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Busmans Holiday

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It’s Monday morning, the sun is shining and all’s well with the world – or at least it is here at Potter. We’ve just returned from a busman’s holiday – a weekend break on Broads Harmony, courtesy of Paul and Clive at Richardsons. The trip was generously donated by Richardsons as a lot for the Museum of the Broads charity auction. SWMBO was the successful bidder and this week-end was our last opportunity to redeem the short break voucher.

We were told we could pick up the boat on Friday at 2.30 p.m. We have never hired from Richardsons before, but what service - genuinely friendly, truly professional and super-efficient. Remember, this is the end of a very long, very busy season. Harmony is three years old. She was immaculately presented both inside and out. You could have mistaken her for a brand new boat setting off on her maiden voyage. Within just thirty minutes we (just the two of us aboard a forty-four footer seven berth) were on our way down the Ant - destination Ranworth and a dreaded stern-on mooring to contemplate. God, she felt big, but so quiet? I cannot get over how smooth the engine was. We were ticking over at 1000 rpm and still making wonderful progress. Even with the canopy up, conversation was easy at normal levels.

However, and it became a very annoying however, the helmsman’s seat was a design disaster. I was already getting a crick in the neck and my feet dangled uncomfortably several inches short of the floor. I’m 5’ 10†in my stocking feet and I had to arch my back to tuck my head beneath the canopy ceiling. Note to self: canopy down whenever possible.

SWMBO is very creative when it comes to problem solving. “Why don’t you remove the seat?†she suggested. Needless to say, within seconds, the seat had been slid off its mounts and stored in the aft cabin where it remained until the end of our weekend break. Problem solved.

New problem created. Actually the problem was always there but my mind had been concentrated on the first to the exclusion of the second. The sexy rake of the front windscreens was creating a horrible internal reflection of the highly polished grp. Solution? Dark grey jacket. Note to self: leave jacket above dashboard.

“Lower screens and canopy for all bridges.†Ludham bridge took us a bit by surprise. It had sneaked up on us. The canopy was a pleasure – beautifully smooth and ideally balanced for one person to operate. Di took the helm and I lowered the screens and canopy on the move. “Line up flag pole with centre of bridge.†Why does the wind always blow diagonally across the bridge at Ludham?

The journey down the Ant had been totally uneventful, but the prospect of a stern on mooring at Ranworth in an increasingly strong wind was becoming increasingly unappealing. Di had made “No cooking,†a condition of the break, and had set her heart on our first evening meal at the Maltsters, so stern on mooring it had to be. As we arrived at the staithe, “Monarch†was in the process of making an absolute hash of a difficult manoeuvre in difficult conditions. Having failed at its first attempt, it was now setting off at speed across the broad with stern lines trailing. Note to self: gently does it. Harmony turned on a sixpence. Di stepped off, took a turn and then it was down to the bow thruster to tidy us up. I was expecting a coffee grinder din as the thruster cut in, but not a bit of it - whisper quiet and enough power easily to push forty-four foot against what, by now, had become an open broad hooley. Potential stress over and time to explore our new vessel. Posh or what!

It’s probably fifteen years since last I was in the Maltsters. I have no wish to slate a business on open forum, suffice to say I won’t be hurrying back. Fawlty Towers sprang to mind.

Saturday morning had us heading off to Wroxham. We knew the tides would be too high to allow us passage to Coltishall, but the trip up to the bridge at Wroxham via a short stop at Horning staithe was very pleasant and uneventful. So sad that there are so few public moorings this side of Wroxham bridge. I could sense that Di was itching to disembark to indulge in her favourite pastime – shopping – but lunch on Salhouse beckoned.

The broad was all but empty and a side-on mooring would not have been out of order, but, reinforced by my recent success at Ranworth, stern on it had to be. This bow thruster lark is such a cheat isn’t it? Make contact with the quayheading with either aft quarter, send Di off rope in hand, press the switch for a few seconds and, hey presto, done like a true professional! Of course, had there been a crowd to watch this wonderful manoeuvre, all manner of nasty things would have gone wrong.

Kettle on. Soup on. Fresh baked bread rolls readied and an anonymous young lad announces that we now have a mooring fee to pay. £1.50 doesn’t seem a big deal for a lunchtime stop in beautiful surroundings, but I have less than no idea who the lad was, nor where the money would end up - and I was too English to ask! The receipt was equally anonymous and uninformative.

We were double booked for Saturday night - an invitation to an Indonesian celebratory dinner (it was Di’s sixtieth) with neighbours at Potter. A gentle pootle to Potter had us arriving at four thirty and pulling up at the pilot moorings. A very nice man, a very, very nice man, gave us permission to moor there for the night. Four hundred yards from home. Couldn’t be better.

We had promised faithfully that we would be away from the pilot moorings first thing Sunday and so we were, bathed in early morning autumn sunshine and heading off for South Walsham, lunch at Ludham bridge, afternoon tea at Neatishead and looking forward to an evening meal at Sutton Staithe Hotel. A glorious day. Relaxed? I was pleasure-induced prostrate, prone, procumbent and positively limp all over I was so relaxed.

Sutton Staithe was everything the Maltsters wasn’t. The food was nothing more than ordinary, but exactly what you’d expect at the price, the welcome genuine and fulsome, the waiting staff courteous, attentive and the whole ambience well suited to a holiday venue. Note to self: must return to said establishment more often.

This morning we were due back at the yard at nine thirty. We slipped our moorings at Sutton with such stealth I doubt our neighbours noticed our departing and arrived “home†bang on time. The yard was already bustling with activity. In forty years of hiring, I have never been checked out so speedily and efficiently. Had we received special attention? I very much doubt it. I watched as boat after boat after boat received equally prompt, polite and efficient attention.

My sincerest thanks to the Richardsons for a superb weekend. Note to self: must get Swift up and running as soon as the recent collision damage is sorted.

What a truly wonderful place the Norfolk Broads are and how lucky we are to call them home.

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Nice tale :grin:

Have to say, I think I'm getting withdrawal symptons, having not been up for a few weeks. Actually the NBN birthday bash was my last trip although Col has been up a couple of times.

I love this time of year and it was nice to be reminded why ;)

Lou xx

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Sounds like a grwat weekend, thanks for sharing it.

Sorry to hear you were not too impressed with the Maltsters though. We managed to moor up there last weekend for the first time this season. Whilst we didn't eat as it was only a quick stop for a pint or two, we were quite impressed with the friendlyness of the bar staff. We were also extremely please to here they now allow kids in both areas of the bar, and dogs in the lower bar too. That alone will have us paying more visits.

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Have to say, I think I'm getting withdrawal symptons, having not been up for a few weeks. Actually the NBN birthday bash was my last trip although Col has been up a couple of times.

I can barely remember that I have a boat - I haven't seen it in weeks and I'd almost forgotten it was there. Maybe it isn't. It could have sunk weeks ago for all I know. Still I have finally caught up with a friend of mine this morning who is going to give me a hand with various parts of the winter work.

Nice story David, thanks for sharing (probably should be in the Holiday Tales sections but I'll leave the mods to worry about that).

Ref The Maltsters, have only been in there once since it last changed hands, didn't eat but had possibly the best pint of Wherry ever. However now that The Bell is showing such good form I doubt I'll be troubling The Maltsters again any time soon.

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Good to hear you had a good time David Glad to hear you got the design faults sorted :)

I will pass on your comments to the staff, they would have given you 'special treatment' because all our customers get that ;)


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