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The Voyages Of Grace

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“Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.”
Kenneth Grahame,The Wind in the Willows

At home, I have neighbours and acquaintances. Just like badger, I'm not much of a social animal. But the rivers and broads make friends of us all and Grace was more than a little intrigued to discover I knew more people in, on and around The Broads than I did at home. After receiving a royal salute from Vaughan on board his new boat as we left Simpsons boatyard, Gracie was wearing her thoughtful expression.
“Do all of you friends live in Norfolk?”
“Not all of them, but a lot do.”
“Do they all have boats?”
“Some of them do, but not all of them.”
“Why do all your friends wear silly hats?”
“To stop their heads exploding!”

The boat was fuelled, the dogs walked, Dylan and I were medicated and Ellie was still feeling delicate from three glasses of wine and a five thirty wake up call. Potter Heigham would be our destination for Grace to buy gifts for Mummy, Daddy and her baby brother Arlo. So while Ellie went back to her bunk, Captain Gracie and I helmed Royal Tudor down the River Ant.

After talking so much about Princess Grace and while my queen is snoozing in the forward cabin I should say something about the majesty that is Royal Tudor. Built in 1960 my grand lady turns sixty next year. Believe it or not, boats do have a personality. To me, RT's personality is somewhere between Margaret Rutherford and Joyce Grenfell with the looks of a young Jean Simmons. It must be well over four years ago since I last helmed Royal Tudor in near solitude. Her time off the water has changed her in some subtle and not so subtle ways.

In the past Royal Tudor was deft at manoeuvring, she could turn on a sixpence with the lightest touch of the helm where it takes some effort to turn her wheel now. I'm going to have to take a look at that. In motion RT sets her own pace. There is no hurrying her unless she wants to or she needs to. There is no need for fancy instrumentation, Sat Navs or GPS systems, not that there ever is on the Broads, as the old girl will tell you if you are going too fast. If you take her above a walking pace she will groan and grumble, rattle, creak and complain. Hit the sweet spot, RT will guide you to it, and she glides through the water with barely a murmur. If you need to overtake Royal Tudor, then you are speeding. Having said that, Gracie, Royal Tudor and I took it especially slowly on our trip to Potter Heigham. Plenty of time for me to order my thoughts and reminisce on forty seven years of visiting The Broads.

I retrieved the set of folding steps I used in the past for Uncle Albert to disembark and set them up in front of the helm so that Gracie could stand on them to see over the cockpit and reach the wheel. It took us the distance from Stalham to joining the Ant for Grace to master keeping Royal Tudor in a straight line.
“I know what to do Timbo, I can do it!”
That little girl was fascinated by everything she saw. Trees, birds, wild flowers, stoats, the names and history of the landscape that glided past us.

We nosed into Barton Turf so she could see one of our favourites mooring spots and turn the boat. Around The Heater we discussed shields and sword fights. Across Barton we discussed different types of sail boats (I have to learn more), weather patterns, cloud shapes, fish nets and ecology. Gracie helmed RT all the way down the river Ant, across Barton Broad, and further down the Ant to Ludham bridge.

Along the way we encountered the wherry Albion under full sail. As we were just bimbling along we were happy to sit a way upstream and follow along. But soon there was a backlog of boats behind us, many of them new helms, and Albion had slowed almost to a stop. Before we could make our move one of the boats behind us decided that it was OK to go flat out and overtake all the other boats as well as Albion through blind bends and into oncoming boats. I edged RT further out into the river to stop the rest following suit and waited for Albion's helm and lookout to look behind and give an indication.
“You pillock! Give us a clue?” I muttered under my breath.
The first at another hire boat trying to come around us without noticing the huge wherry in front then suddenly going into reverse, and the second at Albion's lookout.
Eventually the lookout looked and waved us through. So now with clear water ahead we continued our bimble.

Before Ludham I spotted a familiar and welcome sight. Listing to port, probably under the weight of her master who was looking decidedly 'piratey', was Nyx under the command of a certain Maurice Mynah. Nyx was still in the distance when Gracie started to chuckle.
"This is one of your friends Timbo!" exclaimed Gracie.
"How do you make that out?"
"The hat!"

Ellie surfaced just before we reached Ludham bridge. Gracie wanted to try the horn as we went under the bridge.The temporary air horn inflated by bicycle pump was feeble to say the least. Gracie was somewhat disappointed.
“That sounds like a duck trump!” declared Gracie before erupting into giggles.
A new horn is something we need to add to the growing shopping list of items Royal Tudor needs. To this list can be added two new mooring warps, without which mooring is decidedly difficult having to swap lines from various parts of the boat when coming into moor.

Through Ludham we headed to the Ant mouth and turned to follow the River Bure downstream. That weekend the Three Rivers Yacht Race was taking place, so I put on some revs and got a wiggle on to Potter Heigham hoping to get a mooring. Gracie disappeared below decks with Grandma but they soon arrived back bearing cake, biscuits and a cup of tea. I have a new found enjoyment of cake. I blame my very best friend Doug for this. Call a tea break and I can guarantee Doug will ask 'Is there any cake?'. It's either Doug's fault or I admit I've entered that stage of life where cake features heavily, as do sheds.

We made Potter Heigham before tea time, 4 pm proper tea time, moored in the only open space opposite Herbert Woods yard river entrance (not ideal) and took the boys and Gracie for a walk into 'town' to stretch legs, before I headed back to Royal Tudor for a well deserved nap!

More later!

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I can do it  I know what to do certainly rings a bell with us,  a certain 4 years Mollie Paige helming Beau jangles our Fairline Mirage  up the river Gt. Ouse leaving Ely. Granddad, all you have to do is just say right a bit or left a bit Mollie,  there's no need to touch.What happy memories, Mollie Paige is 23 now!




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6 hours ago, Timbo said:

she could turn on a sixpence with the lightest touch of the helm where it takes some effort to turn her wheel now.

more grease in that very awkward to get at greasing cap on the rudder tube, lots more grease, I know I put a fair bit into it, but I never got it to where it was oozing out at either end, so lots of grease, its a pig to get to too as it faces the front of the boat and there is no access panel right where you could do it with a grease gun, so its take the cap off, pack the cap with grease, wind the cap on fully, take the cap off pack it with grease, and repeat lots. when we changed out the steering cable while we had the cable off, you could turn the rudder with just two finger tips, so its my bet that you need more grease. once we had changed the cable it was a lot better than before with all the joins in the 11 different bits of cable binding against each other, the ribs of the boat and anything else that happened to get near. also do you have the lock nut at the steering wheel end, if so it hasnt been tightened down to make the steering stiff to stop her wandering off course has it.

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1 hour ago, grendel said:

more grease in that very awkward to get at greasing cap on the rudder tube, lots more grease, I know I put a fair bit into it, but I never got it to where it was oozing out at either end, so lots of grease, its a pig to get to too as it faces the front of the boat and there is no access panel right where you could do it with a grease gun, so its take the cap off, pack the cap with grease, wind the cap on fully, take the cap off pack it with grease, and repeat lots. when we changed out the steering cable while we had the cable off, you could turn the rudder with just two finger tips, so its my bet that you need more grease. once we had changed the cable it was a lot better than before with all the joins in the 11 different bits of cable binding against each other, the ribs of the boat and anything else that happened to get near. also do you have the lock nut at the steering wheel end, if so it hasnt been tightened down to make the steering stiff to stop her wandering off course has it.

It's the rudder tube again. Don't forget RT hasn't been out since last August...

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“It's not the sort of night for bed, anyhow.”
Kenneth Grahame,The Wind in the Willows

The afternoon nap! When did I become so old and so tired that I need an afternoon nap? Without my afternoon nap I start to slow down. When forty winks is not an option, then coffee is my saviour.

As Martin has pointed out, I am a bit of a coffee snob. My coffee of choice is always Italian and I blend and grind my own beans. I do not do instant coffee, not ever. At home, the kettle is never cold and neither is the coffee pot. You may have noticed that I have not yet mentioned coffee aboard Royal Tudor? There's a reason for this. I have yet to sort out the coffee situation aboard Royal Tudor. I remember the coffee but forget the rest of the paraphernalia!

Sometimes even coffee cannot rouse me and I have to turn to Lucozade. Friends may notice beer can also have the desired effect, freeing up my gob and sending it into overdrive. But without a source of energy, like a battered tin automaton, I clomp around getting slower and slower until everything just stops. My thought process is the first to go, followed by speech and finally balance and coordination. Ellie is aware of the signs that my energy levels are too low and, as I have come to appreciate, she seamlessly slips in to support me when I'm struggling. Ellie is so adept with her aid that many people don't realise I do have some serious problems with quite simple things.

So, when Ellie and Grace finished shopping in that very French store 'La Thems', Ellie had among her purchases a coffee pot. She ordered fish and chips from the Bridge Stores Cafe for collection later and we walked back to Royal Tudor for a coffee and an afternoon nap. Since the collapse of the dinette bed that morning I repaired to what we call the 'Captain's Cabin'. This is RT's single cabin containing a single berth, wardrobe and washbasin. Previously it also had storage underneath the bunk but we have since used that space for the waste tank for the new toilet system, the drawers fronts cut down and replaced for the appearance. Sliding the door shut, I was soon in the land of nod, dreaming of an elephant hunt according to Grace and Grandma. I talk in my sleep!

Grace is getting used to my terminology for meal times, these being breakfast, second breakfast or elevenses, luncheon, tea, dinner (if formal) or supper (if informal). Her favourite meal of the day is tea which she normally takes in the company of Grandma from one of Grace's collection of teapots and teacups and consists of tea, cakes, biscuits and finger sandwiches.
“What shall we talk about?” Grace will ask as Grandma pours the tea.

A fish and chip supper from the Bridge Stores was very welcome that evening. I was famished and feeling decidedly 'ropey'. After supper I retired to RT's cockpit with a second mug of coffee to watch the fun and games on the water. To 'perc up' is an appropriate term. There's a pseudo scientific theory that water has memory. I have a pet theory that water traps history. Outwardly the area around the Herbert Woods Yard may have changed over the years, but in some aspects it hasn't changed at all. As I sit and watch the antics of hirers returning to the yard memories of my own childhood afloat bubble to the surface.

Feeling a little refreshed I took the boys for their walk behind the riverside properties that line banks between Potter Heigham Bridge and Repps while Grace telephoned her Mum and Dad. In the hour or so that I had been gone Maurice Mynah had arrived and moored behind us. We had seen him on the Ant earlier in the day. We chatted for an hour over a beer and a cup of tea. Ellie and Gracie were tired from our adventures and headed to bed. I was still feeling ropey and was not long behind them finding Ellie had made up my bed in the Captain's Cabin and laid out my various pills and potions. I made sure Dylan had taken his tablet and then took mine.

I was woken by the sound of a boat engine. Our phones had died earlier after Gracie's call home so I had no idea of the time. It was dark, approaching midnight I think. A hire boat with drunken crew aboard, disco lights flashing had just gone full steam upriver towards the bridge. I waited for the crash but the roar of the engine heralded the return of the boat to attempt to moor opposite us. I say 'attempt' because it took them half an hour of ramming the bank multiple times at full speed before they managed to land a part of their crew, only to get a warp wrapped around their prop and to start the whole process again. Finally, they moored up. Since their arrival lights had been coming on in all the riverside properties and torches were sweeping the banks from both sides. I get the feeling the 'hullabaloos' had tried to land or rammed the quay or boats on their way upriver. I noted boat name and number and tried to get back to sleep.

Sleep escaped me as our water pumps kept firing. My brother in law Watson took the job of connecting RT's shower to the water system. Previously the shower had been connected by some adapters that Watson tells me are the wrong angle or something. The problem is, the new connectors, although the correct angle, leak. The bulkhead is getting wet. The carpet in the front cabin is getting wet. Wet means rot. It also means the water pumps are constantly firing to maintain pressure in the water system. So I spent an hour hunting for the water system fuse by the light of my Zippo lighter. I finally found the correct fuse, removed it and peace reigned. Although I couldn't sleep as both Dylan and Toby had decided they wanted to share the single bunk now I was in the Captain's Cabin after the previous morning's collapse of the double dinette bunk. I gave up, got up, put the kettle on and made a drink. I added 're-plumb shower', add a switch to turn water system off from dashboard and make new tabletop' to the list of jobs for RT. I then dragged the squabs from the dinette onto the floor, made a bed of sorts and the boys and I got off to sleep.

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As we are getting closer to the beginning of Gracie's next voyage, I suppose I had better finish off this one.

“as one by one the scents and sounds and names of long-forgotten places come gradually back and beckon to us.” 
― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Feeding the ducks.
I am not a supporter of the 'do not feed the ducks bread brigade'. Let's say I've been sceptical ever since this Facebook driven marketing campaign by pet food manufacturers reared its head. It takes a matter of seconds to track the money changing hands, and a little perseverance to wade through the pseudo-science.  Calls related to malnourished water fowl have increased ten fold these last few years here in Lincolnshire. On my beloved Broads, the wildlife populations have changed drastically. The Broads are stuffed with harriers, heron, otter, buzzards, hawks, cormorant, and owl. I often wonder what all these predators are eating and was wondering exactly this point watching eight barn owls hunting the meadow behind the pilot office at Potter Heigham Bridge, when a common buzzard grabbed one of the owls. The answer being, each other!

Populations of grey lag geese currently seem to stand out on The Broads. The uniformity of the flock making the lack of duck and coot more prominent. Duck and coot seem to have vanished. My favourite bird the Great Crested Grebe are still here but not in any number. A centre cockpit boat above the reeds exposes the myth the missing birds are in flood dykes. So, you will see me feeding the 'ducks' or in the case of Gracie that morning, feeding the black headed gulls who stood in for the missing ducks on this occasion and they will be dining on bread and scraps.

I could feel the 'Norfolk Coffee' I had with Maurice Mynah that morning 'doing me good' as I dropped RT's cockpit roof and made ready to leave Potter Heigham. I waved farewell to Maurice Mynah as he left his mooring, and started the engine.
"Wait, wait, I'm not ready!" called a little voice from the galley as Gracie finished her toast and rushed up to the cockpit in a swirl of summer dress and long blonde hair.
Leaving the mooring and turning in front of the bridge we headed back down stream with the smell of cooking bacon and eggs wafting deliciously from the galley. Within seconds Grandma arrived bearing a plate of bacon and egg sandwiches and a pot of fresh coffee. Gracie and Grandma then climbed onto RT's roof from the cockpit to take in the sights of Tin Town.

Thurne will always have a special place in my heart. It's been the site of so many family holidays from the early 70s onward. In 1972 we were cruising upriver to Potter on board Captain XII. Uncle Albert was at the helm and usually he gave fisherman plenty of room. Cruising up to Thurne Dyke he was paying very close attention to two fishermen hidden in the reeds between the old landing craft turned houseboat and the dyke. The boat in front had cut close to the fishermen hitting the fishing rod of one of them and received 'a good cussin' . Turning Captain XII at the dyke he headed back down stream before turning again and heading upstream. This time he hugged the bank tightly which would mean the irate fisherman would be even more irate having a boat park in front of his peg.
"What kind of daft pill...oh aye up ah kid!" the fisherman had started to shout angrily before a gleeful smile crossed his face and he swarmed into the cockpit mud dripping from his waders as he hugged my mum.
The two fishermen were father and son in law, renowned for their pranks and practical jokes. The son in law was married to my Mum's school friend and Mum had spent the majority of her childhood as a part of their family, although we had not seen them for almost seven years as we had been abroad wherever Dad was stationed. For the next ten years or so we would join the families camping in the field behind the farm and fishing the Thurne.

I relived my childhood memories sharing them with Gracie as Thurne slipped by in a golden haze of sunshine. Out through Thurne mouth and we passed St. Benets.
"When I come back we are going there for a picnic!" Gracie announced.
Grandma was making a list of places Gracie wanted to visit 'the next time' as I basked in Gracie's enthusiasm. My preoccupation with Royal Tudor, all the hard work of my friends was at last seeing dividends. Under Ludham Bridge and the air horn gave the most pathetic of raspberries as Gracie pressed the button. I've heard the beagles break wind louder than that! Air horn for RT has been added to my Christmas wish list!

As we twisted and turned along the River Ant, Grandma went to make sandwiches for lunch and Gracie joined me at the helm. By Irstead we came across the wherry Hathor under sail.  In no rush, we pottered along behind her and I kept an eye on river traffic behind us when a shout made me jump.
"Oi pillock give us a clue?" 
I looked down at Gracie stood on her step ladder at the helm, blonde hair flying, straw summer hat and sunglasses.
"That's what you are supposed to say isn't it Timbo?" asked Gracie.
"Erm...yeah...but not when Grandma can hear you!" I replied glancing nervously into the galley to see if Grandma had heard.
The young chappy at the helm of the wherry had not been looking behind him. He was looking now, and looking a bit shocked, but he waved us through with a grin.

Across Barton and about to make the turn for Stalham and I heard a thing I thought I would never hear.
"Is there somewhere else we can go? It's such a shame to go back now!" said grandma Ellie.
"Huh? What, what what what what?"
"Shut up and drive!"
"Yes Maam!" 
So we pootled on to Wayford before finally making our way back to Stalham.

RT back in her berth, Grandma started her cleaning and I began packing luggage in the rear well ready to load in the car. Cleaning done we had a trip to Sea Palling to attend to before the drive home. At the beach, Gracie and Grandma made sand castles while I took the beagles for a good long walk along the beach. Fish and chips for tea and it was time to say goodbye to Royal Tudor and head for home.

"We are coming back?" Gracie asked as I closed the stern canopy.
"Yes we are coming back!" said Grandma.
"See you very soon!" said Gracie patting RT.

Soon we will be back on board RT with Gracie. Since her voyage on RT Gracie has named her new pet fish Royal Tudor. A new picnic basket has been purchased for that picnic at St Benet's. Gracie has compiled a long list of things she wants to see on the Broads...and Grandma has been down to Royal Tudor and started the interior restoration in earnest with a thorough, thorough scrub. RT gleams! Doug has sealed leaks and made new window hoppers, and our friend Trev has fitted new galley taps and sorted a plumbing leak in the shower and under the Captain's Cabin. So...new adventures await Gracie, this time on the Southern Broads! 

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well it just goes to show, I must remember to wear my hat at all times at the meet, if only to prove to Gracie that anyone in a hat must be one of your friends Tim. 

when are you back on board, I am headed up to pick up Jayne from Martham next Tuesday, and probably heading south straight away.

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7 hours ago, Timbo said:

"Oi pillock give us a clue?"

Oh, Timbo,  I had a really good chuckle at this one (even more than usual for your tales that is). :default_arms: A big hug for Grace! Looking forward to more Voyages with Grace. :default_biggrin:

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The Further Voyages of Grace

“This is the BBC Light Programme!”
A small coin drops into a tin cup.
“Thank you!”

And so begins our journey to Norfolk. This time Ellie had packed the car, so she and Gracie sat in the back seats, the beagles were in the boot space and I had the luggage for company in the front seat. Of course, this meant I could bring none of the items I wanted to bring and those that I was allowed to bring...were not in sufficient quantities!

I had taken the time to record a selection of my favourite episodes of the Goon Show to while away the miles, the episode we were listening to was The Jet-Propelled Guided NAAFI. Now, dear listeners, I mean readers, if you should ever chance to listen to this episode, for extra giggles, swap around job descriptions and titles to reflect Broads related organisations and locations!

Goons 1.jpg

The miles flowed swiftly with me chuckling in the front and Gracie giggling in the back at Bluebottle's 'naughty sausinges'.
“I don't know what they are talking about Timbo or why it's funny, but it is so funny!”

Soon we were at Stalham and after opening up Royal Tudor, Gracie and I took 'The Boys' for a walk while Ellie pottered about tidying.
“It takes acorns a long time to grow, we did it at school. How old are these trees?” asked Gracie as she scooped a handful of new acorns.
Some things, well...most things, I'm pretty lousy at. Some things I'm good at. When it comes to landscape and history I'm on very firm ground, even in a marsh. So adapting the information for seven-year-old Gracie I told her of the Great Storm of 1703, of cows blown into treetops, roofs collapsing, ships sunk and the devastation of England's oak trees and how important oak is to the English navy and economy. We touched on enclosure and how to estimate the age of trees (those we were looking at 1760-1810 give or take), the work of John Evelyn and Roger Fisher, 'Acorn Fever' and English naval officers scattering acorns through holes in their britches. I made sure to 'drop a fart' while demonstrating scattering acorns. Never underestimate the power of a good fart joke when educating kids of all ages, or cows blown up trees for that matter!

Back at Royal Tudor I made ready to do all those little jobs I'd put on my list since our last visit. However, we had been visited by a crustulam navicula aedificium perito manducans, or 'Doug' as we like to call him. We had new window hoppers, a new hatch in the galley floor to stop me falling into the bilges, batteries charged and connected and not a crumb in sight!
“We will have to buy cake for Doug!” exclaimed Ellie.
“Unicorn cake?” asked Gracie.
“Lots of cake!” confirmed Ellie.
So I contented myself with doing essential engine checks before being dragged to Tesco. I lifted the cockpit floor and yes, the engine was still there!

Tesco. I hate shopping. No, let me correct that? I hate aimless shopping. It's probably the geographer and cartographer in me, but I tend to map out the location of products in a supermarket. I cannot be doing with wandering aimlessly about starring into fridges and freezers and groping bread loaves. Luckily I had an excuse and while Ellie and Grace did the shopping, I sat with 'the boys' and gave them a drink. I whiled away the time talking to Mike (Chameleon) when he rang. Mike is another tortured soul, who like me, is regularly held hostage to 'the shopping' and we regularly 'conflab' while our respective other halves are 'on the shop'.

Finally we were back on board Royal Tudor. 'The boys' had partaken of one last walk, Ellie was putting away the shopping and Gracie and I started RT. Her engine started first time, I gave her some revs and let her idle a while while I made sure all was well. We exited our mooring and RT was responding much better to the helm than she had of late. Gently we glided from the mooring. A nudge astern and forward and she easily swung to face the opening of the wetshed. A gentle nudge forward and we smoothly exited the shed and made our way down river. Ellie was still pottering in the galley and Gracie sat with me at the helm of RT, whose engine was gently ticking.

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You Sir are a boundah and a cad.

You have left us short again.

Stop talking about Neddie like that.

I have a theory.

That sounds nasty

I Resign.

RT's engine was a result of hidden exploding sausages.

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15 minutes ago, YnysMon said:

More! More!







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28 minutes ago, addicted said:





Double ditto!

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5 hours ago, Timbo said:

So I contented myself with doing essential engine checks before being dragged to Tesco. I lifted the cockpit floor and yes, the engine was still there!

🤔 This did make me chuckle 🤣

Sat on-board in my "funny hat" 😂 in a windy and rainy Norfolk by "that bridge" at Potter, so took the time to read this post in it's entirety.

You do seem to have a talent other than digging holes millimetre by millimetre and dusting off old relics after all. 😀

Brilliantly written and very much looking foward to the next instalment of Gracies adventures.... don't leave it too long!

Thank's Timbo 👍

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5 hours ago, vanessan said:

Double ditto!

Triple ditto!

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Goons 2.jpg

Ellie stowed cakes and fresh ground coffee, cheeses and lashings of beer, no ginger, in the galley. Broads Edge slipped by and up ahead I could see the turning to Sutton. Gracie was bouncing up and down with excitement on the step beside me as we both helmed RT, her engine gently ticking over, gently down the river . Lots of things tick. Clocks, watches, I suppose ticks tick too, as do bombs!

BANG! RT's engine stopped dead. Gracie yelped, I swore.
“What have you done?” asked Ellie.
I quickly checked that all of our mooring lines were safely tucked out of the way and not trailing in the water. They were. Behind us the stragglers from hand over were making their way down river and we were drifting into midstream and turning to block the river. Asking Gracie to 'please stand still', I went out on deck and deployed the bow mudweight to halt RT's progress downstream. Fortunately, RT is equipped with mudweights fore and aft for fishing purposes, so the aft mudweight was also deployed. I have to admit I struggle to lift and deploy the 25KG weights. I'd heaved the bow weight far enough to pull RT's nose into the reeds and bushes on the starboard bank. Ellie and I now used the aft mudweight to pull RT's stern out of the middle of the river. Hoisting the weight, swinging it back into the water, pulling on the line and then lifting the weight to begin the process again.

While I made sure we were secure I asked Ellie to phone Doug or Dave for advice. Dave answered first, and after getting me to check the prop shaft, look for oil in the tray (there was none) we started discussing...my phone rang out loud. I could still hear Dave speaking, but my phone was ringing. I looked at the caller id on the screen. It read 'Dad'. The old boy has been gone these last years, but he was ringing my phone now!
“Are you alright?” Ellie must have sensed I was somewhat shocked.
I showed her my phone and got back to discussions with Dave.Phone Screenshot.jpg

We flagged down a friendly privateer who kindly towed us back to the grassy bank in front of the wetshed. To say I was heartbroken would be an understatement. Crushed, devastated, bereft, distraught. None of these words could do justice to how gutted I felt.
“I think we are going to need some spannering!” said Gracie giving me a hug.

Ellie set about making a fry up. Ellie instinctively knows when I've over-done something and I'm flagging and in need of energy.

After tea and the washing up was done, the theme tune to the A-team boomed around Kingfisher Quay as Super Dave arrived in his Spanner-Mobile. He strode around the wetshed, two giant spanners in his hand and 'spannering' was definitely going to happen! Ellie and Gracie set off on the march to the toilet block as Super Dave arrived beside Royal Tudor.
“I've been fitting a galley!” he said, adjusting the gusset of his spandex tights, tweaking his mask and removing his silk cape before climbing aboard RT.
Dear reader's, it just shows the depths of my distress that I made no comment at the time!


Super Dave spannered for all he was worth! Ellie and Gracie returned and put the kettle on to make a cup of tea while we let RT's engine cool down and then spanner some more, but it was no good. RT's engine would not turn. Gracie's voyage had come to an end already, or had it?

As Doug telephoned to see how we were getting on I was feeling totally crushed. I passed the phone to Super Dave so that he and Doug could talk technical. Things were not looking good. However, Super Dave passed back my phone, hitched up his tights, twirled his moustaches and activated the BoAT SIGNAL! You could hear the dots and dashes of the Morse Code 'da da and diditing' over the airwaves as Super Dave hatched a plan. Back at his secret hideout he had a spare engine which RT could borrow. A fellow caped crusader was being despatched to our location to tow us to Beccles so that Gracie's voyage could continue. After the Wooden Boat Show, RT would be towed to Super Dave's lair where the spare engine would be temporarily fitted to give us a chance to repair RT's engine!

“Tea and cakes are ready!” Gracie called from the galley.
Super Dave was ushered into a seat and plied with tea and cake.
“Everything looks better after tea and cake!” said Ellie.
“Yes it does Grandma!” agreed Grace.


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Brilliant...though you’ve gone a bit Charlotte Bronte with your ‘Dear readers ‘.

All together now...

Ying tong, ying tong, ying tong...


(iddle i po)

More, more!

(pretty please!)


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Typing ‘ying tong’ with predictive text takes a bit of doing!

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Anybody have any idea why my better half is suggesting I need to go shopping for lycra? :facepalm:

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‘ hitched up his tights’

She’s sure about that one, is she?


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Umm...Folies Bergere?

Just noticed that one on Timbo’s phone photo.


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I want to ‘like’ your post Timbo and at the same time give you a ‘sad’ face but I can’t do both! Bad news about RT’s engine but what good mates you have. Hope you manage to get the engine fixed ‘toot sweet’ so Gracie’s adventures can continue. 

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It's the transporter beam from the reeds to the Wetshed that convinces me that Dave has superpowers.

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False dawn, buy me a beer and I will tell all, is an odd phenomenon. It was just starting to break as I awoke at 5:00 am firm in the knowledge I was being observed. A slight thump of beagle tail indicated 'the boys' were aware I was only pretending to sleep. I opened my eyes to find two beagle noses inches from my face. Out of bed, put the kettle on to boil while 'the boys' abandon ship for the bank.

With Italian coffee steaming in my mug, wash kit and towel under my arm I head for the shower block. Like many men of my generation I started shaving during the disposable razor revolution. While others moved on to either an electric razor or the double, then triple, quadruple and now quintuple with battery powered jiggle, wet razor, I didn't. For practical reasons of shaving in the field I learned to use a safety razor as you can get blades almost anywhere and they cost pennies. Together with a badger hair brush and shaving soap I still use it as a challenge to keep my hand steady after my strokes. It's also a closer shave with less skin irritation than modern razors. Shaving is not a chore for me. Which is fortunate as my beard grows quickly. A shave in the morning and I will need another if we are going out in the evening. I look forward to the ritual immensely. Twenty minutes of pure self indulgence. Of course, my choice of fragrance post shave is also an indulgence. Today was Royal Water from the house of Creed. Citrus and mint in the top notes, juniper and basil in the heart notes and musk and ambergris in the base. So, lemon, mint, gin, pesto, deer butt and whale poop. Exquisite!

At five past six I take the boys for their jaunt around the footpath marking the edge of what once was Sutton marsh and Broad. A loud twittering of small birds alert me to the proximity of an owl. Sure enough, sat in the branches of an oak sits a Barn Owl. In the field to my right comes the dull thud of hooves from Long Horn Cattle and in amongst them Muntjac Deer. Back at the boat and Grandma and Gracie were fast asleep, so I put the kettle back on, made another coffee, took my tablets and gave Dylan his and set about putting my bed away. The ladies were soon up and about and while Grandma fried bacon for breakfast, I was treated to 'Gracie kisses and cuddles'. Breakfast over and the girls made themselves even more beautiful. Did you see what I did there?

Since I bought a boat, I have seen more of The Broads away from the water than I ever did in the forty years prior.
“Do you know where you are going?” asked Ellie from the back seat.
I didn't reply. After seventeen years Ellie still cannot appreciate the correlation between my love of cartography and landscape and knowing where I am.
“Does he know where he is Grandma?” asked Gracie.
“Is this Horning then?” asked Ellie as I pulled into the car park by The Swan.
“No, it's Cleethorpes.” I muttered realising too late that I'd made an error.
“Have we come to Cleethorpes for doughnuts and fish and chips?” asked Gracie the expert on 'seasides'.

The reason for our trip to Horning was postcards. Ellie is a traditional holidaymaker in that the first thing she will do on holiday is buy postcards, write them and post them. In this age of technology when people post pictures of every meal and drink consumed to Facebook, postcards are a thing of the past. The postcards we could find were old, dusty and sun bleached. Grace found the whole concept of the postcard fascinating.
“This actual card, with my writing, will go to Daddy?”
So we bought postcards to send to Mummy, Daddy, baby Arlo, Nanny and Granddad (I'm Timbo as we have a surplus of Granddads and Great Granddads), Uncle Matty, Gracie's best friend Lola and we bought another card for Gracie to send to herself at home. Gracie needed to make sure that postcards really did work and why should she miss out on the honour of receiving one?

Ellie also bought Gracie a fishing rod. A pink, toy, fishing rod which I was supposed to teach her to fish with. I shot Ellie 'the look' I usually reserve for politicians and modern art. It's a look perfected by bespectacled lecturers in universities with high entry standards yet forced to accept the idiot offspring of the wealthy for a fee.
“I'm going to need some other bits and pieces.”
“It's got everything in there you need!” said Ellie the fishing expert.
“If I was targeting Tiger Sharks with a toy pink fishing rod, yes, this has everything that I would need.”
“The chap was very helpful, and gave me all the information. He said you can use corn for bait.”
“Did he mention needing a rod license? No?”
Fortunately I carry my rod license in my wallet. But the damage was done. Gracie had her pink fishing rod and a kids fishing net. She loved them and I was going to have to try and catch a fish with them. So, a quick trip to Lathems and I bought a packet of hooks to nylon and a disgorger. My fishing tackle was something that Ellie had forbidden me to bring with us.

Back to RT for an early lunch and then Gracie wanted to go fishing. I put the pink 'cute' fishing rod together. It reminded me of a much thinner version of my Grandfather's home made spinning rod I inherrited, made from a tank antenna that is definitely not painted pink. Two uniform lengths of 6 mm diameter metal tube with ferrules in the middle, one eye ring on the tip and one by the cork grip and about three feet in length. The reel looked like an open faced reel, but plastic throughout and loaded with 10 lb line. The float was a solid lump of plastic, the hooks were size 4's and there was a swivel that didn't swivel. This was going to take a bit of thought.

So while Ellie put the kettle on, I took the dogs for a walk and had a bit of a forage at the waters edge and found the straight and dry sections of reed I was looking for. Back on RT I drank my cup of tea and had a rummage in my tool bag. I came up with a roll of solder, some red and yellow electrical tape, some Gaffa Tape, a large rubber band and some Milliput. Time to rig the rod.

I used the Gaffa tape to secure the reel to the rod firmly as the reel seat was flimsy to say the least. A piece of reed would be our float. I'd wound the solder around the bottom of the reed to make it self cocking. I cut small pieces from the rubber band and put a small hole in each one to make float rubbers to attach the float. I topped the float off with a strip of red tape and a thin bit of yellow tape to make it look the part. I mixed up some Milliput and used tiny pieces down the line as droppers and a little bit bigger piece to nail the bait to the bottom. Finally a size 18 hook nicked through the skin of a kernel of sweetcorn as bait. A couple of test casts and we were in business.

“Why is that man laughing at us?” Gracie asked.
“Ignore him sweetie, now trap the line with your finger like a gun, swing, flick, finger off, put your bail arm back on, perfect!”
Gracie picked casting up very quickly. Very quickly indeed.
"Now dress your line, give the rod a tiny flick so the line sinks out of the wind, wind a little bit...that's fantastic!"
“Can I do it again?”
“Just once more, but remember the fish are in the water not in the air!” I said, sounding like Uncle Albert when he was teaching me to fish.
It's funny how you slip back into your childhood memories and the lessons you learned. I can still hear Uncle Albert's litany even now. 'Keep your feet still, don't cast so far, if there's fish on the other side there's fish on this side, keep your feet still'.

“That man is still laughing at me!” said Gracie.
“Just ignore him and watch your float!”
To be honest, the pillock fishing from the hire boat was starting to get on my nerves. His initial quips about me sitting on the back of the boat holding my pink rod in my hand had evoked a slight chuckle. Twenty minutes constant repetition to anyone who would listen was annoying, not to mention the litany of criticism of where and how I was fishing and the 'gear' we were using.

We were fishing around five feet away from RT's transom and around four feet from the bank. I was getting Gracie to drop two or three kernels of sweetcorn around our float every five minutes or so. I'd also mushed up some sweetcorn, crushed up four or five of Dylan and Toby's dog biscuits to powder and mixed mixed it all with a little bit of sugar. The resulting 'groundbait' was dropped in pea sized blobs in between Gracie's sweetcorn 'free offerings'.
“Little and often.” I was telling Gracie as the expert across the way tackled up his rods.

I find float fishing exciting as you watch the little dabs, nips, bobs and swirls the float makes as fish are feeding. I interpreted the movements for Gracie who was mesmerised and extremely excited by it all. Our reed float bobbed.
“Wait for it! The fish is just nibbling.”
The float bobbed once more before making a pirouette.
“Wait for it! The fish is just nibbling and nosing the corn.”
Then it lifted...
“Ooh, the fish has picked up the corn. Any second it will move.”
...before sliding clean under the water.

I lifted the rod and connected with the fish. I put my arms around Gracie so she could hold the rod too. The small pink fishing rod arced right over but took the strain. The rhythmic thrum to the line told me it was a bream.
“Gently, gently, don't jerk or pull the rod.” I cautioned Gracie.
I had to keep a firm hand on the rod along with Gracie's. The light tackle made it all the more exciting.
“Slowly, watch him come up, give him a breath of air, and he's ready to come and see you!”
“Grandma just look!” gasped Gracie.
“I think we are going to need your net Grace!” I said.
Gracie scampered off to retrieve her kids fishing net which, fortunately, was quite well made. I guided the skimmer over the lip of the net then bent to wet my hands in the water. I brought the fish in and unhooked it.
“Ew! What's with all the snot Timbo?” asked Gracie.
I knew there was no way Grace would be holding the fish as I explained what bream slime was for. Grandma was ready to take a quick snap of Grace and her fish 'Slimey' and the little bream was put quickly gently back into the water.

There was time for another skimmer and a roach, each given a name 'Slimon' and 'Bob', before it started to rain.
“Am I good at fishing Timbo?” asked Gracie.
“Yes you are sweetie!” I replied.
I took great pleasure in explaining a Yorkshire angling term to Gracie with plenty of volume so all could hear, especially our angling neighbour who had caught nothing.
“We weren't 'water-licked' !”(pronounced watta-licked)
“What's watta-licked?” asked Gracie.
“It's where you go fishing and catch nothing because the water beat you!”


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