Dogs on the loose

Control room at RAF Neatishead Norfolk
Control room at RAF Neatishead Norfolk

We were up and about at a reasonable time of 08:00, and we had a plan. Near by at Neatishead there is an retired RAF station which since the 2nd world war, and through the cold war was a radar station. There is museum there run by volunteers, and it opens at 10:00 with a tour starting at 10:30. We had breakfast then headed out following the sat nav, but because we could not find the (well spell) Neatishead, we set the destination as Horning. Helen then took charge and put the correct spelling in but then we then had to go anti-clockwise round the broad we had been travelling clockwise around!

As it happened we got there at bank on 10:00, and there was plenty of room in the car park. The entrance fee is only £6 but we opted to pay the slightly extra fee and agreed to the gift aid deal, which means that the charity can claim back the tax. A couple arrived behind us and the guy was explaining to the manager that he had been posted at Neatishead twice during hs career in the RAF, both times in the 80’s. The place reminded me a bit of Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, the place would be nothing without the volunteers, but I can imagine that the committees and working groups behind the scenes must be a bit of a nightmare for the only paid employee, the manager.

Douglas Baders bunny at RAF Neatishead Norfolk
Douglas Baders bunny at RAF Neatishead Norfolk

The tour was very interesting and the speakers all very skilled at explaining the way that RADAR works, and how the RAF had perfected and used the technology to monitor the aircraft nearing the United Kingdoms airspace over the years. The first exhibit started with WWII where everything had to be done by hand, with token, and telephone lines being used to push the information up the chain of command. As RADAR improved the systems became slightly more sophisticated  and eventually, crude by today’s standards, computers were introduced. The final exhibit was a bit like the NASA mission control room, but all the large screens on the wall were maintained by operatives writing backwards on glass screens, to relay the information. When the tour was over we looked at most of the other exhibitions all RAF and RADAR related, including one where they explained how space was started to be monitored as satellites became the norm. We finished off by having a toasted sandwich and coffee at the cafeteria, which was find and good value.

My parents headed off home from the museum and Helen and I had a date with and NWT nature reserve at Ranworth Broad, so sat nav programmed we set off. As is tradition in this part of Norfolk you have to pass through Wroxham if are going anywhere, and today was no exception. It was comforting to know that Roys of Wroxham is still thriving in what one can only describe as Norfolk Broads on Sea, I would not be surprised if you an purchase “Kiss me quick” hats at Roys. Wroxham is at the cross roads of quite a few roads and has a bridge that joins the roads in the South to the roads in the north. Add to that the moorings and boat trips you can take from there, and everyone wants to be there on a bank holiday Monday, the place was Sergio Ramos. Luckily we were just passing through.

On the way to the Broad we stopped at the Woodfordes brewery of Wherry Bitter fame, we were hoping to get a take out 4 pint container of beer, but unfortunately they did not have the facilities to do that in the shop, but hey did sell the containers, which could be filled at the pub next door. We purchased a container but decided we would get the beer at the pub near the hut, where we knew we could get Bure Gold and kind of summer ale at 4.3%. We parked up in a conveniently placed field below the church at Ranworth, which was free and just a short walk to the nature reserve. To get to the reserve visitors center there is a board walk, which is just a short walk. The building is floating and there are plenty of viewing points on the upper deck where you can look out over the broad. We inquired about the boat trips and as luck would have it there was one due in 15 minutes, so we paid the £5 a head, members price, and waited.

Ranworth Broad floating visitors center
Ranworth Broad floating visitors center

The boat trip was very relaxing the boat just pootled around the edge of the broad at about 2 mph which the informative volunteer told us about the wildlife and management of the place. We saw quite a few species, even though the winter is the busiest season for the broad, including Great Crested Grebe, Teal, Cormorant, Common  Tern as well as the less common Black Tern. We thought that the boat trip would take us back to the floating visitors center but it took us to the next door broad called Malthouse broad at a pub called the Maltsters inn. From there it was just a short walk back to the car.

We took the opportunity to have a look around he church, which had a tower you could climb up to take a look at the view. The notices warned on many narrow steps so I was left on my own to tackle it. And narrow the steps were then there was a metal m ladder followed by a final set of wooden steps which lead to a hatch onto the roof. Luckily for me we only passed two people on the way up could fit into a doorway as I went past. The view from the top was great because not only was the church on a hill top but the tower was a tall one too. I joined about 8 other people heading down I thought that we would have the strength of numbers where it came to who would back off if we came to and impasse. Luckily we did not but at times it was a bit of a squeeze especially as I had a rucksack on my back.

We had a drink and piece of cake at the church cafe, the cake was a bit disappointing as I was expecting home made cake but the Honey and Cream  was obviously shop bought and frozen. The journey home was short and we seemed to be going the right way as there seemed to be lots of cars going the other way but stuck in several queues. They would probably be at work tomorrow, we wouldn’t.

You may be wondering about the title of the blog post, well on two occasions today we had to give way to dogs wandering onto the road from the drive of two houses, the owners seemingly oblivious to the potential fate of their canine friends. Perhaps it is a Norfolk thing?