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A 'Diamond' Weekend


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Just a short rather impromptu Captain’s Blog – having just returned from a lovely weekend afloat.



The Captain's Blog - Weekender



It was the larger than life, cheery ex RN, Broads loving tiller from Yorkshire – yes Charlie Griffin skipper of Broad Ambition - Birthday on Saturday and I could not really miss such a do and a surprise party had been arranged at Ludham Bridge Boatyard.  I had a look at various boats for hire, but with eye watering prices for perhaps the most popular weekend on the Broads it was the ever friendly and always helpful Jason of Ludham Bridger Boatyard who stepped up with an offer of one of his small ‘weekender’ boats – and so Blue Diamond was to be our short term home.

I say ‘our’ because my girlfriend Shiela was going to be coming – now she is not the most overwhelmed with all things boats and the Norfolk Broads, but as things turned out is beginning to be bitten by the bug actually saying how she enjoyed watching the other boats, feeding the Swans and Ducks and watching the sun sets.  She however is not quite so used to already being known by strangers stopping me to chat and then mentioning her name too! 

So back to the tale:  After collecting the boat I was surprised at just how much space the 25ft x 9ft 6” boat had – a Sheerline mold one could say it was a ‘modern Hampton 25’.  Jason and his team had worked their magic on the boat and I feel they are a showcase for the quality of workman ship a small yard can produce.  From the quality woodwork inside to the gadgets it was amazing.  Immersion heater, programmable thermostatically controlled warm air heating, LED mood lighting, a quality stereo and speakers complete with auxiliary input speed and depth log super sound insulated smooth running BETA engine and just about every utensil, plate and glass one would require all in what really is just a small boat likely used as a high quality day boat but which made our weekend aboard very comfortable.  For those wanting to give such a go, they will be no longer available for hire from 2015 so get in there quick.

We woke up Saturday and I realised how different it was to have Shiela along – relaxed and nice even being made coffee!  Instead of me thinking about how far I was going to travel, how I may film things it was a case of just enjoying the time up on the rivers and taking it much more easy. 

All we were going to do was go to Potter Heigham, pop into Lathams and get some booze for the party later.  We departed Ludham Bridge and headed down the Ant, but soon spied a mooring free to be able to visit the ruins of St. Benet’s Abbey – a place Shiela had never seen and so it was off the boat for a quick explore.  As ever it felt very tranquil, and I was surprised how few people were actually there – despite the many boats moored.

Back on board we headed towards the River Thurne, but it was not super busy with boats – that would change later however at Ludham Bridge being a bottle neck and I saw how hairy things can get there.  Having moored in a rather full Herbert Woods basin it was off to the Flour & Bean Café.  It was larger than I thought it would be, very busy indeed and it took a great deal of time to be able to order but once we had it did not take long for our food to arrive.  I had a burger and chips with a coke, Shiela had the breakfast (a sausage, two rashers of bacon, an egg and beans) with a coke.  £17.95 seems pretty steep to me, and the quality of the food did not (in my opinion) match the price or ‘café ambience’ that the place has.

Once filled it was into Lathams, Sheila getting a robe that was identical to one she had seen in TK Max but at a price half that which they wanted.  I went a bit silly with various drinks, then got glow sticks by the handful and soon we had two full baskets.  Back to the boat it was time to head back to Ludham Bridge – I had a call saying Broad Ambition was about and I kept a sharp eye out, and there she was approaching us.  I let Sheila take the wheel and I hid in the back – not wanting to be spied by Charlie.

We arrived back at Ludham Bridge and it was all hands on deck – Sheila was blowing up balloons and I was helping with the gazebos with Jason and staff, and a wide selection of boat loving friends all lending a hand. Then it began to rain and then thunder and fork lightening.  We were told it was a passing shower, at the time it felt anything but – however sure enough it passed and we got on with putting up the balloons and banners and getting the tables and food set out for the BBQ.  We had just completed the task of setting up everything and making it look lovely when Broad Ambition appeared – it is always good when you really surprise someone and we all had a great time, good food and company well into the evening.

The next day we had no real plan, but since Shiela had only been as far as How Hill we wanted to go up to Barton Broad – see the Regatta going on and top up with water at Barton Turf.  Well let us say it was an eventful trip getting through the moored boats the other side of the Bridge, but once through there it was a lovely sunny day and Barton Broad really looked something with the yachts out sailing in various classes and all the support boats and owners rafted together. 

At Barton Turf I made a right cock up – yes I confess to all I put the water where water should not go – into the waste tank.  Thank goodness I realised before the toilet began to overflow.  Sheila had also as it happened helped matters by not pushing the water hose directly into the deck fittings hole, so at least we avoided the nightmare of a contaminated water hose.  I was very red faced and had to called Jason to confess my ‘school boy error’.  He was ok and we made the journey back down the River Ant to have an unexpected pump out.  While there, a Broom Cadet hire boat made a 360 and came in to moor – a regular watcher of the Blog Nathan and his good lady said hellos and shacked hands before we departed and they availed themselves of a pump out too.

Back towards Stalham again – our destination Stalham where we could go out and have a meal in the Swan that evening.  It was a lovely trip up the river and upon arriving in Stalham Richardson’s boat yard was near empty – a stark difference to the rather full Herbert Woods the previous day.  Many a hire boat from a different yard was moored but we managed to find a mooring away from them and have a quiet evening.  We walked into Stalham and found the Swan rather full but with a table free and had a good meal and drinks.

Back to the boat it was an early night – tomorrow we would be taking the boat back and yet before we did I wanted to just pop up to Wayford so would be an early start.  Come Monday morning it was grey, raining and I realised how good it was we had the best of the weather and how the weather man should have said the forecast was ‘Bank Holiday’ – say no more, we would all be aware that meant rain. Despite this, it was lovely to be on the river and felt a tad low when we handed the boat back knowing we would be headed back to the smoke of London once again.

I really can’t rate Jason and his team highly enough.  Everyone we met was friendly, chatty and super helpful and one can see from how they take care of their own boats what they can lavish on your own boat – be it wood or plastic, a new engine or just some painting they are a small boatyard with a great team of skilled people and well worth calling in for a chat about how they might be able to help you.

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:party:Robin ......I have to say that Shiela is a star in the rising .......its the new Richard and Judy of the broads blogs and I really enjoyed it



Well done Shiela .......and please thank Robin for helping you out :clap




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