Friday, 27 April 2012

A necessary journey

It was planned to put our boat (Lady Louise – hereinafter referred to as LL) back in the water before Easter and hopefully spend a little time on the southern rivers of the Norfolk Broads but when the forecast for the long weekend was announced we made a decision to stay on the land, work on polishing up the inside and get some of our stuff back on board with the intention of a launch the Friday after Easter and a leisurely trip back ‘up north’ to our moorings.  The tides were looking ok for a lunch-time trip through the dreaded Great Yarmouth bridges on the Sunday.

By way of explanation, we winterised near enough to Norwich on the map below and had to get back to our moorings at South Walsham – as the crow flies around 10 miles but by river, an 8 hour trip.  The route would take us downriver through Brundall, Cantley, Reedham where we turn left heading for Breydon Water.  Across to Great Yarmouth and turn left again, heading for Stokesby, Acle, then leftish again and left to South Walsham.

The tides have to be taken into account for a boat the height of ours, as both bridges at Great Yarmouth don’t have very much headroom, even at low water.  The two rivers, Bure and Yare, empty into the seas approximately every 12 hours, with the tide rushing out fast, particularly through the restricted river Bure at Great Yarmouth.

As we were loading our provisions on to the boat, we noticed a group go past with a Manchester City flag flying – obviously off to the football match at the nearby Carrow Road ground!  

We said farewell to the moorings at Trowse around 2 p.m. on the Friday and took a leisurely trip down the river to Cantley, stopping to take on fuel at Brundall.  This part of the journey is enjoyable as there is so much to see on and by the river and as we don’t visit the southern rivers very often, we make the most of it. 

We pottered down river, through Rockland Broad and on down to Cantley, planning to be moored at the Reedcutter pub at opening time!

On the way we were almost overtaken by a water skier but he fell off before he passed us!  I think the water must have been extremely cold as he was back up on skis very quickly.  How different the conditions to when I used to water ski in Cyprus! 

We moored at Cantley and quickly noticed how high the tide was!  I struggled to get off the boat and we had to put out extra fenders to protect our newly polished hull.
We spent a nice evening in the pub, the food was first class and the company entertaining!  The group of lads we had seen earlier heading to the football turned up, with three more boatloads of people, celebrating a stag night.  They were good fun and very well behaved!

We woke next morning to what was still a high tide and, with a little trepidation, set off down river towards Breydon Water, around 9 a.m. hoping to clear the bridges around 12.30 – 1 p.m.  The journey was uneventful, our main interest being in the state of the tide!  It became apparent fairly quickly that it wasn’t dropping as it should so we planned to cross Breydon and ring the Yacht Station to see what the bridge heights were.  We were slightly distracted by a couple of marsh harriers hunting along the river bank but as the mud flats weren’t showing, there wasn’t much other wildlife to see.

We crept across Breydon Water, hoping that at the bottom of the tide there would be enough headroom for us to slide under the bridges but on ringing the Yacht Station, we were told that we would be about 5-6 inches too tall!  Although expected, this was a blow;  we hung around for about half an hour hoping the tide would drop a little more, then nosed up to the lower bridge with me on deck judging the clearance but had to abort at the last moment as we would have damaged the superstructure if we’d attempted to get under.

There was nothing for it but to turn back and we had discussions about where we would moor the boat for a week as our next attempt wouldn’t be until the following weekend, when spring tides (very lows/highs) were predicted. 

We opened up the engines across Breydon, a little in frustration than anything else!

There were three pretty narrow boats moored outside the Berney Arms pub at the top of Breydon Water - they'd be able to get under the bridges with no problem at all (probably even at high water!).

The pub at Cantley had already said we could moor there but as this was about a 40+ minute journey from home we decided to head back to Trowse, which was about 15 minutes from home so we could check the boat on a daily basis.

It was disappointing to have to return to these moorings which, although very nice, weren’t home to us!

To be continued ............

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Our little road of 10 houses is a cul-de-sac.  The road is narrow with a small turning area at the end, which the occupants of one of the houses has 'taken over' as their personal parking space.   Therefore when a visiting car or delivery van comes down the close, it struggles to turn round and usually has to use someone else's driveway.

Since we moved in 11 years' ago, when the houses were built, we have had a sign outside our house (we are on the corner of the Close) which stated the name of the road and the fact that it was a cul-de-sac!  This sign was metal and was firmly embedded into the pavement tarmac.

On Monday, there was a ring at my doorbell and, on answering it, found two young men with a truck labelled with the local Council's "Environmental Crime Department" on the side and a trailer with a compressor on board plus many road signs.

They told me that they had a list which stated that the road sign for the Close had to be replaced - (the policy was now to use plastic) - as it was damaged and was I aware of this.  I said 'no' and together we inspected the sign, which was still firmly concreted into the pavement, no bent bits and no missing lettering, in fact a perfect sign!  After some discussion, I offered to ring the local Council to see what was going on but they didn't seem to want me to do that and decided that as the job was on the list, they would have to do it.  

Roadwork warning signs were placed in strategic areas, the compressor was fired up, a drill was produced and the old (but perfect) metal sign was removed.  The holes in the pavement had to be enlarged to take the new sign and some concrete was mixed and poured to hold the legs in place.  A neat job, they cleaned up and went - around 45 minutes in all.

After a while I went out to inspect the sign and realised that it no longer displayed the fact that the little Close was a cul-de-sac!  In my view this was asking for trouble so I fired an email off to the Council who responded quite quickly, stating that a member of the public had reported the sign damaged and they were replacing it 'in good will' (I think they meant 'good faith').  They promised to amend the sign to advise that the road is a cul-de-sac!

I have expressed my surprise to the Council that they don't send someone out to inspect reported damage, or even ask a member of the Parish Council to walk round and have a look, before going to the unnecessary expense of making a new sign - incorrectly anyway.  I wait in anticipation to see if they will somehow amend the current sign (maybe a small hanging plaque underneath the road name) or whether they will ditch this one and make a new one.

Just out of interest, the chaps who removed the metal sign, insinuated that this was being done to 'prevent metal theft'!!  I did ask them what happened to the removed signs and they told me that they were stored at the Council offices!   Maybe to be sold for scrap eventually!