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Everything posted by Mouldy

  1. Test upload, again - If at first you don't succeed . . . . . . . you still don't succeed, but try again . . . . . . .
  2. I do wonder how we teach measurements at school these days, we buy timber by the metre and drive in miles, we buy fuel by the litre, but beer in pints. Confusing, I think so. It is hard enough to learn one system of weights and measures, but having to learn two . . . . Surely, it is about time that we elected to use one system and although I resent the EU's intrusion into many issues that involve us and our country, in this instance perhaps converting to metric is best. I learned to use imperial measurements at school and like many of us, am familiar with the system. Do we really need to know that there are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, 22 yards in a chain, 10 chains in a furlong, 8 furlongs (or 1760 yards or 5280 feet) in a mile, when the metric system is all based on multiples of 10? Contentious, perhaps and I am a bit old fashioned too, but we coped when we changed from pounds, shillings and pennies to pounds and pence, so why not from imperial measurement to metric?
  3. Many thanks for the update, Dave. Not having been on the Broads since 2007, it was quite a shock to see how dilapidated the building had become since I was last there. It always was one of those Broadside homes that you dream of owning and it will be good to see it restored to it's former glory over the coming years. As an aside, I didn't get time to try to upload any more pictures yesterday morning. After a taxing nightshift, my bed was calling!!! I will try again when I get home this morning.
  4. Once again, thanks for all of the kind comments, it is good to know that my posts have been read and enjoyed. As far as pictures are concerned, I tried adding one to the first post in the thread and it was lost in the process. I thought that as a new member, I didn't have the relevant privileges to add pictures, which is why I uploaded a few photos to my Photobucket account and added a link in another post. I had resized the image before attempting to upload it, so I will try again when I get home in the morning (currently at work enduring another nightmare shift!!). My wife and I have hired from Summercraft before and even had Grande Girl 1 back in 2004, followed by one of the Gardenia Girls in 2005 and Grenada Girl in 2006 and 2007. I have always found them to be immaculately presented, clean and comfortable and I have absolutely no issues with returning to them again. I must confess that after discovering the advantage of a bow thruster this year aboard Royall Commander, I will miss one next year, but having managed previously, I dare say I will manage without one again.
  5. Saturday 4th October I woke early on Saturday morning even before that alarm that I had set for 05:45 had sounded. My wife stirred too and we both reluctantly slipped out of the bed in the aft cabin of Royall Commander that had provided comfortable sleep for the last seven nights. She pulled some clothes on and readied herself to take Harley out, as usual and I put the kettle on to make a cup of tea before going for a shower. I had mixed emotions. The feelings of excitement and eager anticipation I had experienced the previous Saturday morning had been replaced by an odd mix of sadness and satisfaction, sadness because the holiday that had been booked over fourteen months earlier was almost at an end and satisfaction because we had all had a fantastic holiday. The weather had been far more clement than we could reasonably have expected, the boat had been faultless and comfortable, we had eaten well and consumed a few bottles of wine, cider and lager to personal preference and the dog hadn’t fallen in! I heard the wife and dog return as I was finishing my shower. Dried and dressed, I emerged from the cabin to find a hive of activity in the kitchen, where my wife was packing up what food was left over which, to be honest, didn’t amount to much. Iain was sitting dejectedly looking through the windscreen and across a still Salhouse Broad, whilst Rachel busied herself with some packing. I leathered down all of the windows, inside and out, wanting to return the boat as near to the condition we picked her up in as possible. Soon it was Iain’s turn to pack, so Rachel and the wife went out the back of the boat to feed the ducks, swans and coots with what was left of the bread and a couple of bags of flaked maize that we had taken with us. In turn, the rest of the crew showered and got ready. The rising sun had turned the sky the most amazing shade of red, so I grabbed my camera and went outside to take a few more shots. For some reason I remembered the old saying ‘Red sky at night, Shepherd’s delight, red sky in the morning, Shepherd’s warning’ and wondered if the spell of fine weather was at an end. I returned to the boat and fitted the 17- 40mm wide angle zoom to my SLR camera, before putting it safely back in my camera bag, ready to take a few shots of the boat interior after we had cleared all of our belongings. Packing complete, we cast off at about 07:30, right on my target time to arrive back at the boatyard for 08:00. Rachel mopped the decks, the wife tidied and I chatted to Iain about next year, as he wanted to book again before returning home. We chugged past a few boats moored along the Bure, at both wild and BA moorings. A few fishermen were already about and I wished that we were staying a bit longer, jealous of the fact that their holidays were still ongoing. Passing Wroxham Broad, I knew that it wouldn’t be long before riverside properties took the place of trees and shrubs at the rivers edges and sure enough, all too soon, we were in Wroxham. We followed the river round a couple more turns and I recognised the glamorous new blue riverside house on the right that was near the entrance to the dyke leading to Royalls yard and turned into the dyke. The empty yards of Sabena Marine and the now overgrown site where Mike Brister’s yard had been, remain stark reminders of just how many yards have closed over the years. I noticed a vacant space along the quay heading when back at the boatyard, so began to manoeuvre into it, but was spotted by Nigel and he indicated for me to pull up alongside the fuel pump, cunningly disguised in a metal cabinet. He refuelled Royall Commander and carefully reversed into the spot that I had previously intended to moor at. I went to the office with him to collect my car keys. There were already several people swarming over the boats, washing them down with soapy water, clearing dirty bed linen etc. and readying them for the new hirers. Small wonder that they are always so immaculately presented. The car was moved to a space nearer the boat and I started to pack the boot. The wife looked after the dog whilst Iain and Rachel ferried what seemed like a never-ending succession of bags, which I carefully arranged in the (fortunately) capacious boot of my car. Relieved, I had somehow managed to squeeze it all in, with just a couple of small shopping bags to go in with the passengers. I went to take my photos of the boat interior, as planned, but then realised that my camera bag was buried in the depths of the car boot, so had to settle for a few shots with my digital compact camera instead. Doh!!! The wife and kids got into the car and I returned to the office to enquire whether they would accept two dogs on a boat, as Rachel and Iain wanted to bring their dog next year. I knew from the Hoseasons brochure that they only allowed one pet, but was hopeful that they were able to make exceptions. Unfortunately, but as expected, they will only allow one pet. I collected £26 back from our fuel deposit, thinking that £104 for fuel wasn’t bad considering where we had been and took my leave, thanking Nigel and Sara and saying that I hoped to be able to return in the future. I went to the car and told the kids about next year. Iain was gutted. He really had wanted to book before we left and almost became a grumpy teenager again. We set off for the short journey to Roys car park and wandered over to McDonalds for breakfast. I spotted the captain of the Brinks craft we had last seen speeding by at Thorpe the previous Tuesday as we headed into Norwich. He was sitting inside with his family over breakfast and I said hello. They had just finished their holiday too and he told me that they had been all over the network, visiting Norwich and even Beccles. His fuel bill had been £260. I hadn’t the heart to tell him that ours had been much less than half. We collected our food, bade him goodbye and went to sit at the back of the King’s Head, watching the river, jealous of those folk still afloat and reflected on our week away, sad to be leaving, but grateful that we had such a brilliant time. Breakfast consumed, we visited Wroxham Barns, where Rachel succeeded in spending even more money, before heading home. Aside from some heavy rain we ran into around Newmarket, it was an uneventful journey and I pulled up outside our house on the outskirts of Northampton at about 14:15. Sunday 5th October Iain and Rachel stayed with us on Saturday night and on Sunday we did some research on the Internet to find a boat for next year, at a boatyard that would permit two dogs. I have a preference for the smaller yards, where the boats are outwardly better maintained, which does restrict the options and after a while settled on one that wasn’t ridiculously expensive, met our requirements and according to the Website, was available. Monday 6th October I phoned Summercraft and booked Grande Girl 1 for one week commencing Saturday 26th September 2015. The deposit has been sent, Iain has cheered up again, grumpy teenager mode gone (which is just as well as he is 26) and we are all looking forward to another Broadland adventure next year. Just less than fifty weeks to wait, then!!
  6. Friday 3rd October As usual, I was awake around 06:30, so I got up and made a cup of tea. Despite my efforts not to disturb the wife, she must have heard me trying to creep about and got up too, got ready and took the dog for her morning walk. It was still quite dark outside, but I could see that it was misty and hoped that it would lift early and not spoil our last full day of the holiday. I went for a shower, got dressed, went into the saloon and took down the curtains from the windscreen and windows at the back of the sliding roof, folded and stowed them neatly in the drawer then wiped the condensation from the inside of the windows with a leather, opening a couple of windows in the process. By now, the wife was back from her walk with the dog and went for her shower . There were signs of movement from the cabin at the sharp end, too. I wanted to be away from our overnight moorings by 09:00 so we could be at Ranworth for about 10:00. In the past I had found that it was the best time to get there and try to get a mooring, just as the overnighters were beginning to depart. We had already decided that breakfast on Saturday would have to be at McDonalds in Wroxham, as we had to be off the boat by 08:30, so we prepared our last breakfast on board. Rachel had porridge again and the rest of us had toast and marmalade. By now, it was light and the mist was lifting. While the others did the washing up, I went outside with my camera to take a few shots in the early morning sunshine. Royall Commander looked superb, pictured with the mill in the background on the far bank. We cast off around 09:00, as planned. We winched the roof open and chugged back down the Ant. There was no queue waiting to navigate through the bridge, so I lined the boat up, opened the throttle a little and went through. It occurred to me how daunting negotiating that bridge must be for a novice crew, starting out from Stalham with just a few minutes familiarisation with the boat, especially if there were several craft waiting to go under it as there was the previous day. At times, it can be testing for even an experienced skipper. Upon reaching the junction of the Ant and the Bure, we turned right. With the early morning mist now gone, it had turned into a beautiful day. I could see the tops of six saileys approaching over the left hand bank and as we followed the river to the left, there were three of them abreast, selfishly taking up almost all of the width of the river. None of them signalled what side to pass, so I had to guess which way they were going and moved right over to the left hand bank to allow them to pass. The other three were spaced out more with more consideration for other craft and slipped silently past. We arrived at the head of the dyke leading to Malthouse Broad and turned left, hoping that there would be space to moor. As the dyke opened into the Broad, it didn’t look hopeful, but a couple of cruisers cast off so I headed for one of the spaces that had been created to the side of the moorings. As we moved into position, Iain pulled the dinghy to the bow and I reversed into the space, between a private Alpha 42 and a Richardson bathtub. Safely tied up, I noticed the nearest hose wasn’t being used, so filled up with water for the last time and wound the pipe back onto the reel. We closed the roof, locked the boat up and all disembarked, heading for the church. It had clouded over a little for a while, but as we arrived at St Helen’s the sun was shining and the sky was blue, providing the perfect backdrop for the church. The kids disappeared inside, anxious to climb the tower, I followed, although not up the tower and left the wife outside with Harley. I took a few photos, had another look at the beautifully decorated Antiphoner, displayed in a glass topped cabinet just inside the door and marvelled at the skill of the men who had created it all those years ago before re-joining the wife outside. We wandered round to the tea room at the back of the church and waited for Iain and Rachel to join us before ordering some refreshments. The weather was so good that I couldn’t resist heading to the top of the tower myself, so my wife and I left the dog with the kids, re-entered the church and started to climb the narrow stairs, only to have to descend them again to let a couple down. They told us that there was no-one else up the tower, so reassured that there would be no re-occurrence, started the climb again. The effort was worthwhile, as the view was stunning. I have been up there before, but cannot recall ever being at the top in such superb weather. We took a few photos and returned to the bottom to re-join Iain and Rachel, who were waiting with Harley. We wandered along Broad Road, behind the church and to the entrance to the board-walk leading to the conservation centre. Once again, the dog wasn’t allowed, so my wife volunteered to return to the boat and do her sewing whilst the rest of us visited the centre. We followed the board-walk however, found the visitor centre to be closed when we arrived, so returned to the boat, via the shop where we bought some ice-creams. Iain was keen to get to our overnight stop at Salhouse, so he and Rachel could at last sail their dinghy. By then it was about 12:30 and I estimated that it would take the best part of two hours to chug slowly to our moorings. We cast off and he re-secured the dinghy to the aft of the boat. I took a lingering look back across the broad at the staithe that looked so good in the autumn sunshine. We turned left at the end of the dyke, back onto the Bure and past the moorings at Cockshoot Broad before cruising through Horning. As expected, all of the moorings in the village were occupied. I can’t remember the last time that I have moored there, it was so long ago. My wife lit the oven and warmed up the pasties and sausage rolls bought in Neatishead the previous day and cooked an omelette for Rachel using the last four eggs, some cheese and ham that was left over. Iain munched on his sausage roll at the helm, the rest of us relaxed in the sun, unable to believe how lucky we had been with the weather. The entrance to Salhouse loomed into view and we entered the Broad and looked for where we wanted to moor. Satisfied that we had a prime spot, I took the helm whilst Iain pulled the dinghy to the side of Royall Commander whilst we moored. With the boat secured, my wife took Harley for a walk into the village to buy some vegetables that we needed for the evening meal, Iain and Rachel went off in the dinghy, a slight breeze having picked up sufficiently to allow them to sail it and I attached the telephoto lens to my camera and sat on the bow to photograph the plentiful wildlife. The wife returned with the dog sometime later and we had a cup of tea. She picked up her cross stitch, I did a couple of crosswords and we spent our last afternoon afloat relaxing in the sunshine. I lit the oven and when heated, wrapped the chicken in foil and put it in to cook, then ran the engine for a while to ensure that we had plenty of hot water to shower in the morning. The breeze dropped and Iain had to row the dinghy back across the Broad. I helped him stow the mast and sail before we sat down together in the saloon and watched TV for a while. None of us wanted to close the roof, but by 18:30, not only was it getting chilly and dark, but the midges were biting, so reluctantly we closed the roof for the last time. I cooked carrots, peas and boiled some new potatoes to go with the chicken and we sat down for our meal just after 19:00. Pudding consisted of the ice creams purchased from How Hill on Thursday afternoon, that had been in the freezer compartment of the fridge since. We cleared the table and washed up before having our last couple of games of crib. My wife and I were surprised at how enthusiastic Iain and Rachel were and how competitive they had become since learning to play the game. It was an early night for all of us, with an early start in the morning, so hot drinks all round and we gloomily went to our cabins for the last night aboard. More to follow . . . . . . . . .
  7. Thanks for the kind comments. This is the first time I have ever written up a holiday report, so it matters to me that others have taken the time and trouble to read it. There may be a delay in me posting the last couple of instalments as I have a busy weekend in store and probably will have to type up Friday and Saturday in my lunch breaks at work next week. I promise that they will be done and should be able to post the next one on Tuesday morning. Malcolm
  8. Thursday 2nd October I had already decided the plan for Thursday so, as usual, my wife took Harley for a walk, and I made a cup of tea and went for a shower. I was amazed at how well the hot water retained its heat overnight and cannot ever recall being able to shower in the morning on any boat we have hired previously without first running the engine. It must speak volumes for how Royall Commander had been built. I was getting dressed when she returned and was as excited as the kids were the previous day when they had seen the kingfisher. The reason turned out to be a low flying barn owl that had passed her at eye level just a few feet away. I was quite jealous as the only barn owls I have ever seen have been in captivity. I finished getting ready and emerged into the saloon. Iain and Rachel were already up, much to my amazement. It may have been something to do with the fact that I had promised to prepare another cooked breakfast!! We ate grilled bacon, sausages purchased the previous afternoon from Rodney at Ludham, fried Broadland free range eggs, baked beans and I found some black pudding lurking in the fridge that I had forgotten to cook the previous Sunday all washed down with mugs of tea. What a way to start the day!! We cleared up and set off along Womack dyke and turned right down the Thurne just after 09:00. My first planned stop was Ludham Bridge, where I knew I could top up the water. In turn, the rest of the crew showered and dressed. The sky was brightening up, so we winched the roof open to enjoy the warm September weather. We turned back onto the Bure and chugged past St Benets Abbey, where several boats were moored. I have never stopped there in all of the years I have been on the Broads, so made a mental note that it will feature on the itinerary on my next visit. A few hundred yards further on, we turned right onto the Ant, my favourite Broadland river. We joined a convoy of boats approaching the bridge, who had all slowed to allow several craft pass through from the opposite direction. With only the slightest breeze, holding station was relatively easy and we soon navigated the narrow passage under Ludham Bridge. There was space at moorings by the water hoses to the side of the Bridge Stores, so I turned Royall Commander round and moored port side to the bank, making refilling with water easier. There was an elderly couple in a smart looking Silverline bathtub just astern, who were using the hose when we arrived, so my wife took Harley for a walk along the moorings, the kids inevitably headed for the shop and I waited to use the hose. I spoke to the lady who was standing on the bank at the back of the Silverline craft and it turned out that they used to own a narrowboat, but had sold it a few years previously and now visited the Broads every year for a couple of weeks, always using the same boatyard. Soon, they had finished with the hose and I filled our tank. The wife returned with the dog, so I stayed on board with Harley whilst she went to find Rachel and Iain and buy something for lunch. They all returned a short while later and when aboard, I went to take a couple of pictures from the bridge. A couple in Royall Satin had moored between us and the bridge and we exchanged a few words before we cast off, turned around and headed towards How Hill. Iain was at the helm again, allowing me to take some photos as we approached How Hill mill. I never tire of the view with the house on the hill to the right and the mill on the left and I hoped to return there later in the day for our overnight mooring. We chugged further up river and through Irstead. Surprisingly, one of the riverside houses was looking a little worse for wear, but as we passed, it was apparent that a new house was being built further back on the plot and I wondered if the old one at the river’s edge was soon to be demolished. As we approached the entrance to Barton Broad, an iridescent blue flash passed from left to right in front of the boat. That was to be my only brief sighting of a kingfisher for the holiday. We bore left at Barton and headed for Neatishead staithe to moor for lunch. Nothing passed in the opposite direction as we navigated the narrow stretch of river from near Gaye’s Staithe to Neatishead. Iain went aft to untie the dinghy and walk it to the bow, whist I manoeuvred backwards into the mooring. There were only a couple of other hire craft there as well as a couple of private boats and with the aid of the bowthruster we were soon tied up. I fancied a stroll, albeit a short one, so we locked Royall Commander up and walked into the village. Now run as a co-operative, the village shop had been decorated and was much better stocked than when we were last there. We bought some sausage rolls, crisps and pasties for Friday lunch and returned to the staithe, where a couple were mooring just in front of us. We lit the oven and cooked a couple of pizzas, purchased earlier from the shop at Ludham Bridge and had lunch. The weather had turned and there were a few spots of rain in the air as we left the mooring a little later Progress back to Barton Broad was slow as we followed four people (possibly from The Nancy Oldfield Trust) who occupied two canoes that had been lashed together with a couple of poles. They made slow and erratic progress, paddling from side to side of the narrow river, leaving me no option but to follow until the river opened onto Barton Broad. We headed past the fork to Barton Turf and on up the Ant. I wanted to show Rachel Hunsett Mill, as she had seen it on several Broadland postcards. I hadn’t seen it since it had been extended, so we chugged up the river to the bend where the mill is situated and she took a few photos before we turned round and headed back downriver. There were a few saileys on Barton Broad as we re-crossed it, heading back past Irstead and on to How Hill. I was hoping that there was space at the end of the BA moorings, opposite the mill and I was happy when I saw that there was. We tied the boat up and got ready to walk round the Nature Trail at How Hill House. Suitably booted, we all headed along the bank to Toadhole Cottage, only to discover that we weren’t able to take Harley around the trail. Obvious, I suppose, when you think about it. My wife said that she would take Harley for a walk and go back to the boat to do some more sewing. I offered to go with her, but she assured me that she was happy to sit quietly aboard and sew. I guess I wasn’t wanted, then!! Iain, Rachel and I went into the cottage to pay the entrance for the trail and were informed not to use the usual entrance as there were wild ponies grazing tin the first field, but to enter through a different gate. To be honest, in all of the times I have visited the Nature Trail there, I have never seen any wildlife that I haven’t seen outside, on the river and this visit proved no different. We followed the map, visiting the two hides, one at the edge of the scrape and the other overlooking Crome’s Broad and spent several minutes looking quietly from both and observed nothing. No matter, it was a pleasant afternoon and we took some photos as we walked along the various marked paths and boardwalks. It started to spit with rain again as we exited the nature trail, near How Hill House and walked back down the path to the river. I called into Toadhole Cottage again to buy some tubs of Ronaldo’s ice cream, Butterscotch for Rachel, Chocolate for Iain and the wife and Stem Ginger for me. When back on board, the wife told me that when she had left us at the near the cottage, she had followed the path back past the boat and carried on walking for 15 minutes before turning round and retracing her footsteps back to the boat. When back she had picked up her cross stitch which had kept her occupied whilst waiting for us to return. I started to prepare dinner, gently browning a dozen more of Rodney’s pork sausages, before tipping them into a casserole dish and adding onions, carrots and a couple of packets of Colmans Sausage Casserole mix, that had been added to the required amount of liquid, half water and half Guinness. The oven had been heating and by the time I had finished the preparation, it had heated sufficiently for me to place the casserole dish inside. We watched TV for a while and the boat filled with the smell of sausage casserole as it cooked. I boiled some new potatoes and broccoli and we sat down to eat just after 19:00. It must have been okay as everyone’s plate was cleared. With the washing up done, we set the table up for another couple of games of crib. Although the weather had not been as good as the two previous days, it had been enjoyable none the less and we retired to bed soon after 22:00, albeit with some sadness as Friday was to be our last full day afloat. More to follow . . . . . . . . .
  9. Wednesday 1st October I woke early on Wednesday to see what the weather was doing, concerned that there might be a repeat of Monday’s fog, but although the sky was grey, of fog, there was no sign. What a relief! The wife and I both got up around 06:45 and pulled some clothes on. She took the dog for a walk along the side of the dyke and a little way along the bank of the Yare and returned about twenty minutes later. In the meantime I’d made some tea, opened the curtains and wiped the windows down which, as usual, were wet with condensation. By now, Rachel and Iain had emerged from their cabin I had calculated that it would take about two and a half hours to get to Yarmouth from Langley Dyke, so with slack water at 10:00, we cast off at 07:30, cruised slowly to the end of the dyke and turned right onto the Yare. I had already made a mental note to add it to the list of agreeable moorings on the Southern rivers. We joined the main river between two other cruisers, one a couple of hundred yards in front and the other about the same distance to the rear. I set the revs to around 1400rpm which, according to the notice on the dash, equated to just over 4mph. It wasn’t long before that cruiser that had been behind us, chugged past. Cantley slipped by and we were soon at Reedham Ferry, which was halfway across the river as we approached. I slowed down to ensure that it was well clear before passing behind it. There were a couple of cruisers moored outside the pub, but it didn’t look as busy as it used to get. I remember a time when it was so popular that getting an overnight mooring there was a bit of a lottery. We carried on through Reedham itself, which was full of moored craft and under the bridge, forking left towards Breydon at the junction with the New Cut. I left Iain at the helm whilst I went for a shower. He never used to be particularly interested in steering during previous visits, but he was keen to this time and had become quite proficient at navigating the boat. By the time I emerged from the aft cabin, refreshed from my ablutions, we were passing the deserted Berney Arms. I wonder if anyone will buy it. With such restricted access, it cannot surely represent much of a business opportunity in the current economic climate. I suppose time will tell. We joined a growing convoy of craft progressing across the expanse of Breydon Water and it was obvious that my calculations were way out as we arrived at the yellow post about half an hour before slack water. Although we had been cruising at around 4mph, the speed of the ebbing tide must have carried us from Langley Dyke even faster. Fortunately, the current was not flowing too fast down the Bure and we didn’t have to increase the revs by much to maintain reasonable progress as we passed through Yarmouth. There were no problems with clearance under the bridges today and we easily passed beneath them, even with the sliding roof closed. I have never found the river between there and the Stracey Arms particularly interesting, but I suppose the fact that we had negotiated the stretch in the fog a couple of days earlier, made the passage more interesting. By now, the weather had brightened up and we opened the roof. The electric winch certainly made light work of the process, even if it was quite noisy. There were a couple of boats moored near the Stracey wind pump and the space we had occupied at Stokesby on Sunday night was full as we cruised by. As we passed under Acle Bridge, I could see that there were a couple of craft already at the water hoses at Horizon’s yard, but there was no-one moored at Bridgecraft, so I spun the boat round and we moored there to take on water. Seeing the little shop on the other side of the river, Rachel grabbed her purse and with Iain, my wife and Harley (the dog) headed off to spend more money!! When I had finished topping up the water, I had a look round one of Bridgecraft’s boats that was moored just in front of Royall Commander. It was one of their AF lowliner style craft and the care and pride exercised in their presentation was clearly in evidence. The rest of the crew returned and I was handed an ice cream, which went down well. My plan was for us to overnight at Womack, either along the dyke or at the staithe, so we agreed to head for Womack Water and see if there was room for us to moor. We chugged up the Bure, turned right onto the Thurne and past Thurne Mill, where a couple of men were working on the sails and a few minutes later we were turning left into the end of Womack Dyke. There were already several boats moored along its length, both at the wild and at the BA moorings and I was already worried that there would be no room at the staithe. As we reached Womack Water itself, it became clear that it was indeed full, so not wanting to miss out on the opportunity of mooring along the dyke, we turned Royall Commander around and headed back, past the island on the right and the boatyards on the left and found the last available BA mooring space, where we tied up for the rest of the day and night. We had a late lunch and all headed in to Ludham as we needed to get some provisions for our last couple of days afloat. It was the first time that I had been unable to get a mooring at the staithe, but the extra walk along the lane from the dyke was pleasant, although we had to get out of the way of a courier van, whose driver was not paying much attention to his surroundings and far exceeding the speed limit, or so it seemed. We soon arrived at the village and my first stop was the butchers. Although we had religiously visited his shop every time we had been on the Broads, I had not seen Rodney since our last Broadland holiday, back in 2007, but he still remembered me (I must have one of these faces that’s hard to forget). We had a chat whilst selecting some meat and sausages and just as I was about to pay, Rachel rushed into the shop from where she had been waiting outside and chose four used paperback books from the rack in the window. She passed them to me, together with £2. I finished paying for the meat and books and bade Rodney farewell saying that, God willing, we hoped to be back next year. I hadn’t realised that he is actually a couple of years older than me would be due to retire in a few years. He has been there as long as I can remember and Ludham wouldn’t be the same without him. If you have never been to his shop, make sure you go. His friendly service is second to none and the meat is always excellent quality. We made our way to Throwers and I waited outside with Harley whilst my wife, Rachel and Iain went to buy the other groceries that we needed. On the way back down the lane, we stopped and had a look in the shops at the head of the staithe, before heading back to the boat. Rachel and Iain went off in the dinghy. The breeze didn’t warrant putting up the mast, so they rowed along the dyke towards the boatyards and Womack Water, my wife settled down to do her cross stitch and I picked up my crossword book. The kids arrived back sometime later, excited as they had seen a kingfisher flying about near Womack Island, as it had flown past several times Rachel had tried to take a photo and was disappointed that the result was a just a bright blue blur. Never mind – better luck next time. I cooked dinner later and we played crib again. They were definitely getting the hang of it by now. We played a couple of games, had a hot drink and went to bed around 22:00 at the end of another excellent day. More to follow . . . . . . . . .
  10. Tuesday 30th September Warning; Before you start to read this, you may want to get a brew, as it is a bit of an epic. I woke up to the sound of gentle tapping on the side of the boat, so got out of bed and went through to the saloon and looked out of the window to see a swan looking for breakfast. It must have been the one that Rachel had been feeding the previous afternoon. As for the weather, what a difference a day had made. Although it was just before sunrise, there was no sign of the fog that had blighted the previous morning. It all looked very promising. I heard the wife clamber out of bed. She said she was going to take the dog for a walk, so pulled some clothes on and headed off along the mooring. I had a shower and got myself ready. Once again, the sound of the water pump must have woken Iain and Rachel, who emerged from their cabin bleary eyed. With the wife back on board, breakfast was prepared, toast and marmalade for three of us and instant porridge for Rachel. With the curtains now pulled open, the sun was rising and it looked as if we were heading for a very pleasant day. I could see that there were several men fishing from further along the mooring by now and I recognised one of them who had been there the previous night. That’s what I call dedication. My wife, Debbie, told me that the dog hadn’t performed. It was her (the dog’s) first holiday afloat and although she was quickly getting used to the smells and noises that a holiday afloat generates, she still wasn’t getting the hang of the fact that when she whittled at the door to go out, the garden wasn’t always outside, so I took her for another walk. On the way past, I had a chat with the night fisherman, who told me that he had a good night, having caught more than twenty fish. I asked jokingly if they were tiddlers, but he assured me that they were all of a reasonable size. He made a fuss of the dog, Harley and we carried on with our walk, returning to the boat about twenty minutes later. The time was by now about 08:45, so I started the engine and with help from my son, cast off and we slipped gently away from the mooring, taking care to keep clear of the rods and lines. Within a few minutes we were passing the grassy banks at Bramerton and a little further up river, The Woods End Tavern, looking very different now with the addition of fancy decking, tables and chairs at the river’s edge. We cruised on, under the Postwick Viaduct, past Freedom’s yard, the Commissioner’s Cut, and past the bridge leading to the moorings at Thorpe. A couple of trains rumbled along the embankment at the side of the river and as we approached the moorings at Whitlingham Country Park, a Brinks cruiser sped past, heading in the opposite direction, crewed by the chap with whom I had been speaking at Yarmouth the previous day. We left the Yare and headed on the Wensum into Norwich. My wife and I were amazed at the changes that had been made at the river’s edge as we cruised slowly into Norwich, with several new residential developments taking the place of old warehouses that used to line the river and an absence of the decaying old cruisers that used to be moored there. It all looks so much more attractive now and when completed, will have transformed the area. I stopped by the Yacht Station Office to pay the £5 mooring fee a few minutes past 10:00 and chugged slowly past Pulls Ferry to where I like to moor at the Bishops Bridge end of the yacht station moorings. I turned Royall Commander round and with her safely tied up, Rachel, Iain, my wife, the dog and I disembarked and headed for the city centre, via the Cathedral. We walked up to Riverside Road and turned left over the bridge and left again along Riverside Walk, stopping to take a few photos of the Cathedral that looked magnificent in the sunshine across the school playing field. We carried on turning right onto Ferry Lane and to the Cathedral. Although Iain had visited there many times before with us, Rachel had never been, so my wife volunteered to sit outside with Harley (the dog) whilst the rest of us went in. The architecture and carvings in both stone and wood set Norwich Cathedral apart from every other Cathedral I have visited. Surely, to recreate this wonderful building today, even utilising all of the tools, technology and machinery that now exist, it would tax even the most skilled of craftsmen. To have designed and crafted it when they did, with the tools and equipment that they had and the fact that it still stands so prominent in it’s surroundings, it is a fitting testament to the skill and ingenuity of all of the folk who built it. After many visits I still find the scale of it so impressive and continue to marvel at the their skill. We probably spent about half an hour there, looking and photographing as we went. It would have been so easy to spend even more time looking round, but the wife was waiting outside and we needed to get to the shops, so reluctantly left. We found the wife sitting on a bench near Edith Cavell’s grave, where she had been patiently waiting with Harley, playing Angry Birds on her phone. We retraced our steps back to Ferry Lane, turned right and right again, passing in front of the Cathedral and the new Refectory building to exit into Tombland Lane, then along Wensum Street into Elm Hill before heading for the shops and market. After being away from the shops since Sunday and with so many to look round, Rachel found herself in need of further retail therapy, so accompanied by a warning from me that there was going to be no room left in the car for further purchases and to be back at the boat by 14:30, she and Iain headed for Castle Mall and my wife and I returned to Tesco on Gaol Hill to stock up with provisions. The wife waited outside with Harley and I was despatched with the shopping list to buy meals for the following two nights and other essentials. My purchases were examined when I left and I stayed outside with the dog whilst the wife went back in to get the things I had forgotten!!!!! Doh!! We staggered back to the boat with bulging carrier bags, deeply regretting our decision to let the kids (Iain (age 26) and Rachel (age 25) as they have become affectionately known) go off and do their own thing. Back on board, we wound the roof back to flood the saloon with glorious sunlight, as by now, there was hardly a cloud in the sky. I prepared some ham rolls and with a cup of tea and a bag of crisps each, we enjoyed lunch whilst waiting for the others to arrive back. While we were waiting, I prepared a beef casserole and put it in the oven on a low heat, so that it would be ready for us later in the evening. The kids eventually turned up at the boat a few minutes after 14:30, but bearing a couple of boxes of sticky cakes from Greggs (along with a couple of carrier bags of other purchases) so all was forgiven, although I was beginning to wonder who would have to be left behind to accommodate the additional luggage on the way home. We cast off heading for Langley Dyke, where I planned to overnight, ready to cross Breydon again (weather permitting) the following morning so chugged out of Norwich. There were several oarsmen (and women) in various types of single, double and four man craft, being coached by people following in small outboard dinghies as we passed along Thorpe Cut and the Sailing Club building. Clearly, the legacy of the Olympics is alive and well in Norwich! This year, the Yare, 2016 – Rio. The journey back to Langley Dyke was uneventful and the weather glorious, with Royall Commander bathed summer-like sunshine. When we arrived, only two private boats were moored at the BA moorings at the end of the dyke, a Brooms gin-palace and a smart looking Dawncraft Illusive. We moored up between them and the wife took Harley for a walk back along the dyke and I headed off to take some photos. I thought there were hundreds of starlings flying into the trees on the other side of the dyke, but closer inspection revealed they were actually crows. I can’t recall ever seeing so many flying together at the same time but the sight reminded me of a scene from a Hitchcock film and listening to the noise, it became obvious why the collective noun for a large group of crows is a murder. Sometime later, we had to close the roof as the midges were becoming abundant and starting to bite. Our meal was ready at about 19:30 and the casserole was excellent (even if I say so myself). The beef was tender and melted in the mouth, washed down with a bottle or two of something alcoholic. This was the life. When the washing up had been done, we had another couple of games of crib. The kids were beginning to get the hang of it by then and were getting competitive. We all retired to bed at the end of a very full day, fed, watered and very, very happy. I was just hoping for no fog the following morning to spoil the plan . . . . . . . More to follow . . . .
  11. Hi Both Thanks for your kind comment, it is appreciated. I have added a few photos in a link to my Photobucket account in No 4 above, as I don't seem to be able to add individual pictures direct to the Forum yet. See what you think and I'll try to add some again. Malcolm
  12. Monday 29th September With the knowledge that I wanted to be in Yarmouth at 08:30(ish) to catch slack water, I woke up early on Monday morning. I made a cup of tea and peered out of the window to see not very much at all. Thick fog had descended overnight and visibility was not great. My wife got up and took the dog for her morning walk and when she got back we waited to see if the fog would lift. Iain and Rachel were still dead to the world in the forward cabin. I hadn’t woken them as we clearly weren’t going anywhere too soon. I waited impatiently until just after 07:00 and eventually decided to take a slow cruise towards Yarmouth, so I went round the outside of the boat, wiping the windows with a leather to get rid of most of the dampness that had settled overnight. We started the engine and cast off immediately, not wanting to disturb our neighbours and chugged away from the moorings. The visibility through the windscreen was poor, but I found that by opening the sliding door at the side of the sliding roof and poking my head out, I could see ahead much more clearly. After all, there was hardly likely to be much river traffic heading the other way that early in the morning. With the engine revs set at about 1100 rpm, it was not long before we passed the moored craft at the Stracey Arms (and yes David (deebee29), as you suggested, our paths obviously did cross). Iain and Rachel by now, had woken up and transferred to the saloon, so my wife cooked some toast and made more tea for us all. The fog appeared to be lifting and by the time we arrived at Yarmouth, visibility had greatly improved and we were in a convoy with about five or six other boats. Cruising past the Marina at the start of the passage through Yarmouth from Acle, I noticed what an eyesore it has become. You couldn’t ever call it architecturally interesting, but in its current state of dereliction, it certainly adds nothing to the area. It would surely be better to knock the old building down and clear the area, than to leave it in it’s present state. I was heading past the Yacht Station when one of the Rangers shouted that Breydon was closed. Once again, the bow thruster proved its worth, allowing me to turn Royall Commander easily in the current and to moor up about 100 yards north of the Rangers office. The Ranger walked along and said that we should remain with the boat, because as soon as he received notification that Breydon was re-opened, he would have to get us all away as soon as possible. My wife took our Staffie for a walk along the quay and I had a chat with a couple of people moored up near us, in particular the ‘captain’ of the Brinks cruiser that was just behind ours, who was taking advantage of shore leave and exercising his two Staffies, too. We spent a while discussing the breed and how they seem to have attracted such a bad press of late and further chatting about our chosen hire craft and the Broads in general. Whilst there, I also took the opportunity of topping up with water. By 11:00, the sun had broken through the cloud and visibility had improved dramatically, however I was becoming concerned that by the time we were allowed to go, there wouldn’t be sufficient clearance under the bridges for our craft to pass under. I had a word with one of the Rangers and he said that he was expecting a call to open Breydon soon and sure enough, just gone 11:30, we were told to go. The bridge height gauge was showing 7ft 3ins, exactly the same as the clearance required as stated on the ‘dashboard’ of Royall Commander, but the Ranger said that as long as we lowered the roof and screen, we would have plenty of room. Travelling against the incoming tide, I was able to chug slowly up to the bridges and assess the clearance for myself to find there was plenty of room to pass under, further encouraged by the fact that we were following Richardson’s Sovereign (another AF Pearl design craft), who had negotiated the bridges a couple of boats in front of ours. We rounded the famous yellow post and headed across Breydon, with the roof back enjoying the sunshine, followed by at least 10 or 12 other craft. At the end of Breydon we forked right, past the now deserted Berney Arms pub and the mill, which was also closed and headed for Reedham, where we found a mooring and stopped for lunch. Shortly after we had moored, we noticed the Brinks cruiser pass by, crewed by the gent I was chatting to at Yarmouth. After we had eaten, my wife and Rachel fed the ducks and I wandered along the quay. Reedham used to be a place my son looked forward to mooring at when he was much younger, as we always took him to Pettitts for a treat. With the Nelson now closed and what was the general stores now a café, although it still has a certain charm, it does seem quite desolate there now. The weather was changing and the sky darkening, so with the roof closed we headed along the Yare towards Norwich, our destination for Tuesday morning. I wasn’t sure where we were going to stop for the night, but had two potential moorings in mind, either opposite the Surlingham Ferry pub at Postwick or a little further up river at Bramerton. We passed the sugar refinery at Cantley and I looked for the entrance to Langley Dyke to try to see whether it would be a good place to stop on the way back from Norwich the following day. It looked quiet and I made a mental note of how long it took from there to our moorings to see how much cruising time it would take on the return journey. The Beauchamp Arms slipped by as we cruised further up the Yare and eventually arrived at Brundall. Not having been on the Broads for a few years, I was surprised to see the little riverside shop that used to be near Brooms yard at Brundall, had been demolished. It was always a stop off point for us, even if only to buy an ice cream. Soon, the Surlingham Ferry pub came into view and the moorings opposite were empty, except for a lone fisherman. I checked with the rest of the crew and all were agreed that it would be our overnight mooring. Having stopped there in the past, I knew that there were a couple of walks for the dog, so we slowly chugged to the quay and tied up for the night. I cooked dinner later and when consumed with the pots and pans washed and stowed away, Rachel and Iain were keen to improve their skills at crib, so we had a couple of games before I had a hot drink and went to bed, pleased that the delay at Yarmouth had not forced me to revise my planned cruise. More to follow . . . . . . .
  13. Sunday 28th September I awoke feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep at around 06:30, so quietly made a cup of tea, not wanting to disturb the rest of the crew. My efforts were wasted however, as the dog was anxious to get out and woke the wife. She pulled some clothes on and took her for an early morning walk along the river bank, towards the junction with the Bure. While they were out I was surprised to find that there was sufficient hot water still in the tank for me to have an early shower and wait for my son and his girlfriend to wake up. The noise of the water pump and the other pump to drain the shower tray woke them and they emerged from the cabin at the sharp end, both looking for a coffee and breakfast. We had already decided to start Sunday with a cooked brekkie, so when the wife returned from her walk with the pooch, I started to prepare bacon, sausages, fried eggs, baked beans and grilled fresh tomatoes. I don’t usually have a cooked breakfast at home, so it made a tasty (if somewhat unhealthy) change to cereals. We left Thurne Dyke at about 10:00 and meandered up to Potter Heigham. My son had described Lathams to his girlfriend and she was looking forward to seeing what bargains were on offer there. I didn’t worry about looking for moorings along the river, as we wanted to refill with water, so headed straight for Herbert Woods yard. After we had moored, we all disembarked, Iain and Rachel heading for Lathams and my wife and I sat by the bridge watching a few swans and ducks pass through. With the height gauge indicating just over 6 feet clearance that was about all the river traffic that was getting under the bridge that day!! Tired of waiting, we wandered over to Lathams and I was sent in to see how the others were doing. I found them and was dismayed to see how much was in their basket, thinking of how I was going to squeeze even more into the car for the journey home. Iain’s girlfriend volunteered to go round the store again with my wife, who wanted some bits and pieces, so my son and I ambled back to the boat and topped up with water. Whilst we were waiting for the ladies to return, a couple in an old Bermuda style boat from Richardsons had entered Woods yard were trying to moor up. Clearly, the skipper was struggling and he was getting nearer and nearer our boat, eventually giving it a tap and almost wedged it broadside across the boatyard between the boat astern of his and ours. I offered to help, which he gladly accepted so stepped across from ours to his and within a couple of minutes, he was safely tied up. When the rest of the party returned, post retail therapy, we had lunch and chugged off towards Stokesby, where I had planned to moor for the night in preparation for an early start to cross Breydon on Monday morning. The weather was warm and with the sun making a frequent appearance and the sliding roof back it was an enjoyable cruise, retracing our journey back down the Thurne but this time turning left along the Bure towards Acle. I was surprised at just how busy the rivers were, especially given the time of the year. Even by mid afternoon the moorings outside the Bridge Inn at Acle were already full and I was a little concerned that there wouldn’t be space for us at Stokesby. As we rounded the bend, I could see the BA moorings were full and there was just one space at the farm moorings further along from the pub, so I headed there and just as we were tying the boat up, one of the craft that had been moored at the BA moorings cast off, so I quickly restarted the engine and squeezed Royall Commander in to the vacant space. We wandered round to the store and bought some ice-creams, which were consumed back on board whilst idly watching the world go by. I cooked our meal later in the evening and afterwards my wife and I started to teach our son, Iain and his girlfriend, Rachel, how to play crib. All was quiet until just before 22:00, when the couple returned to the boat moored in front of ours, presumably from the pub and making quite a lot of noise. To top it off, when back on board, they started their engine, filling Royall Commander with exhaust fumes. I wasn’t amused, so in my best Victor Meldrew style went to ask them politely to show a little respect and switch it off and reminding them that there was a notice about 10 feet away from their boat giving instructions not to run their engine between 20:00 and 08:00. Much to my surprise, they did, however, judging from the comments made by the female member of the crew, she was not best pleased. It had been a great day and our enjoyment had not been spoilt by the actions of an inconsiderate crew, so a hot drink soon followed and I was asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. More to follow . . . . . . . .
  14. I don't know if this link will work, but here goes; http://s672.photobucket.com/user/mouldy1805/library/Norfolk%20Broads%202014?sort=3&page=1 Here's hoping!!!!
  15. Saturday 27th September Having booked our holiday for 2014 way back in July last year, my wife, son, his girlfriend and I had been excitedly counting down the days to 27th September and the start of our week away. For my son, it was his first holiday on a boat since 2005, when he was still 16, for his girlfriend, it was to be her first experience of a holiday afloat. My wife and I hadn’t been on the Broads for a number of reasons since 2007, although prior to that it had been an almost annual experience since the early nineties and for me, a few times since 1969. I left work at about 04:25 and arrived home just before 05:00. After a cup of tea and shower, I looked at the heap of luggage that I had to somehow squeeze into the car. I do not understand how four people (and a dog) need so much stuff, but there were two females in the party. Nuff said!! After some jiggling and poking, I managed to get it all loaded and we set off from Northampton at about 08:40, intending to arrive in Wroxham (Hoveton to the pedants) at 11:00 (ish), in the knowledge that Royalls prepare their craft in time for and early takeover. After an uneventful journey, we arrived at the boatyard at 11:10 and I found Nigel to let him know that we were there and asked permission to leave the car there whilst we went to get the shopping. We quickly popped into he Chandlers to buy a lifejacket for our Staffy and went to Roys to collect the necessary provisions for a couple of days. I had planned the route and reckoned to be in Norwich on Tuesday, where they could be replenished. We staggered back to the boatyard with several bags of shopping, by which time it was just before 13:00 and were able to load everything on the boat, which was spotlessly clean and considering it was towards the end of the season, looking far better that a 20+ year old boat has a right to. With all the bags loaded and most of the contents safely stowed, we were shown round the boat, the requirement for daily mechanical checks described, lifejackets issued and forms signed. Satisfied that I had been on the Broads many times before, there was no trial run deemed necessary and we were almost ready to set sail. The fish and chips had smelt so good whist we walked through the village, my son and his girlfriend were despatched to collect four portions from Ken’s, which were consumed with relish before finally chugging out of Royalls yard and onto the Bure at about 14:45. My proposed stopover for our first night was Thurne Dyke so we headed out of Wroham, passing Wroxham and Salhouse Broads, before passing through Horning. There was a lot of traffic on the river and judging by the erratic progress of some of the craft, a fair few first timers, too!! The weather was good, far better than we could realistically have expected for the end of September and the saloon of Royall Commander with the sliding roof back was exactly the environment we needed to de-stress as we chugged along the river. Passing the mouth of the short dyke that leads to what used to be FB Wilds yard, brought back many happy memories of my first few Broads holidays with my parents back in the late sixties and early seventies, when the Caribbean was the cruiser of the day. We eventually arrived the junction of the Bure and Thurne, where we turned left and headed the short distance to the entrance of Thurne Dyke where we spun the boat around (what a boon a bow thruster is) and moored on my favoured ‘farm’ side for the night. It had been a long day for me, having been at work from 20:00 on Friday night until I left earlier on that Saturday morning, with the drive to Wroxham and everything else that had happened, so we decided to not cook on board, but to visit the Lion Inn for a meal. Because of the dog, we were not able to eat in the restaurant, but found a table in the bar. Our experience was slightly spoilt by a rowdy party who insisted on not moving away from the bar, but blocking it for everyone else who was there. They were extremely noisy and it became a much more pleasant environment there when their food was ready and the moved into the family room at the back of the pub. We eventually fought through to place our order and waited hungrily for it to arrive. Our food arrived and we all tucked in. My son had a steak, his girlfriend a gammon steak and my wife and I had a gourmet beef burger each. It was tasty and went down well after a long day and much better than the food that we had there when we last ate there about 10 years ago, but seemed a little pricey to me. Back on the boat, I had a hot drink and headed for my bed. Although it was relatively early (about 21:00), I had been up since 16:00 Friday afternoon and exhaustion had set in. Contented, sleep came quickly and I don’t recall being disturbed when my wife came to bed shortly after. More to follow . . . . . .
  16. Hi All Just back from a week on Royall Commander. Is it only full members that can post pictures? Thanks Malc
  17. I've been on a few different boats over the years, but for space for a family holiday I think my favourite would be one of the Connoisseur C45 class. We (my wife, our son and I) and my parents spent 2 fantastic weeks on one in 1995. Spacious cabins and heads and quiet cruising with the engine at the rear made for a very comfortable boat indeed. The only downside was the side entry, which was awkward if moored with the wrong side to the bank, but the positives far outweighed the negatives. My other favourite would be Muscadet from Russell Marine. They had two on their fleet, one is now with Herbert Woods and renamed Highlight. The quality of the fit-out was near to private boat standards and it was ideal for the three of us when we hired her in 1999 and again in 2000.
  18. I will be back on the Broads, together with SWMBO, our son Iain and his girlfriend Rachel, for another week (which will pass all too quickly) from 27th September. I've been visiting the Broads since 1969 when my grandparents and parents took me (aged 13) for my first Broadland adventure on a Caribbean from FB Wilds, Horning. It made a lasting impression and I've spent many happy weeks afloat since. I introduced my wife to the Broads experience in 1987, when we spent a week on a 29ft, 2 berth Connoisseur from Porter and Haylett in Wroxham. We revisited the area on the Saturday following the hurricane in October '87 (that Michael Fish said wouldn't happen) on another boat from the same class. With the river levels so high, getting it under the bridge at Wroxham was quite a job!! Even getting to Wroxham to collect the boat proved to be difficult on the day, with many fallen trees blocking the A11 into Norwich, causing several diversions through residential roads that I hadn't been on before or since. Although time has healed much of the damage by now, the effects of the storm on that night in 1987 can still be seen, especially at Salhouse Broad, where many big trees were toppled. We have been on several type of cruiser from several yards, most of which have sadly now gone, including Gale Cruisers at Loddon, Connoisseur Cruisers and Bristers at Wroxham and Russells of South Walsham. Two yards that we have previously visited are still hiring, Summercraft and Royalls and it is Royalls where we will be excitedly arriving on 27th, when we will be on Royal Commander for a week. That's enough from me for now. I work nights and am of to get some much needed sleep!!
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