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Signing Out...off 'tramping'!


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Yes, folks, I'm Norfolk bound again to do some more work on Royal Tudor. Things will be a little different this time around as instead of the luxuries of the Wayford Inn I will be camping.

I'm no stranger to 'roughing it'. From the age of eleven to fourteen I slept most weekends in a bivouac in the back field at home. I kid you not. Constructed from an old door pushed up against the hedge, with timber stripped from a pallet for a back wall, the whole thing thatched and lined with grass and a camp fire outside the door with the heat reflected inside. I was as snug as a bug in a tramps shelter. When not bivouacking in the back yard I was away camping with the Scouts. Through spring, summer, autumn and winter with several feet of snow on the ground I was sleeping outside.

Going camping with Ellie is a whole different matter. Even though she's not coming with me, all of the what I publicly call 'superfluous crap', but privately think 'yay a comfortable bed', like inflatable lie lows is packed into my car. Ellie's brother Steve, better known as Watson, will be joining me so...dinner at the nearest boozer then!

Our home from Thursday to Sunday will be the Hickling Campsite. I've bought a gallon of insect repellent today!

I will report back on Monday as to how I got on 'tramping', along with the progress we make on Royal Tudor. So ta ta for now!

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Tim, it is a very nice campsite and has got rave reviews, the best local is the Greyhound a little further than the Pleasureboat but much nicer, try a pint of the Addlestons cider, mention my name to Tony the landlord and that will put the prices up........ if you need anything I am just around the corner.



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By the time I had dropped Ellie off at work, walked the 'Boys' and packed the car it was some time around 10 am before I was ready to leave for Norfolk. It was sometime after 11 am before I could leave thanks to a twonk from the Water Board parking his van across my drive while he stood with four of his, equally cranially challenged, 'oppo's' starring into a hole. 

Traffic was slow.  Not tractors, or lorries, but lines of decrepit wrinklies with hands clasping, at 'ten to' and 'ten past',  and noses only just reaching the top of the steering wheel. After what seemed like hours travelling at a steady 39mph behind the self-perpetuating wake I pulled in for a coffee and let them either get well ahead of me or else crumble to dust. 

I ordered a second coffee as I accidentally spat out half of my first one through laughing while talking to a couple in their eighties. They had become separated from the armada of wrinklies. It turns out the convoy of coffin dodgers were 'Young Conservatives' off to a rally. 

Finally, I was through Acle and heading for Hickling Campsite through the glorious Norfolk countryside. By a breathtakingly beautiful pink thatched cottage, I turned left and into the campsite festooned with brightly coloured tents.

I had a conversation with Vaughan and Wussername at the NBN Meet earlier this year regarding the derth of families with children holidaying on Broads or indeed attending the Meet. Well, Gentlemen, I've found them. The families are still holidaying but not on the boats; they are camping, and not through any financial constraints in the majority of cases. There were high performance and luxury cars parked by almost every tent.

As I said before, I'm no stranger to camping. I've just not camped solo since the strokes. After the drive, I was cramped and in quite a bit of pain and as usual forced into using my stick for balance. Dragging the tent out of the car I remembered Uncle Albert dealing with a wheelchair bound Scout. The lad's parents were horrified to arrive at the Scout Hut to find their son had been 'hoiked' out of his chair and was crawling around on the dirty grass putting his tent up single handed and having a whale of a time doing so. So down I went onto my hands and knees. 

Eventually, my tent was up, bed made, picnic hamper and cool-box set within easy reach, chairs erected ready for my return later as I was off to visit Royal Tudor and drop off the cockpit sides I had made for her. Driving out of the campsite, I added another section of Norfolk away from the water to my mental map and headed off to Martham.

As I unloaded the car at the sheds at Martham Boat Development, I got my first indication that Doug had once more been working hard on my behalf. A second-hand black-water tank, should it fit inside Royal Tudor, was available and would save some money on having a new one made. Now I will state here and now that I have attempted to disguise the wording of this piece of boating apparatus. Having spoken to the experts a black-water tank is technically known as a 'Sh** Tank'.

Inside the shed, Royal Tudor was once again in another position, now closer to the doors. Hopefully, this is a sign of her soon being back on the water. The new cockpit sides were thankfully a good match to RT's existing timbers. I dragged in the sheets of 4mm ply I had brought with me to make the patterns for the windows to go into the cockpit sides. I added new supplies of mugs, coffee, hot chocolate and milk before I went hunting for the note Doug had told me he'd left on RT detailing the work he needed me to do that weekend.

Try as I might I was unable to find the note. By now I was both tired and hungry and had developed the shakes in my hands. So a quick drink of pop and I set off in search of dinner at my usual haunt of the Wayford Inn. Stuffed to the eyeballs (Liver and bacon on a bed of creamy mash and fresh vegetables, Helen) with food I headed back to the campsite to settle in and make myself a coffee.

Disaster, the new camping stove I'd bought was faulty. An extremely attractive young lady called to me. It was Jo the exceedingly friendly and helpful camp warden bringing me a brasier, included in your camp fees, dragging a sack of timber behind her. After chatting for half an hour, Jo headed off and left me to light my fire. I soon had a merry blaze going, and as the wood turned to embers, I popped on my coffee engine to heat. Disaster! The seals on my coffee engine had gone, and I could not get enough pressure in the chamber. Bugger! Quickly adapting I added more logs to the fire, retrieved a bottle of Pino Grigio from the cool-box, cut a Cohiba Esplendidos, pulled up a camp chair and sat back to survey the campsite sipping chilled wine and smoking a big cigar. Now, this is camping folks!

Everywhere I looked children and families were playing together. None of your sitting around playing X-Box or 'on the phone', I'm talking cricket, football, hide and seek, tag and catch. Real, proper family holidays!

At nine o clock, I took a stroll across to the shower and toilet block. Spotlessly clean but a massive queue of children getting washed and ready for bed. Thinking I'd wait a while, I went back to the tent for another glass of wine and a quick snooze. Waking up at midnight, I thought now's my chance to nip to the loo in peace. No chance. A queue of parents had now formed. As I've got older, the 'communal crapper' is something with which I'm no longer comfortable. The thought of squeezing your head while someone's washing their pots on the other side of a shed wall is not appealing. So back to bed and waking at two in the morning have I had the solitude I craved!

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I'm awake Friday morning at six thirty. A quick wash and shave and I'm off in search of coffee. As I have to pick up a can of underwater primer, I head for Aquafax in Wroxham and call in at the Wayford Inn for coffee and a full English Breakfast. Superb as always!

I'd discovered that morning that I have put on a considerable amount of weight over the winter and spring. So much weight that my t-shirts were riding high up my back. So into that Emporium of middle-aged to senior men's fashion, Roys for some Extra Large t-shirts! While other chandlers were still sleeping Aquafax were open and so with my purchases stowed in the 'Coo Coo,' I was soon headed for Martham bathed in glorious Norfolk sunshine. By the time I'd hit Potter Heigham, I received a phone call from 'Watson', my brother in law Steve, updating me on his ETA. He was still only half way to Norfolk trapped by Lincolnshire tractor drivers. Norfolk tractors will eventually pull off the road to clear the traffic piled up behind them. Not so their counterparts in Lincolnshire who will think nothing of driving for twenty plus miles, dragging a muck spreader, on pointless expeditions.

At the sheds, I quickly unloaded the car and got down to removing Royal Tudor's new deck and undercoating it. I was quite surprised when Doug arrived, knowing he was working that night I thought he'd be in bed. I told him I was unable to find the note he said he'd pinned to RT's hull.
"Ah well, if you'd sanded the hull you would have spotted where I'd written it!' said Doug pointing to the note written in large block letters on the hull itself. Duh, Timbo!

While Doug set to work planing and laminating the panel that will replace RT's cabin wall on the starboard bow, I broke out the random orbital sander. Own a wooden boat, and you will be extremely familiar with these tools. In my workshop at home, I have a Bosch, on RT we have DeWalt and Erbaur orbital sanders. We also have Black and Decker mouse sanders and the latest edition a 'Park' delta sander from Lidle for those hard to reach corners and edges. 'Tool nerds' will be curling their lip at Lidle own brand gear. I don't know why? They may be heavy and clunky, but from my experience they are robust, get the job done and at £20 for a delta sander with sixty sanding sheets highly disposable should they break down.

Quarter past eleven and Watson arrives at the sheds at Martham. A good excuse to break for coffee. At the sheds, we have a Tassimo coffee machine! After coffee, Watson strips down to don his work 'clobber', and we all get back to RT. While I continue sanding and stripping down RT's cabin back to bare wood, Watson is having a groundhog day. Last year we both spent two weeks rubbing, filling, undercoating and painting Royal Tudor's hull only for her not to be put back into the water as we'd asked. He now had to sand back all of the last year's work.

After lunch, Doug got on with fitting planks to RT's port side while Watson and I carried on with the sanding. Sanding, sanding, sand, sand, sandy sanding and more sanding. The arrival of Pauline and Phil for a visit was a welcome distraction. More coffee then back to sanding. By the end of the day fingers were tingling, arms were aching, legs were sore from climbing ladders.

Back at the campsite Watson, who is not a camper, dubiously looked at the tent. After blowing up his li-lo and getting his bedding sorted, we toddled off to get showered. Delicious. In true Famous Five language, there were lashings of hot water in large private shower compartments with hooks for towels and clothes and a handy bench for pillocks like me likely to take a nose dive.

Showered and changed we set off in search of food and beer and chose to sample the fare at the Greyhound. On the way, we spotted signs that there is soon to be a fete at Hickling. Perhaps I should mention this to Griff?
"A fete? So tha want's sum fist does thee lad? Get thee shirt off, I'll larn thee, I'll give thee some fist!"
No? Yeah, Watson didn't get it either. Although he lives in Yorkshire, he's a Lincolnshire lad!

At the Greyhound over a beer and some quite delicious food, we planned the next day's jobs. Hang on, for Helen; I had Field Mushrooms with Brie on a bed of salad with the Cake and Sidney Pudding while Watson also had the Field Mushrooms followed by the Scampi. 

Back at the campsite, it was time for chilled beer we had purchased on the way back from Martham in front of our log fire before turning in for the night.

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Tim my only contribution to this will be that when I am camping I generally dont bring a cool box, I forgo the milk and get the coffee sachets that come ready primed with milk and sugar, just add hot water. everything else can be managed without recourse to the cool box, meat can be obtained during the day and either cooked that evening or for breakfast. bacon lasts for a couple of days, cooks even better on day 2 when all of the injected water has evaporated. other than that if you want meat for the next day, buy it frozen, and by the time you need it it will have thawed out.

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Thanks for the foodie accounts! Much appreciated!  Love the sound of both. The Wayford Bridge Inn and The Greyhound are definitely on my list of places to eat Sometime soon...though the Weyford Bridge will have to wait until we're on something with an engine. There's no way I want to quant that far!


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Saturday morning and I'm up and about at around 6 am. I nip off to the Tesco in Stalham in search of coffee and bring back one for Watson who is still making impersonations of a table saw chopping pallet wood full of nails.

Around 7:30 am, and Watson and I are pulling into the Wayford Inn for breakfast. Fortunately Sally the breakfast host knows of my coffee addiction and makes sure I never see the bottom of my cup until I've finished eating.

A  trip into Wroxham and Watson purchases us some anti-vibration gloves. I'm not sure if these are going to work, but with all of the sanding we are doing, we need some protection. In my case, I have a case of 'moob ache' from leaning against the ladder and sanding.

Back with Royal Tudor at Martham and it's more sanding and more sanding...and yet more sanding. By mid-afternoon, Watson had almost worked his way around the hull, and I was a good three-quarter of the way down the starboard cabin sides.

And as if by magic Doug appeared. At first, I thought he'd done himself an injury as he seemed all hunch-backed, but he was wearing motorcycling gear. He'd brought his two-wheeled conveyance to show Watson.

Doug took off at a fast rate of knots to watch the Three Rivers Race while Watson and I did some more sanding. Eventually, we decided to call it a day and join Doug watching the Three Rivers Race at Potter Heigham. I don't think Watson 'got' yacht racing.

Tired and hungry we decided to go for eats and beer, heading for The Pleasure Boat at Hickling. Although an excellent pint, they had nothing to offer us but barbeque as they were having their kitchens refurbished. So with stomach's rumbling, we nipped to The Greyhound again. This time we split starters of olives and bread with Prawns in ginger and garlic, followed by Lamb Shanks with mash and red cabbage. The meat and cabbage were delicious, but the mash was sort of 'packety'.

Sunday and I am wide awake at 5 am, so decide to take a stroll with my camera, although the coffee levels were drastically low. So off in the car this time to the Garage at Wayford being the only place open for hot coffee at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning. The coffee was hot and wet. 'Nuff said'.

We struck the tent and had the cars loaded by 8:15 am and quickly proceeded to Potter Heigham for two large bacon, sausage, egg and mushroom baguettes and decent coffee from the burger van outside that French shop (eh Martin?). La Thems I think it's called.

At the boat we finished sanding the hull and starboard cabin gave the deck a final coat of paint, cleared away the tools, swept up, loaded up the cars and made a speedy journey back to 'The North', arriving home several hours before expected.

So a few photo's of the work done...and I'm currently preparing for my return trip this Friday for yet more sanding!


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French shop (eh Martin?). La Thems I think it's called.

Just to clear up a point here.

'Lathams' is pronounced just as it is spelt.  That is acceptable to all and sundry as per the norm.

However there is another pronunciation which is   'La-Tharms'

To to use the second pronunciation one has to be a 'La-Tharms'  full member.  To qualify as a full member means you have gone into the shop with a determination not to buy anything but exited with something for around a £1 that you did not know you needed until you went inside.

All 'B.A's crew are full members many times over and more often than not, for much more than £1 too


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