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  1. Day One: Day One Captain's Blog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZMyGMxzing It felt rather odd boarding the train at Liverpool Street with my Dad for usually whenever we come to Norfolk it is in the car, but alas that was being worked on and so the train would need to take the strain. It was not long before we were in sunny Norwich, and walked from the station to the large Morrison's stock up for the 4 night break ahead - and as ever you always seem to go a bit mad on things especially considering we were going to be eating out on 3 of the 4 nights. Once out of the store it was a called to ABC Taxi's to collect us and take us to Freedom's boatyard, just off Bungalow Lane in Thorpe. We set off and our driver turned out to have grown up not far from where we live in London - funny old world - and soon it was time to turn into the unmade lane that leads to the boatyard. Rather interesting affair, under a rail line at a bridge then further down a manual level crossing - open the gates yourself, drive over the lines, then close behind you - ever watchful of the green and red signal on the gates which tell you if a train is approaching. Fortunately this is the local line from Norwich to the likes of Sheringham so not a busy line as the mainline which is taken over the bridge at the startt of the journey. We unloaded our bags and shopping and found £6.50 a very reasonable charge for the taxi. A warm welcome awaited us at Freedom - we were a little earlier than anticipated because we had both booked the train from London thinking we would need to change trains at Norwich - old habits die hard. Freedom have really done well since taking over this old yard (Kingfisher Cruisers) to turn it from pretty much derelict to a fully functioning boatyard once more. All their fleet were out apart from two boats one of which - Rambling Freedom - is having pretty extensive refitting work done in their shed and once finished will look the bees knees! Andy arrived and talked us through the boat - Song of Freedom, an ex Aston centre cockpit boat and whilst by today's modern standards she may not be up there with some boats, the warm wooden interior and charm really grew on me and my dad. She felt like a proper boat complete with a good wooden ships wheel and many original features - however as you will see later in the tale, the interior especially the salon had been refitted thoughtfully to bring her up to date but without going over the top. No need for a trial run, but I'll say this - many a yard out there could do with taking on the 'multi check' pre- handover sheet that Freedom use - I can well imagine a novice finding comfort in their willingness for any question to be answered and their comprehensive handover. Time to leave and with the old BMC chugging away under our feet down the mighty Yare we went - our destination Rockland Staithe just off of Rockland Broad. I knew this may be busy for the fact it is so close to the New Inn pub, which later as we unpacked proved to important as we had forgotten some things after all and needed to eat out now - Easter weekend late in the day I was a tad worried and planned a backup of the Beauchamp Arms which has extensive moorings (and I believe now under new management). Well as we passed Bramerton Common it was busy but it was not silly busy, indeed the only real boating activity was privateers out enjoying the break and sunshine and their very powerful large sports cruisers. I have to say I found the majority very friendly and waves exchanged, but alas the few who saw the 5 or 6 MPH speed limit as more advisory and would come up out of nowhere behind and then speed past causing a trough we would then roll into. The Seamaster hull however was very much up to the job and Song of Freedom really is a dream boat to manoeuvre - my dad down below trying to pack the fridge did not always appreciate the sudden movement that passing craft caused. My dad and I are not always the closest of people and many a time we will differ in our views, but that said we do get along and his quick wit and ability to tell a story can have you in stitches - he was the one who introduced me to boating holidays when I was 8 so has a lot to be thanked for and while not in the best of health now it was good to see him back on the water. We took turns at the helm and when we reached Rockland Broad it was high water - the last time I was here in October 2013 it was low water with much of the reeds and other underwater plants showing this time however all was covered and we slowly followed the channel markers and took a right to the dyke that leads to the Staithe - somewhere previously I had not visited. Well, we arrived to find just 3 boats there. We moored up and all was quite - until another boat Concerto from Barnes Brinkcraft arrived bow thrusters going, engine revving. It's funny how upon hearing this everyone will be like Meerkat's and pop up through a hatch, doorway or cockpit to see what is going on. Well that was the only other boat to arrive and the road was very quiet and the Staithe a lovely place - there is a large green where children could play or dogs be worn out, benches and not to forget literally over the road the pub. We went in and were seated in the large barn like restaurant heated by a very efficient wood burning stove, the menu was not the longest but had all the classics - I opted as I like to for the Burger to see what this pub could come up with and they came up trumps! I would not say it was too 'posh' but it was certainly lovely - a tad on the pricey side for some perhaps, but my dad also commented how lovely his sausages with bubble and squeak and rich onion gravy were. The only thing that let it down was the Aspalls Cider - it was very 'watery' and lacked the crisp apple punch that one would expect. Overall though it was a lovely meal and good night. Back on the boat and the tide had gone out - I have to say this is the one thing that began over the holiday to become an almost ritual check the lines, check the fenders and then look at tide tables and should low tide be coming in t e evening double check before bed so there would be no nasty surprise in the morning. I was already surprised at the general quietness for this time of year on the southern rivers and it was a new experience to have hired from a southern base and not have to worry about tides for Breydon Water - and as first days went, today was certainly a good one and I was happy to be on the water once again.
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