Most of the day was spent getting ready and travelling. As previously, my friends, Pauline and Mervyn, had invited me along for a week on the Broads, but unusually this was their first week on their own (shared-ownership) boat. I was acting as “spare” crew member because Pauline has been unwell recently so the mooring etc. might have been a bit tricky if she was still not fully fit. As it turned out, I’m sure they would have been able to handle the boat perfectly well without me.
After the usual pre-embarkation shopping, we got on board and investigated the boat layout and various systems so as to familiarise ourselves with the locations of critical items and the appropriate practices and procedures.
It was tempting to set off for a brief cruise and return to the home mooring, but with nightfall approaching and the boat being an “unknown quantity”, rather than risking any mishaps we just settled in to the accommodation and went to the Yare pub for the evening. We all enjoyed our meals which we thought were a good-average “pub-grub” standard.
With the benefit of shore powered electric radiators upon returning to the boat we watched a film and had a relatively early night to bed.
A bright-crisp morning in Brundall.
The forecast weather promised to be better than might have been expected for the week. It remained cool enough to need a coat every day, but the “inside” steering position was never used, because we prefer the improved view from “on top”.
We all get up early for work normally, so an early start, use of the boatyard showers and quick breakfast allowed us to set off quite early. We cruised slowly and rarely pushed up to the speed limits. Instead, we admired the autumnal colours, and wildlife.
I received a running commentary on the flora and fauna form my fellow travellers who both know far more about these things than I do. I also never needed to consider if I was thirsty because I was either just drinking a cup of tea (or coffee) or being handed a fresh one. After dark this continued, but the beverages turned alcoholic.
Clouds started to build as we passed Cantley.
Turning from the Yare onto the Chet we idled towards Loddon, where we moored and walked the length of the village and back, re-stocking from the local shops and visiting the Kings Head for a light lunch, which again did not disappoint.
We did not need it but took advantage of the water point and then moved the short distance from Lodden to the quieter Pyes Mill mooring for Mervyn to fish for an hour before dark (you may just spot his head over the front cabin in this picture).
We had bought sufficient food for any eventuality, but we decided that having had breakfast and lunch and hardly moved an evening meal was unnecessary, never-the-less we ate hertily from the “snack” that Pauline provided. and the gin, wine and whisky meant that we watched the film through heavy eyes.
We did need the boat heating that evening (it was quite windy) but overnight it was not particularly cold. The main problem we encountered every night was condensation. The glass and alloy window frames dripped or transferred water to the curtains which also dripped. The interior wall panels also became damp, but it was the middle of November!
Tea and toast started the day and we were soon under way again.
This was 08:23 and still not very light! The proud new owners with the mooring behind and NBN burgee stern starboard. I removed the leaves from the decks soon after!
Turning south on the Yare the Reedham ferry was busy. Pauline slowed to allow it across and then zig-zagged around it.
There were otters in the river near Sommerleyton (which I missed with the camera, because I was steering!), and we used the journey to provide hot water for a relay of showers, even though the water did keep at a reasonable temperature overnight.
The grey skies started to break as we reached Oulton broad.
There was not a great deal to “see” at Oulton, we wandered around in the hope of finding a shop for food provisions but decided that we didn’t need anything when we saw the lack of choice. We had lunch in Fancy Cakes Patisserie (opposite the crescent-shaped entrance to the park), which turned out to be an excellent random choice. The food was very good and reasonably priced, so we had to take a selection of cakes back to the boat for later. Topping up the water again, we left to find a “fishing spot” for Mervyn. Retracing our path a short distance we took the left turn on the Waveney towards Beccles, and continuing past W.R.C. we stopped briefly at the Aldby Hall Fisheries (adjacent to the remains of a [railway?] bridge) for Mervyn to have a look and to see if he wanted to stop there, but moved on to a wild mooring a little further up stream.
Following the cakes (eaten under way), yet more food and generous amounts of alcohol followed by some soporific T.V., I managed to find a film which kept us all awake.
Actually, the picture above was taken at 09:35 after a relatively leisurely start, as we all began to get into “holiday” mode. The short cruise to Beccles provided hot water again. We explored the town for a while and bought provisions for lunch and “tomorrow”, having resolved to have a pub supper. The afternoon passed quickly, with Mervyn “deep cleaning” the gungy bits from all of the window frames (evidence follows – for the other syndicate members), and Pauline and I choosing lighter duties.
The Yacht Station facilities provided a bit more “elbow room” than on board and the electric points here allowed us to put the oil radiators on again which meant that the boat was warm after we returned from the pub that evening. We went to the Bear & Bells in the town bus-stop square. I chose not to eat there after looking at the menu, and I think Pauline and Mervyn were both disappointed by their food. It has some good reviews on line and seemed popular so perhaps we were unlucky. We had more to drink on the boat, so we were all ready to sleep quite early, but the relatively high winds caused much creaking of fenders and clonking of mud weight chain and that led to some disturbance through the night.
Mervyn was up early and fishing. If you can’t spot him in the first picture then the second shows how a zoom lens can help.
He had limited fishing gear with him and was surrounded by locals with all the “kit”. He was pleased to catch a number of reasonable fish whilst the others struggled. Pauline and I relayed tea and toast to him, and then went to explore more of the town. We spent some time in a shop which I think was “Marmalade Tree” that is full of interesting things and gives the impression that you are walking around a museum where everything is for sale.
Returning to the boat, we had another generous lunch and set off Northwards again.
Arriving at Sommerleyton reasonably early.
In spite of the occasional noise from the trains, we decided to stop at Sommerleyton, sharing the mooring with Southern Crusader,. The evening sunset followed quickly.
Our walk up to the Dukes Head in the dark was rewarded by a warm room, attentive staff and excellent meal, probably the best of the week (apart from the ones Pauline cooked of course!).
We did not hurry to leave in the morning in order to catch slack water at the new cut.
We managed to time it just about right, so that the tide began to push us back up the Yare, having just passed Herringfleet windmill, which a rather bedraggled looking kestrel was using as a lookout post.
The cut down to Rockland provided a good lunchtime stopping point, and before anyone comments, the bow was some 15 to 20 feet behind that ladder.
After which we continued around the broad and out of the other entrance.
We saw Marsh Harriers regularly, but they remained distant, and standing on a moving boat with a hand-held camera the best I could do to catch them on camera follows.
Turning back onto the main river we continued past Brundall through the Bargate/Surlingham broad branch, where the lowering sun illuminated the autumn colours to their full effect.
Then on up to Brammerton Common, where we arrived as dusk was approaching. Most of the downstream moorings were occupied by fishermen (who left soon after) so we moored at an electric post near the “liveaboard” community at the upstream end.
Friday was the only poor day for weather. It started grey and damp, with a light drizzle in the air. We had thought of touring into the heart of Norwich, but with these conditions we delayed moving and Mervyn took the opportunity to fish again.
I went out and asked if he would like tea and toast out there, but he was happy to return for a breakfast and warm up. Later in the morning we set off up river again, and returned to pass through Thorpe. Having not been along that short stretch previously I took a number of photographs, but will not bore you with all of them here.
The weather deteriorated again and when we arrived at Brundall there was light drizzle beginning, but the boatyard facilities and shore power made up for that. We started “tidying up”, and put some items into the car but it soon got dark. I was able to “catch up” on various NBN topics and books were read, then after eating another enjoyable meal we retired early, so that we could be up early again the next morning. We had used 41 litres of diesel, having never pushed the rpm beyond about 1600 even when against the tide. We thought that was quite reasonable, given that we had visited or passed most of the places in the “southern” broads and it included some heating too.
Sorry, no photographs today.
Surprisingly the boat and wooden walk ways were covered in ice, so some care was needed as everything else was packed and transferred to the car. We then had a walk around the Brundall boatyards (just to be nosy really), and had a chat with various locals that we encountered along the way learning a few interesting titbits of information. We also discovered the real location of Independence, having been misinformed previously.
We were on our way home by 09:00, having handed over a parcel that was delivered to the boatyard an hour or so earlier. Stopping a Goodies on the A140 for breakfast and to buy lots of delicious things. I was home and into the normal routine later that day, but (still following routine) was back in Norfolk on Sunday; however that did not involve boats or the broads.