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Our Honeymoon on the Broads in 1980

1980s History 1980s Memories 1980s Gallery

By BriJan

It was on the first Saturday in May that we were married in Gravesend Kent …. it seemed we had been saying it for ages …”we will get married on the first Saturday in May”… at last it was here. We had decided that it might be fun to hire a cruiser for a week and spend our honeymoon afloat. As we had not expected to arrive until after about 9.00pm on the Saturday evening we arranged with Summercraft of Wroxham to have the boat left open for us … and they let us know where it would be and where we could park the car. They wished us a happy wedding day and a lovely honeymoon and gave us directions to the boat yard. They also told us that the instruction manual would be on the table … that sounded a bit odd until we realised it was the boat instruction manual that they meant. They also said they would have an engineer aboard about 09.00hrs on Sunday morning to take us out on a trial run. We had a terrible journey to Norfolk … the Dartford tunnel was blocked and we just queued for ages waiting to get through. It was about 8.30pm before we even reached the outskirts of Ipswich with still another fifty miles to go. As we approached Norwich it became quite misty and driving along the Wroxham road we were not sure we were even on the right road. Then we came to the little hump back bridge they had mentioned and turned right and following their instructions, at last we drove into the boat yard it was now about 10.45pm. Both of us were completely shattered. It had been a hectic day … but it all had turned out well. The wedding service was lovely … the church was full of family and friends. The reception and buffet were excellent.

We parked the car and turned on the torch - it was all pretty dark … and there right in front of us … there she was … GALA GIRL … our honeymoon home for the week. We unloaded our cases and boxes and boxes of food and bottles of wine … we had been buying up tins and packets for weeks and probably had enough supplies to feed ourselves for a month. We also we had a large bag with the wedding bits in it … silver horseshoes … silver bells … ribbons and the bouquet and a lump of our wedding cake. We found the light switch and then had a quick look at the boat … it all seemed pretty good. We filled the kettle and tried to light the gas ... it lit and then went out. I tried it a dozen times before “my wife” … that sounded good, but maybe I will always call her Jan … looked at the book and said that you had to hold the control tap in for a while. I am sure it is only women who read instruction books. Neither of us fancied much to eat … we had brought with us a good meal all in tins and packets and a bottle of champagne to have on our first evening aboard but the bottle and those tins would have to wait until tomorrow. We were both just too shattered. However we settled for a cup of tea … and I must say that first cup of tea aboard accompanied by a piece of our wedding cake was the best ever. We made up the bed and dived in and within minutes cuddled up together we were both sound asleep … not quite how I expected our wedding night to be … but well ….. there was always tomorrow …

Sunday Day 2

We were up at about 7.00 the next morning and finished the unpacking … stored all of our food.  Jan decorated the inside of the cabin with the horseshoes, bells and ribbons and we then sat down to a lovely relaxed breakfast … fruit juice .. cereal .. eggs … and toast with marmalade… and several cups of tea. In fact we were both still sitting there when there was a gentle tapping on the door. It was the boat yard guy wanting to know if it was convenient for him to take us for a trial run …. he looked a little embarrassed but showed us all round the boat. He carefully explained how everything worked and asked if we were ready to go. He started up the engine and cast off the ropes and slowly and smoothly took us out of the boatyard turning right up the river towards Wroxham bridge, he then gave the wheel over to me. It was not easy to steer a straight course at first and I am sure we veered around a bit … we could see the bridge getting closer … surely lesson one was not to include a passage under the notorious Wroxham Bridge. He then suggested I throttled back a bit … turned the wheel hard over to the left … wait a bit and then gently increase the revs and then straighten up the wheel. I was quite pleased I had turned the boat around … no trouble at all. He then asked if we thought we had grasped the idea of controlling the boat … gave me instructions on pulling in to the side so that he could get off and waved us on our way. It was now 09.30 on Sunday morning …. our adventure had begun.

For the last month or so I had been looking at books on boating and The Norfolk Broads …Broadsmanship … how to handle a boat … passages thru Great Yarmouth ... tides and tide tables etc. I had a Hoseasons map of The Broads which was now laid on the “dashboard”? in front of us together with a few notes I had made. I had already planned out a course which would take us down to Great Yarmouth, over Breydon Water, on up through Reedham and down the River Chet to Loddon as our first port of call. We pootled slowly along the River Bure heading towards Horning .. and just past Horning opposite a big pub we spotted a nice long almost empty mooring … just right for a spot of mooring practice. It was a bit windy and the wind was trying to blow us off the mooring, I struggled a bit to get the boat alongside … eventually Jan managed to get ashore but she had a job to hold the boat on the rope. It was lucky that there was a good post in the ground and she managed to get a turn around the post which held it long enough for me to get ashore and make front and back … sorry … bow and stern fast. It was then that we came to a momentous decision … it would be better if Jan took the wheel, sorry, took the helm. I would be the one that stepped ashore with the ropes … a practice we followed for the rest of the trip. Whilst we were tied up securely we thought we would have a shower … the water had warmed up nicely by then, so having showered and had another cup of tea we set off for Breydon water. According to the tide tables  we would be going through Yarmouth at just about the right time … by the time we arrived there it should be almost low water time. Getting off the mooring was a dream … Jan took the helm and I untied the ropes. As I climbed aboard, the wind which had been such a menace when we tied up gently blew us sideways off the bank. Jan opened the throttle and we were away … hey Jan was good at it … we went on down and she steered a better course that I had. It was bit windy and rough as about an hour later we passed Ant mouth but, although cloudy and dull, at least it was still dry. A sharp right turn at Thurne Mouth and we were on the long run down to Great Yarmouth … according to my calculations it would take us about another 3 hours to reach Great Yarmouth and we were running down with the tide … perfect. Gala Girl was equipped with a double helm seat so we were able to sit side by side and taking turns at the helm was easy. We followed our course on the map. Passing boats noticing our wedding bells and horseshoes on display in the cabin all gave us a wave or a toot … it was fabulous.

We cruised on under Acle bridge past Stokesby and The Stracey Arms windmill and arrived at Great Yarmouth a bit before 15.00 hrs ….yes ahead of schedule probably because of the following tide. We passed through with no trouble and turned sharply right to head on out onto Breydon Water … it was a bit choppy but not a heavy tide running. Whilst I was carefully keeping between the posts Jan made us a sandwich for lunch and we munched it with a bag of crisps as we cruised on over the vast expanse of water. By about 16.00 hrs were off of Breydon Water and into the River Yare and passing The Berney Arms windmill. The wind was quite a bit stronger now and it had started spitting with rain. An hour after that we were passing under the Swing Bridge at Reedham and were soon to witness the rather weird chain ferry. Couldn’t make out when he was crossing …. I held back a bit … then thought he seemed to be waiting for us only to find that he started up just as we got there. Maybe the weird black things on his mast meant he is going … or waiting …. I am sure that he just likes to try to catch folk out. Anyway, he didn’t catch us and we were looking out for the entrance to The River Chet … we were only a short distance past the ferry when we saw on our left the cross at the mouth of the River. We turned into the Chet and followed its winding path slowly down towards Loddon. It was now just after 18.00 hrs and we were hoping that we would find a mooring when we arrived at the end of the river when at that moment we saw a boat yard on our right. There was a chap working on a boat and we asked him if we could stay there the night … he said no problem and helped us moor up …he was surprised I think to see that Jan was at the helm and that I was the one who handled the ropes. We were pulled into a stern on mooring with the front of the boat facing the river … it was a lovely spot and later in the evening after the wind had dropped and the rain had stopped it was just so peaceful. We broke open the Champagne, made up our super meal out of the cans and packets, and about 19.30 sat down to a lovely celebratory feast. What a fantastic honeymoon this was going to be.

Monday Day 3

Monday Morning was a lovely one … the sun was shining into the cabin we awoke at about 7.00am after the most glorious sleep imaginable. In the distance we could see Loddon Church … Gala Girl was facing it. We made our breakfast and then topped up the water tank. Getting away was easy … Jan started up the engine and took the helm … I opened up the back door and climbed ashore … I untied the ropes from the stern, climbed back on the boat and shouted Ok and Jan pushed the lever forward and at about 08.30 with the top of the cabin slid back we made off at a  leisurely pace, slowly wandering back up the Chet . We didn’t meet a single boat all the way up and it was a wonderful trip … we saw several breeds of duck and one or two swans. We also spotted the odd Grebe or two who always dived just as we tried to get a photo. We had a Heron who seemed to follow us all the way up the river … he would land about 20 ft ahead of the boat and as soon as we drew level with him he would fly on for another few yards and land again.

Loddon 1980

It seemed a much shorter ride going back up The Chet to the River Yare than it had been the afternoon before when we had been coming down. The sun continued to shine and just past a pub at Buckenham ferry we tied up and got the shower running. We sat there for a while enjoying the sunshine and at about 10.30 started up the engine again and made our way towards Norwich … this was to be our next destination but we thought we would probably stop overnight somewhere en route if we found a good mooring. We noticed on the map that we could make a detour and travel by way of Rockland Broad ... not wanting to miss anything out, we turned into Short Dyke and carefully followed the markers across the broad and then turned and headed towards the other channel …The Fleet. Just after turning we noticed that another hire craft had moored up on its mud weight  a little further on so we thought we would try this out. Jan slowed down and put the engine into neutral and I climbed out and cast the weight over board. By looking at the banks it seemed that the weight was holding Ok … that’s what the book said you were supposed to do … we switched off the engine and we enjoyed just being there. The sun was shining down and the boat was quietly drifting around … we at last could feel the magic of the Norfolk Broads … and well ... yes … we did …. and it was wonderful … after all …. it was our honeymoon …

About an hour or two later we had a bite to eat … cheese on toast had never tasted so good. I pulled up the mud weight … what a fight that was until Jan suggested that she could probably pull it free of the mud by putting the engine into reverse … she did just that and the mud weight then came up a lot easier. What a gem of a woman I had married … not only does she read instruction books but she remembers what they say. We headed on back out onto the river and cruised through Brundall. It must have been about 16.30 hrs when we came up to Bramerton Woods End. It was a lovely mooring with plenty of space …. just what we had been looking for. Jan slowed the boat right down, bringing it alongside the mooring and then just touched the reverse gear and Gala Girl gently kissed the bank before stopping alongside the bank and right between two lovely mooring posts … I stepped ashore and tied up. My God we were beginning to be expert mariners by now. It was a lovely evening and we still had boxes of cans so we had a three course meal … tomato soup … Fray Bentos Meat pie … boiled potatoes and carrots … peaches and custard … and we opened a nice bottle of wine. It was quite dark by the time we had finished our meal … we even had coffee cheese and biscuits to finish it off. It was still so calm and quiet outside, I think that only one other boat moored up there that night at the Bramerton mooring and they were right along the other end. It was almost as if we had the world to ourselves … just us and a whole carpet of stars.

Tuesday Day 4

Tuesday morning we didn’t get up very early but had breakfasted by about 09.00hrs and were about to set off when an old gentleman came up to the boat and asked us if we would like to visit his house which was just up to the side of and overlooked the moorings to see his drawings. He introduced himself as George Burrows and we followed him up to his house … he had several quite nice pen and ink drawings of windmills and herons etc. which he had framed, so as a souvenir of our trip we bought one of Stracey Arms windmill which he carefully pointed out to us was really Stracey Arms Windpump and not a mill at all … it only cost us a fiver. We asked him if he would mind taking a photo of us and then we made our way back to the boat. Jan climbed aboard and started the engine, I untied the ropes and we were underway again … this time at about 10.00hrs. It was a bit cloudy and the wind had come back again but we cruised on. It was something like 12.00 midday when we entered the City of Norwich, the river goes right up into the city, and at the Yacht Station we tied up right behind the Cathedral and almost opposite the landmark … Pull’s Ferry. We then showered and changed … opened up another tin and made ourselves a salmon sandwich for lunch. We then filled the water tank, locked up the boat and went off to sightsee the city. We walked over the bridge and had only just managed to find a small shop which sold bread milk eggs etc when it started to rain … and it rained and rained … clutching our purchases we turned round and went back over the bridge to the boat, climbed aboard and  just sat for a while to see if the rain would stop. It didn’t in fact it just seemed to get heavier … and so we just pulled the curtains across and enjoyed our honeymoon some more … yes … right in the City of Norwich …..

I think we woke up at about 18.30pm and at last it appeared to have stopped raining, or at least it was now only a light patter on our lovely yellow roof. Looking at the map of Norwich which we had in one of the guide books it appeared that there was a Chinese takeaway not far from the bridge … we put on our waterproofs and armed with the map set off in search of it … it was a lot further than we thought. It was only about an inch on the map but it took us about 25 minutes to reach it. We ordered up a sumptuous meal … chicken and sweetcorn soup … spare ribs … sweet and sour chicken … beef and peppers in black bean sauce … roast pork with bamboo and water chestnuts … prawns with oyster sauce … plain boiled rice … prawn crackers … yes the works. We started off back to the boat and then the rain started again. We hurried as fast as we could but despite our waterproofs we were both soaking wet by the time we got back to the Yacht Station. We climbed aboard, popped the Chinese food into the oven and got the heater running. We got out of our wet clothes and at about 8.00pm opened up another bottle of wine and sat down to yet another feast. We had taken rice bowls and chop sticks with us in the hope of finding a Chinese takeaway so that we could eat it in style … it was then that we discovered the mistake … NO RICE. The Chinese takeaway had left out the rice … everything else was there, in fact there was an extra dish containing Chinese vegetables which we hadn’t ordered. I guess that they had put down the wrong number when they had taken our order. The rain was still hammering on the roof and it was too far to go all the way back. It was lucky that there were plenty of prawn crackers. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it very much and there was so much food that we were eating for over an hour. We had intended to get to bed early that night and make a very early start in the morning but having eaten late, and having eaten so much, we didn’t get to bed until nearly 23.00.

Wednesday Day 5

Wednesday morning … an early getaway. We wanted to get to Berney Arms which was about five hours boating from Norwich. We were up at six thirty and we set off about 07.00 … the weather was a little better, cloudy but dry and not a lot of wind, it was a pleasant cruise back down the Wensum under the City bridges and on to the Yare. We took it in turns to take the helm, passing again “our” Rockland Broad, then Bramerton and Brundall and the huge great Sugar factory at Cantley … and by about 10.30 we were back at Reedham. We were lucky here because just as we arrived a big cruiser pulled away in front of us and we were able to drop into his space. Jan made an excellent job of getting us alongside and I tied us up. We showered, had a nice cuppa and another slice of toast this time with a boiled egg. We topped up the water tank and about an hour later we were ready to go on our way. This time it wasn’t so easy to get away … another cruiser had tied up close to our bow and there was not a lot room at our stern … so we tried out a stern first start. I had read about this one. Jan started the engine, I untied the stern rope and pushed the stern out … I then walked to the bow and untied the rope and climbed aboard. Jan hit reverse and we came out as easy as the book said we would … we reversed out for a couple of boat lengths and then Jan eased us gently forward and we were away under the swing bridge and back on course.

We followed the Yare and by about 13.00 hours we were tying up in front of the Berney Arms windmill … windpump?? It was a good trip and was made in good time … we had arrived earlier than I had thought. We noticed that the windpump was open to visitors and we climbed up to the first floor to take a photo of our Gala Girl moored up outside and then, whilst having a bite to eat, I looked at the tide tables and decided that as the weather was not too bad we could probably get back across Breydon Water and make it as far as Stracey Arms without any problems. It was about 14.00 hrs when I quickly untied and with Jan at the helm we set off. The weather had improved a lot from yesterday and there were large patches of blue sky as we set off on our return trip over Breydon. It was a little choppy and Jan loved it … she opened up the throttle and we must have been doing about 7 mph all the way across. In less than an hour we were passing under Vauxhall Bridge at Great Yarmouth with at least a foot to spare and had started making our way up the Bure … it was a good trip over Breydon.

Berney Arms 1980

We arrived at Stracey Arms around about 15.30 and as the weather was still good we carried on up to Acle Bridge .. we moored up there at about 16.30. What a fabulous day’s boating … we were in Norwich at 07.00 and had crossed Breydon Water and had arrived at Acle by 16.30. We thought that as our week was now more than half over we would maybe have an evening out, so we had a quick rinse and got changed and having once again looked at the map we concluded that the railway station was only just over an inch on the map away from Acle Bridge … an inch to the mile that would be only about a mile and a bit. It was a nice evening and so we set off to walk to the station … once again it seemed a lot further that it looked on the map but we at last reached the station and caught a train to Great Yarmouth, arriving there a bit before 19.00 hrs. We had a walk along the seafront and found a very nice restaurant, enjoyed a very good meal and then at about 22.00 made our way back to the station where we found we had about a forty five minute wait for the train. To heck with it … we were on our honeymoon and hadn’t spent much cash so far so we went outside the station and got a taxi back to the moorings. It saved us that walk back and we were back aboard by about 22.45hrs and ready for bed. It had been a long day but a very enjoyable one. That really was boating.

Thursday Day 6

Thursday morning another early start … after all we now had to make the most of every minute that was left … there was such a lot we still hadn’t seen. We were away from the Acle bridge mooring by about 07.00. After about an hour and a half we were tying up at Potter Heigham. This was not so easy as there were no mooring posts … the boatyard had supplied us with rhond irons though, and after a bit of struggling I managed to get them into the ground but I also took a turn around a nearby telegraph pole just to be sure. We once again showered while the water was hot and locked up the boat … it was now about 09.30. We walked across the old bridge to the shops and managed to get ourselves a nice new loaf of bread and some more milk. We also bought a couple of pork chops and some more potatoes as well as a bottle of liqueur. We had a look round the shops and then went back to the boat. On the way back we noticed a water supply pipe and so we moved the boat up to the tap and filled up the tank before turning the boat round and heading off back down The Thurne to The Bure … it was about 10.30 by now. Just before we got back to the Bure we took a couple of photos from the boat of a very picturesque windmill … Thurne Mill at the end of the dyke. It was a nice picture … a bright white mill against a deep blue sky. Yes the sky was clear again and the sun was shining, we had the roof right back and were enjoying every minute. At the Bure we turned right and made our way towards The River Ant … at Ant mouth we turned right and followed the river up under Ludham Bridge, past How Hill and by about 12.30, just when we were thinking it must be lunchtime, we came across an idyllic mooring at Irstead. The mooring was not very large, just about enough room for a couple of boats, but in the sunshine with the church in the background it was very pretty. We tied up and made ourselves a sandwich and a cup of tea and enjoyed the place for while before heading on up to where we were told Lord Nelson learned to sail … Barton Broad. This is a lovely Broad … a wide expanse of water with an island and sailing boats and wild life in abundance. We cruised right down one side until we reached the end and then cut across and found our way off the Broad and followed the River on up to Wayford Bridge. Just before we reached the bridge we saw the picture postcard Hunsett Mill and of course took a couple of photos of it. At Wayford Bridge … it was now about 15.30 hrs … we turned around and made our way back to Barton Broad, had another trip around it and then headed on back to that lovely spot Irstead we had found on our way up. We were hoping that there would be room for us by the time we got there … we were lucky … there was nobody at all on the mooring and we tied up at about 17.30 hrs. Mooring was easy … no wind … no tide running and a good mooring with posts for the ropes. Dinner was to be the pork chops we had bought earlier together with roasted potatoes, home made apple sauce … we still had a few apples left … canned carrots and canned peas … well we didn’t want to take too many cans back with us … washed down with another bottle of Chardonnay. Cheese and biscuits and a glass of Broadland Liqueur from Potter Heigham with our coffee finished the meal off nicely. It was a lovely evening … very little wind and so quiet and still. As the sun set it was a velvet sky with even more stars … once again we were aware of how loud the silence was. It seemed a pity to have to close the “lid” but we eventually pulled the roof over and turned in for the night.

Friday Day 7

Friday our last day … we had to say goodbye to Gala Girl tomorrow morning at 09.00. Once again we were up early, something like about 07.00, and had breakfasted and were away by 08.00. Once more it was a lovely day, with a blue sky for as far as you could see. We headed back down the Ant past How Hill and through Ludham Bridge. We turned right on to the Bure and made our way towards Malthouse Broad … we didn’t notice the entrance at first and nearly went past it … just spotted it in time and turned left into the dyke. Malthouse was another pretty broad with a good view of Ranworth church as you get closer to the staithe. Hey what’s all this? All the cruisers are moored up at the bottom and they are all Stern on … hope you are up to it Jan. We made our way to the end of the Broad and Jan drove along in front of the line of boats. There were only about two spaces … one at the very end and one about in the middle. Don’t forget Jan … you can’t steer when you are going backwards, you have to line it up when you are going forwards and then when you are in line … reverse … well that’s what the book says. I needn’t have bothered … Jan took us past the line of boat, turned around and slowly came back. She then turned out directly in front of the gap and slowly reversed … right into the space. I was on the back with the ropes and stepped ashore just as the boat came to a halt about a foot from the quay. I tied us up and went back aboard to congratulate her … she was still trembling … I think it was about 10.30 by then. We  had our usual showers and went ashore to check out the store … it was quite an interesting little place and had lots of gifty bits as well as a good supply of food. We had a walk along the road to look at the Church and it really was a lovely day. There was a water point on the green just to the rear of the boat so once again we topped up the water tank … it was now becoming a habit to fill the tank as soon as possible after we had showered. It was about 13.00hrs before we left … we had spent longer there than we had intended. We headed up off the Broad and turned left into the Bure … the sky was still blue and the sun was shining. It was just after 14.00 hrs when we arrived at Horning … we were lucky again, a boat pulled out in front of us and we were able to go right into its space. In fact a couple of guys took our ropes as we went alongside the quay and it was all so easy. They seemed amused by the fact that Jan was at the helm and even more amused by our display of wedding bells and horseshoes. We locked up and went ashore to have a quick look at Horning … once again there were several shops where we could have bought almost anything we wanted. We bought ourselves four sausage rolls and also bought a couple of nice cream cakes for later … we went back to the boat and enjoyed our lunch of sausage rolls and, at about 16.00, we started the engine and untied the ropes again. A quick look at the map showed us that we were not far from Salhouse Broad so we decided to check it out … it was nearly 17.00 when we arrived. It was interesting and a lot of boats seemed to be there … you can go in one way cruise around the Broad and then go out the other way. We noticed that several boats were anchored on their mud weights … it was tempting to try a re run of our previous anchoring on a mud weight, but then we still wanted to see Wroxham Broad. After doing a circuit we headed out and back onto the river and soon we could see an entrance to Wroxham Broad … this was a lovely Broad with dozens of small sailing boats and plenty of space. We cruised in one end went across the Broad and came out of the other entrance. It was now nearly 18.00 hrs and we thought we should make our way back to the boatyard … it seemed to us that it would be easier for us to get back the night before so that we could get packed and organised for the trip home without having the rush of handing the boat over at the same time. We found our way back up into the yard and tied Gala Girl up for the last time. It had been a fantastic week … the weather had been very good … the boat had behaved impeccably … the whole thing had been like a week in wonderland. I got out the mop and carefully washed down Gala Girl … I even cleaned the windows and checked out the engine for the last time. Jan cleaned up the inside and gave the table and the tops a dust and polish over … we would be sad to have to say goodbye. That evening we walked along to the shops in Wroxham and treated ourselves to fish and chips. We took down the silver bells and horseshoes and packed them away into the car along with all the spare cans that we hadn’t used. We emptied the cupboards and cleared the shelves … stacked up all our spare clothes and finished off the liqueur … raised our glasses to our wonderful little boat … Gala Girl … and went to bed.

Saturday Goodbye Day

Saturday we were up early again … had a good breakfast and extra toast … we finished our packing and loaded our cases into the car and disposed of our rubbish. We had a last look around our Gala Girl and the guy from Sunmmercraft came aboard again and seemed really pleased when we told him what a delightful time we had enjoyed. Summercraft were just so helpful in making this a wonderful time and they even gave us some money for our journey home … apparently we hadn’t used all the fuel we had paid for. Our honeymoon on The Norfolk Broads would be something we would never forget ….

BriJan 2010