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© Broadland Memories 2015
My Holiday In Horning 1975
By Kevin Gingell
In 1975 my parents announced that this year’s family holiday was to include a week in Horning in a holiday chalet hired from one of my mum’s bosses. Being fifteen at the time mum and dad said that I could bring someone along to keep me company. Plan A was to ask my girlfriend, unfortunately her dad wasn’t too keen on the idea, probably to my dad’s relief as it would have meant him sharing a room with me. So, plan B was put into action – plan B was my best friend Adie.
So the big day of departure came, I think it was August, I know that it was incredibly hot at the time. We all set off in two cars, mum, dad, nan and granddad in dad’s Vauxhall Victor, Adie and I in his Dads Volvo 144 along with his mum and younger sister who came along for the ride. When we arrived the older members of our party (everyone else) and the more sensible (Adie’s sister) made tea, chatted and unpacked. We, however, rushed around trying to find out what was there and what we could do for the week. We were eventually called to order to bid farewell to Adie’s mum, dad and sis, then unpack our stuff. Now, we were quite excited about the motor cruiser we had found in the boat shed, but dad informed us that they hadn’t hired that. We did however have use of a very small rowing boat and a small motor launch. Well I say “we” …… “we” were allowed the use of the rowing boat and dad had use of the launch. Apparently there was no way “we” were getting our hands on the keys to the launch without dad being there.
We next turned our attention to the interior of our temporary home, an area largely ignored thus far in our excitement. We were at first delighted to discover an ancient valve radiogram which on examination appeared to work perfectly. We were less delighted when, as two music mad teenagers, it gradually dawned on us that our record collections were some thirty odd miles away!! Never mind, we at least had my dad’s brand new FM radio cassette player to enable us to listen to the John Peel show during the week. Only this was the weekend and he wouldn’t be on for a couple of days so we decided to see what else could be found on FM. To our amazement ….. indeed still to my amazement…. we were able to pick up Capitol Radio! Maybe it had something to do with atmospheric conditions in the hot weather, but anyway it kept us amused frequently during our stay.
The order of the following details have been lost to the mists of time, but at some point early on we explored the village and discovered the amusement arcade. Video games were beginning to appear so we attempted to master the complexities of “Tank Battle” and a game called “Dogfight” or something similar which involved flying two primitively represented bi-
This was probably a good thing as it forced us outside during the days. We experienced such outdoor delights as playing our guitars in the sun, running through our repertoire of the three songs we had learnt, probably why we were banned from playing indoors! One day we noticed a girl, about our age, a couple of chalets down from us who frequently sailed off in a small dinghy towards the river. I encouraged Adie to try and speak to her since he had no girlfriend at the time. He would, on seeing her leaving, jump into our dinghy, row furiously to catch her up, say hello then get completely tongue tied and row back again. This happened on several occasions. The dinghy was a bit of a problem, it was VERY small! We quickly realised that it wasn’t big enough for both of us together, just one try had convinced us of that! So we had to take turns in rowing up to the river and back. The river itself was a bit scary in such a tiny boat given the amount of traffic out there. You really didn’t feel very conspicuous.
Being so close to water meant that my dad felt that he should spend every possible moment, when he wasn’t needed to drive the family about, fishing. Dad loved fishing! He wasn’t very good at it and never caught very much but he loved it anyway. On this holiday however he did, whilst sitting by our moorings, catch many fish. Nothing over 4” long mind you, but many none the less. It would seem that we were living in a fish kindergarten. Eventually even dad tired of tiddlers and a more meaningful fishing trip was suggested. We set off one morning in the launch and cruised a short way out of Horning. Dad tied the launch to some trees on the bank of the river and prepared to start fishing. Now it has to be said that since discovering girls I had largely lost interest in fishing, and Adie had never been into it in the first place, but we entered into the spirit and gave it our best shot. It started well enough, in a short time I had caught my first (and only) Silver Bream. Dad as usual caught a selection of small fish and even Adie caught a couple. However, after an hour or so the river traffic built up and our floats were constantly being swamped by the wash of passing boats. Fed up, I announced that I was going to have a go at ledgering – things seemed to improve almost instantly.
“I’ve got a bite” I cried, and suggested that it must be a big one as it tugged on my line more than anything I had experienced up to that point. It was eventually wrestled into the landing net my dad had poised and ready for action.
“What have you caught” asked Adie, as I peered into the squirming net.
“Ugh! It’s an eel” was my somewhat disappointed reply.
“That’s OK” said dad, “we can eat them, your granddad will sort that one out”.
Grandad had worked as a fish monger before the First World War and had never lost his love of preparing and eating fresh fish. Dad decided that he would also move on to ledgering, Adie decided that he would give up fishing for life and, to the best of my knowledge, stuck to it! Anyway, after a couple more eels I also gave up. Dad, however, continued his eel fishing until he ran out of hooks. We then returned to the chalet where dad passed the haul to granddad for his attention. A short time later knives were heard being sharpened, Adie and I stayed out of the way as we had already seen enough of eels for one holiday and didn’t want to witness granddad’s skills in action! I don’t remember what we did next but I do remember that eels were on the teatime menu. Adie and I did try a tentative nibble and then decided to revert to our by now customary diet of Vesta curry. Well it may have been chow mein or chicken supreme or indeed any of Vesta range as they were all thoroughly explored by us during our holiday, firstly, because we could cook them ourselves and, secondly, because they seemed so exotic!
There was a further memorable trip on the launch when the three of us went swimming in Salhouse Broad. It was an especially hot day and the water was nice and cool. I can’t imagine doing it nowadays, and to be honest it probably wasn’t a great idea then, but plenty of people seemed to be doing it so we never gave it a second though. Still, we all had a great time and we all survived the experience with nothing more than a touch of sunburn.
We had a great time on our Broads holiday and talked about it for a long time afterwards but it would be another five years before I would again experience the pleasures of messing about on the waterways when another friend, who worked as an engineer for Castle Craft at the time, got his hands on a motor cruiser for a lads weekend ….. but that’s another story!
Kevin Gingell 2007
See more photographs from this holiday here