Very strange but the crew were not so eager to arise this morning, I was usually woken by Craig as he took Bella for a walk, the tell tale noise of the creaking floor near the engine hatch was the only alarm needed. Could it be the impending end of the holiday feeling? There was no river traffic noise but when I ventured outside most of our neighbours for the night had already departed.
Craig took Bella for a walk through the boatyards and riverside checking out Pedro’s on the way. We knew we needed bread, beans and a pack of bacon if we all were to .have breakfast, but not wanting to dice with death on the road to Acle we decided to make the 15 minute cruise to the little shop at Stokesby.
Another lovely sunny morning, we moored on the farm moorings just downstream of the pub. Dean Jamie Owen and Craig dashed off to the shop. My turn as Galley slave, so all remaining sausages under the grill, bacon sizzling in the frying pan, tin and half of tomatoes in the pan ready. At this point the lads returned to say the shop would not be opening today because of a funeral. Well not quite a loaves and fishes event, so we would make do.
Dean said he didn’t want breakfast, Craig said he was not bothered but I convinced him there would be enough. It was me that was going without, Owen’s breakfast all week was bacon and beans, no beans available so he would have a bacon sandwich with one of the two slices of bread available, Jamie’s breakfast request sausage and tomatoes, no problems there, so Ben and Craig would share what was left. Plenty of eggs left but they only wanted one each. All served I went to sit on the stern to cool down and enjoy the lovely autumn sunshine while the kettle was boiling. We emptied the teapot washed the pots and started our journey back to Stalham.
The mood of the crew was a little subdued as it always is on the last full day of our holiday, but as we passed under Acle bridge in the clear blue skies spirits raised a little.
We always spend the last night in the boatyard this gives us chance to pack the cars before spending the evening in Stalham. In previous years we have stopped at How hill for a few hours fishing but with the expected high volume of river traffic we decided to re-visit Gayes Staithe instead. Traffic on the Ant was quite light but the moorings at Ludham Bridge were busy. How hill mooring were unusually quiet with 3 cruisers and two day boats the only occupants. Gayes on the other hand was fully occupied so back to the boatyard we went, it was no problem we always catch fish in Kingfisher.
On the journey from Stokeby when not at the helm Craig and I had sorted our clothing out and packed away everything except a change for our last night and the journey home in the morning. Once moored up we loaded all we could into the cars in readiness, then time for a bit of fishing. By 4-30pm I had enough so the rest of my fishing tackle was loaded into the car, the toilet, bathroom and Galley cleaned, I showered and changed ready for the evening.
Our usual place for dinner on the last night is the Swan in Stalham, they always make room for us. This time the restaurant was fully booked, think there was an Halloween event taking place, but tables were moved around in the bar area so that we could dine there. When we were seated the rest of the bar was empty within 15minutes all tables were occupied. What we like about this place is they don’t rush you to place your order, they don’t try to get you to leave when you have finished your meal, if you want another couple of rounds of drinks that is ok. The meals are substantial and reasonably priced. All too soon it was time to leave after a diversion to Tesco for a sweet fix for the lads.
Next morning I was up by 7-30am, what a difference in the weather, cold cloudy with a biting wind, reminded me of my home on the Lincolnshire coast. After completing my ablutions I went in search of the yard guys to check us out. They had just finished refuelling a more modern vessel close by so came straight to us, fuel usage £48-70, refund due £101-30, good result. I mentioned that we used an almost identical amount last year, he said the hull that Ultimate Gem had was one of the most economical on the fleet, He then showed me the figures for the other boat they had refuelled, figures similar but other way round, they had used £102 worth of fuel on the northern broads.
Buoyancy aids returned, refund collected, we were ready for our journey home by 9am We would meet up at the Farm café on the A17 for a late breakfast before going our separate ways. Ben would be going home with till Sunday then his mother would meet us at Lincoln to take him home
Will we be back? Feel sure some of us will be, It would be a shame not to use the loyalty discount we have accrued over the past five years.