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Another Week On Grande Girl 1

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I have had a few beers Mouldy and so will read the continuation of your  tale tomorrow but what fantastic pictures you have posted.

Have you submitted any for the NBN calender, as they really are deserving of a place .

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Friday 29th September


So the morning of our last full day afloat dawned, or it would have if it hadn’t have been so cloudy.  It was raining too.  I was up first as usual and with a cuppa in hand I watched as the murk became just a little lighter to show that night had turned to day.  The wife and Iain were both up too and I went for a shower as they went out with the dogs.

While I was in the shower, some total clown raced past causing a wash so severe that I was almost knocked off my feet.  I pulled back the shower curtain to try to identify the boat, but all I could see through the steamed-up windows was a white hull and blue cabin top, heading towards Ludham.  He must have been in a hurry.

Iain and Debbie arrived back on board before I had finished getting ready, neither Simba nor Harley were great fans of the rain apparently and had both decided when they had walked far enough.  I finished getting ready and emerged from the aft cabin when finally dressed to find the others watching a very gloomy weather forecast on breakfast television.

The plan for the day was, as usual, a visit to Ranworth and the church, and overnight at Salhouse, but seeing how busy the rivers had been, I was keen to get away and see if we could find a mooring at Ranworth Staithe.

Rachel was in the shower as we cast off and headed back down the Ant.  There was loads of clearance at Ludham Bridge and no need to wind the saloon roof down or lower the windscreen, which was a relief due to the rain.  Debbie lit the grill and cooked some crumpets for breakfast, hot and dripping with butter, just as I like them!  Breakfast finished, the others went, in turn, to get ready.

We soon arrived at the end of Ranworth Dam and headed along it towards Malthouse Broad.  I had taken a pair of binoculars with me and as soon as the staithe came into view, I peered through them to see if there was room.  It looked quite busy, but I thought I could see a space, so I headed for it.  As we drew nearer, there was definitely a space there and it looked narrow, but I thought we could fit, so gave it a go.  It was a little more tricky with the roof up, the rearward visibility somewhat compromised, however I squeezed Grande Girl in and we moored up safely.

By now, the rain had eased, so it was agreed that we would head for St Helens and treat ourselves to a coffee and slice of cake each in the café behind the church.  I had already wrapped some potatoes in foil and put them in the oven to cook for lunch and with the buggy set up, Harry strapped in and a couple of umbrellas we set off and soon arrived at the church gate.

The lighting for photography was flat and the sky grey and gloomy, so I set my camera to simulate black and white film and took a few photos of the outside of the church before changing back to recording in colour and going in.  Debbie, Rachel and Harry stayed outside whilst Iain and I went in.  He ventured up the tower and a couple of minutes later, at 11:00, the church bell rung out.  I hoped that he hadn’t been too close when it had rung!! 

I wasn’t in the mood for clambering up the stairs that day, so went out and stood with the wife (who was keeping Harry amused) whilst Rachel went up the tower to find Iain. 

I went round to the café to find it closed again.  I had been looking forward to a slice of their cake, someone there makes exceedingly good ones and I’m sure it isn’t Mr Kipling.

We were joined by the others and we went out through the gate and followed the lane round the back and past the village hall.

Rachel, Debbie, Harry and the dogs went back to the boat.  Iain and I went along the boardwalk to the floating Norfolk Wildlife Trust Centre.  I climbed the narrow spiral stairs, found a pair of binoculars and looked through the windows to see if I could spot anything unusual, but as usual, was disappointed.

I’ve visited there several times over the years and can only ever remember seeing anything out of the ordinary on one previous occasion some twenty years or so ago, when one of the staff there guided us to look at a heron’s nest, high in a tree on the far side of Ranworth Broad.  Strange to think that a bird with such long legs builds a nest so far off the ground.

I rejoined Iain downstairs and we wandered back to the boat, pausing to have a quick look in the shop on the way.  I left him there and ambled over the green to Grande Girl while Rachel went in the opposite direction to join Iain.  To make up for the disappointment of not having cake at the church café, I had a slice of the cherry cake that the wife had made to take with us on holiday, before topping up with water for the last time. 

We stopped there for lunch of jacket potatoes, cheese, coleslaw and salad before casting off and heading for Salhouse and our last night on board.  As we left our moorings, a boat whose crew had been mud-weighting on the broad, moved towards our vacated spot as another boat who had just entered did the same.

I didn’t look round to see who won, but just chugged back up Ranworth Dam to join the Bure.  I had thought about stopping at the moorings for St Benedicts Church for a mooch round, as I hadn’t visited there for many years, but they were occupied so we carried on to Salhouse, where we moored at the far end of the quay heading past (and out of the way of) the water point. 

The weather was still grey and overcast.  There had been occasional brighter periods, but there had also been a few sharp showers.  I noticed that there were a couple of other Summercraft boats there, Gainsborough Girl and one of the Gala Girls.  I guessed that like us, they were finishing the following morning and enjoying their last night in easy striking distance of boatyard.

Iain and Rachel went to hire a kayak for an hour and we watched as they paddled past.  Far too energetic for me, I’m afraid.  I prepared a sausage casserole and put it in the oven and peeled the spuds to go with it.  Debbie was keeping her grandson occupied, feeding a couple of swans and a large group of geese, from the sliding side door at the helm. 

The kids (we still call them that!) returned from their kayaking and Debbie and Iain took the dogs for some exercise.  TV reception has never been great at Salhouse, but we managed to get one channel, so it was watchable and chilled for a while when they got back.

We had dinner at about 19:00.  Sausage casserole and creamed potatoes washed down with white wine for Rachel and Debbie (they said they needed to finish the bottle) and cider for Iain and me!  With the washing up done, we had a final game of crib before turning in. 

Although some of the packing had already been done, it is difficult to do too much with little space to stow the packed bags, so it would need to be an early start the following morning to finish the packing and tidy up the boat.

Although Iain and Rachel had been married in April this year, due to financial constraints they had put their honeymoon off until next year and would be away for their first anniversary.  As a result, they’d be unable to join Debbie and me on the Broads next year, so I fell asleep thinking about which of Summercraft’s fleet would best suit us for our next Broadland adventure.


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Saturday 30th September


I awoke to the sound of the alarm on my phone that I’d set in good time to allow me to get ready and pack without rushing.  Debbie followed me and got ready to take the dogs out and much to my amazement, Iain was up early too.

They went out with the dogs and I went for a shower.  Dressed and ready, I set about packing up all of the bits and pieces that we had taken with us.  The others returned with the dogs and the wife went for a shower and to get herself ready. 

There was no breakfast planned that morning, time was too precious, so it would be a McDonalds, although I’m ashamed to admit it.  I went out to mop the decks and pull up the mudweight.  We cast off from our moorings at about 07:45 and chugged slowly (and sadly) back towards Wroxham and the boatyard.  I was at the helm, Rachel showered and dressed and then got Harry ready, finally Iain went for a shower too.  Bags were being packed and the beds stripped, washing up done and everything tidied away.  I do not know how we had managed to take so much stuff.

We only passed a couple of boats on the move between Salhouse Broad and Wroxham and all too soon we turned right off the Bure and into Summercrafts yard.  It looked as if we had been beaten back by just one other boat – Gala Girl 2 was moored under the canopy and being thoroughly prepared by an army of people, cleaning outside and inside, even polishing the crockery and cutlery before carefully putting everything back in its place, ensuring that their high standards were being maintained.  Small wonder that their craft, although far from new, are amongst the smartest and best presented on the Broads.

I reversed, self-consciously to moor alongside Gala Girl, anxious not to mess up when it was being witnessed by so many people.  Fortunately, there were no mistakes and we were soon back in almost exactly in the same position as our holiday had started a week previously.  Our cars were under cover, just a few short steps from Grande Girl, so we went to collect the keys and pack them ready for the journey home.

The fuel was dipped, Rachel and I set about packing the two cars, the wife was looking after Harry and Iain was making himself useful and vacuuming each cabin as they were emptied of our possessions, using our rechargeable Dyson that we’d taken with us for that purpose.  Finally, with everything stowed and the cupboards and drawers finally checked to make sure nothing had been left, we stepped off the boat for the last time.

Whilst we had been packing the cars, a couple more boats had also returned, one of which was Gainsborough Girl, which I was pleased to see.  I had been considering hiring her for next year and my one reservation was that our dog may not be able to tackle the relatively steep steps from the outside steering position into the saloon.  Before making the booking, for our peace of mind, I wanted to check that Harley could cope with them and hoped that Sue would allow us to try when the current hirers had cleared her of their belongings.

Iain and I went to see Brian and Sue, where I was given a refund of £21 and a few pence against our fuel deposit of £110.  I wasn’t unhappy, we’d been across Breydon, to Norwich and back and explored much of the Northern Broads too, so the fuel cost of about £89 I though was pretty good.

I explained to Sue about making sure the dog could manage the steps on Gainsborough Girl and she was quite agreeable, so I wandered round to the boat with the dog.  My fears proved totally unfounded, she hopped on and scampered down the steps without a problem.  The wife had already taken a quick tour and it met with her approval too, so I went back to the office and booked for next year.

That was settled then.  We had hired Grenada Girl twice, Gardenia Girl once and Grande Girl a total of four times since 2004, so it would be a first on Gainsborough and our first time on a ‘fly-bridge’ style cruiser.  Obviously, she is not new, but in outstanding condition inside and out and very striking in Summercraft’s livery. 

Booking made, we set off on the short drive to Roy’s car park.  Rachel, Debbie, Harry and the dogs went to find a seat near the moorings behind Hoveton Visitor Centre, whilst Iain and I went to get breakfast from McDonalds.  We returned to the others and sat for a few minutes eating and talking over our holiday.

When finished, we went for our customary visit to Wroxham Barns where the wife bought yet another cross stitch to add to the many that she has been accumulating, in readiness for her retirement (she says).   We sat at one of the café’s whilst Rachel and Iain took Harry into the farm.  They took loads of pictures of him with the animals and he looked as if he had really enjoyed himself.

We eventually set off for home at about 12:30 and including a forced diversion to avoid a build-up of traffic on the A45, arrived home by just after 15:00.

So our Broadland adventure was over for another year, but it can only be about forty-eight weeks until we start again.  I can hardly wait!!

As there are no photos from our last day, I’ll post a few more taken during our holiday.  Hope you like them!!


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Beautifully written tale as always and lovely photos, thank you. 

You'll love Gainsborough Girl, which I hired in 2010. Like a number of the Summercraft fleet it was originally at Brister Craft and is built very well. I took her south on that trip and the views from the top deck at places like the Chet are brilliant. 

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Another great holiday tale Mouldy and great pictures too.

I really enjoyed it, thanks for taking the time to post it.

So until next time :default_beerchug:

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Wonderful write up accompanied by great photos. Really enjoyed that.

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Thank you from me too, especially those photos of Norwich cathedral.

13 hours ago, TostockTimonnier said:

Thank you for sharing your adventures and wonderful photographs, most enjoyable

I knew I had seen seen that word somewhere before! - "helmsman" in French! 

A "timonerie", is a wheelhouse.

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