remember seeing anything out of the ordinary on one previous occasion some twenty years or so ago, when one of the staff there guided us to look at a heron’s nest, high in a tree on the far side of Ranworth Broad.  Strange to think that a bird with such long legs builds a nest so far off the ground.

I rejoined Iain downstairs and we wandered back to the boat, pausing to have a quick look in the shop on the way.  I left him there and ambled over the green to Grande Girl while Rachel went in the opposite direction to join Iain.  To make up for the disappointment of not having cake at the church café, I had a slice of the cherry cake that the wife had made to take with us on holiday, before topping up with water for the last time. 

We stopped there for lunch of jacket potatoes, cheese, coleslaw and salad before casting off and heading for Salhouse and our last night on board.  As we left our moorings, a boat whose crew had been mud-weighting on the broad, moved towards our vacated spot as another boat who had just entered did the same.

I didn’t look round to see who won, but just chugged back up Ranworth Dam to join the Bure.  I had thought about stopping at the moorings for St Benedicts Church for a mooch round, as I hadn’t visited there for many years, but they were occupied so we carried on to Salhouse, where we moored at the far end of the quay heading past (and out of the way of) the water point. 

The weather was still grey and overcast.  There had been occasional brighter periods, but there had also been a few sharp showers.  I noticed that there were a couple of other Summercraft boats there, Gainsborough Girl and one of the Gala Girls.  I guessed that like us, they were finishing the following morning and enjoying their last night in easy striking distance of boatyard.

Iain and Rachel went to hire a kayak for an hour and we watched as they paddled past.  Far too energetic for me, I’m afraid.  I prepared a sausage casserole and put it in the oven and peeled the spuds to go with it.  Debbie was keeping her grandson occupied, feeding a couple of swans and a large group of geese, from the sliding side door at the helm. 

The kids (we still call them that!) returned from their kayaking and Debbie and Iain took the dogs for some exercise.  TV reception has never been great at Salhouse, but we managed to get one channel, so it was watchable and chilled for a while when they got back.

We had dinner at about 19:00.  Sausage casserole and creamed potatoes washed down with white wine for Rachel and Debbie (they said they needed to finish the bottle) and cider for Iain and me!  With the washing up done, we had a final game of crib before turning in. 

Although some of the packing had already been done, it is difficult to do too much with little space to stow the packed bags, so it would need to be an early start the following morning to finish the packing and tidy up the boat.

Although Iain and Rachel had been married in April this year, due to financial constraints they had put their honeymoon off until next year and would be away for their first anniversary.  As a result, they’d be unable to join Debbie and me on the Broads next year, so I fell asleep thinking about which of Summercraft’s fleet would best suit us for our next Broadland adventure.


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