Brendan's Broadland Bash
BRENDON’S BROADLAND BASH 30th Aug – 3rd Sep 2008.
I am a recently arrived from Ireland, fairly moth eaten orange greyhound, my name is Brendon and I am currently being looked after by Sara, Nigel and Tillie Royall until some kindly person gives me a new home.
This is an account of my first Broadland holiday.
After a very tiring Saturday at the boatyard lying on my bed asleep except for waking up to eat the odd pigs ear, we all climbed aboard the 35ft cruiser ROYALL OAK and motored to our house where Nigel and Sara proceeded to load all the gear ready for a few days sailing. Both Tillie and I tried to help but in the end just got in the way so reverted to our beds once again. After a couple of false starts when we had to return to the yard to close a left open door and then again to collect matches we finally motored along the River Bure at around 6pm, Tillie and I were extremely excited but this was partly because we had not eaten yet and were very hungry. It was a very nice evening and in daylight we passed through Horning seeing both the wherries ALBION and ARDEA moored near to the village staithe. As the light faded we chugged onward through Thurne Mouth, Acle Bridge and Stokesby, arriving in pitch blackness at Stracey Arms where we moored for the night alongside the pungent Chinese restaurant close alongside the A47 road. We were all exhausted and after climbing ashore for toilets, well us dogs anyway, we all turned in for the night.
Tillie as always slept like a log, or should that be greyhound but I was quite jiffly during the night not being sure if the boat would stay afloat for that length of time, in any case we all had to be up and about early to catch the early morning tide through Yarmouth so in the mist we had a quick walk along the riverbank for a poo and then cast off into the very fast flowing river heading downstream in the murk. I tried very hard to keep interested but soon joined Tillie on the duvet. Twisting and turning through the reeds as the mist slowly burned off we saw windpumps in various states of repair or dereliction and often Harnsers (Herons) disturbed by our approach gently flapping across the marshes. Approaching Yarmouth we slowed as the boat pushed the incoming tide and away across the meadows we could make out Yarmouth Stadium, with a shudder we quietly crept back to bed thinking how extremely lucky we are.
After passing under two very low bridges, the rusty one of which carried the old tramway across the river and into the station, we swept round onto the remains of the old estuary called Breydon water and under the new lift bridge. At four miles long and a mile wide it took an hour to cross using the channel marked by red and green posts. The mud flats were alive with birds, various gulls, curlew, waders and ducks but surprisingly, however much we scanned the flats not one single hare could we see, eventually I lost interest and returned to bed. At the far end, on a slight mound or hill stands the gaunt remains of Burgh Castle and beyond Goodchilds boatyard where the wherry MAUD was hauled out for repairs. We moored for breakfast following which we walked along the river bank back to the Roman fort. Tillie was dressed as a Saxon but I wore a shiny helmet and carried a Roman sword and shield, up between the grey walls and on the grass we roared about at top speed as I tried successfully to repel a Saxon invasion, tired, I had a lay down in the damp grass and in any case some strangers appeared, rather spoiling the fun. On our way back we played hunt the Tillie poo that we misplaced on our way here and once this was safely bagged we cast off in bright sunshine bound for Beccles. Not much of note took place for a while so we slept below as the boat slipped along through the reeds, Sara got a bit panicky at Somerleyton swing bridge as it began to close when we drew near but there was easily room underneath.
There are few landmarks along this stretch of river, Herringfleet Mill and the old ivy clad chimney of the steam driven Black Mill, after which the river curves round at the junction of Oulton dyke toward the building block tower of Burgh St Peter church seen ahead in the trees. At a sharp bend in the river glides a large white trip boat out of Oulton Broad heading back now from upstream. Mr Bland is at the helm in full captains rig and we enthusiastically wave our little black and ginger paws at him as he stares open mouthed out of his window, he was last seen a couple of weeks ago eating fish and chips on a bench alongside Wroxham bridge. The twisting river flows through marshes full of grazing cattle, eventually the right hand bank starts to become a little hilly and soon we pass Beccles yacht club and slide under the road bridge and into the yacht station. Across the basin is moored our old friend “Johnny” Ratcliffe and family on ROYALL CONTINENTAL. It is extremely hot, perhaps the hottest day of the year, Tillie and I go ashore for toilets and then we walk up into the deserted Georgian town for a look round but it is deadly quiet, none of the cafes are open so after buying a tin of Illy coffee at the local supermarket we return for ice creams. Hot and flustered we lay exhausted on our snuggly beds, Nigel and Sara read, knit or snooze, the path along side the boat is busy with Sunday strollers who rather spoil my sleep as I think they may be wolves or some kind of other predator and in the basin dinghies gently splash about and people sunbathe or fish. Later Nigel walks back to the small café on the quay for more ice cream, the little that us dogs saw of them! As it cools we have tea and another walk ashore around the large meadows and at dusk, just as a string of coloured lights on the far bank switch on the wherry HATHOR slips under the upriver bridge from Geldeston with lowered gear and drifts with rattling quants into her mooring by the office.
Next morning we were up fairly late because Tillie will insist on a lay in, CONTINENTAL had already departed and after a run round we all walk up to the town to a rather nice looking café for takeaway breakfasts. However although the coffee is good along with Nigel’s breakfast baguette Sara’s is a little disappointing so later us greyhounds split what’s left. After a quick look in the antiquarian bookshop who unfortunately do not have one single Hare book in stock we saunter back down the pretty street and passed the old Maltings that were still being used up to the 1960’s and on to the meadows again where we went absolutely berserk roaring round at top speed chasing one another until Tillie stops to sniff the back end of a chestnut Boxer.
Casting off we quietly motor up stream looking into the lovely gardens that back onto the water, we are so tired though that we quickly lose interest and collapse onto our beds. After filling the boat with water we retrace our route round passed Oulton Dyke and Somerleyton until we arrive at St Olaves where we carry on beyond the Catchment Board works and onto the dead straight New Cut. The rivers here are all reed lined and at low water little can be seen above them except for huge skies and the occasional skeins of geese. The tide was fairly ripping through Reedham Yacht Station which was pretty full but as we cleared the swing bridge a boat swung away from the quay. Sara was petrified and we had to keep down below although Tillie kept creeping up the steps to look out. Once safely moored to the bank we ate lunch and then carefully stepped ashore where after a bit of a walk round we had poos on a bit of scrub land alongside the rail bridge. Some people that Sara and Nigel know were coming to visit but as they were out, in very strong wind we carried on up river. Nearing the car ferry it suddenly started to rattle across and we had to be very careful of the chains that pull it backwards and forwards over the channel. Beyond Norton Mill a narrow river winds for three and a half miles through reed fringed meadows and fields to Loddon. We can only travel slowly, the river is about six foot above the grazing marshes quite a bit of which especially toward the bottom end is flooded and rife with wildlife. After quite some time we round a wood to see Hardley Flood nature reserve across a footpath. It is a large area of water that floods through sluices at high water and then drains at low, it is here at Chedgrave common that we moor quietly for the night. Us greyhounds have a terrific roar round on the river bank sniffing for rabbits and then, once we have settled down a little we all walk up to the village.
Not much, if any, of the old staithe buildings survive being replaced with modern housing, none the less the mooring basin is very pleasant with grassy banks and sleepy ducks. Following a look around the village we run and jump along the path back to the boat for a well earned rest. At dusk we walked up to the bird hide overlooking the flood which was full of starch white seagulls and trips of flighting ducks, I was very frightened of the darkness inside not being able to settle even though we were all unsuccessfully looking out of the narrow slits for the hundreds of shovellers reported in the log book. Crossing the footbridges above the sluices through which the water was absolutely gushing like a mini waterfall or weir, Tillie got a bit exited and was told off in case she fell into the water but as for myself I was glad to arrive back at the boat in darkness for a sleep.
Next morning we walked again into the village and then across damp meadows near the site of an old post windmill. We had a super time although I got a little excited and removed a small chunk of Tillies flank with my teeth and so was told in no uncertain terms to calm it down a bit even though I was only playing. Being low on water we took OAK into the basin to top up from the hose pipe laying her alongside CONTINENTAL whose skipper and crew we jealously spotted eating a fry up in a nearby café. Back down along the Chet we turned onto the main river passing Cantley sugar beet factory standing as a landmark tall above the reeds, and not long afterwards turned up the short straight Langley dyke leading up to some nice moorings near the deserted Wherry pub and Langley abbey remains, built into a farm house. We walked up to have a look but unfortunately could not see much from the road through the hedge row. Tillie and I played on the bank, hopping on and off the boat in great style until late afternoon and one last poo ashore when we clambered back on board and crept back down the dyke to catch the tide over Breydon. Progressing down river the tide pushed us quickly from behind and we literally shot passed Cantley, the ferry and Reedham in quick succession, in fact a little too fast and as we slowed to a crawl, a huge gin palace type boat dug its rear end into the fast flowing water and swamped us as it passes us by, we are severely rocked about and Tillie looks very green about her normally white muzzle. Berney Arms mill with its white crossed sails stands tall above the reeds as we drift casually along with the tide and beyond here, to loose a little time, we turn up against the ferocious outgoing tide of the Beccles river. Already bird life is teaming on the exposed mud flats revealing the decayed remains of the wherry LADY VIOLET green with slime. Above Goodchilds boatyard we spin round and with the engine in virtual tick over we let the tide drift us back down again toward Breydon. A large white bird is feeding at the tide edge and we realise with great excitement that it is a spoonbill but just before we get really close a speedboat towing an inflatable with two wet suited passengers roars passed us causing lots of noise and wash causing spoony to flap away. We think, Tillie and I that we might enjoy a ride like the two boys behind the speed boat but suddenly as it turns on its side they are thrown into the water and the inflatable gets airborn, amid crashing waves the boat stops to pick up the waterlogged boys and we go back to bed.
Eventually turning up the North End into the river Bure we push against a lightly out flowing tide and punch up through Yarmouth and into the dusk. Away in the distance amid a dark grey cloud lightning flashes as a huge thunderstorm sweeps across North Norfolk, small flocks of common turn flash low up river feeding on the evening knats, circling round over the marshes for another pass. It is pitch black when we moor once again at Stracey Arms in the dull glow of a row of street lamps, Tillie and I go ashore for a walk along the bank top on leads but she smells rabbits and gets overly excited so we are bundled back on board.
Next morning after a short walk we push off and it seems to take hours to head up river but eventually just as we are about to burst we pull in at St Bennet’s abbey, the only monastery in the whole of Britain not dissolved by nasty king Henry, the scant remains though are of little interest as we have the most enormously long wee’s and because of a lack of trees I am forced to use my front legs, followed by a run around on the bank. Further along a floating grab empties marsh litter from a motor wherry and I somehow get spooked and try to return to the Oak, unfortunately I choose the wrong boat, it is even the wrong colour, and leap onto its foredeck piled high with fishing gear even as the skipper looks on askance. Realising my mistake and with Sara yelling at me I try to jump ashore but in a muddle cling to the bank with my front paws whilst tight rope walking my back end along the mooring rope, as I am about to drop into the water Nigel hauls me ashore. Funnily enough the fishing boat slips away from its moorings shortly afterwards as I drop off into an exhausted sleep. At mid morning Tillie and I are excited to arrive home and jump around on the quay as Sara spends several hours hoovering up greyhound hairs from the carpet which is very surprising as greyhounds are well known for not shedding our hairs at all!
Paw Note – since penning this account I have been lucky enough to have found my forever home with Teresa in Norfolk.