ABOVE THE BRIDGE
This monologue begins with the first Norman Boats Appreciation Society meet on the Norfolk Broads. held at Hoveton Viaduct moorings opposite the entrance to Bridge Broad, July 8th and 9th 2006.
I had the good fortune to be invited to spend a week on "Number 2" to explore waters hitherto uncontaminated by the Barons presence!
Met Oliver at Woodsdyke around 2pm in his new "exorcist" green motor!. After loading up all essential supplies we were on our way. "Number 2" has a very good mooring position at Horning, right at the end of the dyke and a great place to just sit and watch the world go by. Lots of traffic on a weekend off course and The Baron likens it to turning out onto the M25.
A gentle chug through Horning followed. As we passed Southgates we spied the webcam and it was obvious why it may not be easy to move it. As we were passing Salhouse it began to seriously rain. Anyone who knows Oliver will be aware that he does not drop his canopy easily! So this slight excuse to speedily put it back up was only avoided by a brief stop under the trees outside Salhouse. It was but five minutes before a young lady turned up in a boat seeking recompense! We pleaded a brief stop only and we were excused with a smile. It was on our gentle amble down the approach to Wroxham that we encountered our first byelaw breakers. A few hireboats with the throttle jammed full open with smoke billowing out of the exhaust and a grim look of determination fixed on their faces as they studiously try to avoid meeting your eyes and catching the reproving look! Actually there were as many private craft doing exactly the same. It was around this time that I displayed "Number 2"'s forum member logo with "Ollie The Orrible" carefully entered. So many times had we read about how the logo attracts never ending happy waves of greeting, we shall see.
The bridge gauge was showing almost 8' and Oliver reckons its measured on the very cautious side so we sailed under with bags of room to spare. Passed the stern on visitor moorings and the Connoisseur yard and found space exactly where we had hoped with the adjacent to the carefully manicured grass that was to become base camp. We had literally been moored fro 10 minutes when we attracted our first logo spotter. It was Andy, the BA River Inspector. We had a very friendly natter. He enquired after the NBAS and what all the advertising signs were. Now remember that behind Andy's back was the sign that indicated a 24 hour mooring limit. We explained we were having a "gathering" over the weekend and were likely here until Sunday afternoon! There then followed sincere assurances that, should the moorings become busy, we would, of course, move. Watching Andy leave, you just have to admire the way he, and the other Inspectors, handle their boats.
There followed a wander into Hoveton, the obligatory spy at Roys, then drooling over all the shiney bits in Norfolk Marine. We also spent some time looking at the old railway cards of Norfolk Broads holidays. We both want to find poster versions.
We had both brought very basic fishing tackle so I wandered off to the tackle shop to return with some maggots. I was very surprised at Oliver's aversion to the lovely little wigglers! Banished to the engine bay they were. I had a bit of a fish and had already caught a couple of small ones when I got a slightly better roach on. Just as I was lifting it clear of the water, jaws erupted amid boiling foaming turbulence! It was a considerably large pike and it had a determined go at getting my roach. It missed but it certainly rattled me awake. Time approached to seek some sustenance. We fancied a Chinese and enquiries led us up to the railway station. We dined but have to say it was an unimaginative menu and very ordinary food. So now ale beckoned and it was off to the Kings Head. Wroxham and Hoveton are not exactly blessed with good pubs!
Saturday arrives slowly, neither of us are fast risers and quiet gulps of coffee and firing up some tobacco set the day off. I have a wander for a paper and also go and look at Royalls, see if I can spy Royal Commander which is Septembers boat. I then realised that these boats have Friday starts. As I passed Fineways I noticed a Norman 23 skulking in the shed.
Andrew was first to arrive on "Lady Annya" which is hardly surprising considering he moors in the old Powles yard. He actually disappeared onto Bridge Broad and up to Coltishall before returning to tie up. Andrews boat is one of the few Norman 20's to have an inboard engine and he is wanting to go outboard!
Then Dave and Ali arrive by road armed with tents Steve then arrived also by road with a tent, a dinghy and an outboard and immediately opened a can of Pils.
The Norman I had seen at Fineways also turned up and "accidentally" joined the gathering. There then followed the usual thing when you get a lot of boaters together. What's yours like? Can I have a look? How did you do that? and all the rest of it. Steve opened another can of Pils!
Lots of boat examining went on. The Fineways 23 had a very interesting layout and a novel way of boarding via a somewhat flimsy looking plate on the transom. All this mutual boat admiration was interrupted by a need for comestibles! We headed off to the Old Mill Restaurant and indulged in all day breakfasts. Not cheap but they are highly recommended. Guess what? Steve opened another can of Pils!
Peter wandered by, he has downgraded from a Norman to a Viking but still visits the site and reads the forum.
Round about this time, Steve opened another can of Pils and proceeded to inflate his dinghy. It was to be a joint effort while Steve got another can of Pils.
And we are ready for off...
Top the tank up first or Steve ..... with a can of.....
You sure you are in a reasonable state for this ... ?
And away we go .....
Actually it was a fascinating hour or so. We ventured up every one of the many dykes and inlets by the boatyards and private housing. Into Moore's for a peek and Broadland Tours. Finally explored Bridge Broad which offers some lovely secluded and quiet mooring close to the metropolis. We abandoned ship for Ollie and Dave to take a spin. They disappeared back onto Bridge Broad only to reappear very slowly......... with one broken shear pin. Was there a spare? Of course there was on Steve's boat which is on the Great Ouse somewhere. Obviously all the room had been taken up with cans of Pils.
"Base Camp Hoveton" is now firmly established and the residents pose for a portrait or two ....
"Where's all that Pils gone?" "That fella over there keeps supping it"
Time to ingest food and other liquids demanded a trip to The Kings Head. Some of us indulged in the carvery while others ventured onto the menu. In all honesty, it was a long way from being good and the service was downright miserable. A couple of rounds in the beer garden was followed by an invite aboard "Number Two". Everyone was soon feeling much more relaxed and at peace with the world. Steve found Ollie's Cointreau and the mournful pleas of "its empty Ollie" were repeated until Steve's chin suddenly hit his chest! Time for bed....... BOING !
Another slow start to the day and not a tweak from Steve's tent. Lots of coffee was dished up from Number Two" as we waited to see what Sunday would bring.
James arrives on one of the rare Norman 22 wide beams. He has 135 hp of mercruiser on that boat! Closely followed by "Woodwose" with Nigel and Christina aboard. Nigel has what is likely to be the only Norman ever fitted out by Brooms. Nigel also contributes a lot to the Norfolk Broads Forum, especially with pictures. "Woodwose" has now also secured a Parish mooring at Womack after a four year wait on a list!
We soon had further visitors. Ian and Jo (minus "Mon Bateau" ) ambled up and Ian immediately set about convincing everyone of his newfound "John Wilson" status with his rod and line. He did have a first though and managed to catch a mussel !
Once again there was lots of mutual boat exploration and Christina seemed especially impressed with Ollies bed! There were long conversations about bridge clearances and windscreens. Nigel has a clever arrangement on "Woodwose". Oddly, or maybe not, Normans were not designed with collapsible screens! A further exodus to the Old Mill for the breakfast temporarily interrupted proceedings. Don--e turned up, He has a Norman at Thorpe St Andrews which is a very attractive length protected by a low bridge either end. Don--e's health unfortunately limits his access to the river but he clearly loves seeing boats and talking boaty things which we did for quite some time. All in all, our first Norfolk Broads based gathering was a great success. Many passers by enquired about the signs we were displaying and even other Norman owners stumbled across us eventually leaving clutching a NBAS card and the encouragement to visit the website firmly embedded in their minds.
Is this then end of this tale? No by jiminy its not! its only the end of the beginning! Oliver and myself have another seven days exploring to do. After all the farewells and striking of camp, "Number Two" disappointed all the gathered hoards by smoothly passing under the bridge with no bumps or scrapes. It was our intention to get to Potter Heigham this evening for a passage under the bridge first thing Monday morning. While we were gently chugging through Wroxham we had a text from James who had found our missing member, Stewart, inhabiting a riverside bungalow at Horning. "Look out for the one with the tree in the garden" was the advice. Just past the New Inn supposedly. All the bungalows seemed to have trees in the gardens. We spotted them eventually and moored for an introduction and natter. Now Stewart has a Norman 23 with a Mariner 25 hp motor on the back! Why isn't your boat here Stewart was the question. Too windy on Barton Broad! Hmmmm.... unlikely to be seeing Stewart crossing Breydon any time soon then! After some more boaty conversation it was onward towards Potter Heigham.
It was a lovely evening to be cruising and it wasn't long before we were passing the first of the bungalows running up to the bridge. When I first came on the Broads in the early 70's, this stretch had a very "shanty town" appearance. Over the years it has changed considerably. The first bridge gauge was indicating almost 7' clearance which was more than we needed. "If its anything like, I'm going straight through" was Oliver's announcement. As we approached the bridge hole did seem unusually large. But then Ollie spotted the lecky pole! And when moored he found over £2 still on. No competition, we are having some charging.
I had been reading glowing reports of the chippy on the Broads Forum and persuaded Oliver to partake of dinner off paper. Although the service was first class and all offerings freshly prepared, it was a huge disappointment. In fact Potter Heigham was not going to do awfully well today! Oliver had what was grandly described as a homemade steak pie. It turned out to be a very dried up gravy pie! I had haddock. Where I come from we pride ourselves on the quality of our fish and chips. Now it may be a regional thing but, for whatever reason, our fish come without skin on and no bones! The fish I had was still attached to a leathery hide and festooned with bones. Next we thought we would try the Broadshaven. Surely it can only have improved! Not a chance. It was truly dreadful. The staff had to be called to serve and did this reluctantly. The place was filthy with your feet sticking to the floor. The World Cup Final was on. We supped our pints, saw a bloke head butt another bloke but thankfully this was on the telly. Then we retreated to the Falgate. On the way we stopped to have a look at the remains of Herbert Woods wet sales shed. All the structure had gone and there were all manner of twisted and charred bits of boat and engine on the side. The following morning I heard someone say that there were 13 boats lost but they only found bits for 12! Very mysterious.
Anyway, the Falgate was very pleasant and I managed to handsomely beat Oliver on the pool table. And so to bed....
We had intended to rise early today, Monday, ready for the bridge pilot but not like this! I was suddenly awoken by a series of loud bangs and the boat jumping about. It was 6.30 am. Looking out of the window I was just in time to see one of those Hampton Safaris speeding away down the Thurne. We looked closely but could find no evidence of damage thankfully. We reckon it must have run across the front of us catching each fender and bouncing off. It certainly shook us both awake. We never saw that particular boat again that week. The pilot didn't start until 8.30 at least so it was time for coffee and tobacco. Then a wander over for a quick look at Lathams, that's all it deserves. Replenish the supply of maggots and milk, upgrade Oliver's fishing line from hemp to monofilament along with a couple of decent floats and some hooks. Oliver actually went up to the Post Office to buy a fishing licence! The pilot arrives and proceeds to take us under the bridge with about 4" to spare. You have to admire their skill. This fella had never set eyes on this boat before never mind having any experience of how it would handle. Yet he casually took it through dead centre chatting away.
Shortly after leaving the bridge we passed this fine old boat clearly benefiting from some superb restoration.
It was a lovely morning, one of those to take things extra easily so we meandered very slowly up towards Candle Dyke. This is Oliver's first sight of the waters above the bridge. Even moving slowly we are soon at the turn and then on Heigham Sound. The engine is very quiet at low revs so the only real sound is the gentle gurgling of the water behind us. It really is surreal and I can see Ollie is impressed already. No sooner have we turned onto Meadow Dyke than a hire boat comes racing up behind us. "Where's the fire???" we pull right into the reeds and let them pass rather than have an impatient tub pushing us up onto Horsey Mere. Very few boats on the Mere as we glide across towards Horsey Dyke.
We moor about halfway down and Ollie sets to with the first onboard brunch. Its an impressively simple setup here. A small shop with very helpful folk. A mill with interesting exhibits and a rickety view. Best of all, scrupulously clean toilets and a shower!! Bought a couple of books reduced to half price. British Birds and Wildflowers. This is what being here turns you to and wonderful it is too! After brunch which was wholesome, it was horizontal relaxation for an hour or so. Tried a bit of fishing and caught quite a few small roach and perch. Then I noticed what looked like the end of a fishing rod poking out of the water. Pulled it out and it was a 4 metre whip. Either someone lost patience or it fell off some unfortunate boat.
That evening we walked into Horsey village to the Nelsons Head. We both ate very well for a reasonable price, very friendly service and good beer. What more do we want? Gets our strong recommendation.
Tuesday and we knew we were not going to get a huge mileage in so we dawdled and then slowly chugged over towards Waxham Cut. It looked a bit wider than on my last explore. Pootled up very slowly no problem at all. We stopped at Brograve Mill and while Ollie got breakfast going, I had another fish. Quite successful and caught a mixture of mainly small stuff with the occasional good roach. Brograve Mill is well worth using up some pixels on!
After eating we resumed a slow wander up towards the limit of navigation at Bridge Farm. As we were approaching the bridge we passed a few moored private boats. There were some folk sat by them and the look we got clearly said this is our bit, what are you doing here? We were picking a fair bit of weed up now and had to keep shaking it off the prop. We got under the bridge no problem at all. Its a great shame there is not a visitor mooring at the top. Fancy that! There's a wee Norman in the corner.
We turned and slowly retraced our steps. We had intended a walk to the beach from here and noticed a path going in the general direction. On a wider bit very near the mill we jammed into the reeds and moored. A very pleasant amble across the fields alongside drains eventually to Horsey Gap. The National Trust are big around here! Spent a very pleasant time wandering the dunes and the beaches but no sign of deals.
On the way back we spied the "Poppy Restaurant and Tea Rooms". Just the thing for an afternoon like this. Visions of lovely homemade cake and a pot of tea! The place is very "Twee" with meaningless objects lying around and some fairly poor water colours up for sale that looked like they had been there some considerable time. Oliver went for a big chunk of very attractive chocolate cake and I, a huge homemade scone. The chocolate cake was reported as stale and dry. The scone was OK without being spectacular. Just as we were finishing, they fetched all the signs in and put a closed sign up which was odd as a rather noticeable large sign offered evening meals!
Back to the boat and a dawdle down the rest of Waxham Cut. Time really does escape you up here, no sooner had we set off then it seemed we were entering Catfield Dyke. Slow amble up to the top and the visitor moorings were mostly taken up with the local private boats that could not get onto their own moorings because of low water levels. However, we found a very pleasant spot.
We had some of our most successful fishing here. Oliver had at last mastered the art of casting decent line from his reel and caught a few. Still had a great reluctance to concede that maggots were any use at all.
That evening it was a fair old stride to Catfield Village and the Crown. As it was we were a bit too late! They had stopped serving food early due to staff problems. We had a beer and must have looked painfully hungry because the landlady soon offered to make us some sandwiches which we accepted and consumed with delight. This is a very pleasant pub and, although we couldn't sample any, the menu looks interesting and is not a chain variety. Its a bit off track for boaters but it is worth the walk from Catfield Dyke. Having said that, we got a taxi back to the staithe which was only £2.
The next day, Wednesday, a pleasantly slow cruise up to the Pleasure Boat moorings. Oliver reckoned there was another electricity pole up here. He wandered off to seek this energy. On his return we moved into the Whispering Reeds dyke where we were able to moor free of charge and hook up to the electric. The other advantage was that it was away from the Pleasure Boat hordes. That afternoon we had a geocache to do at Dairy House Farm just outside Hickling village. Rather unwisely we didn't take a map! It ended up being a very considerable stroll. The site of the cache was deep in some woods with no defined path. There was a lot of backwards and forwarding before we accepted we had to plunge through the undergrowth and get torn to shreds by all the vicious thorns!
However, we found the cache eventually, did our bits and set off on the return journey. I had wandered through Hickling village on the way and spotted the Greyhound as being a very likely looking hostelry. We called for a look on the way back. It really is a very pleasant place indeed and the beer garden is like no other I have ever seen. Its won awards apparently!
We replenished our huge fluid loss in the garden and decided to return this evening to dine. We spoke to the landlord who assured us there would be no need to book. We returned later really looking forward to some good eating and drinking. When we received our meals we really could not believe quite how poor it was. The chips were not cooked, the steak was tough and grisly. the whole presentation was an extreme contrast to the pub itself. We can only think it was a very unfortunate one off that we happened to catch and are willing to give it another chance one day. This was not encouraged though by the reaction to our comments on the food. "Oh really? I'll tell the chef" was it and nothing more was heard. We asked if the chef had been told and were dismissed with a cursory yes. A huge disappointment all around and it also meant we had to retrace our steps and drink at the Pleasure Boat, a pub neither of us are particularly fond of.
The following day, Thursday, we are bound for West Somerton. We had been talking to fishermen and had learned that the choice place to be was in the lee of the wind fishing the margins and open spaces. All the way across Hickling Broad, down Deep Dyke we tried to find a suitable mooring to both fish a bit and have brunch! We did find a likely spot and caught a few tiddlers but nothing to suggest we had yet mastered the art of reading the swims. We have a very leisurely voyage through Martham Broad watching the water get clearer and clearer. By the time we moored at West Somerton the water was gin clear. While Oliver set about brunch once more I wandered up to check that we might get fed that evening at the Lion. It was just 12 midday and it appeared shut! There were signs indicating that it had changed hands very recently and that the supply of draft beer had been interrupted that week due to a cellar revamp. Other signs did suggest that there would be food available that evening but I was not confident. After brunch I tried ringing that pub and spoke to the landlady who promised bountiful produce that very evening so that was alright then!
We caught a bus into Winterton on Sea that afternoon and wandered through the very picture postcard village to the dunes and the beach. Tea and cakes were had at the cafe and then we individually wandered our own paths. I found a very cosy spot on top of the dunes looking out to sea and promptly fell asleep. Oliver had a very refreshing wander along the shore. No seals sighted again. Back on the bus after a very pleasant afternoon and set about a bit of serious fishing. The water was absolutely clear but there were heavy patches of weed. By casting to the edges of these we were quite successful and caught some nice fish. The locals were out in force and kept telling us how there were colossal pike, perch, bream and tench to be had. We never quite made the colossal mark. A very enjoyable session though in a really attractive location. Later we girded our loins for the Lion. Its not a huge pub and is in need of a lick of paint which is often the case when a previous landlord leaves. The menu was very reasonable and we both enjoyed the food that was very well prepared and presented. A few very refreshing beers to follow and we were happy. Another hostelry to be included on any recommended list.
Friday and, today, we are travelling miles! All the way to Thurne Dyke and another Lion. Once again it was a very restful and scenic meander down the Thurne up to the bridge. We arrived before 9 am and there was already a queue of boats both sides.
We made sure the pilot was aware of us and then replenished vital supplies and made use of the facilities. There seemed to be plenty of room under the bridge once again nearly on 7' clearance. We sat and watched the pilot work his way through the queue rapidly with impressive ease. Sadly we never did see any misguided self attempts this time. Through the bridge and filled up with water. Then across to the cafe for a very acceptable breakfast. We assume that, having paid £3 for the pilot service, they are insured against any untoward collisions with masonry but never did ask in case we got the reply "no liability, that's all yours" which may have affected our confidence a tad.
A very leisurely cruise down to Thurne and found a mooring about two thirds of the way up. The system of charging after 4pm always ensures there is something of an exodus just before the appointed hour. We had a wander up to the pub and gift shop. Some of these shops could be transported to any site anywhere in the UK with stock intact they are so much lacking in local identity! They appear to be installing a Grand Prix circuit in the pub yard for little ones and using the spare ironmongery to make very substantial mooring posts. Maybe its the weather or just the sheer tranquillity of boating, but we then both adopted horizontal poses for some recuperative kip! Hail Sid on his push bike! Wanted us to move up and fill the gap left in front by an earlier escapee. Asked if we were eating at the pub that night ? Is water wet? No mooring fee then. Very sociable on this occasion in contrast to quite a few critical monologues on a certain forum. An Alpha 42 Lowliner arrived and proceeded to jam itself diagonally across the dyke. "We've not moored it yet" was heard from the crew. I'd had one of these last year and snatched my opportunity to appear gloriously clever! A series of brief but clear instructions to the lad on the helm and the boat gently slid into its mooring perfectly! Don't these first timers look at you with wonderment in such circumstances? A bit of fruitless fishing followed, once again just some small stuff. Eventually wandered off to the Lion. Once again we ate very well indeed. So much so that I also indulged in a desert. The menu was clear and imaginative. None of these flowery "everything comes from Norfolk" statements. If you encounter a menu containing these claims, our experience suggests you should seek alternative sources of sustenance. They are selling you the description rather than the end product which invariably disappoints! The food was well prepared and presented by cheerful staff. I again had a very pleasant conversation with Sid who was out and about working until shutting time with no sign of poor management/staff relations. Once again this was followed by some cold falling down water and we were well satisfied.
Saturday and our final full day. The week has disappeared rapidly as usual. The longest cruise yet all the way to Coltishall. Also as usual, Saturday morning was quiet, mainly private boats plying the ripples as a lot of hire boats are on change over. All this did was reinforce our view that main culprits as far as speeding was concerned are definitely the private owners. Granted, we were in no hurry and wanted to enjoy a slow and steady cruise but we were always close to the speed limit and boats were continually and impatiently coming up to our stern then flying past leaving atlantic breakers in their wake. Even at our pace it didn't take long to pass through Horning and arrive at Wroxham.
I just had to take a picture of this boat. This is the very boat we took out for two weeks in January 1977! Alphacraft's "Sabre" was the boat we just managed to scrape under Wayford Bridge and had to demolish the superstructure to get back! Won't mention the attempts to lower the air draft by opening the sea cock...... ooop's
Encountered that hideous chuffer emerging from Broadland Tours basin.
Moored once again at base camp and ventured off for yet another breakfast courtesy of the Mill House. They really are consistently good. Then another look at all the shiney stuff at Norfolk Marine. Oddly enough it all looked very similar to how it did a week ago ............
The cruise from Wroxham up to Coltishall is a favourite stretch of many and much deserving of this. We dawdled and enjoyed the scenery seeing my only Kingfisher of the week which is unusual. There were kids in the water at Caen Meadow but no problem this time. Hire boat numbers were increasing dramatically by the minute as they issued forth from various yards. At one stage we had a queue of four behind us all trying to pass. They eventually went for it three abreast and were very fortunate that nothing appeared from the opposite direction. We did pray and offer sacrifices in the hope that something big might appear but to no avail. Part of the reason for haste is undoubtedly the popularity of the free moorings at Coltishall as averse to paying £8 !! Being only 23' we arrived and found a very suitable space straight away between two private cruisers. We were hoping to eat at The Kings Head this evening and Oliver wandered off to see if we needed to book. I rested my eyelids for a while.
Oliver returned with a long face. The Kings head was booked up and there was no chance of us eating there tonight. Seemed we would either have to wander up to the village or slum it in the riverside Rising Sun. We both set about fishing. Oliver on the bank and me off the boat. Once again we had a very satisfying session without breaking any records unless it was for the tiniest fish. A very pleasant afternoon/early evening. There was an almost constant stream of hire boats seeking non existing mooring space. There was a very "boat proud" couple behind us. They never seemed to cease polishing, drying off and polishing again. It certainly was a shiney ship!
We both indulged in as efficient a strip wash as possible prior to our evenings festivities. Good job its so warm or all that cold water would not have been quite so pleasant. I suggested that we try the Kings Head anyway, there may have been a cancellation. Having already been refused Oliver hangs back while I order some amber nectar and put on my most appealingly polite pleading face on and ask about the possibility of eating. Now there are those who would swear that there was not the remotest possibility that I had this skill. Wrong! We could either wait until a table had finished or eat outside. It was a pleasant evening so alfresco dining was hardly a trial. The menu here is excellent and tempting. We decided to push the boat out and have starters. Deep fried goats cheese for me and cod roe for Oliver. I'll not disgrace this tale by letting on what my true description of this was. Eventually we were led to our table by a very pleasant and chatty young waitress. They then brought us some complimentary soup samples and a whole loaf of warm crusty granary bread and a tub of real butter! Impressive start indeed. This carried on, all the food we were presented with was of the highest quality and delicious. Granted it was likely the most expensive meal of the week but also just as likely the best. After some further restful beer drinking we were once again reduced to lifeless contented boaters.
Sunday and the end is in sight. Still no rush though and a very leisurely chug up towards Wroxham. The nearer we get the busier it gets. Lots of day boats buzzing about and they get a fair pace on as well. We spotted a fallen tree which was obstructing almost two thirds of the navigable width with a fair proportion just under the surface and not visible. We reported this to the Broads Authority who said it would be dealt with. On the way we stop for a look at the new moorings at Caen Meadow. There is room for two or three boats carefully moored and the place only needs to mature a bit and let some grass grow. It is rather adjacent to the bit of beach where there is often trouble from kids in the water though.
We wander through Bridge Broad and tie up at base cam again. Off for our final breakfast this trip at the Old Mill. Once again very palatable and enjoyed. And so, its the final stretch, the cruise back to Woodsdyke at Horning. As we chug through Wroxham and, eventually, Horning, Oliver announces that this is the busiest he has seen these particular waters so far. There are certainly many boats out and about on a gloriously sunny day. Back at Woodsdyke we manage to get the boat all the way up the dyke picking up a bottle of gas on the way from Boulters. Just a question of offloading into the red hot cars. Its been a cracking week after a very successful Norman gathering. Oliver seems well impressed by his first venture above the bridge and will undoubtedly return on many occasions. My next one is "Royal Commander" in September.
Just a few observations and conclusions. The pubs are very variable and it seems predictable that those nearest the riverside are often not the best. Maybe a case of resting on their laurels or location. I doubt this will work in the longer term or maybe it will sadly. The biggest disappointment of the week was the Greyhound at Hickling. Hopefully we will visit again and have a different experience. The idea that hire boaters are the worst culprits as to river behaviour is far from certain. We saw much evidence of poor navigation and a dismissive attitude from private boaters.
The famous forum logo gets you noticed and will attract waves and greetings in abundance! What a fairytale! For the 10 days we were out there was only one single occasion where this "logo" supposedly worked and that was Andy, the BA River Inspector on the first day. After all the hype we were amazed that we did not encounter any other forum members at all. We spent long periods on moorings with the sign displayed but got much more interest and reaction from the NBAS signs. Enough said.
In all the various sources for listings of services and facilities there really should be information about public conveniences and, maybe, a comment on quality and cleanliness etc. We found that those at Coltishall, Wroxham, Potter Heigham, Hickling Staithe and Horsey Mere were all very acceptable and maintained to a reasonable quality. Best of the lot was the facility at Horsey Mere. Not everyone cruises in . a boat big enough to have full onboard conveniences!
And finally a "guess the view" picture!