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A "Delight"-full weekend (sorry couldn't resist)


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I had not been to the Norfolk broads for some years, the last time being with my parents and brothers. My parents hired a boat along with my Aunty and Uncle in the October half term every year. The last time being in the early 90s. I had always wanted to return but never had the chance.

Now married I decided to introduce my wife Helen to the Norfolk broads as she had never been to the area before or hired a boat before, even though I spoke of the broads fondly we never really looked at it as a holiday until one day last year I decided to treat ourselves to a long weekend. It was a good way to see if Helen would enjoy the broads as much as I remembered enjoying it (and also I guess to hopefully confirm that it was as great as I remembered it from years ago).

After a long search I finally settled for Delight from Herbert Woods. 

After work on Thursday the 1st of November 2012 we packed the car and hit the road enroute to the travel lodge in Acle.

Day 1

After a nice little chef breakfast butty we decided to head for Potter Heigham and see what the deal was. Having spoken to the lady  in reception at Herbert Woods, she informed us that the boat would be ready at 2:30 so we had a couple hours to kill. We looked around lathams and then got some shopping in Great Yarmouth. Back to Herbert woods and parked up. We ended up feeding the swans and ducks next to the day boats whilst we waited when I noticed people starting to board boats so I thought I'd try my luck and see if our boat was ready. 

Having picked up our life jackets and spoken to the guys in the yard we were shown the boat and put on the list to get shown what to do. We emptied the car into a trolley and excitedly pushed our luggage towards the boat which was sqeezed tight into the yard moorings between other hire craft. Even though  it was about 20 years since I had been it was starting to feel familiar already!

It's funny the things you remember from being on the broads as a kid, I think the last time I was there I was about 11 or 12 and I am now 31 (well I was in October) and there are certain things that will just jog your memories and make you feel suddenly at home. Just climbing onto the boat was one of those for me, the next was the smell, I know odd! But it's one of the things I noticed was the same on every boat and as soon as I boarded Delight for the first time that Norfolk Broads boat smell hit me and I knew then that nothing had changed, I was still going to absolutely love this place as I did all those years ago. I can't even describe it must just be the general mix of diesel, engine, boat smell Ha! but I know you will all know what I mean, not sure about the new boats but I guess I'll soon find out.

It seemed like ages before someone came to instruct us what to do but was actually only about 20 minutes, just enough time to make up the bed and have a proper look around the boat.

I can't remember the guys name but for the purpose of this story I am going to call him Bob.

Bob poked his head through the day and said hello. He went through the boat showing us everything but sensed that we were ok to just get a general overview rather than a ten minute lesson on each point.

It wasn't long before Bob was at the helm and starting delight up, again another flash of a memory from years ago as she rumbled to life. At idle everything started vibrating, something very soothing about how the whole boat shakes with the engine, you can hear the crockery jingling in the kitchen cupboards, then when you put a little throttle on all calms down as the engine picks up its revs. Bob explained about the controls and then put her into forward drive and tickled the throttle. (having untied before as we were in such a tight space the boat was going nowhere without drive).

Delight started to move forward bumping her way out of the mooring, but another craft was only about 20 ft ahead, bob had obviously done this many times as it wasn't long before we were backing out of the yard and into the main river.

Then it was my turn, it wasn't long before I got the hang of going forward but wow the boat felt huge, then it was time to try my first turn. "turn the wheel fully to the left and then put the throttle in full reverse, don't be afraid of it just get the wheel around" said bob, so I did as I was asked and she started to slow and turn, " there is no way it's going to turn in time" I said but bob told me to then keep the wheel turned then as she slows put the throttle full forward, which I did and she very quickly turned and as I turned the wheel back around and settled the throttle I was now going in the opposite direction, "well that was a lot easier than I thought" I told Bob, at which point he said we were good to go so asked me to pull up along side the yard so he could jump off and we were on our way.

It felt the same as when I passed my driving test and went for a drive by myself for the first time. Finally we were on our way to do what ever we wanted and that feeling of relaxation hit us. The only thing that got in the way was the fact that it was November and the daylight was fading fast so I knew I'd have to find a mooring soon. Womack water was coming up and I decided to moor up for the night here. With a couple of boats already moored up I didn't want to show myself up so made the mooring as easy as possible giving myself plenty space to pull in. Helen jumped off and tied Delight up for the night.

Once stopped the heaters were on and we settled in for the first night aboard

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Paul & Helen,


Welcome aboard, and I second John;s comments, hearing about initial trips on the Broads brings back memories of all our own ventures into the unknown.


I remember two main noticeable comments on my first trip on the Broads...


One was from my Mum as we moored up at Coltishall,


 "Do we have to go back down the same river that we came up?"


The second was from my Dad after I had let him (a retired Chief Petty Officer RN with about 10 years in the navy) take the helm going up the Ant and he had forgotten that the stern goes right when the bow goes left (resulting in side-swiping a boat moored on a bend!)...


  "Remember that I was a Stoker CPO, and that the last time anyone let me loose with a boat was June 5th 1944 off Yarmouth, Isle of White.

   And they only did that because all the Seamen CPO's were already in use and we had a lot to get ready that morning!"



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Day 2 

We woke up relatively early as it was cold this morning. I got up and got the heaters going and put the kettle on, yet another memory from the past the kettle whistle!

I had a quick look outside to see the years first frost, no wonder it was cold.

We got up and decided to move on to Malthouse broads so we could heat the water up for a shower. Following the usual engine checks I fired Delight up and Helen untied us then jumped on board and we were off. As the sun was out we decided to put the canopy down which was nice and refreshing and certainly helped for my first cast off from a mooring. As we hit the Bure I decided it was too cold and put the canopy back up. As we got to malthouse broads I spotted a space at the moorings and backed in nice and slow making it look like I knew what I was doing. By now it was about 10am and once we had a shower we settled down for a bacon sarny. I stepped off the boat for a look around and suddenly realized where I was and that I can clearly remember being here a few times when I was younger. We had a look around the shop and tourist info. 

It was here that I remember my uncle reversing the hire boat (majesty 2) into the corner of the moorings when I was younger putting a small dent into the hull.

We hung around for a little longer feeding the ducks and being amused by the jumping moorhens, again another fond memory of the broads. I took the opportunity to take some photos of the wildlife and surroundings as I always do (I'll put some pictures of the trip up at the end of the tale as an overall holiday library for those interested).

Following a nice relaxed morning I started delight up again ready to set away remembering a trick my dad taught me when moored stern on, put it into reverse drive slowly then just take your time to untie the boat, ok no trick really I just remember my dad always teaching us little things and including us as part of the crew. So after we had untied I stuck her into forward drive and away we went, looking behind me a saw the moorhens already rounding the next boat moored up hoping for similar food treats we had given them minutes before.

I called Helen to take the helm for the first time as the broad gave her plenty space for a practice and to get used to the boat and the way it handles, but Helen jumped up and just carried on back towards the Bure. Helen like me is a fast learner and takes this in her stride which is great as it gave me the chance to experience another fond memory of the past, walking the decks whilst moving. Again may seem such a simple thing to get excited about but I have many fond memories and it gives me time to relax and take in the surroundings, after all that's what the broads is all about.

The sun was shining and after taking far too many photos of Helen at the helm from every angle :-) we opened up the canopy once more. It was just warm enough, despite it being November, to enjoy the fresh air as we slowly headed towards Horning.

All the way along I kept having memory jogs from being there years ago it was great to be back!

As I took to the helm again Helen took hold of the camera to look out for some wildlife, "I really need some binoculars for the next time we come" great it's worked then she is obviously already hooked :-).

We both got over excited about seeing a squirrel swimming, which took us both by surprise and I scrambled to get a photo, slowing delight down as much as I could without scaring it away but the photo wasn't to be with a zoom lens and a moving boat.

One very fond memory I had from 20 years ago was my dad and uncle rowing us across the river from the moorings opposite the Ferry inn in the dark so we could all get to the pub, being that there was 10 of us it was entertaining especially after they had a few drinks :-). One thing I do remember was the arcades in the Ferry inn, and especially the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, what a classic! We spent hours playing this game.

So as we came towards Horning I was keen to see how it might have changed, then there it was pretty much as I remember it. We didn't stop this time around but carried on into Horning as my mum reminded me of the nice mooring in front of the green. As we rounded the corner I spotted the moorings and aimed to pull along side and attempt a nice calm mooring aware that people on the green were watching. Luckily by now we had gotten the hang of it and Helen as always done a perfect job of tieing the stern as I jumped out to tie the bow ( a lot easier to do with the canopy down). Engine off and canopy up, slowly as "she is an old girl" Bob reminded us when showing us how to put the canopy up, it needed a helping hand by pushing it closed something I imagine may enrage some people but I think it just adds character to the boat :-) 

With the boat locked up and photos taken (I like to take photos of as much as I can so I can remember those moments I enjoyed most weeks after the holiday) we headed along the street to see what shops we could find. We decided to buy some comfort food and went back to the boat with a bag full of chocolate and crisps. Once back onboard we put the kettle on for a quick cup of coffee. Whilst sitting out on the stern seats two ducks came around and Helen fed them with some bread (we did notice the price of bread is higher in shops on the broads and now we know why ha ha). So after Helen named the ducks Helen and Paul we planned to head onto Wroxham. 

Off we cast and where soon heading back along the Bure with the very idealic scene of the swan inn behind us. It was then the clouds drew in and it started raining. Aiming the boat down the river with little view was amusing and I wiped the screen with the comedy windscreen wiper that you have to wipe with the manual handle, in fact the rain got so bad I got a little too heavy handed with the wiper and the handle fell off. I asked Helen to take the helm as I climbed outside to see if I could fix it in the rain.

It was then I started to notice more houses on each side of the river and I knew we would soon be in Wroxham. Looking at all the houses and trying to guess how much money was along here we were soon in Wroxham passing the Barnes brink craft yard. Once again I have many fond memories of this yard, more so because this was the last yard we hired from when I was younger so I can remember more clearly the surroundings. As we went past I looked at the yard recognizing many areas. As we passed the private moorings there it was, j612 (I think that was the number) in otherwords the boat that used to be one of the majesty boats from brinks and the last boat my family were on. It has changed a lot since we were last on it. Now called Liberator. I actually turned around to go back and take a picture so I could show my parents. 

By now the sun was back out and we decided not to moor up at Wroxham as this break was more about just pottering about on the boat. So we headed back out towards Wroxham broad. I stopped in the broad and dropped the mud weight and had a cuppa whilst Helen had an afternoon nap. I enjoy just taking in the surroundings, it's so peaceful on deck sitting and watching the world go by or in this case what looked like to bathtubs trying to get close enough together so they could tie the boats together, this amused me for a while before I realized time was cracking on and I needed to make a move. We hadn't decided where to stop for the night but i was going to try get back to Malthouse broad, which with about an hours worth of light left was going to be a challenge, so mud weight up and Delight burbling away again we were off. Helen stayed in bed for a little while longer, I later discovered she enjoyed the relaxing feeling of going along on a boat whilst being in bed, I must admit I used to enjoy that when I was younger!

Coming back towards Horning I was getting more worried about the lowering sun! But spotted two other boats behind me, they were obviously trying to do the same as me and get as far up river as possible. Then we finally got to the ranworth dam opening and headed down towards Malthouse broad. Now only about 20 minutes from it being too dark to see I was glad to see space at the moorings ahead, infact pretty much the same space we had earlier that day were we had spent breakfast time.

A quick spin around and moored up stern on, not so perfect this time so once kind of in place I killed the engine and jumped on shore and pulled the boat over using the ropes before tieing her off. With that we got the beers out and settled down to watch some tv. At about 6pm we headed over to the Maltsers pub to have a meal. We were a little early but took the chance to have another pint whilst waiting for the chef to open the kitchens, then put our food order in. I can't remember this far on since being there what we had but I think I might have had a pie of some kind, but I do remember the food was nice and we got a lovely welcoming reception from everyone even if the person behind the bar was on their last shift and showing the new girl the ropes, he was still very professional to the end.

Full of food and beer we headed back to the boat remembering that we were likely to catch some fireworks being so close to 5th of November. We sat up and watched some fireworks, if it wasn't so cold we would have put the canopy down but it was just too cold for that, instead we settled back and after some fireworks watched Iron Man on tv before bed.

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Hope these aren't too long! And this is nearly a year after being dont know what I'm going to be like in October writing my tale :smile:

Not at all, Paul! Fascinating stuff, please keep it coming! :clap  :clap  :clap  


Might you persuade Helen to write a bit about her perspective of it all as a first-timer, please?

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Apologies for the random way this has been typed, I am writing it all in the notes section of my iPad which chooses to change things when it pleases and it's not so easy to see the layout.

Helen is busy finishing her disitation for her masters degree, she is studying estate management so has very little time for anything else at the minute, although as our broads holiday in October is after her finishing date I am sure she will take part in the next tale.

I will ask her to give me an overal first impression :-)

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Day 3

I woke up to the sound of small feet above my head, looking out of the small window I realized it was a duck, Helen asked what it was and I told her it was a duck, normally I'd be annoyed if I got woken up at 7 in the morning on holiday but when out in the nature and on the broads it seems acceptable and doesn't bother me at all. After putting the heating on again and jumping back into bed we heard some music coming from a distance, before long it was loud and a boat was reversing into a mooring next to us. I noticed it was making some weird noises and worked out it was the bow and stern thrusters, A handy addition I thought to myself (will get to try them on carousel in October). The music was way too loud for this time in the morning and it did annoy us a little. It was a young family on board with some young kids, the kids we feeding the ducks when we finally got up and got the kettle on. We went outside and the family who had pulled up said hello and we gave the kids some of our bread to feed the ducks. It wasn't long before I started Delight up ready to move on, of course following the important engine checks.

We just decided to move on and get the water hot for a shower so went onto have a look around South Walsham Broad and then came back up to go up the river Ant. It was a dull day but it didn't lower our spirits one bit. Approaching ludham bridge I decided to go straight through, we put the canopy down just incase. It was raining a little bit so I had to make it quick. Going through we realized we had loads of room, but better safe than sorry.

Once through the bridge we pulled up and moored just beyond the bridge on the left hand side for a shower break.

Moving on up the river Ant we took in the beauty around us, it was pretty quiet up here today with only two boats passing at any time, it was so peaceful. Getting closer to lunch time Helen decided to start cooking something to eat so I decided to moor up at a little mooring just before Barton. It was such a nice mooring with a little green and a church just beyond. I marked the spot on the map to remember for our return but I can imagine it would be taken quickly during busier times. 

We had no real plan but as it was raining we didn't mind just sitting back and taking in the scenery and watching the wildlife.

As we entered Barton broad I remembered it was were I first had a go at steering a boat. My dad used to take us here first as there was plenty of space. One memory I have is of us taking turns to control the boat then sitting watching my dad and uncle attempt to sail the little dingy we had.

This time we just crossed the Broad and aimed for somewhere to fill the water up. Given the time we wouldn't be able to make it to stalham and then back to our planned mooring for the last night in Acle so we just popped into cox,s boatyard and filled up the water before turning around.

Pulling along side the mooring then moving again and again to get the boat in the right place was comedy I'm sure for anyone watching but we got there in the end. 

As we were leaving Helen shouted to stop and get the camera, not so easy to do with a boat but slowed back down and we looked through the camera to see a blue speck in the trees to the left. It was a kingfisher, neither of us had seen one this close before. We got so close trying to get a picture before long the boat started to drift so I unfortunately had to move on and my camera lens was not long enough to get a great shot, but at least we saw one. Happy with the wildlife fix we started to head back towards Barton. Helen took us over Barton whilst I got some pictures of the wildlife sitting on the posts. It was raining heavily again but I still went outside to take it all in. As we got onto the river Ant and started passing the houses Helen shouted for me to come in, running in thinking there was an issue she was pointing towards the fence up ahead and sitting on top of the fence was another kingfisher. I couldn't believe it in such close successions of already seeing one. So I quickly changed lenses on my camera and ran outside not at all bothered about the rain again. Aimed and shot the image. We were a fair distance still so the shots were not the greatest but from a moving boat, raining and still a distance away I managed to get an ok photo of it. I'll post it up at the end.

Settling back down to enjoy the peaceful cruise back down the ant we actually saw another kingfisher flash it's blue feathers in front of us but it disappeared quickly into the trees this time.

Back under ludham bridge and onto the Bure again taking a left. As I passed moorings I was marking on the map which ones I decided I liked for next time we come. At the Thurne mouth we took a right and carried on down the Bure towards Acle. Admiring the old windmills that had a huge resemblance of darlics. Whilst we picked up the speed a little due to light fading quickly Helen had a sort around the boat getting our stuff ready as this was our last might onboard :-(.

I could see ahead a large line of colorful boats up ahead on both sides, it was horizon craft which meant we were nearly at Acle. A true sign of it nearly being winter and the end of a season on the broads, all the boats were moored and locked up. 

I decided I wanted to moor up outside the Bridge Inn pub as this was once again another place for memories, my parents always took us out for a meal here. Normally on the second night and the last night of the holidays and all I could remember of the pub was the big round thatched roof with the restaurant inside. As we passed the horizon craft fleet I saw the bridge and then the Bridge inn. I thought I could remember my dad used to always moor up on the left hand side then we walked over the bridge, but I couldn't see any moorings, maybe they have been taken away? Maybe I just got mixed up with other moorings. So I turned around and moored up on the pub moorings happy to pay the small fee.

It was pretty much dark as I killed the engine, Helen got the curtains out and I looked to see what I could cook for dinner.

After some food we decided to go for a drink the Bridge Inn, we also had a couple of deserts. Upon entering I couldn't remember the pub much but wanted to have a spy in the restaurant to see if it was the same, as far as I could I think it was but seemed a lot smaller as these places always do. Still very nice and the food was great. I mentioned about the mooring and they said not to worry as it was out of season.

On returning to the boat I decided to get some pictures around the boat. As far as space goes there is plenty on delight, with the main bedroom up front we didn't really use the second double bedroom or the single cabin in the back. We used them just to store cloths and jackets really. The galley had lots of space with a nice little table for sitting at. The outdoor seating at the stern was spacious with the various storage for the gas etc. the main seating area was large and has plenty viewing all around so great for maneuvering the boat around, although one let down was the canopy not fitting very well, there were large gaps on each side letting the cold air in so maybe not a boat for the winter. The front cabin was great, loads of space with a nice large bed. Battery life was great and lasted long stints of heater and lights being on without running the engine.

So we settled down for our last night on board by watching a film.

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Day 4

So essentially this is just a handback day but we stayed in Acle with it in mind to get up early a cruise back to Potter Heigham first thing. This way we have an extra bit of time cruising. 

So up at 7:30 and I got straight up and completed the engine checks took the curtains down but by the time we got the windows cleared it was 7:45 and it was going to be tight getting back for 9am. So untied and we cast off for the last time. The river was so still it was like cruising on a mirror, the birds flying in front of us I just kept thinking how much of a shame it is that we had to go home. Helen put some breakfast on which we eat on the move due to the time and she packed the last of our items up. By the time we cruised into Potter Heigham I was already thinking about our next trip to the broads. I pulled into Herbert Woods yard where there were a coupe of guys standing waiting to help us moor up, I thought maybe I could show how good I have gotten at turning the boat and reversing at the right place. It started well but I was way off where they wanted me, oh well :-) so they pulled us in and sqeezed us into the mooring so they had plenty space for others cruising in behind us. It was 9am exactly so we just managed to get back. I grabbed a trolley and we sadly packed the car whilst the yard guys filled Delight back up and signed my papers. One last look around Delight to make sure we hadn't left anything behind.

We took the paperwork to reception and they worked out we had only used £36 of fuel so was getting a nice chunk of money back from the fuel deposit, which is always good. I thought that was pretty good going considering how far we managed over the couple of days. Said our final thank you's and we were back in the car for the long journey home.

We did drive to Wroxham for a look around but decided to cut it short and just get on up the road as we had a 5 hour journey ahead of us.

We decided after our return to go back the following year. We chose October as it gave us plenty of time to save. Most yards were offering the pay £50 deposit before December and pay two months before the holiday so we took advantage of this. This time we treated ourselves to Carousel from Richardsons as it was to be our only holiday in 2013 as Helen was on her last year of her masters degree. This is also why October would be good as Helen finishes her masters end of September. So phoned up and booked up.

As it turns out the holiday will mean a lot more than I thought as earlier this year we lost my dad rather suddenly, as I have many fond family memories at the Broads I know it's going to be difficult at times but I will use the broads as a route to those happy memories that I need to remember to help get over the shock of this year. Some of the photos we came across when looking with my mum after he passed away were from the broads, I must get them on here to see if anyone recognizes where they were taken. 

Well I hope you enjoyed my tale and I'll certainly keep you all updated with our tale in October, if only it would just get here quicker :-) 

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Helen feeding the Swans outside Herbert Woods



Delight sqeezed into the mooring waiting for our arrival



Womack Waters first mooring



Late night photo from the back door of the boat



Day two morning, it was cold!



Mooring at Malthouse Broad







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