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Mouldy

Another Week On Grande Girl 1

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Saturday 23rd September 2017

 

So another year had passed and the weeks of waiting were over.  Iain, his wife (since April 4th this year), Rachel, our grandson Harry and their dog, Simba had spent Friday night at our house so we could make a reasonably early start on our journey to Summercraft for our third holiday on Grande Girl 1.

With the cars packed, we eventually left our house at about 09:20, picked up the A45 on the outskirts of Northampton and headed towards our destination, via the A14, A11 and threading our way (guided by my TomTom) though Great and Little Plumstead and Salhouse into Wroxham, arriving at about 11:45.

With shopping to do, we parked in Roys car park and Debbie (the wife), Rachel, Harry and I headed into Roys for essential supplies, leaving Iain to mind the two dogs, Simba and Harley, outside.  I’m never a fan of shopping, a task made more difficult with the layout of an unfamiliar store and it seemed to take an interminable amount of time to pick up what we needed, but staggered out under the weight of several carrier bags full of shopping about fifty minutes later. 

With the bags safely stowed in my car, the girls, dogs and Harry went to the seating area on the Horning side of the bridge and staked a claim on a vacant table, whilst Iain and I queued in Ken’s for freshly cooked fish and chips.  We took them across to the others and sat watching the river traffic, both boats and swans.

Fish and chips consumed, it was back to the cars and off for the short drive to Summercraft’s yard.  Sue was there to greet us and told us to pull our cars under the canopy, get our things loaded aboard and to go back to see her when done.  One of the lads moved Grande Girl close to where we had parked to make it easier for us to transfer our things and once done, with both cars parked under cover, we took the car keys into the office where Sue was waiting.  She gave me the Skipper’s Manual, wished us a good holiday and assigned one of the lads to go through the usual formalities.  With suitable life jackets for us all, the briefest of handovers and with paperwork signed we cast off for another Broadland adventure by 14:40.

The weather was okay, not spectacular but dry and we cruised along the Bure heading for what I hoped would be our overnight mooring at Acle, ready not only for an early morning departure to cross Breydon Water, but to sample the culinary delights of the Bridge Inn, so often mentioned on the Forum.

The rivers were remarkably busy – I should have realised whilst at the boatyard, where we had seen the family on Grande Girl 2 going out on their trial run and the occupants of a couple of cars who had followed us in were moving their bags onto one of the Gala Girls and Gainsbrough Girl.

As usual, the welcome tray with tea bags, biscuits, sachets of coffee, sugar and milk and a selection of delicious looking cup-cakes had been left in the galley and with the tea made, the cup-cakes were soon history.  I thought about the diet I had been trying to follow for a few weeks and the adverse effect that fish, chips and cake might be having, however the thought was rapidly dismissed – I was on holiday and going to enjoy it!!

We soon passed the entrances to both Wroxham and Salhouse Broads, Rachel and Debbie were both busy unpacking and stowing clothes and the shopping we had bought at Roys.

My mind wandered as we chugged along, thinking back to the summer of 2016, when my wife, Iain, Rachel and I had taken my mum and dad to the Broads for a trip on NBD’s accessible dayboat, which is fitted with a lift for wheelchair access.  Little did I know then that it would be the last time we would enjoy a day out, as a family together, as dad passed away on 13th February this year having been taken into hospital on New Year’s Eve.  Mum and dad had taken me on my first Broads holiday back in 1969 and it was they that I had to thank for the love of the area that has lasted for almost fifty years.

We cruised steadily on, passing a couple of boats clearly crewed by first timers (or at least they seemed to be) threading a wandering course along the Bure towards Horning.  As usual, there were no moorings available in Horning, not that we wanted to stop there, but I cannot remember the last time we have been able to, so few are the public mooring spaces. 

The Swan and New Inn appeared to be busy and we watched as a cruiser whose captain was trying to moor in the spaces reserved for dayboats at the Ferry Inn.  Cockshoot moorings were full and I was beginning to wonder if there would be space at Acle for us when we arrived, but headed on along the river, passing the junctions of Ranworth Dam, The Ant and Fleet Dyke, before turning right to continue towards Acle. 

The river appeared a little quieter, but we passed several craft heading in both directions as we continued along The Bure.  I spotted Upton Dyke on the right and thought that in all of the years I had visited The Broads, I had never ventured along to see what was at the end – perhaps on the way back . . . . perhaps?

I could see Acle Bridge loom into view over river bank and was pleased that there were a few spaces to moor where Horizon Craft used to keep their fleet.  I turned to moor against the ebbing tide and we were soon secured between a Richardsons bathtub and Brinks Encore almost at the end furthest from the bridge.  It wasn’t long before someone came along and asked for the mooring fee of £5.  I wasn’t too bothered, but it would have been better if the fee had been advertised.  We were also asked to move along the mooring space to create room for another boat, which we did.

My wife had phoned The Bridge Inn to book a table, however had been told that it was a first come, first served arrangement, so we waited until about 18:30 and walked along the bank to the pub.  Upon entering, we were told that there were seven parties waiting to be seated before us, so we bought a drink and headed out to the garden.  The weather wasn’t too bad, but as it grew darker, we moved under the gazebo and sitting near to one of the patio heaters, which was generating a remarkable amount of heat, realised eating outside would be quite okay.

Iain and I went to the bar to order, fishermans pie for me and gammon steaks for the others which, when served, proved to be well worth the wait.  We decided that desserts were required, so Iain and Rachel shared an enormous concoction of ice cream, marshmallows, sauces, wafers and flake, the wife had a chocolate fudge cake and I enjoyed a sticky toffee pudding.  The diet, you ask – forgotten about!!

I don’t normally drink much beer – old age and a bladder whose decreasing capacity was the cause of too frequent trips to the little boys room was one of the reasons, but I discovered that I quite liked Ghost Ship which had washed down my dinner and decided that I would seek more out through the week.

We returned to the boat, watched tv for a few minutes and I realised that I was tired, as were the rest of us as it transpired, so we all (except Harry, who had long since fallen asleep) had a cup of hot chocolate and went to bed, hoping to wake in time for an early start to catch slack water at Yarmouth on Sunday morning.

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Great start Mouldy. I've read all your previous write ups and I've been looking forward to this one. 

I'm sorry to read you lost your dad. I lost my dad in 2013 only a month after our last Broads trip together, precious memories. 

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Lovely tale so far Mouldy. We were there the same week! To my shame I haven't managed to post any account of our adventures yet, so I can't very well moan that we want to hear more of how you got on. We too were aiming for a Yarmouth crossing Sunday morning. Hoping to post up the first day of our holiday tomorrow or the weekend.

Really sorry to hear about your Dad. We've both lost loved ones this year, so I have an inkling of how you feel. My Mum never visited the Broads, but somehow the peace and quiet of a Broads holiday makes me think of her a lot.

Helen

 

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Sunday 24th September

 

I woke at about 05:45 on Sunday morning, earlier than I usually do on a Sunday, but no great hardship as I am usually up at around 05:00 anyway to get ready for work during the week.  I pulled on some clothes, lit the gas under the kettle and anxiously checked the weather, hoping that it wouldn’t be foggy, which may have caused Breydon to be closed.

I was relieved to find that although it was a little misty, it shouldn’t have caused an issue with my plans.  The wife and Iain were both up and ready to walk the dogs and soon headed off in the direction of the bridge with Simba and Harley.  I set about opening the curtains and wiping the condensation from the windows, whilst enjoying my early morning cuppa and waited for the others to return. 

They came back to the boat at about 06:40 and within a few minutes we had started the engine and cast off, heading for Great Yarmouth and Breydon Water, a little later than intended but not seriously so.  Running with the ebbing current, we were making good progress, observing the speed limits on the app on my phone. 

I went for a shower leaving Iain at the helm and when I returned, dressed and refreshed a little while later Rachel and Harry were also up and we were well past the Stracey Arms.  I find the scenery between there and Yarmouth somewhat featureless and was glad to see the old Marina Quays site loom into view as we entered Yarmouth.  What a mess that is – I am surprised that some redevelopment hasn’t taken place to at least make it look less of an eyesore that it currently does.

By this time, it was about 08:15 and we passed the yacht station about 25 minutes or so after slack water and we seemed to be going against the incoming current for the last couple of hundred yards to the yellow post as I had to apply a little extra throttle to maintain our speed.

When we had passed under Breydon Bridge and the expanse of Breydon came into view, the large number of craft crossing became apparent.  I can’t ever remember seeing it so busy.  I also realised how much the weather had improved, which I hadn’t really been conscious of since we had left Acle.  The gradual lifting of the early morning misty gloom had been replaced with ever brightening sunshine.

The grill was lit and we all had crumpets, smothered in butter for breakfast – not exactly healthy (or diet friendly for that matter) but very tasty and a welcome change from toast.

We passed a couple of boats and were passed by several more as we crossed, including another Forum member who posted a picture of the stern of Grande Girl 1 on Facebook, which he must have taken prior to passing us.  Although there is the temptation to open up and cross more quickly, I was aware of the potential pain in the wallet that I would suffer as a result, so a steady 1600 revs maintained a respectable speed and we completed the crossing without incident, bearing right at the end, continuing up the Yare towards Reedham and beyond.

I noticed that a section of mooring in front of the Berney Arms Mill had been taped off and wondered why, but it did look good with the sails re-installed, that I seem to recall were missing the last time we headed that way about three years ago.

We were making good time towards my intended destination for the night, which was the Ferry Inn at Surlingham, where I hoped we would be able to sample the food, so we moored at Reedham between Sanderson’s yard and the Rangers hut without issue to fill with water, kill some time and let the dogs off to do what dogs do.

Iain unravelled the hose and whilst filling up, I looked towards the bridge and saw one of Bridgecraft’s ex Alphacraft boats turn and try to moor a few yards in front of where we were, just near the Rangers hut.  Whoever was at the helm got it horrendously wrong and sideswiped a Broom 29 (similar to Mystic Horizon) that was already moored.  There was someone on the phone in the wheelhouse who appeared to have been knocked over as the result of the bump, so hard was the impact.  The crew of both boats met when the other one was safely moored, but there didn’t seem to be any animosity, so apparently no harm was done much to my surprise. 

With the tank filled, hose stowed and filler cap replaced, the wife and I wandered along the bank towards the bridge with Harley and spent some time admiring a house being built a few doors up from The Nelson.  It looked as if it would be a stunning dwelling with spectacular views when completed. 

We returned to Grande Girl and had a coffee before casting off and heading towards our proposed overnight moorings.  I decided to take a look at Rockland Broad.  It had been many years since I’d last been there and thought it was about time I went again so we chugged past Reedham Ferry, slowing to allow it time to cross completely before passing astern.

As we approached the sugar refinery, I could see the sails of Hardley Mill turning in the breeze.  I can’t ever remember seeing it working before and wondered if it has undergone renovation recently.  There were a couple of boats moored there and I could see some people wandering about, so I made a mental note to check whether it is open to visitors now and if so, to stop there for a look round on a future Broadland visit.

We cruised past the steaming chimneys of sugar works and as we turned by The Reedcuters, it was apparent that there was a sailing club event on as, there were several yachts approaching at speed along the river towards us.  Iain took the helm as I grabbed my camera, hoping to get a few shots as they passed.  One in particular was heeled over so far that the port deck was virtually in the water.  It did look impressive.

We carried on past Langley Dyke and The Beauchamp Arms before turning left onto Short Dyke leading to Rockland Broad.  I had forgotten how pretty it is, especially in the glorious sunshine we were enjoying.  With Iain still at the helm, I pointed him towards the Boat Dyke and to the staithe, where he handed me the helm to moor.  There were only a couple of craft already there so mooring was easy with plenty of room to manoeuvre and moor.

The dogs were son off the boat, exploring the green and enjoying the opportunity to run off some energy.  Rachel put Harry in his buggy and with the wife, went for a walk.  When they returned, I suggested popping over to The New Inn for liquid refreshment, before we had our jacket potatoes that had been in the over since about 11:00, so we all ambled across the road.  I was hopeful that they sold Ghost Ship, but they didn’t, so I think I had Green Jack, which was okay, but not quite as good as the pint I enjoyed so much the night before. 

Drinks finished, it was back to the boat for lunch – jacket spuds with grated cheese, butter and coleslaw.  The diet was a fading memory already!!

A few more boats had arrived and the staithe was filling up, so we cast off and headed for Surlingham, retracing our way back to the Broad and heading up Fleet Dyke to return to the wide expanse of the Yare.

Just for a change, just past Coldham Hall, I steered Grande Girl through Bargate and followed one of the new Freedom picnic boats through the narrow dyke to the Broad itself.   The young lady at the helm was making erratic progress, steering from left to right and back again continuously, not allowing time for her course to settle before making further corrections.  The rest of her party thought it very funny, perhaps influenced by over indulgence of the contents of the bottles, that were on the table. 

I managed to pass them as the dyke opened up and soon passed through the small area of open water and back onto the Yare towards The Ferry. 

I noticed how the foliage of the trees and shrubs on the side of the river were taking on the colours of autumn, in particular the bright red of some kind of vine or creeper that seemed to be growing through a number of them.  Very striking.

We soon arrived at the pub and it was very busy, the sunshine having attracted many visitors out to enjoy the fine weather and I feared that we might not get a mooring, however found a spot and managed to moor without any problem.  I wandered across to the pub and booked a table for us and returned to the boat, whilst Rachel, Debbie and Iain took Harry in his buggy along the lane, with the dogs in tow too.  I sat and had coffee, watched a few boats pass by and did a crossword to while away a few precious minutes of peace and quiet.

The others returned sometime later and we got ready to go to for our dinner.  We made selections from the menu boards and were shown to our table.  Ian and I went to order and I was mightily pleased to see they served Ghost Ship and felt compelled to have another pint, just to make sure I liked it!  Food ordered, we sat at the table and chatted about the day.  We certainly weren’t expecting the weather to be as clement as it had been.

The starters duly arrived and I was amazed at the size of the portions.  Well cooked, nicely presented and very tasty they were too.  The main courses were not disappointing either, lamb shank and a selection of veg for Rachel and Debbie, while Iain and I enjoyed chicken, leek and stilton pie, again with vegetables.  I had never eaten there before, but will certainly go again – proper pub grub, well cooked and excellent value, oh and I did enjoy the Ghost Ship, too!

We returned to Grande Girl, tired, sated and very happy.  What a terrific day we had all enjoyed.  Shortly after 21:00, I made hot chocolate for us all and we had another early night.  It must be the relaxing Norfolk air!

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I’m with Simon (Broads01) on this about the mileage you covered. 

We noticed how red the berries were on that stretch as well, in fact our fire thorn berries in the garden at home seem bigger & brighter than usual this year.

Enjoying your tale & looking forward to the next instalment 

:default_beerchug:

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Monday 25th September

 

As usual, I was first up.  Getting the kettle on was a priority as I don’t seem to be able to function without my early morning cuppa.  I pulled the curtains back to see mist hanging over the river, so headed quickly back to the cabin to pull my clothes on so I could go out and take a few photos.  The wife was already up too, although there was no movement from the cabin at the sharp end where Rachel, Iain and probably Harry were obviously still sleeping.

Camera in hand, I headed outside and took a few pictures, hoping that at some point during the holiday I would manage to take one worthy of a place in this year’s NBN calendar.  Such vanity!!

Pictures taken, I returned to Grande Girl just in time to see Iain and Debbie taking the dogs for their walk.  I opened all of the saloon curtains and sat watching the river, drinking my tea and reflecting on how much being on the Broads still meant to me so many years after my first visit in 1969.  Rachel and Harry emerged from the forward cabin, so I made her a coffee and went to get showered and dressed.

Norwich was the planned destination and I hoped to get back to Langley Dyke, ready to cross back over Breydon in time to catch slack water at Yarmouth on Tuesday morning.  The others returned with the dogs and we had toast and marmalade for breakfast before casting off from our moorings at about 09:15.

The mist had cleared and there was no rain, but the sky was grey and a little disappointing after the beautiful weather we had enjoyed the previous day.  There was little traffic on the river as we passed the moorings at Bramerton Common, under Postwick Viaduct and along the cut at Thorpe, before bearing right onto the Wensum at the junction of the two rivers.  The cruise into Norwich was uneventful, but there is something special about entering the City on the river. 

There seemed to have been further changes to the buildings on either side of the river, with more development of residential properties than I recall seeing on our last visit to Norwich on Royall Commander back in 2014.  I have read recently that Colmans may soon vacate the City and wonder what will happen to the land that the factory now stands on, should it close.

We chugged slowly under the last bridge before the Yacht Station and paid the mooring fee, before finally securing Grande Girl at the far end of the quayside, close to Bishop Bridge. There were no other boats there as we arrived, but by the time Harry’s buggy had been set up, I could see that there were two or three others moored further along.  With him safely installed, we all set off for the walk into town, to see the Cathedral again and to do some shopping.

Crossing the nearby bridge, we turned left along the riverside walk to Pulls Ferry and headed along Ferry Lane before tuning past the refectory to the Cathedral.  Debbie took the dogs to sit near the Edith Cavell Memorial, whilst we went for a nosey around.

I never cease to be amazed by the architecture of the building and marvel at the ingenuity of the craftsmen that constructed it all those years ago.  It would surely be a challenge to recreate it now, with all the available machinery and technology, never mind how it was done back then.  I have visited many Cathedrals in this country and Norwich is by far my favourite, thanks in part to the fact that the area surrounding it has been largely left unspoiled by modern buildings. 

Iain, Rachel and Harry went for a look round together, leaving me to wander on my own, taking a few photos as I went and allowing myself a few minutes to lose myself in my thoughts with the memory of my dad and his passing still quite fresh in my mind.

I re-joined the others shortly after and was pleased to see that the grey skies were beginning to give way to some sunshine as we walked along Queen Street and into the city centre.  Debbie and Rachel needed to top up their cash reserves, so we paused outside Greggs whilst they went to a nearby hole-in-the-wall.   We wandered through the Royal Arcade where the number of empty units came as a surprise, eventually arriving at the market.  I needed a new belt, found a stall and selected one that I liked, before going to Tesco to pick up some bread and other necessary supplies.

I was surprised that Rachel turned down the opportunity for more retail therapy, as she does enjoy window shopping, however we all retraced our route back to the boat and had bacon muffins for lunch, washed down with a cup of tea.  There was no water hose near to where we had moored, so we cast off and tied up again, near to a hose where we topped up the tank, before finally leaving Norwich for another year.  By the time we left, the Yacht Station was quite full, probably busier that I had seen it for a long time.

It had clouded over again, but was still bright and not too cold and as we made our way back the way we had come earlier in the day.  There was no great hurry to reach our overnight moorings, but with the app on my phone showing a steady five miles per hour, it didn’t seem too long before we arrived at Langley Dyke.  I hoped that there would be space for us as we cruised slowly towards the BA moorings and was initially concerned as they appeared to be full, but was relieved to see that there was space right at the very end, so carefully turned Grande Girl round and moored without incident. 

Debbie and I took he dogs for a walk, accompanied by the noise of the crows settling in the woods to one side of the dyke for the night.   No wonder he collective noun for them is a murder – what a racket!  Once back to the boat, we watched TV for a while and had spaghetti bolognese for dinner.

 The effects of the Norfolk air were evident again and by just after 21:00, I was struggling to keep my eyes open, so I had a hot drink and went to bed.  A return to the Northern rivers was the plan for the following day and an early start was needed.

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Just a brief aside, photos that I have taken with one of my cameras upload direct to the Forum, but  with my other camera need to be resized before I upload them, so I assume that there is a limit set somewhere for the size of files that can be uploaded.  If there appears to be a loss of quality with any of the images, it's not your eyes.

Also, I am struggling with technology and transferring photos directly to the Forum from One Drive, where they are now stored, which is why they are uploaded on additional posts.  One day I'll get used to it, but in the meantime, please bear with me.

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Loving your write-up and the photos. My visit to Norwich was not whilst out boating so I have yet to experience the pleasure of arriving by river. One day ...

The cathedral is hugely impressive but as a grown-up (allegedly!) I wish they would leave those kind of places out of school trips. I don't think as a child that one appreciates the beauty and the sheer triumph of how anything like that was built.

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Tuesday 26th September

 

I woke early, with a little assistance from the alarm on my phone.  From memory, slack water at Yarmouth was due a few minutes after 09:00, so I thought that we would need to be away from Langley Dyke by about 06:30.  I pulled some clothes on and went into the saloon, where I pulled back the curtains to check the weather.

It was a little misty, but not dramatically so.  The wife emerged from the aft cabin a few minutes later, and as there was no sign of movement from the front of the boat, we took the dogs out for their morning walk.  We walked to the main river and back and both dogs had a good run round, happy to be off the lead.  We wandered back to Grande Girl and I collected my camera, anxious to get a few pictures before the glassy smooth water was disturbed.

I hurried along the side of the dyke and quickly took a few shots before returning to the boat.  Dozens of birds were settling on the cables suspended on poles on the opposite side, which reminded me momentarily of a scene from The Birds.  By the time I returned, Iain, Rachel and Harry were all up, the curtains were drawn and the windows had been wiped.  We departed from our moorings at about 06:45, a little later than I had planned, but we were going with the ebbing current and once on the Yare, progress was good.

I remained at the helm until after we had passed the sugar refinery and Hardley Mill, before handing the helm to Iain and heading for our cabin to get ready. Showered, dressed and refreshed, I returned to the saloon to find that we had already passed Reedham and were well on our way towards Breydon Water. 

We appeared to be running ahead of schedule, so adjusted the throttle to slow our progress but we still arrived at Yarmouth about twenty minutes early.  There was bags of clearance under the bridges, without having to lower the saloon roof or screen, but we almost had a head on collision with a Herberts Woods flybridge cruiser whose helmsman appeared to have cast off from his moorings at the Yacht Station without starting his engine, or some other problem affecting his ability to control the boat.  He was drifting broadside down the river with the ebbing current and struggling to regain control of the craft.  There was nowhere for us to go to avoid him, but fortunately the current took him past with the smallest clearance you could imagine.  A little too close for comfort indeed.

I looked astern as he passed under the first of the bridges and it looked as if he had regained control, which I guess would have been a relief to him, as well as anyone following us.  Not sure that the boat would have been up to being swept out to sea!!

We chugged on up the Bure and had crumpets for breakfast as we went.  What’s that you say?  Diet?  What diet????

Our grandson Harry had watched as we had used the winch to wind the roof up and down during the past few days and amused us all as he tried to fit the handle into the socket to try it for himself, albeit the wrong way around.

We passed Stracey Windpump and the old pub, without any further dramas, continuing through Stokesby and on to Acle, where I intended to moor for water and moored stern on at Bridgecraft.  Debbie took the dogs for a walk along the bank whilst Iain and I topped up the water tank.  It was strange to look across the river to see the little shop closed.  It seemed to have been there for as long as I can remember.

The weather had been gradually improving and the sun was beginning to break through.  With Debbie and the dogs safely back on board, we cast off once again to head for Womack Dyke, where I hoped we would be able to moor at the BA moorings and walk into Ludham village.  However, all the spaces were taken, so we carried on into Womack Water itself and found a spot between two other craft, one of which was crewed by about four or five gents all dressed as pirates.

With Harry’s buggy set up and him strapped safely in, we all walked the short distance into the village.  The butchers was the first destination and I had a chat with Tim, the new butcher.  I asked if he still saw Rodney and he said that he still went in, but as a customer.  We have always made a point of going there whenever we’ve been on the Broads.  The meat was always excellent and Rodney was (and probably still is) an affable chap, who always seemed to remember the wife, Iain and I and have time to exchange a few words each time we called in.  I hope he enjoys a long, happy and healthy retirement.  We bade Tim farewell and told him we’d see him again next year.  Time will tell if his memory is as good as Rodney’s, but he did seem a decent butcher and the meat we bought was as good as ever. 

We wandered over to Throwers to get the other necessary supplies and returned to the boat to find a couple of the pirates on the boat moored next to Grande Girl standing on the stern of their boat playing conkers.

We didn’t hang around to watch, I wanted to get moored up for the night, so we cast off and headed back to Thurne Dyke.  With repairs made to the quay heading, I moored on the mill side at the end nearest the river.  The sun was out and the canopy wound back.  It was a most pleasant afternoon.

Debbie and I took the dogs for a wander along the bank and I took my camera along too.  On our return, I spent a bit of time taking a few shots of Thurne Mill, from different angles and with different lenses.

With the light fading, we watched with interest as the crew of an ex Moores, now Barnes Brinkcraft boat was attempting to moor on the angle of the dyke’s entrance, where it joins the main river.  The helmsman could never have been accused of having any mechanical sympathy or a gentle touch.  Full throttle forwards and back several times, getting no closer to the bank.  He eventually got the bow close enough for someone to take a leap of faith to the bank and pull the craft in.  It was then that they realised that there were no posts or rings to tie to, so they found the rhond anchors and trod them into the bank, securing the ropes with a peculiar round turn, two half hitch, couple of reef and a granny knot for good measure.  I swear that if the ropes had been longer, they would have tied more.

 We had decided to try the pub for our meal that night, so after I had patiently waited to take a few pictures of the sunset, which never really happened, we all trooped along to The Lion.  The difference in the decoration is immediately noticeable, with friendly staff and a good choice of draught beers and cider.  We were shown to a table and made our selections from the not very extensive menu, three of us having soup as a starter and the wife selecting a smoked mackerel fillet, with various dressings.  We all selected the Lion Burger as a main.

Whilst the food was well cooked and tasty and the service fast and friendly, the table we were at was quite poorly lit.  I enjoyed it, but would like to see more choice on the menu, to be able to see what I am eating and for it to be a little more traditional with the dishes offered.  I realise that it is early days for the new landlord, so will try it again next year to see how it has progressed.

We returned to Grande Girl and had a game of crib, which was won by Rachel and Debbie, before a hot drink and bed.  All too quickly, the week seemed to be passing, a visit to Potter Heigham was planned for Wednesday, with the inevitable visit to Lathams and the possibility of fish and chips for lunch.

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Lovely account Mouldy. Ludham butchers are great, glad to hear that Rodney is still popping in to advise. We thought they had a much wider choice of meat this year on display, looked very tempting, but I hope they're not overdoing it for the amount of custom that they have. We still think they do the best bacon ever. We always visit when we are on Ludham. 

Loved your photos too.  The best for me is of Harry.  That's one bright-as-a-button boy. I've got a Harry too, but he's more than 20+ years older, also bright but I sometimes wonder how 'grown up' he is. 

Helen

 

 

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Thanks all for your kind comments.

Helen - yes Harry certainly is bright as a button. I guess every grandparent likes to think that of their grandkids, but he is certainly very inquisitive.

There may be a delay in the completion of my tale. The wife and I are taking my mum away this Friday, just for a long weekend, to give her a bit of a break.  She has been struggling to come to terms with dad's passing which after a month short of 63 years of marriage really is no surprise.  We're hoping it might cheer her up a bit, as the dark evenings and run up to Christmas draws nearer.

Malcolm 

 

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Wednesday 27th September

 

As ever, I was the first to wake on Wednesday morning.  I quickly dressed and went to put the kettle on, so satisfy my need for a cup of tea.  I pulled back the curtains in the hope that there would be a glorious sunrise – the type that casts a golden glow and makes for wonderful photos.  I was greeted by the sight of quite a dense mist, but undaunted and without stopping to brew up, I grabbed my camera and went outside. 

Just as I started, an old Richardsons Ocean 30 chugged slowly up the dyke, disturbing the glassy smooth water’s surface and the reflections that had been created.  If only I’d been up a few minutes earlier, but the mist had created a quite magical quality to the scenery around the mill and so I spent quite a time wandering around taking plenty of photos.

I was still there when Iain, Debbie walked past with the dogs, heading for their morning walk and I was till there when they returned some time later.  The sun had begun to rise and had formed a deep red ball in the sky, shrouded by the mist and was creating some wonderful photo opportunities.

I eventually returned to Grande Girl, satisfied that I had captured a few decent shots.  It was not long after that when I heard the throaty roar of a diesel engine starting and discovered that it was our near neighbours in the Barnes craft who had eventually moored near to us the previous evening.  Iain told me that their engine had been running until about 22:30, which neither the wife nor I had heard due to our cabin being at the blunt end, furthest away from the source of the noise.  Clearly Broadland etiquette, as well has boat handling skills were lacking too, as it was still only about 07:30.

We were in no desperate rush to get away that morning, Potter being a relatively short cruise away, so I showered and got ready and we had breakfast of toast and marmalade.  By then, it was late enough to start the engine and let it tick over to heat the water for the rest of the party to shower too. 

By just after 09:00 the mist had lifted, leaving a clear blue sky and the mill looked so different in the bright sunshine.  We cast off from Thurne Dyke by about 10:30 (I think) and we chugged into Herbert Woods yard just after 11:00, by which time the cloud had rolled in again.

We all wandered across to Lathams and I was designated to dog sit whilst the others went in to do the shopping.   As a gesture of consideration, they had allowed me time before leaving me, to get a coffee from the Flour and Bean and I sat at a table outside, with a crossword book and two dogs, whiling away the time until they emerged.

Iain and Rachel, with Harry and the dogs returned to the boat whilst I went for a mooch round with the wife and looked a sweater that Iain had dismissed as a ‘grandad’ style.  I was a grandad and liked it, so bought one.

There wasn’t much else that took my fancy, so bought a couple of bags of treats for the dogs and we returned to join the others.  Iain had just finished topping up with water and as the time was already approaching 13:00, decided that it was lunchtime, so he and I headed for the chippie to get fish and chips.

I have often heard some not so positive comments about the Potter chippie, but on this occasion the fish was a decent size and freshly cooked and the chips were just how I like them.  If I’m honest, not quite as good as Kens (in Wroxham), but better than I’ve had there in the past and quite acceptable.  The food was washed down with a cup of tea and was extremely enjoyable.           

With the washing up done, we cast off and manoeuvred slowly out of Woods yard, our overnight destination would be somewhere up the River Ant, perhaps How Hill if there was room, or further up if there wasn’t, so made our way slowly back down the Thurne.

I spied a hawk of some sort hovering over the field near to Thurne Dyke and tried, unsuccessfully to get a photo of it.  With the telephoto lens at full extension, trying to hold the camera sufficiently steady and maintain the subject in the frame whilst the boat was in motion was I never going to win. 

We carried on, turning right onto the Bure, past the other Fleet Dyke (leading to South Walsham Broads) and St Benets Abbey before turning right onto the River Ant.  Iain was at the helm and the river was remarkably quiet.  We even negotiated Ludham Bridge without queuing or waiting for other craft to pass through for the first time in a long time.  We had a cup of tea and cakes purchased from the bakery in Lathams whilst chugging towards How Hill, where I hoped we would be mooring overnight.  The last time we had been there, it had been extremely busy and hoped that it would be quieter this time.

Turf Fen Mill and How Hill House loomed into view and it was immediately obvious that there were plenty of mooring spaces.  I was amazed – it is such a lovely mooring (except when the Richardson’s Rush is on), with great views, walks and the nature trail, too. 

By this time the sun was out again and we enjoyed the peace of the moorings with the roof wound back.  Debbie and Iain took the dogs for a walk, Rachel was keeping Harry occupied and I did a couple of crosswords.

A little later a Herbert Woods lowliner style boat came in to moor in front of us.  Although it was one of the larger type, there appeared only to be a couple on it and their mooring style interested me – they approached the bank at right angles until the bow touched, the female crew member stepped off and held a rope slackly and waited until the stern swung in with either the breeze or current (whichever was stronger) at which point, her partner gathered the appropriate rope from the stern and tied up.  They seemed quite accomplished at it and didn’t appear to be struggling, otherwise I would have offered some assistance.

As the evening brought cooler air, we wound the roof back up.  I waited again to photograph what I hoped would be a magnificent sunset, only to be disappointed for the second successive night.  With just a few images committed to the memory card, I returned to the boat for dinner.

Roast loin of pork was on the menu that night, with roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots.  We had another couple of games of crib before tiredness set in and I headed for bed with my usual hot drink at about 21:30. Debbie soon followed and we left Iain and Rachel watching something on Dave.

 

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Thursday 28th September

 

Thursday morning dawned and I was up at about 06:00.  I lit the gas under the kettle, climbed the two steps into the saloon, opened a curtain to peer into the gloom and try to see what the weather was doing.  It was raining – no sunrise photos again.  Debbie soon emerged from the aft cabin and rummaged in the drawer to find the dogs collars and leads and much to my amazement, Iain materialised from the fore cabin in time to help her.

Waterproofs on, they soon departed and left me with my morning cuppa.  I had said that I would prepare a ‘full english’ breakfast that morning, so went for a shower.  By the time I emerged, showered and dressed, the others were back, Rachel and Harry were up and the saloon curtains were open, so I set about cooking breakfast.

I don’t often get the chance to have a cooked breakfast, but usually manage one or two when we’re on The Broads. The galley on Grande Girl is okay, but a little cramped, so preparation was not easy but bacon, black pudding and sausages (from the butchers in Ludham), baked beans, fried eggs, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms made it all worthwhile.  A veritable morning calorific feast and certainly not one that WeightWatchers would approve of, but it was very good, even if I do say so myself. 

We had to run the engine for a while to generate hot water for washing up, but it was well past 08:00 and there weren’t many neighbours left to disturb anyway.  Washing up done, we cast off and headed up the Ant.  The others went to get ready and by the time we chugged into Stalham, everyone had showered and dressed.

I headed for what was Monfleet for water, only to find that it had returned to being run by Simpsons, not that it mattered to me.  We moored and topped up with water, but as the public staithe was full and we wanted to go to Tescos for the last of our shopping, I checked with the boatyard and was allowed to moor there for a short while, having first moved Grande Girl from near the pump-out point.

Rachel set up the Harry’s buggy and with him safely installed, we quickly headed off to the shops.  It had, by now, stopped raining and we hadn’t taken waterproofs or umbrellas, a failure that we would all regret on the way back when the heavens opened for what the wife described as ‘a clearing up shower.’  All somewhat dampened, we returned to the boat, put the shopping away and readied ourselves to cast off.

As it turned out, the wife’s statement proved correct, thankfully it was the last shower that day.  We turned Grande Girl round and set off, with no real plan or destination in mind, but when we reached the junction where we could turn left for Barton Broad or right to head for Wayford, I turned right.  In all the years I’ve been on the Broads, I can’t remember ever going as far as Wayford Bridge, never mind Dilham.

We passed the once picturesque Hunsett Mill and I wondered what had got into the planners’ minds when they had granted permission to turn the cottage into the abomination it is now.  We carried on up to Wayford and it is really quite a pretty stretch of river, however the clearance at Wayford was insufficient to get under and the public moorings were full, so we turned around and headed back the way we had come.

We crossed Barton Broad and headed for Gays Staithe, where I planned to moor for lunch, not that I (nor any of us for that matter) was particularly hungry, still quite full from our breakfast.  As it turned out, Gays Staithe was full, as was Neatishead.  I wondered what was going on!  Last night How Hill had been quiet, but today everywhere appeared to be relatively busy.

Debbie made up some rolls for lunch, using the last of the roast pork from the previous night and rolls we’d bought in Tescos and we ate them whilst chugging back across Barton Broad.

We’d been lucky enough to moor at Irstead a couple of years ago where Iain and Rachel had bought a decorated flower pot from a stand outside a house at the junction of the green at Irstead and the road (near the church).  Unfortunately, they had managed to break it and were anxious to moor there again so they could get another.  The moorings looked full as we approached, but there was just room to get the stern of the boat near enough to the quay to allow them to get off, buy a new pot and get back on, but as I manoeuvred Grande Girl into position, the owner of the private boat moored there said that he was just leaving, so as he started his engines and cast off, so we pulled the boat into position and moored up securely.

The dogs were grateful for some freedom and scampered around on the green, Iain and Rachel selected and paid for their pot and Debbie and I chose another to go with the one we still have.  By now, the weather had improved and it was quite sunny, with some broken cloud, but a welcome change from the rain from the morning.

I took my camera and headed for the church – really quaint and unusual, with its thatched roof.  I spent a few minutes taking pictures and another couple of minutes in silent thought, the memory not only of my dad still quite fresh in my mind, but also the effect on my mum, who at the age of 85 and bereaved after 63 years of marriage is still struggling to come to terms with her loss.

Iain and Rachel joined me a few minutes later and I returned to the boat to prepare dinner.  Beef casserole was on the menu, so I cubed and browned some braising steak in a cast iron casserole dish that we had taken with us, added carrots, mushrooms onions, red wine and I hate to admit it, a packet of casserole mix, before putting it in the oven on a low heat.  Debbie kept Harry amused in the sunshine, until the others returned.

I was tempted to stay there for the night, but wanted to go back to How Hill and see if there would be a sunset and the photographic opportunities that it would bring, so we cast off and headed back along the river.  It wasn’t long before we arrived there and it was soon obvious that there were considerably more boats moored than the previous night.  My preferred spot, just past the bend and opposite the mill, was already occupied, so we settled for a mooring along the straight.  I feared that we might be disturbed by the usual Richardson’s Rush, but my fears were ill founded, not many other craft passed at all – it wasn’t until Friday morning that it happened, as we found out the following day.

Rachel, Debbie, Harry and the dogs went to the field in front of the house, whilst Iain and I headed for the nature trail.  I expected not to see wildlife there that I couldn’t see on the rivers and wasn’t disappointed, however for the first time in all of the visits I’ve made there, the secret garden was open.  Although the azaleas and rhododendrons has long since flowered, it was a colourful autumnal scene with many of the shrubs turning vivid shades of red and orange.  We spent a few minutes looking round and Iain was particularly impressed by the size of the leaves of the gunnera, which looks like huge rhubarb.

We returned to the boat, by which time it had cooled sufficiently to warrant raising the roof and we watched tv for a while until the sun began to set.  I went out with my camera and suffered disappointment for the third consecutive night when the sunset was less than spectacular again.  Oh well, better luck next year!!

I returned to the others and we had our casserole, with some broccoli and the odd alcoholic beverage.  With the washing up done, we settled down for another couple of games of crib, until I could neither concentrate, nor keep my eyes open.

Hot chocolate and bed. All too soon another week was almost at an end -  Friday was to be our last full day on the Broads for another year and I fell asleep wondering where the time had gone.

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