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Wednesday 30 September

It was a glorious sunny but cold morning. We sat on the little seat on the front of the boat with a cup of tea and watched the birds. We were visited by a family of swans. I’d read somewhere that things like oats were better for waterfowl than bread, so we tried feeding them some, but they were mightily unimpressed with that! So, leftover sourdough from the farm shop it was, and they liked that much better. Must have been middle class swans.

Popped back to Broom for a pump out as the indicator was suggesting we weren’t going to quite make it through the week without one. Then down to Rockland Broad. The weather was still lovely as we cruised through the broad then round to the moorings on the dyke.

Moored behind another Broom Captain and while having a bit of a chat discovered they didn’t have a window in the saloon like we did, but they had a proper shower screen, whereas we only had a curtain. I think the kitchen layouts were a little different too.

Walked into Rockland St Mary past the bird hide (which was shut due to Covid) and went to the New Inn for lunch and sat outside in the sun. We decided to do the Wherryman’s Way Claxton circular walk in reverse as we’d already done part of it from the boat to the pub. Saw marsh harriers, kestrels, a Chinese water deer and lots of dragonflies. Not a very long walk but a bit of a slog towards the end due to the boggy conditions underfoot.

Decided we wanted to go to Norwich the next day so back up the Yare and moored at Bramerton Common. There were only two other boats there so it was lovely and quiet. A quick walk as far as the Waters Edge then it started chucking it down so back to the boat to settle down for the night.

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Having had very little time off work since the beginning of the year, I was really looking forward to our 10 nights in Norfolk. We had a week on Broom Captain starting 25 September, then three nights

Going to try to post a couple of pictures - not sure if I'm doing this right...

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Thursday 1 October

Off to Norwich this morning with a couple more kingfishers, which remained determined to avoid the camera. There was a reasonable amount of room under Trowse bridge, but it wasn’t high water yet, so we decided just to cruise in and out of Norwich without stopping as we didn’t want to get stuck.

Moored up at Whitlingham and went for a walk round the broad. It was very busy with lots of families with young children, dog walkers, and children having canoeing lessons on the broad. It made a change to have a walk on a tarmac path, with no wading through mud required. As we were walking back along the river, we spotted the moorings at Commissioner’s Cut, and that sparked an idea to try to go to a pub along the Thorpe Branch of the Yare as the weather seemed to be staying dry.

The moorings were still free when we got there, apart from three grumpy swans. The river level was getting very high again, and as I fiddled about trying to lower the fenders to stop the boat bumping against the quay heading, the swans hissed away at me but didn’t come too close.

Someone had told me that the Rivergarden pub did indeed have a nice riverside garden, so we headed off there. Unfortunately, there were no signs of life so I assume it has shut down. So back to the Rushcutters Arms, which had lots of seating outside, and good Covid arrangements. They have some slightly smaller dishes available for lunch which seemed like a good idea as we were hoping to go to the Surlingham Ferry pub in the evening.

On the way back to the boat we spotted a sign for the Blofield food hall at the Oaklands hotel. This is a fairly new venture apparently, making use of some function room space that the hotel can’t use for things like weddings at the moment. There was lots of local produce and a café with an outdoor terrace which we thought looked quite nice. We took the opportunity to buy a pint of milk, cakes, beer and some gift-y things to take back home.

Then it was back to the boat. The grumpy swans were off being grumpy elsewhere, so we were back underway with no issues. I had tried to phone the Surlingham Ferry a couple of times to book a mooring and there had been no answer, but we decided to try there anyway.

There was plenty of space when we arrived so there had been no need to worry. A nice couple on another Broom Captain helped us to moor up, which was a bit tricky as the current was flowing quite fast, and as a consequence all the boats were moored at a jaunty angle pointing downstream. The couple had been stuck in Thurne Dyke a few days earlier in the week due to the winds. The weather really was playing havoc with everyone’s holidays.

The sun came out so we had tea and cake sitting on the front of the boat, admiring our lovely surroundings. Just as we decided to go for a walk, the heavens opened so it was a quick dash into the pub to get a drink and ask about dinner options. It was quite crowded in the pub and I didn’t feel comfortable in there so, having confirmed we could get dinner brought to our boat later, we took our drinks back to the boat and did some packing.

After a while it stopped raining again, so we took a quick, very muddy, sunset walk along the river to the bird hide at Surlingham Church Marsh, then back through the fields and along the road to the pub. We were glad we’d got out as it was a lovely evening.

Ordered our food and had our meal brought to the boat. They have a pretty basic menu but the food was nicely done with generous portions. Some final packing then to bed on another completely quiet and still night.

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Thanks for another lovely instalment to your holiday tale. I especially like holiday tales that give hints, tips, and info that I haven’t come across before. I hadn’t heard about the Oaklands Hotel venture, nor realised that the Surlingham Ferry Inn served food to your boat. That sounds an excellent thing, as I’m still a bit wary about eating out. Hope they are still doing that when we are next on Moonlight Shadow in February. 

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Fri 2 October

We were very sad that it was time to hand the boat back. Whilst it was a seven night holiday, it was only really six days of being out and about on the boat, and that didn’t seem enough. The only consolation was that we had three more nights before we had to go home.

It seemed to take a long time to do our final bits of packing, and then it was a bit of a faff retrieving  the mudweight, so we got back to the yard a little later than the requested 9.30am. Didn’t seem to matter too much as another boat was just finishing at the kiosk, and then we had to wait a short while for our fuel refund to be processed – a whole £17!

We were ready to depart by 10 and decided to go back to East Hills café for a cooked breakfast, only to find it had closed, citing the current Covid situation. A shame and something that is obviously affecting a lot of businesses.

We went back to the café at the Oaklands hotel/Blofield food hall instead and had a good breakfast on their terrace. You order using a mobile app. Not sure if it is a Covid measure or just meant for efficiency but, if it is meant to minimise contact time with staff, I don’t think it was achieving much as most tables had to get someone over to help them use it.

We weren’t due at our apartment at the Waveney River Centre until 5 so we had to decide what to do until then. I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s number one choice, but we decided to go to Great Yarmouth as neither of us had been there for years.

We parked up near the Venetian Waterways and walked through them as we headed down towards the pier. I remember the waterways from holidays as a child and it’s lovely to see them back again with very well cared for gardens.

It was a very nostalgic visit for me in general. Walking along the beach in ‘bracing’ weather was a feature of childhood holidays, staying in places such as Caister and Scratby, and Joyland still seemed to have exactly the same rides as I remember. Couldn’t resist going in a couple of amusement arcades and having a go on the 2p machines (fully masked up and hand sanitiser’d of course). Definitely a bit of an odd quiet atmosphere given the pandemic situation, but it turned out to be a fun way to spend a few hours.

By mid-afternoon we were finally starting to get a bit hungry again after the big breakfast, so we had a quick scour of google maps to find somewhere roughly on the way to WRC where we could park up overlooking the sea and have our packed lunch. The North Beach car park at Gunton ended being our randomly chosen spot and we sat there watching the waves while we ate our sandwiches. We also had a flask of tea with us, which prompted me to comment that we had turned into my parents.

We arrived at WRC just after 5, stayed in our car and called reception as per the instructions. A very friendly lady answered straight away and ran through how to get into the apartment, what to do when we check out, and where to find things, such as crockery and cutlery that was all in the dishwasher, having been put on a very hot wash. All of this gave a quite a lot of confidence about their Covid procedures. The cleaners were also just finishing up in the next-door apartment which suggests they definitely needed the later than usual check in time.

We were in the Oulton Penthouse which was very spacious and has views of the river and marshes on three sides. Some of the fixtures and fittings were a bit tired though, and the mattress in the main bedroom needed replacing. The kitchen was well equipped, apart from there was no electric kettle, just an old fashioned one to use on the gas hob. Seemed a bit of an odd decision, unless it was something to with Covid. It didn’t matter though; we were used to it having been on a boat all week!

Didn’t do much that evening apart from enjoy lounging on a proper sofa and watch tv.

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Love reading your tale and seeing your photos. I'm another one who likes Great Yarmouth with fond memories of family holidays at Caister. We also stayed at Scratby, Hemsby and Great Yarmouth itself over the years. I also know the North Beach area very well at Gunton. The waves can be quite spectacular down there.

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I loved your tale too. We first discovered the Norfolk Broads relatively recently (about 5 years ago), so its really interesting to hear the perspectives of those who have childhood memories of the area.

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Interesting point about the holiday let and leaving the crockery and cutlery in the dishwasher.

we put all our holiday let kitchen wares through a hot cycle every change over but we then unload it back in cupboards maybe we too should leave that for the guests?

 

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9 hours ago, snunn said:

Interesting point about the holiday let and leaving the crockery and cutlery in the dishwasher.

we put all our holiday let kitchen wares through a hot cycle every change over but we then unload it back in cupboards maybe we too should leave that for the guests?

 

Yes, I guess it minimises contact if you leave it after it's washed, and it gives guests confidence that everything has been cleaned properly. 

Having had experience trying to make an office Covid-secure, all I know is that there are many different ways to interpret government guidance. I can imagine it's the same, if not worse for holiday lets!

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Saturday 3 October

We had a lazy morning watching all the comings and goings of the boat yard and just had a very short walk to the church and back.

After lunch we decided to go to Southwold. I’d not been there before and found it to be a really lovely place, and it was interesting to discover that all the little green spaces that give it its unique character were as a result of a fire in the 1600s.

We had a walk along the beach and onto the pier, and picked up some bits from a delicatessen for a picnic the next day. Presumably because it was the weekend, it was really busy, and it was quite difficult to keep a reasonable distance from other people. The one-way system they’ve implemented on the high street does help though.

Despite the less than ideal weather, lots of people were getting ice creams – I guess it’s compulsory when you’re at the seaside. There was one shop that was selling churros which seemed a brilliant idea and much more suited to the temperature.

Then it was back to our apartment and a discussion about what to do the following day. The weather forecast was looking better, with some sun, so we decided to book a day boat from Hippersons in Beccles. We wanted to do the stretch of the river up to Geldeston, and it would be one final chance for my partner to get a photo of a Kingfisher.

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We haven’t visited Southwold yet although we’ve driven close by there many times. It’s on our list for next year, depending how things work out. 

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8 minutes ago, SwanR said:

We haven’t visited Southwold yet although we’ve driven close by there many times. It’s on our list for next year, depending how things work out. 

Best visited in the run-up to Christmas. A trip to the Adnams shop is a must and near to being the perfect one stop Christmas shop. 

https://www.adnams.co.uk/locations/southwold

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Southwold is on our list too, the only downside being that we only tend to visit other places in Norfolk and Suffolk when the weather is too bad for cruising. Churros sounds a better idea than ice cream...in October anyway. 

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Sunday 4 October

It was chucking it down when we woke up, and the forecast was now predicting rain for the rest of the day. How depressing. We debated whether to cancel the day boat but decided to give it a go anyway as it’d be our last chance to get out on the river for a long time.

The handover at Hippersons was friendly and efficient, despite there being a couple of other groups of brave souls taking boats out at the same time as us. The boat did have a lot of dog hair in it though, so not sure if the boats get cleaned very thoroughly between uses.

The boat was really easy to manoeuvre and, being electric, very quiet. The only tricky thing was gauging the speed. We knew the boats were limited to 6mph so assumed that was ‘full gas’ with the lever pushed all the way forward. Beyond that it was all guesswork.

We decided to head downstream first to give North Cove Nature reserved another go. The water levels were much more manageable this time, with all the fishermen on their platforms, and we had the moorings to ourselves. It took a bit of time to work out where we were going (the mobile app Komoot proved to be very useful in helping us identify the right path) but we were soon on our way along the river then across the fields.

The nature reserve is a delightful little place. I understand Beccles Bird Society recently took over management from Suffolk Wildlife Trust and there were clear paths and lots of evidence of maintenance, but not another soul in sight. The habitat is described as ‘wet woodland’ and it certainly lived up to its name! My partner was particularly smug about his decision to wear wellies when my supposedly waterproof walking boots started to leak.

We walked back to the moorings via the road and, as there was a break in the weather, took the canopy down and had tea and a snack while enjoying the peace and quiet.

Then we headed back upstream to Geldeston Locks. Presumably due to the rain, we only passed three or four boats all day, and two of those were the other day boats from Hippersons. We knew the Locks Inn had shut down, but it was still a bit depressing seeing it so quiet, but the moorings proved to be another nice peaceful spot to have our lunch.

We cruised round to the Geldeston Village branch of the navigation, then headed back towards the boat yard. My partner bravely stood out in the rain for most of the trip, on his final attempt to get a photo of a kingfisher. The mission was accomplished, and I think he did pretty well, given the incredibly dull rainy weather and the fact that kingfishers don’t like to stay still for long.

Back to our apartment to dry off and warm up. We ordered dinner from the Waveney Inn to be delivered to us. We made the mistake of ordering online first, which didn’t work as they were having internet issues apparently (or perhaps forgetting to check for orders?) We had a fairly basic (and very unhealthy) meal of pizza, chips and onion rings which was just right after a cold rainy day and the perfect lazy option since we had to finish packing that evening.

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I love the photos of the Kingfisher.    Well done to take those.     You sounded very cosy in the apartment.   Good idea this time of year.    I did not realise you could walk to the reserve from the North Cove moorings, or have I got that one wrong?

If so we will try in the better weather.   Probably come by road though as only live not far away.

 

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On 19/10/2020 at 18:53, YnysMon said:

Churros sounds a better idea than ice cream...in October anyway. 

never, only thing better than an ice cream is 2 ice creams any time of year

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40 minutes ago, Hylander said:

I love the photos of the Kingfisher.    Well done to take those.     You sounded very cosy in the apartment.   Good idea this time of year.    I did not realise you could walk to the reserve from the North Cove moorings, or have I got that one wrong?

If so we will try in the better weather.   Probably come by road though as only live not far away.

 

Turn downstream from the North Cove moorings, it’s a few hundred yards to the reserve. You can also do a round route, through the reserve then to North Cove itself and back down the road/track to the moorings. Nice walk.

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Monday 5 October

We decided to go to the coast again before heading home. Aldeburgh was our chosen destination this time. And, obviously as it was time for us to go home, it was a lovely bright morning with quite a lot of sun.

We walked along the beach and then just spent some time sitting in the sun watching the waves and the sun sparkling on the water. Tried to take some pictures but they don’t really do it justice. Then it was time to find something for lunch. Monday seemed to be a popular day for places to be closed so we didn’t find anything we liked the look of in the town. So, we searched google maps for pubs with gardens and the Dolphin Inn in Thorpeness looked like a good contender.

The pub was in a lovely spot and had a very nice garden. The Covid measures were a bit odd as you had to enter and exit through the same door into the pub, but the garden had a separate entrance and exit from the road, which seemed the wrong way round to me.

We sat in the garden in the sunshine, had a lovely meal, and were very pleased that we had chosen to do this rather than just drive straight home.

Then that really was the end of the holiday.

Despite the weather, we had a lovely time, and I think we did pretty well with getting to see and do everything we were hoping to. It was great to get away, and I think the change of scenery was even more valuable than it normally would be, given that we have both been working from home since March.

Broom Captain was an absolutely fantastic boat. It was exceedingly practical and comfortable for the type of weather we experienced, and I wouldn’t hesitate to book it again. We’re already talking about doing the Broads again soon. Though, we might try the north and a boat that can get under bridges next time.

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