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Malanka Tales


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Malanka Tales.


Well folks I haven‘t done any of these for quite a few years now but Fiona reminded me a while ago that it’s kind of fun and people liked to read about our adventures and so I said “ok lets do it for this easter trip”. If you folks still like to read them then I will get back into writing these things up as they happen. As usual with all  Malanka tales in this one just to tease you all, there are great meets up with friends (Hail Alex and Lorna and Jeff and Steve) there is action, adventure, two boat rescues (I kid you not), two thwacks, from different brothers on the same trip no less (sorry mate it was only a tap- Deep enough to compress the wood planks and almost throw Fiona and Helena off their feet!! A tap indeed mate…..), sun (honestly there was some), rain , hail , wind, low bridge crises, excellent food (Sorry Jeff), great pubs, New Inn Rockland, excellent as always and the Ferry inn at Stokesby, again excellent as always. One thing I can say is that on this trip the two hostelries mentioned went out of their way to be accommodating and just so very welcoming, it was lovely. Other equally impressive hostelries are of course available on our magnificent Broads and will be mentioned / praised in due course when we visit them over the season.

Those familiar with these tales will remember that I always start at home, except this time home is  a little teeensy weensy little bit further away than in the past. Total journey distance is 1235km one way, not quite the 6 hrs 40 mins door to door from Belgium anymore. The details will come later but the total time for this trip was 15 hrs. Leave our house 06:35 UK time arrive boat 21:35 UK time. Not bad with two dogs, four adults and a 5 month old baby.


OK enough with the waffle let's get started.

Preparation for this greatly anticipated trip started on Wednesday with Fiona dropping the two dogs not going on the trip (Scooby and Bootsy) to the Hunde Hotel and then visiting her friend Olivier (very suave Swiss guy) at the Lexus dealership where we leased the New lexus from in January. This is the first such trip for the new car too, so an  extra bonus worry to consider.  The purpose of this garage visit was to have our new roof bars and roof box installed professionally for the first time we used it. I am all into risk reduction and this new fangled shiny new Thule thing is all grab bars and self opening lids, way too complicated for a poor science guy like me. Roof bars and box fitted Fiona returned home with suitable tales of woe as to how difficult the men at the garage found fitting the lexus roof bars to the lexus car! Just as I anticipated disaster number one alleviated. I arrived home from work to feverish packing and preparation activity and two very anxious looking woofers prowling near the door just so we don’t forget to take them with us.

We had decided to prepare our “pack ups” for the journey in advance to prevent having to get up to do it stupidly early and also to avoid buying yuchy horrible motorway sandwiches in France, so we cooked a mound of lovely Swiss sausages and decanted gorgeous salt and vinegar flavour crisps into smaller Ikea bags for the journey. The sausages were made into huge sandwiches with Swiss “Alpen Bröt”, which for the uninitiated is an amazing Swiss bread that is truly scrumptious and healthy with it as well. Various sauces were added, “how can you eat that disgusting brown sauce (HP)” was the cry when mine were made. Others added barbeque sauce and or lettuce and soon the task was complete. Sandwiches placed in bags in fridge and cool bag prepared for the morning. We find this is essential as a few times in the past we have come home to mouldy smelly sandwiches that we forgot to pack…. Doh !!!   

Transfering the beautifully packed bags into the box was the next task, my dismay at the ever growing pile of “absolutely essential” baby stuff in different bags growing by the minute.

Cutting this bit short we got it all in. Ahem we crammed it all in. OK we stuffed every nook and cranny of the box with sh..... Stuff.  

Early to bed as half six get up will turn into half five get up when we arrive at our destination so up the stairs to Bedfordshire and the land of nod awaits.

Thursday morning dawned, wet, dull and very cold. Oh joy… Everything in the car? Check, all dogs in back, check. Passports ? tickets ? Money? All check so off we go. Only 1235km to go or to put it another way 767miles 692.4186 yards remaining.

We decided to avoid the pit of the universe which is the Basel border post and so chose a more rural route which takes us across Switzerland and over or rather under the mountains via Biel, thus avoiding Basel. This was rather uneventful if beautifully picturesque, when we entered France it was like being transported back to the 18th Century and we expeceted Napoleon to come striding through these dillapidated and deserted French villages his army at his back.

We soon found the autoroute we required and took a ticket at the peage and started to eat the miles. Half way across the french countryside we had just payed the last peage and immediately in front were approximately 6 or 7 french Duanes. One of whom fixed us with a stare and pointed for me to pull up next to them. “Avez vous les Papiers pour la Vehicule?” she asked after asking if we spoke French, we replied that we do a little. All the words in my head unfortunately were in German not French so my hesitation and stumbling over my answer raised her suspicions a little.

Well we searched and searched and searched some more and we didn’t have them. OOOOH shhhh bother dash it. Luckily Fiona was on the ball and said “we don’t have the documents because in Switzerland you are not required to carry them in the car, however, we do have the insurance certificate which of course requires the papers to be obtained in the first place”. So heart in mouth we handed this green document over to the officers. They then asked if we lived in Switzerland to which she replied we do and then asked me for for my Swiss I.D. They took these rather tatty looking pieces of paper with my photo, residency status and date of residency grant and asked me verbally what they could read on the documents. Satisfied we answered all their questions they then told us to carry a copy of the documents in future and let us be on our way.  So instead of being in a French police station we were again eating up the miles. Huge sighs of relief and where’s the nearest loo I need to go change my underwear.

We stopped a total of three times before we arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal and checked in the woofters with the folks there, a few anxious moments when the machine wouldn’t detect Monty’s chip but the use of the older model solved the problem and away to check in we went.

We had made good time and got ourselves on an earlier train so just time for a quick pee for the doggies and for the humans too and it was time to board.

Totally standard crossing with no issues and we were in folkestone by 5:45 pm. “Almost there” was the thought in my mind, just the M25 and the QE2 bridge to hold us up and we would be happy. For about ten seconds, as the first matrix sign above the M20 says. Severe delays M25 J1-3, just the ones we want. Never mind google lady to the rescue and we were soon off piste and going down all sorts of single track roads one after another to get us to the bridge using the minimum of M25. This little endeavour saved us at least 45 minutes of queuing and we were soon heading for the A12, we figured by the time we get to the latter stages of the journey the slower nature of this route compared to the M11 / A11 would equal out. The other reason to use this route was to stop for some FOOOD. We had been going for nearly 12 hrs by this point and we all needed some solid food to pep us up for the last push to Stalham.

We used to live in Maldon near Whittam and so we pulled off the A12 into Whittam and headed for a chip shop we know and love to get our supper.

Dogs walked and us fully satiated with chips , pies , and battered sausages, we fuelled up the car “again” and set of for the final run into Stalham. By now the weather was truly wretched and it was bitterly cold at 4 degrees but we felt good with full tummies and not far to go. No events on the last part of the journey and we arrived at the boatyard to find Malanka in her usual spot (thanks to Phil and his merry band). We turned on the eber and the lights and unloaded the box, the dogs ran back and forth encouraging us to get on with it and finally we were done. Car parked, canopies closed, lights on, heating on. Relaaaaax and open that wine..

The familiar smells of combined diesel, wood polish and old wooden boat soon consumed us and it was time for bed. We planned a long lie in (at least I did) and quickly fell deeply asleep listening to the pitter patter of rain hitting the cabin roof and the more staccato sound of the rain hitting the canvas canopies.

Next morning we hoped for a lie in but unfortunately the doggies don’t know about BST and CET and so at 07:15 their time (06:15 BST) it was “get up mummy get up” woofles and then noooo you can’t ignore me licks and spins on the bed.  

Oh poo it’s time to get up.

Friday in Stalham to come. Hope you liked the first bit.

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2 hours ago, YnysMon said:

Yay! An even more detailed blog than mine. Love it! Every bit of it...more please!


Personally I think you need to have pictures along with a blog, as I reckon that's what a lot of people like and you done yours really well.

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Wonderful to read. So different to anything I've ever done. Two hours from Essex to Norfolk ... no passport required. That's my kind of trip and I often admire the dedication of everyone who has to come so much further for their Broads Fix!

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There used to be a chap called Dave who was a member of another forum who holidayed on The Broads most years, he travelled from Perth, Not Tayside but Western Australia. I think I read a post maybe a couple of years ago where he said it was getting a bit much.

But there again Quantas now fly direct Perth to Heathrow. Thinking of giving that route a go myself next winter.

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He he Aristotle hence the new Lexus, there is nothing quite like driving a soft comfy sofa disguised as a car to eat up those the miles. I have back, shoulder, knee and foot troubles, Fiona is blessed with a very dodgy hip too, so when it comes to cars, comfort comfort comfort are the usual considerations. It's also a lease, so its not that hard on the wallet either. Very good offers in Switzerland at the moment as nobody wants one. All the better for us. 15 hrs duration with 12 hrs driving does still do me in a little bit though. Boy did I need that prosecco when we hit Stalham. As I am sure you will agree if you mentally divide it all up into bite sized pieces and then tick each one off one by one, the total soon gets swallowed up and hey presto you're there already.. 

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Me too, I get through about one every 3 or 4 days just driving to work (8-9 hour books), the next book is book 34 of the Terry pratchett discworld series (Thud), two free books a month on my audible package, then the opportunity to get 3 extra credits at a discount later in the month.

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Totally agree with audiobooks.  Our problem is that we are of an age that when it's time to do the return journey we can't rememeber what we were listening to or how far through the story we were.

In fact I'm beginning to wonder how we manage to remember where home is ...

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Sorry folks got caught up in buying a new lawn mower..

We awoke Friday morning to frantic bed spinning from the two woofers with us and a little bit of doggie chat, a sort of howl come wuffle sort of squeely noise which Monty (Airedale 8 months old) makes every morning. In addition, the sound to which we fell so gently asleep last night was alas still pitter pattering away on the cabin tops and canopies in a kind of mocking ha ha we’re still here sort of way.

We tried very hard to lie in, even just a little bit, but the Airedale tail when wagged vigorously is a weapon not to be ignored so after two or three face lashings and a spilt overnight fruit drink debacle courtesy of Monty the pup, we gave up, got up, got dressed, all the while dodging flailing tails and VERY cold noses being applied in places cold noses should not be applied, we donned our wellies and waterproofs (gosh did we look sexy or what) and took out both enthusiasts for a walk (there is no other word for an excited Airedale other than enthusiast, there just isn’t)

We had brought dog toys to chase too as that is an essential element of dog walks in Stalham for Boris (Airedale 6 yrs old, brick out-house construction, and when sitting he is ten toilet rolls tall – just don’t ask, a picture will explain everything- honestly it will)

The two Hairy enthusiasts made a disorganised B line for the field opposite the yard and then after being let off they proceeded to seek out any furry creature not intelligent enough to have already left the vicinty. Their huge, but still attractive in a doggy kind of way, black noses glued to the soaking wet grass, their nnow soaking legs moving at light speed in pusuit of absolutely nothing other than a latent scent left by the nocturnal occupüants of the field. Happily for all any and all creatures were now smirking at the silly dogs running enthusiastically about the soaking wet field, warmly ensconced in their burrows and other furry creature abodes.

After the frantic field action we decided the two enthusiasts may like to go visit with the very nice people at Richardsons just down the road, so poo bags in hand we set off for Richos to see what’s what on Good Friday morning. We wandered about watching the preparations for the coming weekend, people packing, unpacking and everyone in blue looking very purposeful for such an early hour.  We talked with some folks who stopped to say hi to the Aire loons and discovered over 100 boats going out Friday and over 90 going out Saturday, so well done to Clive and his band of folks in Blue.

So chit chats finished, breezes all shot, we plodded slowly back to Malanka to sort out what we were going to do today.  The pre determined intent for the day was to take the doggies to the beach to give Monty his first taste of the beach and the sea side. Living in switzerland the opportunities for sea water exposure are somewhat limited. The weather was unfortunately not really suitable so we decided, ok well it was decided, OK Fiona and Helena decided, that they had to go shopping whilst I sorted out the usual niggles with a boat recently returned to service after a winter out. Phils guys had done the most stellar job in polishing and primping and preparing Malanka as they always do, so it was mostly chat to the guys in the yard (honestly its not just gossiping, it isn’t I promise) and get all the electrical appliances back on board and functioning, remove all non essential fishing gear to shoreside storage and visit the wetshed cupboard to retrieve doggie life jackets, fold down chairs and anything else requested by whoever tells me to get stuff.

Boris a bit disappointed with the weather and looking decidedly miffed.

When we visited the shed Justin and I ran into Charlie on B.A. who is our shed sister, they were there doing some last minute maintenance before she went out for Easter. Needless to say the ten minute “pop” to the shed was a teensy weensy bit extended and poor Justin took to utilising the fold down chairs on the quay heading to grab a few Z’s whilst waiting for me to finish whatever very important man discussions took so long to discuss. Anyway with everything all caught up we headed back to face the “why did that take so long” music inevitably heading our way. My plan was simple blame Griff. Easy……Phew easy escape there, and relaaaax.

Our plan such as it was, was quite simple, arrive, relax all day Friday, have a chinese take away Friday night (getting to be a tradition), don’t rush off anywhere too early, chat to Phil Saturday morning, fix any issues we find then depart Saturday morning /early afternoon to somehwere. We were heading south later in the week as we love it but tides and slack passages were a tad early for Sunday after such a long Journey on Thursday so that would wait until Monday which was till early but entirely doable.

Jeff and Steve of “cooking on the broads” fame were moored behind us so Fiona and I visited with them and Austin the guide dog for the afternoon. Monty thought Austin was amazing and they got on like a house on fire, Boris and Austin are old mates so they just ran, barked, woofled, and sniffed whilst the younger enthusiast remined the two older doggies what it is to have boundless energy and unlimited enthusiasm for life. Several proseccos and some other drinks and snacs later Fiona and I wobbled our way back to Malanka and decided that the boys could walk to the take away as neither of us was in a fit state to speak never mind drive. The welcoming warmth of the coal burner in the saloon of Corsica had lulled us into a false sense of security, and we passed a most pleasant afternoon chatting with the guys and playing catch up, and consuming more prosecco that we realised. Boy did we need that cold air to make it back to Malanka later on.

 Pic boris.msgPic boris.msg

So after a great afternoon doing nothing at all with two of the nicest folks you can meet, and if you havent yet met them yet, I’m sure any and all would be welcome to say hi. We headed back to frowns of disapproval from the offspring. Yes I know its usually the other way round but hey we were on holiday….

So heating on, lights on, music on, we enjoyed a very relaxed evening filling Malanka’s noooks and crannies with all the provisions we had bought that an extended cruise would require. We employed both Roys and Tesco ( I love the Roys “pot luck” offcut bacon selection btw).

Soon it was time for the boys to head out into the rather inclement weather for the take away (it was pouring cats and dogs) leaving the rest of us to prepare the table, plates, assorted sauces and  condiments, various alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks to be ready for the eagerly  anticipated food delivery. The sounds of canopy zips opening and then the delicious mix of aromas from beef chow mein, kung po chicken, egg fried rice and prawn crackers preceded the boys into the saloon. All decorum thrown to the four corners of the room we fell to voraciously consuming our take away like ravening beasts and when fully sated we sat back and gently crunched on the remaining prawn crackers wondering whether that last piece of kung po chicken and that last chicken ball didn’t actually need to be left in the tray. We were truly stuffed to the gills and after a very successful day doing not much and going nowhere we washed up and sat back to discuss which of the many lovely spots we intended to visit tomorrow afternoon after leaving Stalham. We knew that Alex and Lorna were meeting Steve and jeff at Ranworth (they were coming in the car) so we thought we would just maybe swing by there and say hi as well. It was alex and Lorna who saved us when the transmission broke in Brooms last summer.

Next Installment, broken tv’s and the “on / off” switch, Ranworth with alex and Lorna and the breakfast of champions..


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The one that used to have the plastic chairs but now only does take away and only accepts cash.


its husband and wife operation and one reception guy. It’s always good but it’s 20 mins to wait so we call. 


Cant remember the name. The lemon chicken is to die for. 



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9 hours ago, Malanka said:

The lemon chicken is to die for.

I hope it was better than the lemon chicken that we had in a Chinese restaurent in Chester California after a day in Mt. Lassen Volcanic National park.

That lemon chicken was horribly sweet & uneatable.

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I'm trying to pin it down too. There's one that looks more like a reasonably modern shop,  and another that looks like a really old building. I think both are 'cash only'

Edited to add, I think the one in the old building used to be 'eat in or takeaway' but is now just takeaway.

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