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Sunday, 3 August 2014

On the Broads with Sapphire 2


DAY ONE Friday 25/07/14

Anchor's Aweigh on Sapphire 2
 The Beermonster, T'other arf and Grandchildren had been waiting for this little trip for AGES. I have always had a passion for boats and this was my 6 or 7th time on the Broads, whilst it was t'other arf's 3rd time and the 2 little monsters first.We arrived at Richardson's Stalham yard about 2pm and were very efficiently dealt with within an hour. Most of this time was taken up by loading our luggage and fishing bits n bobs. I cannot praise this boatyard enough. We had chosen the budget priced Sapphire 2 and were surprised at the quality of such an old boat. A little heads up here. CAMRA members are entitled 10% discount on all Hoseason's holidays. We saved over £70. Anyway, we set off shortly after 3-30pm,after a bait hunting mission into Stalham. A nice market town with 2 or 3 pubs,plenty of shops and a Tesco's. Although untried this time, I have sampled a couple of the pubs here in the past and not been disappointed.Our aim for the first night was to reach Thurne. We made good progress and although slowed down by the yachts on Barton Broad,we still managed to reach the end of the River Ant by about 5-30. The boating traffic was not as heavy as I thought it would have been, Friday's seem to be a good choice for departure day.Soon we had slung a left (turned to port) and joined the Bure. A bit busier now but still manageable.After another hour,another left up the River Thurne, we had arrived in our chosen area and we were surprised to find more than adequate spaces for mooring in Thurne Dyke. Up we sailed, turned at the head and moored for the night.It is £5 to moor here the night but well worth it, as the next moorings, although still with access to the pub are a 20 min walk away.
At the head of this Dyke is the Lion Inn. An excellent family pub, offering a wide choice of Real Ale, food and amusements for the young uns. Showers are also available. The staff were very friendly and, I suppose, have seen it all over the years. Not an eye was raised when a group of 10 or so pirates alighted their jolly craft and "Aaarred" there way into this hostelry.
Whilst the 2 Grandchildren spent part of their inheritance in the slotties, we sampled the ale. Adnams Southwold at 3.8% was my starter, whilst my half pint taster chose "Woodforde's Wherry" Both good and served to perfection. I followed this up with a "Nelson's Revenge" Woodfordes 4.5% full bodied bitter and finished with the same brewer's offering of "Bure Gold" a golden beer of 4.3 %. Lovely. The "Bure Gold" certainly hits the spot when the summer is here with its slightly citrus aroma and a floral after taste to the bitterness. We played a couple of games of pool on the well worn table and chatted to the locals and fellow boaters alike. What ambiance. A tranquil setting and great company with a selection of excellent local beers. Bliss. But time was up and as one famous diarist once penned "....and so to bed"

DAY TWO Saturday 26/07/14

After a broken nights sleep (I am 6ft whilst the bed is probably 5ft 11 and a fag paper) I was up bright and early for a spot of fishing. I caught a few but not a lot. Whilst sampling the delights of these famous fishing rivers,one of the crew from our neighbouring boat, who had helped us moor the previous night, walked past on the way to the services at the Lion. After a quick yarn or two about the joys of boating, it was their first trip, we discovered that we were fellow "Grimbarians". There turned out to be a least another couple of parties from good old Grimsby moored in the Dyke.Small world???
A hearty breakfast was prepared, eaten and "Buurrppp" regretted "Afore ye cast off a rope. Aaarrgh" Sorry. Forgot to tell you we bought a Skull and Crossbones flag in the shop last night.I may slip into that Piracy talk now and then. We left the moorings and headed back down the Thurne to rejoin the Bure as we were looking to moor at Acle. The kids had been promised a day at the seaside, so instead of messing about judging tides and what have you, we decided to moor as close to the bridge at Acle and use public transport.
Mooring up after an hour or so at the stretch before Horizon craft (£4) we started the stroll into the village. This amble turned into a 25 min tortured heat march."Are we nearly there yet?" was the anthem. Eventually our departure point was found and soon we were on our way to Great Yarmouth by bus. Yippee. The kids sort of enjoyed it, especially the shops of tat! After agreeing to let me have a free hour before our return, I headed to the Troll Cart. a JDW's near the Market Gates shops.
The Troll Cart
Clean, friendly and a good selection of beers. I only sampled 2 here. Great Newsome's "Harvests Gold" a lovely clean tasting ale packing a punch at 4.7% and Woodforde's Nelsons Revenge. Both served to perfection at this vibrant and busy pub. Then it was time to head back to Acle.Off we went on the bus and only fifteen minutes later we had reached our stop. We decided on a taxi back to Acle Bridge and we were quite happy with the £4 fare. We decided to have our meal on the boat and stay the night here.A couple of hours fishing was well worth it. A dozen reasonable fish on the feeder was more than satisfying.The Bridge Inn was only a 5 min stroll down the bank and had plenty for the kids to tire themselves out on. A "Wherry" and a "Adnams Broadside" later we were back on our boat.The Bridge Inn is quite a busy place, and offers good moorings outside. Obviously a magnet for families, a quiet night here may be a rarity.Nice place though.

DAY THREE Sunday 27/07/14

Another day dawned.Another dozen fish bagged and then it was time to go.We left our moorings, hoping to take on water but the queue of boats for the same service deterred us.Showers would have to wait! Back up the Bure was the plan, and the increase in boats was evident.After a couple of hours or so, we came upon the Ferry at Horning and the adjacent free moorings. We took on water here and stayed for a the afternoon. Beautiful sunshine beating down, we decided to venture around the area.An excellent stop here. The pub has a bouncy castle and slide, swings and other kids rides.The boatyard has a few facilities as well including an indoor pool.The kids loved it and I dreamt of owning one of the boats in the nearby sales yard.......next year, if I get those 6 numbers.We ate here and the food was quite adequate, reasonably priced and served in good time.
Enjoying The Ferry at Horning.
Carvery meals are also available. We only sampled the "Bure Gold",  "Wherry" and "Nelson's Revenge" although "Gold Speckled Hen" was also on the pumps.Again, good conditioned ales.Bootifull.
On a Sunday afternoon, The Ferry has a "turn" on. A very witty group who kept us entertained on the outside stage.After our refreshments, we set off up to the outskirts of Wroxham. We came upon the Salhouse Broad Island moorings, and decided to moor here, as we couldn't be sure of any spaces if we went on further. For £6 a night which goes to the upkeep of the Broad it was well worth it. The fishing was very good and we soon had a good 20lb of skimmers and roach before nightfall.With nothing on the island besides fellow boaters and trees, this is a very quiet idyll. Ssshhhh.

DAY FOUR Monday 28/07/14

The Famous Roy's
Monday came and after another 20lb of early morning fish, we left to reach Wroxham an hour later.The journey was a little uninspiring, due to the lack of sunshine and a gathering gloom of rainclouds.We moored in Faircraft Loynes boatyard, took water and headed into Wroxham and, of course, Roy's.This family certainly have a good selection of shops and were probably entrepreneurial before the word exsisted.As soon as we entered the Roy's Toys "Booooom" The thunder storm hit us.Now. I am all for self preservation, but to be stuck in a toyshop with 2 kids, pocket money ready is not my idea of fun.We eventually extracted ourselves from the varied riches on offer, via the foodhall for provisions, and Roy's McDonald's, headed back to the boat and were fortunate to run into the Bridge pilot.He had just refused to take one of the hire boats under Wroxham Bridge, due to its height, and agreed to take us through, if ready.Quickly we were.Now that is an experience.These pilots are so good at teir job and make it look so easy." Thank you Skipper." and off he hopped to do the reverse trip with someone else.
We carried on to the free moorings at Coltishall. A quaint place but it can be noisy moored near the road.We wandered to the nearby "Rising Sun" had a swift couple of drinks before staging the FA Cup final on the grass.That was it really.The beer was "Wherry" good. The football Knackering and the night came and went.8-7 ........8 sodding 7. I lost due to being kind, maybe unfit and oh ok older.

DAY FIVE Tuesday 29/07/14

We set off up to Hoveton Viaduct free moorings about 9am as we had planned a day out at Bewiderwood Adventure Park. After waiting for a bus, we were advised that we could walk there. Only 20 mins. Wrong! At least 35 mins later 4 sweaty figures arrived. We paid and entered this kids wonderland, with story tellers, slides, climbs, mazes and all manner of adventures. Even I had fun. If you have kids, it is worth a visit.We spent a good 4 hours here and only left because of the need to catch the bus back.Back in Wroxham, I went for bait whilst T'other arf got bread and milk. We met back at the "King's Head" by the river. I sampled a "Charity Ale" here which went down very well.The pilot had agreed to take us back through the bridge in 30 mins so lucky again.Once through the bridge, we headed down to the moorings at Malthouse broad. Unfortunately they had already filled up, so we tried those at South Walsham. Same here but we did manage the last of the mooring posts and let the rhond anchors do the rest.Early night tonight.........after fishing.

DAY SIX Wednesday 30/07/14

After a bit more fishing we set off for water and with plans to end up back at Salhouse, this time across the broad.Stern on mooring.We took on water at Ferry Marina and then continued to Salhouse. Arriving shortly before mid-day we duly paid our £6, showered, and then walked into the village to catch the bus to Norwich outside the Bell. Because we took the wrong road after the wooded footpath from the broad, we missed the 1-15 bus so had to wait an hour for the next one.We popped into the Bell and I had a pint of "Lancaster Blonde" a golden ale of 4% which was a little too citrusy for my taste.Half a Timothy Taylor's 3.5% "Golden Best" was also sampled. A lovely refreshing drink. Most would not believe it is a mild.This has a big area outside for playtime.Football and cricket ball supplied.
Sunset over Saphire 3 at Salhouse Broad.
After much shop looking and a tantrum or two, we decided to eat out and after our first choice, The Ribs of Beef, had stopped serving (real shame as it is one of my favourite pubs in the City and always has a good range) we ended up in "The Glass House" just down the road. Another of JDW's outlets,this one was typical of most.I enjoyed a  peri-peri chicken with a free pint whilst the boss woman had the Southern fried style chicken strips with the same drink. You can't knock these places for value for money. It isn't ever going to feature on Masterchef but you know it is going to fill you up.Next was the finding of the bus stop for our return.Easier said than done! Eventually we found the correct stop and were soon back in Salhouse. A swift pint later at The Bell and we set off back to Salhouse.Watching the sun set over this area is always special. Coincidently, after spotting our sister ship, Sapphire 3 the day previous on the Bure, She was moored next to us at Salhouse! We also spotted Sapphire 1 on the Bure earlier that day.We fished for a couple of hours and caught a few decent roach on sweetcorn.Tomorrow we would be cruising all day so an early night was planned..

DAY SEVEN Thursday 31/07/14

I awoke at 5-30, got the fishing gear ready and waited for the rest of the tired motley crew to come to.By 8am we were all up.I had a few fish and we started to formulate a plan for our last full day. My lovely partner had earlier asked about putting the water on." You know were the switch is" I replied. "On the dashboard" she confirmed.As I settled back down to fish, and the rest of Salhouse slumbered...."PAAARP" "I think I pressed the Horn!!" Silly woman. I think most of us got up early that day.We set off after taking water at Salhouse.A bit of advice. Mooring at the end 2 or 3 spaces will mean that the water pipe doesn't reach,so repositioning before you leave is necessary.We headed for Ludham via Womack water and after a couple of hours we arrived. We decided on the free moorings before the boatyards. Good choice as the
The Crew of Sapphire 2
stern on moorings at the top of the staithe were almost full. We wandered into Ludham, a beautiful village with friendly locals.We had a drink in the lovely King's Arms with its outside dining area,children's play area and good range of ales.Again I plumpted for "Bure Gold" and again it was well delivered. Back to the boat and time to cruise back down the Thurne,up the Bure and then up the Ant.We had planned a couple of stops on thev way, but decided to find somewhere to moor for our last night on the boat, near an eating house.We ended up at Wayford Bridge and its adjoining public house of the same name.Another pleasant location and a large pub to cope.The staff were excellent, and service very good but we did find it a tad expensive for what was served.Not a moan but a niggle. The beer we chose was "Best Bitter" a malty brew from The Grain Brewery of Norwich.A full rounded flavour, this amber coloured beer was as good as anything we tasted all week.4.2% Very nice and moreish.We settled down back on board after paying our £8 mooring fee and fished one last time.The fishing didn't last long because the weather turned squally but not before our Grandson,Lennon caught his whopper of a roach.

DAY EIGHT Friday 01/08/14

Going up the River Thurne.
And so that was that.We left our moorings feeling pretty miserable that it was only less than an hour away from our boatyard and we quietly cruised along past our memories of one week before.Not a lot was said just contented sighs.We got back at Kingfisher quay at 9am and were professionly booked back in.Within half an hour we were back on the road to Grimsby.We had been given almost half of our fuel deposit back so the cost is not always as high as it seems. We had had a brilliant time.We obviously got on each others nerves at times, but that is part and parcel of it.We could have done more cruising and boozing but for the children but that did not deter from the experience.It was after all a Family Holiday.The beer and pubs visited were excellent and the food delicious.Fishing was enjoyable and there was always something for the junior crew members.I for one cannot wait to return.If you haven't been,go if you went years ago, renew your love of this area.You will not be disappointed.Oh and we did happen upon Sapphire 4 on our travels too.A full set of Sapphires. Is there a prize for that??