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Sat. 29th April On board me, my hubby Graham, cousins Sandra and Chris, Chris’ wife Barbara and our (very lively and excitable) 8 month old Collie, Seren (her name means ‘star’ in Welsh). We set off nice and early from MK despite Barbara’s warnings that it’s impossible to get Chris up early, i.e. before 8am. It was Sandra and Chris’ first time on the Broads, Barbara’s second visit after a long gap. Graham and I had hired Turquoise Emblem last year, but it’s the first time we’ve hired anything this long (42’). We stopped off at Costa’s at Caxton Gibbet for breakfast (or, for some of our hobbit-like crew, second breakfast) before going on to arrive at Wroxham at 10.50. We should have got there around 10:30 but I misdirected Chris on the outskirts of Norwich, so we ended up going through Salhouse instead of the direct route. Once in Wroxham we took Seren for a walk along the River near the St John’s moorings, then walked across to have a look at the railway stations (Chris being train-mad). We then went to find some lunch. Had a look at the menu of the River Kitchen Café first. Although the menu looked good it wasn’t very inviting as we needed to sit outside with the dog and all the tables had puddles of water on them, so we plumped instead for the Hotel Wroxham. Had a very nice lunch there, apart from Graham’s weird tartar sauce, which came with a whole gherkin hidden in its depths. His fish was pretty bony too. I had a lovely salmon and crab fishcake starter, Sandra had prawn and crayfish cocktail with chips shared between us. Chris and Barbara shared a halloumi burger. After lunch we popped into Roy’s for bread, milk and wine then went on our way to Hoveton, arriving at Ferry Marina about 1.20pm. Once we had loaded our stuff a youngish lad came over to do the handover. Although we didn’t need a trial run it took a while as we asked a lot of questions, some of which he didn’t know the answer to and had to go and check, also he took much longer than expected to bring the sailing dinghy that we’d hired around to the boat. We suspect that he forgot as he was chatting in the office some of the time whilst we were waiting. Before we left I bought some cards for the electric posts. I was relieved to find that they had them in stock, having read various comments on the forum that some places had run out of the new cards. Graham had first turn on the helm, then Chris and I had took turns. This is the first time we’ve hired a centre-cockpit style cruiser and we found the extra height gave us a good view of the surrounding landscape and for reversing. We were making our way down to Acle or Stokesby, intending to cross Breydon Water early tomorrow. We got to Acle by around 5.30pm so decided to continue down river despite there being plenty of moorings available. Sandra had her first go at the helm just before Stokesby then I took the helm to moor. Unfortunately there wasn’t any room at the Stokesby moorings apart from a stretch of key heading that looked all rusty and rotten. Once I realised this I aborted the mooring (not terribly well, getting my bow thrusters mixed up, but at least I didn’t hit anything) and continued down to Stracey Arms. I messed up the mooring there too. My excuse is that I thought the oncoming wind was stronger than the outgoing tide, but the tide swung my stern around. Oh well…at least there weren’t any other boats near us and no harm done. Once moored up we all went along the path to the shop to give Seren a walk and pay our £5 mooring fee. The donkeys and goats are still there, though I’ve heard that the shop has changed hands. We noticed one chap looking very startled as he entered the windmill – there was a donkey standing inside facing the door! Sandra made our dinner (warm quiche and new potatoes with salad), then watched a beautiful sunset before settling down to play ‘Race Night’ – a DVD game where you consider the ‘form’ of the horses in each race and bet on them before watching the race on the DVD. I’ve never bet on anything in my life, apart from a few raffles, but I did get a bit carried away cheering my first horse on to win. If I turn into a gambler it’s Chris and Barbara’s fault for bringing the game with them! After a short constitutional for Seren we all turned in for the night.