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Everything posted by Mouldy

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Hire from the south? I know that there aren't too many yards, but there should be something suitable.
  6. Taking a slightly more simplistic view, why spend so long South. Come back over Breydon earlier in the week to save the worry.
  7. My thoughts are with you John. Time does heal and life goes on. My dad passed away on 13th February this year and not a day passes without something happening to remind me of him. Remember the good times and stay strong for your nieces, for I'm sure that they will look to you to help them mourn their mum's passing.
  8. Hey, that's me!! Hi MJT - being somewhat vertically challenged (5ft 8ins) headroom has never been an issue with most of the boats I've hired. I would think that you would be okay for headroom in the saloon, but it may be more restricted in the cabins (and heads). Most broads cruisers are shaped to fit under bridges, such as Wroxham, so the headroom reduces to the sides of the cabins anyway. As for berths, I think that those on the fore cabin are longer that in the aft cabin, but again, at my height, it's never been an issue. I get on well with Sue and her team at Summercraft, but I have hired from there on six or seven occasions and never had cause to grumble. Furthermore, there boats are turned out to a very high standard and I've never had cause to call them out to attend a breakdown on any of them. We're back on Grande Girl 1 from the 23rd September and if you can hang on until then, I'll be happy to measure up for you.
  9. Sad to hear that Rodney has retired. We've been going to the butchers in Ludham for many years (probably since the late eighties) and he always seemed to remember us and have a chat, even though our visits were once or twice a year. It was only the year before last I was talking to him and found that he was about a year older than me and I asked him whether he planned to retire soon. A visit to Ludham won't be the same without seeing him. I hope that he has and enjoys a long and happy retirement.
  10. Celebrities are commodities these days. Magazines pay already overpaid stars huge sums to print photos of their weddings, footballers on £200,000 PER WEEK are commonplace, pop stars earn fortunes and formula 1 drivers are paid a million pounds per race. Is it justified? Probably not, but this is the society in which we now live. For £3 per week (roughly), I have access to tv and radio entertainment 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Compared to the exorbitant cost of Sky, I think its pretty good value. If the BBC didn't pay competitive salaries, employed second rate presenters and were unable to show some good programmes, we would still complain. I enjoy watching tv without adverts and long may it stay that way. There are over inflated, disproportionate salaries paid to people in all walks of life - check out the bonuses paid to bankers, even when they make substantial losses. I wonder how many of us would turn down the opportunity to earn that kind of money if we were fortunate enough to be in their shoes? Call me mercenary, if you like, but I'd be first in the queue. Perhaps then I could afford my dream of owning my own boat on the Broads.
  11. Mouldy

    1st Night

    I wouldn't head for Reedham - if there's no room to moor, there are few alternatives. If you don't want to moor at a pub and want a peaceful first night, my vote would be for Langley Dyke. There are BA moorings at the far end and being off the main river, it will be easier to moor with no effect from the tide.
  12. I think that this is the best suggestion of all. I cannot imagine any owner in their right mind wanting to pay an annual fee to have their boat rammed several times a day by novice skippers who have no idea what they are doing, especially in a dyke as narrow as Thurne. I certainly wouldn't mind a £4 fee to moor and not have it refunded against food in the pub, which is what I've been doing for the last 3 years anyway, as the pub side moorings have been in such a poor state of repair, I wouldn't even consider mooring a hire craft there, never mind a craft of my own if I were lucky enough to have one. As Rick has already stated, any solution must be workable and the cost of administration cannot outweigh the potential income or there is little point in doing it. Some of the convoluted schemes suggested so far would need far too much input from Rick to be workable. Surely anyone who can afford a Broads holiday, or who has funded a craft of their own, could afford £4 to moor, regardless of whether they chose to eat or drink in the pub.
  13. I think you'll find it operates from Horning.
  14. I've been away from the forum for a while due to a change of shift at work and a very eventful first four months of the year. When checking out Robin's most recent adventures, it occurred to me how a similar event in my personal life had caused me more pain than I could ever have imagined. My mum and dad came to us for Christmas day. The wife went to their house to collect them as my dad had given up driving due to failing health some years ago. He seemed to be struggling more than ever, but he enjoyed his Christmas dinner and was pleased that our son, his fiancee and our grandson were able to visit later in the afternoon. I dropped them back home later that night and we went to visit them on New Years Eve to take mum shopping, as usual. Dad was not well and I had to call an ambulance. The paramedics arrived, assessed him and took him to hospital. For a couple of weeks, he seemed to be making some progress, but his condition started to deteriorate and he wouldn't eat or drink. He was 87 years old on 31st January, but a couple of days after his birthday, his condition became much more grave. We visited him on 11th February and were told he was on 'end of life' care and he passed away on Monday 13th. I thought that after being in hospital for over 6 weeks and seeing his condition worsen as it did that I would be ready for him to pass, but I wasn't. My feelings were made worse in the knowledge that I was responsible for making the call to the emergency services that resulted in his being hospitalised. Furthermore, when mum called me at work to say that she had been advised to get to the hospital on the day he died, I arrived 15 minutes too late and although he had lost consciousness, I wasn't with him when he passed. It is now eight weeks since his funeral on 3rd March. Occasionally, my thoughts wander and I have to control my emotions. I know he is out of pain, but my regrets still cause me much pain. Perhaps because recent events have left my emotions more 'raw', Robin's tale and videos have been a more compulsive view than previous blogs. I'm not sure that I could have dealt with the solitude as stoically as he seems to have, but there is little doubt that it has been tinged with his grief at times. Having said that, perhaps being allowed some time to be alone would have allowed me more time to grieve. I have my mum and dad to thank for my affection for the Norfolk Broads, as it was they who were were responsible for taking me to The Broads for my first Broadland adventure back in 1969, aged 13, an event that I still remember fondly. I have little doubt that our planned holiday in September will make them even more vivid.
  15. Friday 30th September So the last full day of our week arrived all too quickly, as usual. They say time flies when you’re enjoying yourself and boy does it?? I was awake early as usual and the morning started much the same as the others with me heading for the kettle and the wife preparing to take the dogs out, with Iain. They left the boat as usual, by the doors to the well at the blunt end and I looked out to see the mill lit by that magical early morning golden light so hastily pulled some trainers on and grabbed my camera to take a few pictures. The morning was so different to the gloom of the previous day. Pictures taken, I headed back to the boat for my shower. Iain and Debbie returned from their walk with Harley and Simba and once dressed, I made some toast. I wanted to be away from the moorings by about 09:00, so we could get to Ranworth about an hour later, when I reckoned there would be an opportunity to moor. Breakfast things tidied, but with the washing up still to do, due to a shortage of hot water, we cast off and with Iain at the helm, headed slowly away from one of my favourite spots in all of Broadland. I stood at the stern, taking a few more pictures as the view of the house and mill was lost with the turn of the river. The river was relatively quiet and we passed under the bridge at Ludham without having to wait for other craft to pass, much to my amazement. At the end of the Ant, we turned right onto the Bure. With hot water now available, the ladies did the washing up, and took it in turns to shower while we chugged towards Ranworth. I appeared to be second in a long line of craft heading in the same direction and hoped that we were not all Ranworth bound. I turned left into the dyke leading to Malthouse Broad and checked behind me to observe that a couple of the others were also heading in the same direction The dyke opened onto the broad and I thought I could see a space on the moorings directly in front of me, so headed for it. I approached the mooring with trepidation, especially after my performance the previous evening at How Hill. However, Grande Girl was soon slotted in between two other craft and secured. I lit the oven, wrapped some baking potatoes in foil, placed them on a baking tray and put them in the oven on a low heat. That would be lunch taken care of, then! With Iain now showered and ready, Rachel set up the pushchair, installed Harry and we set off for the church. However many times I’ve holidayed on the Broads, the visit never seems quite complete without a look round St Helen’s. It’s not the most beautiful church I’ve visited, but there is a certain charm and tranquillity that I’ve seldom experienced elsewhere. The others entered the churchyard, heading for the café and I waited to take a couple of photos before rejoining them. I was disappointed to find that the café was closed, but noticed a note on the door to say it was open at 11:00, about 15 minutes later. Rachel, Iain and I headed for the church, leaving the wife to look after Harry and the dogs. There were a few visitors already there including a small party who seemed to be being given a guided tour, so I took the opportunity of heading up the stairs to the top of the tower, before having to wait for them to climb the narrow staircase. Eighty odd stairs and two ladders later I emerged from the cramped staircase onto the roof of the tower. It certainly was a clear day – I could just make out the wind turbines near Great Yarmouth in the far distance. I was soon joined by Iain and Rachel, who had also ventured up the stairs. I took a few pictures of the view and they took a couple of selfies with the view in the background. By the time a few of the guided tour party had also made joined us, it was getting a little crowded, so I headed back down to terra firma. I’m not sure which is worse – ascending or descending the stairs. Those of you who have climbed to the top will know what I mean. I lingered in the church for a while. I think I have mentioned before that I am not deeply religious, but do have some beliefs and compared to many in this World, have much to be thankful for so spent a couple of minutes in quiet reflection, before dropping some coins in the box and returning to the wife who was still sitting near the café. Iain and Rachel rejoined us and said that they thought they had heard voices in the café, which was still closed. I wandered round and heard them too, so tapped on the door, which was soon answered by someone who said that it would be closed that day due to no volunteers to staff it. I was disappointed – they sell some lovely home-made cake and I had been looking forward to sampling it. The Conservation Centre has been closed on our last visits to Ranworth, so we thought we’d see if it was open, so we headed off in the direction of entrance. Dogs, unsurprisingly, aren’t allowed so the wife took the dogs back to the boat and Rachel with Harry, Iain and I wandered along the boardwalk to the floating building at the end. It had changed internally since my last visit, which was probably nine or ten years ago, with different displays and more merchandising than I recall, however upstairs was much the same, with binoculars and telescopes available for the public to use. I peered through a telescope, looking for anything interesting, but could only see a couple of ducks on Ranworth Broad itself. In fact, the only time when I have seen anything unusual from there was probably about twenty years ago, when we saw herons nesting in a tree on the far side of the Broad. We wandered back to the boat, to be met by the wife who had just boiled the kettle. What luck?? Just in time for a cuppa. There was no-one using the nearest hose, so I filled Grande Girls tank for the last time and chatted to the couple on the boat moored next to ours. Iain and Rachel had been to the shop and returned with some ice creams that went into the freezer for later. The potatoes were ready, so we had lunch – cheese, coleslaw, baked beans, butter and some salad were available accompaniments to the potatoes and they went down a treat. Clambering up the stairs to the top of the tower at St Helen’s had made me hungry. With the washing up done, we set off for our overnight destination at Salhouse. We chugged across the Broad and turned left onto the Bure. Iain took the helm whilst I took some pictures. The river was quite busy and we appeared to be in a convoy of about four or five boats as we approached the moorings at Cockshoot Broad. I heard someone furiously tooting a horn and noticed that a cruiser from Ferry Marina was coming in the opposite direction far too fast. The crew obviously wanted to get to Yarmouth before the sun went down!! I did something that I have never done before and phoned the boatyard to complain. They apologised and said that they would contact the crew and ask them to slow down. I’m obviously not sure if they did, but having a whinge made me feel better. The rest of the journey was less eventful, Horning was busy (as usual), I can’t remember the last time I’ve moored there and Iain and I admired the riverside properties as we cruised past. We remembered the ice-creams in the freezer that had been bought earlier in the day, so had those as we headed towards our overnight stop. We made steady progress to the first entrance to Salhouse Broad where I took the helm to moor while Iain and Rachel stepped ashore with the ropes. There was fortunately no repeat of the fiasco at How Hill the previous night and no need for expert verbal assistance either. Debbie and Iain took the dogs for a walk, I went for a wander with my camera and Rachel tried to get Harry to take a nap. I returned to the boat a little later to find her feeding the ducks and swans, Harry having succumbed to tiredness and dozed off. The weather, which had been very pleasant all day, had changed and a couple of dark clouds produced a short sharp shower and accompanying rainbow, causing us to close the roof. Within a few minutes, the rain stopped and the sky cleared, but it seemed a little chilly so the roof remained closed. I went outside with the camera as the sun set, hoping for it to be as spectacular as it had been the previous night, but it wasn’t as good. Spaghetti bolognese was on the menu that night, so we had dinner at about 19:30, followed by a couple more games of crib (which Iain and I won, much to the wife’s disgust) before we had our hot drinks and went to bed for the final time on Grande Girl. And so it was, our latest Broadland adventure was almost at an end. More to follow . . . . . .
  16. Happy days, the work on the website this morning seems to have cured the issue I was having posting pictures, so here are the missing ones from Wednesday and Thursday. I was happy to moor there, anyway and the stupid thing is that within about an hour of us arriving, most of the other boats that were moored there, had gone leaving plenty of empty spots. It was the only problem I had all week, but it was the sarcastic audience that really wound me up!! Oh for a bow thruster.
  17. Thursday 29th September The weather forecast for Thursday had not been great, so I was in no great hurry to get up, but the craving for a cup of tea got the better of me and I rolled out of bed at about 06:30. With the kettle on, I pulled the curtains back to reveal a grey, grim, cheerless morning. Iain and the wife got dressed and took the dogs for their customary morning walk and refreshed by my cuppa, I headed for the shower. If only the shower cubicle was a little larger, I thought as I banged my elbows for the umpteenth time. Clearly, age was having an effect on my ability to reach the extremities in a confined space!! No matter, of all of the hire boats currently afloat, the Aquafibre Pearl is one of my favourites, it still looks stylish on the outside, and the space inside is well planned and Grande Girl very much looks the part in her distinctive livery. Still wish there was more room in the shower, though. Ablutions completed and dressed, I went back to the stateroom and took the curtains down. By now, Debbie and Iain had returned with the dogs and the sound of rain was beating on the roof. Rachel had joined us, so I set about preparing breakfast – cooked again. Bacon, sausages, eggs, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and black pudding, but no fried bread this time, there just wasn’t room in the kitchen for all of the pots and pans. Washed down with a mug of tea, delicious – even if I do say so myself!! Time was marching on; I started the engine for some hot water. With the washing up done, Debbie headed for the shower and we got underway shortly afterwards, heading for Stalham. We needed to top up with water and a few bits from Tesco, so with the revs set at little more than a tick over, we made steady progress to the public moorings just beyond Moonfleets base. One of Pacific’s cruisers was already moored there, but I managed to reverse into the staithe, as far as I could as the Moonfleet tug was blocking my progress further. We secured Grande Girl and Iain and I walked briskly round to Tesco. Supplies bought, we left the shop only to remember that we’d forgotten a couple of things, so Iain returned to the boat and I headed back to Tesco for another go. If only I’d made a shopping list!! Purchases made, I walked back to join the others, and so with the kettle on, we cast off and moved a few yards to moor at Moonfleet to top up the water. I put the requisite funds in the box and one of their staff wandered over for a chat. He had been with the yard for many years as he reflected on their fleet when they were based at Belaugh. We spent a few minutes discussing yards closing and fleets disappearing and the total dominance of one yard in particular, before we said goodbye and set off again. I had no real plan as to where to go other than I wanted to be at How Hill overnight. We retraced our route from earlier, but instead of turning right to Paddy’s Lane moorings, carried straight onto Barton Broad. We didn’t go to Neatishead Staithe last year, mooring at Gays Staithe instead for a mooch about, so I headed in that general direction. Gays Staithe looked quite full, so turned into the narrow dyke leaking to Neatishead, admiring the ‘riverside’ properties on the way. There were cruisers moored on both sides at the entrance and the breeze was picking up. Not fancying the task of turning Grande Girl on the ropes in the moorings, I reversed in, carefully avoiding contact with any of the other craft already moored. Feeling quite smug with my helmsmanship, we tied up and relaxed for a while. Rachel and Iain walked to the village shop and Debbie and I remained on board, the wife enjoying being nanny to Harry. We had bought a bag of oven chips to have with the burgers the previous night, but hadn’t cooked them, as we were so full of the lunchtime fish and chips, so I lit the oven and when sufficiently hot, cooked the chips. By the time they were ready, Iain and Rachel had rejoined us and we had ham rolls with a side order of chips for lunch. Washing up done, we decided to head for How Hill and find the overnight mooring, so we chugged slowly out of the narrow moorings and into the dyke leading back to the expanse of Barton Broad. The moorings at Irstead were full, not that we wanted to stop there and soon arrived at How Hill, which was surprisingly busy. I prefer mooring near the mill, so continued past a couple of spaces, heading for a spot that looked large enough for us to squeeze into. I noticed that one of Wood’s flybridge cruisers was trying to manoeuvre near to the mooring that we were heading for, but had passed it and seemed to be trying to avoid hitting other moored craft. The breeze had picked up considerably by then and sympathised with his problem. We cruised slowly into the mooring, without drama, only to look back and hear one of the crew shouting that they were trying to moor there. I could and possibly should have moved, but with other moorings a few yards further up the river than they already were, it seemed vaguely pointless shouting after we had moored and in the breeze, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of trying to turn round and head for a different mooring, despite the fact that we were on a slight bend, leaving a gap to the bank towards the middle of the boat. Anyway, the other crew soon moored in one of the vacant spots, but I did have a sense of guilt. I don’t go out of my way to upset people, but perhaps shouting their intentions before we had tied up might have been a better idea. A bit later and several of the moored craft left, so slightly concerned at the gap between the boat and the bank, I suggested to the others that we should cast off and move further along. There was another boat moored in front of us, preventing simply untying and pulling her forward, so with the engine running, I steered into the bank and throttled forward to swing the stern out. With the aft end away from the bank, I reversed until I thought I was far enough out and went forwards again, but before the prop bit, the breeze had blown us back into the mooring. I tried the same process a couple more times and failed miserably to get away. What made me even more irate was someone on another boat moored fifty yards or so along the bank, bellowing instructions at me. Trust me, I knew what to do, but was being prevented by the strength of the breeze. Once more, I thought and with a prolonged burst of reverse, managed to create enough room to get away from the bank and move to our new spot a few yards further on, almost opposite the mill. The character on the other boat who had been bellowing his instructions started to tell me everything I was doing wrong. I should have ignored him, but we had a short exchange of views. After 30 or more Broadland visits, I know how to handle a boat, but the breeze had negated all of my knowledge and made me feel like a first timer. Not only that, but I’d fallen out with the crews of two boats within about an hour – something that I’ve never done before. Iain and Rachel took the dogs for a walk, Harry slept and the wife was knitting. I set about preparing dinner – sausage casserole was on the menu, so I browned the sausages in our cast iron casserole dish, softened a couple of onions that I had peeled and sliced, added carrots, mushrooms, red wine, water and a couple of packets of an appropriate mix and put it in the oven on a low heat. I wandered along the bank, taking a few photos. The sky had largely cleared leaving a thin veil of wispy cloud and it was a lovely evening, if somewhat breezy. The sun seemed to take forever to set, allowing me plenty of time to take more pictures. When the sunset had reduced to just a faint red glow on the horizon, I headed back to the warmth of the boat. The wife had put some potatoes on to boil, as well as some broccoli and with the casserole ready we had dinner at about 19:30. It went down well – another successful meal and with the washing up done, we settled down for a couple of games of crib. Iain and I continued our winning streak and by the time we had our customary hot drinks, we were leading by five games to nil. We went to bed shortly after 22:00. Where had the week gone – we only had one more full day on the Broads and the thought saddened me. The looking forward takes so long and when you're there, it comes and goes before you realise that you’ve been, if you know what I mean. More to follow . . . . . . I still seem to be having difficulties uploading photos, so hope that everything will settle down after tomorrow and I will have more success.
  18. From Sue herself - what more to say?
  19. I was told that by the Harbour Master at Beccles Yacht Station. I told Sue and she said that it was news to her and that as long as they held their heads above water, they would be carrying on. They'd better not, anyway as I've booked Grande Girl 1 again for a week next September!!!!
  20. Thanks for the positive comments. My main camera is a newly acquired Fuji X-T2 which is used with a choice of five of Fuji's excellent lenses and my compact is a Panasonic TZ60, which is a wonderfully versatile little camera with a 30x optical zoom. I used to be a dedicated Canon dslr user, but was converted from my full frame EOS5D mk2 last year when I bought a Fuji X-T1, which I have just replaced with my new one.
  21. Afraid not - because of the dogs, we always cover the settees with blankets, so the upholstery remained mostly hidden throughout the week. Yep!! Guilty as charged!! I seem to recall that you have been on the Broads when we have for the previous two years, too. Changing the subject, I've just tried uploading some photos again and failed. The website was down when I first tried to post the latest instalment of my tale, so wonder if there may be an unresolved issue with the Forum I'm away for a few days, so won't be able to write the next part until later next week. For those who have been following, please be patient.
  22. Wednesday 28th September I was awake early on Wednesday morning and tried to go back to sleep again, to no avail. There was no particular need to get away early, but I rolled out of bed at about 06:15 so followed my usual routine and made a brew. I slid open a window to reveal what appeared to be a promising sky. The were no signs of life along the line of moored craft, so I closed the window and noticed the wife was up and ready for the morning walk with the dogs. She woke Iain, who hurriedly got ready and they went out through the door in the aft cabin. I went for a shower, dressed and slipped outside to take a couple of pictures. The others returned with the dogs, the wife showered and when Rachel emerged from the forward cabin with Harry, we had breakfast. Toast was on the menu again, with fruit smoothie and tea. Quick, easy and filled the gap. My plan was too head for Womack Water to moor,, walk to the village for supplies, than head further up the Thurne to Potter, have a quick look (contradiction in terms, methinks) round Lathams and head back to moor in Womack Dyke for the night. The first part went to plan, we cruised back through Acle and turned right at Thurne Mouth. It was bright and sunny and there were plenty of craft on the river. Past the mill at the end of Thurne Dyke, I cast a look along the moorings, thinking back to Saturday night and how quickly the days were passing. I remembered some words that my Nan always used to say to me when I was a child – ‘when you get to Wednesday, the week has gone.’ I always looked forward to Wednesday at school, as the rest of the week seemed to pass more quickly, but now wish that she hadn’t said it because it still seems to be true. We soon arrived at the turning on the left for Womack Dyke and chugged slowly past the boats moored at the BA moorings. They were either still full from the previous night or already full for the day. I thought then that my plan might need to be changed. There was plenty of room at the staithe, so manoeuvred into a space. Rachel put the buggy together for Harry and once prepared, we wandered into the village. The butchers was the first call – Rodney remembered me, or at least made a tremendous job of faking it! We have been going there every time we’ve visited the Broads for longer than I care to remember. What a truly nice man and a fantastic butcher, too. I cannot ever remember buying meat from there that was less than excellent. We had a chat, which was sadly curtailed by the arrival of more customers, but I promised to visit him again next year, God willing. Throwers was next. How that has changed over the years, but it still retains the laid back charm of a village store. The wife and I went in and selected what we needed for the rest of the holiday. Good job it wasn’t far back to the boat, the bags weighed a ton, or so it seemed and guess who was carrying them!! There was a small dog running loose as we walked along Horsefen Road, towards the staithe, but we were all relieved when the owner ran out of one of the houses to call the little mutt back. Back at the boat, the shopping was stowed, the roof over the saloon wound open and Iain took the rubbish to the bins. I had a chat with the gent on the boat next to ours, which was of the same style, but from a different yard. Chat over and with a mug of tea and slice of cake, we started Grande Girl up and left our moorings. The staithe by now was full and two boats rushed to get to our mooring spot. I didn’t stay to watch who won! We made our way along the dyke, turning left at the end and headed into Potter. There was plenty of activity amongst the residents of the shacks and chalets lining the river. Painting and repairing wooden chalets and fences, snipping and clipping in the gardens and a few folk fishing, too. I headed straight for Woods yard and moored. The buggy had been in the aft well since we left Womack, so we were quickly across to Lathams. Rachel and Iain went in first, with Harry. I wandered over to the river bank near where Woods dayboat fleet were moored and observed that the clearance under the bridge was around 6 feet. Not much passing through that day, other than swans and ducks, I thought. I took a few pictures with my other camera, a digital compact that fits in my pocket and headed back to Lathams. Iain came out to look after the dogs and the wife and I went in. I needed a polo shirt and found one for the princely sum of £3.99. Bargain - and we’ve washed it since and it hasn’t fallen apart. We had a look round, bought a few bits and pieces, but weren’t tempted by most of the tat that is on offer. I frequently think of Lathams as a sort of eBay, where you don’t have to wait for your purchases to drop through the letter-box! We escaped with a relatively small bill, bought some cakes and a loaf from the bakers near the exit and returned meet Iain, who was squatting on one of the posts outside the café, with both dogs laying at his feet. He and the wife headed back to the boat, Rachel and I went to the chippy. I wasn’t sure whether it was a good idea, based on previous visits, but the fish looked okay, so we went for it. Fish and chips four times came to £26. I was slightly taken aback, but we walked back to the boat and had lunch. It wasn’t as good as Ken’s, but it was better than expected. We watched a couple try to moor, but the breeze had picked up and they were struggling. Mrs Newtoboating, jumped ashore from the stern with a rope, but couldn’t hold it, so jumped back aboard, dropping the rope in the water as she did so. Before I could shout a warning, Mr Newtoboating had slammed it into reverse. You can guess the rest . . . . . . I walked up to the boat when the breeze had blown it to the end of the basin, nearest to the reception and suggested that they needed to speak to someone at Woods to see whether they could help, or call their yard (Horizon), who would need to send out a diver to untangle the rope from the prop. Mrs Newtoboating was quite distressed as she thought she was going to fall in, but her husband seemed to take it all in his stride. There wasn’t a lot I could do, so headed back to Grande Girl and joined the rest. We filled with water, cruised out of the yard and headed back down the Thurne. The scene wasn’t much different to how it was when we arrived, other than the breeze that had picked up markedly. As we neared Womack Dyke, Iain jumped up onto the roof of the forward cabin to look over the banks and assess whether there was space for us to moor, but it looked quite full and we headed straight on. We didn’t want another night at Thurne Dyke so I suggested heading for the Ant. The others didn’t object and so my plan was changed. Iain took the helm, whilst I took some photos. Debbie was knitting and Rachel was trying to get Harry to take a nap. We turned right at Thurne Mouth and headed back onto the Bure. I was quite surprised at the amount of traffic there was on the river, it really was as busy as I have seen it. St Benets Abbey loomed into view and I knew it would soon be time to turn right towards Ludham Bridge. I wondered how long it would take us to get through the traffic jam that is usually there, but when we arrived, we passed straight under, only to be nearly hit by a dayboat from Herbert Woods, who appeared across our exit as we went under. Someone on board it must have had the spanners out and tampered with the engine – I’ve never seen a dayboat almost on the plane as it disappeared up the river. We chugged on at a more sedate pace, passing Turf Fen Mill and How Hill. The approach is one of my favourite views on the Broads and not just because it won me a calendar for my picture of it in last years competition!! I wondered about mooring there, but had somewhere else in mind, so carried on past Irstead Staithe and onto Barton Broad. The weather had changed dramatically since the morning and was quite cloudy with a stiff breeze blowing as we forked left at the other side of the broad and found a mooring at Paddy’s Lane. The wife and Iain took the dogs for a walk and I took some more pictures. The sky had cleared a little and was filled with puffy clouds, which looked quite dramatic. I went back inside to find Rachel feeding a couple of swans, so took a few more pictures until the others arrived back. The dogs barked at the swans, who hissed back, before they swam away. We had intended to have burgers and chips for dinner that night, but were all still full of fish and chips from lunchtime, so leaving it as late as we dare, we snacked on burgers in baps with a bit of salad. It was tasty and as much as any of us could manage. We turned the TV on, mainly for background noise, had a couple of games of crib, before letting the dogs out for their last wee, had a hot drink and retired to bed at around 22:00. Norfolk air had struck and I was soon soundly asleep. More to follow . . . . . . There should have been more pictures, but for some reason I have been unable to upload them tonight. I'll try again another time.
  23. I guess the grim reaper isn't too bothered where you are or what you are doing when he comes to call.
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