Stand up surf boarding SUP

View from Motehoe Point Devon
View from Motehoe Point Devon

Against my better judgement I agreed to have a go at SUP (stand up surfing), which is basicslly standing on an over sized surf board with a a paddle. I imagined that I would spend a considerable amount of time climbing back on to the board then, attempting to stand up followed by falling off the baord and starting the whole process again.

The lesson was booked for 10:30 which was arounf high tide which was very convenient as the seas would be closer to the top of the beach and therefore less of a walk with a large surfboard to get to the water. They booked us in and got us to sign our lives away using the insurance indemnity form, issued us with a wetsuit of roughly the right size. Getting the wetsuit on was a bit of a struggle as I am not a regular user but despite it being damp and clod I managed to get the thing stretched over my body.

Next was the obligatory briefing where they explained that we were about to stand on a surfboard and use a paddle to move about, and that the sea was a dangerous place and should be respected, in fact it was like a mill pond. We carried the boards down to the sea which take quite and effort there is a handle at the center of gravity of the board, so basically you can only use one arm to carry it. I had to stop a few times to rest my arm.

Style on footpath above Croyde Devon

Once at the waters edge we had a another brief this time on the techniques, i.e. how to get on the board (we knew how to get off) how to use the paddle how to steer etc, eventually we were allowed into the water. It was not long before we were stood up on the board which turned out to be not that difficult, but it was also not long before we learnt how to climb back on the board when we were out of standing depth. The wind was blowing off shore and because our technique was poor meant we were soon quite a way from the shore. Andy out instructor encouraged us to practice the turning technique he had show us and head a bit closer into to the bay.

We spent some time paddling, falling, standing up and I was soon glad they the lesson was only for one hour, as towards the end it was becoming a bit of an effort climbing back onto the board, as the falling in became quite frequent as I was attempting to use the small breaking waves to “surf” towards the shore, but mainly failed to do. Luckily we only had to carry one of the boards back to the surf school building as there was one guy on the next lesson.

Back at the hut we had a coffee and a sandwich then Helen and I headed across the bay to do sme ook pooling and panorama photo’s. John was on cooking duties and we had giant stuffed butternut squash, veggie sausages and green beans which was very tasty.

Tower of London Poppies

Poppies at the Tower of London

Helen and I have the day off so I thought I would treat Helen to a day in London. We got the 09:31 from Berkhamsted by the skin of our teeth due to the queue at the ticket office and our in ability to figure out how to use or travel card on the automatic machines. The train must have started from Tring as it was empty so we got good seats.

The plan was to go and look at the poppies at the tower of London, where I had a surprise for Helen, then the museum of London which neither of us had been to before, and then possibly the British museum if we had the stamina and the time. We had ofg peak tickets so had to avoid the rush hour.

Entrance to the Museum of London

We took the slow bus to the tower of London it seemed to stop for every traffic light. In the end we got off early and walked the short distance remaining. The poppies at the tower are very impressive and there was an army of people planeting the new ones. The surprise I has for Helen was that one of them was hers, you can buy them on line here, then when the installation is over with they pay out to you. Helen seemed really chuffed with the idea.

We stopped for a bite to eat at Eat whisly we consulted the maps to find the most interesting way to walk to the museum of London. It is close to the barbican and was probably built at the same time. On the way we stored at the guildhall to have a look at the Roman ruins that are displayed there but they were refurbishing so we had a look around the great hall which was quite interesting. The is also a church which inside is very bright and airy not quite enough though for a handheld panorama.

Moving on we passed through the banking district and on to the “roundabout” that the museum of London is on top of. The museum is free to look round and I would say worth a visit, you are taken from the earlier time to current time as you make your way through the exhibits, I found the more recent two centuries most interesting. Helen preferred the older stuff.

The journey back was for more straight forward we eventually found a tube station and got on the Northern line and popped out at Euston, “simple”. I got Helen a bit worried while we waited for the train to leave I jumped off the train to do a panorama of the platform, just 5 minutes before the train was due to depart. I got some wifely looks when I came back.


Walk to HMS Bulwark from Rotherhithe

HMS Bulwark

London seems to be a weekly commute for me at the moment. This Saturday I have managed to get tickets for a tour of the Navy ship, HMS Bulwark moored up in Greenwich for a few weeks. To make a day of it I thought I would walk from Rotherhithe which will complete the walk I started last weekend when I walked from Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge.

Waiting at Berkhamsted there were quite a few groups of people with picnic hampers clearly some outside event was on. The train was relatively busy but I got a seat with a table for the coffee I purchased on the platform. The train was running 7 minutes late.

I chose to tube it to Rotherhithe, then I kept to the Thames path as much as I could, it turned out to be quite a long walk and at Deptford high street I thought about getting a bus but the next one was in twenty minutes so I carried on walking. By the time I got to the Cutty Sark I was quite tired of walking. There was a sort of French market on and I bought A veggie quiche for lunch the whole transaction done in French. I followed that with a coffee and a pee at the Greenwich  museum the cafe was a bar as well and brewed its own beer in the big atrium of a bar in big copper brewing things.

Inside HMS Bulwark

I joined the queue at about 1245 for the 1300 trip. I had a spare ticket and offered it to a guy carrying a camera, I don’t think he really understood what I was offering him, he said yes bit then disappeared. Luckily for a young lady in the queue near me I was able to offer her the spare one. She had registered but could not get the eTicket up on the screen of her blackberry.

Her name was Natalie and she was a bored commercial lawyer and was thinking of joining the Navy as a legal reserve? We were soon herded into a tent for 10 minutes of how great the Navy is and why we contribute taxes to the service which provides value for money. Then we were herded onto a jetty where our launch to take us to the Bulwark was waiting. Once on board I tagged onto one of the guided tours of he boat. We visited the control room where they play war games the helicopter deck where we were able to go into the cockpit of the helicopter parked there. In the control room I noticed they were still using Windows XP that probably explains why the government has agreed to pay Microsoft for patches post them making the OS end of life. We also went into the depths of the vessel where we got to see the landing craft which can be launched out of the back of the ship.

Cutty Sark

We were on board for about an hour and a half. Were were herded back to the pontoon to pick up the launch to take us back to land at the Cutty Sark. I was quite tired by this point so decided to take the most quick and direct route back possible. Google t0 the rescue, a Tube station was near by bit the line was closed further down the line so down 10 flights of steps on to DLR then off at the next stop up some steps, onto a bus that went all round the houses and eventually to another DLR station where I got a train to Bank, then the Northern line to Euston where I was two trains ahead of the Google suggestion.

At Berkhamsted I picked up Helen who was shopping for dinner then we went home for Pizza and salad for me at least an early night. A tiring but enjoyable day.

UK Photography show 2014

The 14:30 to London Euston

Helen is at work this morning I was  unsure what to do with my self, I had thought about the UK Photography show at the Birmingham NEC but decided against on Saturday. However when I woke up I decided that seeing as I had to drop Helen off at work I may as well keep on driving up the M40 and have a look.

Yesterday I made the most of the great weather by going for  a walk in the morning . I did the walk I blogged here but  I bit off more than I could chew when after I got back I had an offer from N for a walk from Nrothchurch to Ashridge NT Cafe. So that afternoon N&M walked from Northchurch to the monument at Ashridge. Trouble is by the time we got to the cafe my knees were complaining so rather than walking back I got a lift back to Northchurch with P and left the other two to walk back.

The exhibition I did not go to

However I digress this is a post about the UK Photography show at the Birmingham NEC. I left Aylesbury just after 08:00 after dropping Helen off, then headed to Bicester to pick up the M40, and I stopped at the first services for a coffee as I had not had time for one earlier. The motorway was pretty quiet I noticed that spring was on the way as I say lots of rooks flying about in pairs as wells as quite a few common buzzards often being harassed by the rooks. I made good time and arrived at the exhibition center just before 10:00 and was soon on the shuttle bus from the car park to the exhibition halls.

The entrance fee was £10 which when added to the £10 for parking is quite steep. I need to figure out how to get trade entry to all these things, as well as saving money you get access to all areas. The exhibition was fairly busy and all the usual suspects were there i.e. Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, as well as a lot of the major camera shops.

A few things attracted my attention. First was a Chinese guy selling sensor cleaners that are basically a cude of gel on the end of a plastic stick, they were no cheap at £30 but they clearly work from the demo he gave cleaning someones camera. Trouble is I thought I would go back before I left to buy one but could not figure out where he was when I went back. I took my time to have a look at the Wacom Intuos tablets which replace the mouse with a tablet and pen. Helen asked to to look for a birthday present I think I may have found it. There were lots of stalls selling camera rucksacks which I could do with replacing but I just could not be bothered to fight the crowds to take a good look.

The UK photography show 2014

Amongst the other exhibitors there were plenty of people selling ways to print and display photo’s and plenty of tripods to look at . The current trend in tripods are ones where the legs folder right up in the opposite direction from which they are used, this ensures that the head is between the legs when it is folded up and it results n a very compact package. Trouble is the good ones are circa £250.

After about three hours wandering around I had had enough especially after all the walking on Saturday, so I left and headed south. I picked up the ingredient to make a Thai style coleslaw for tea and picked Helen up in Aylesbury.

A trip to Southwold in Suffolk

View of Southwold in Suffolk lighthouse

We woke up to a glorious day, the sun was shining and there were white fluffy coulds against a deep blue sky, the only slight downside is that it was cooler and there was a strong wind to make it worse. I had toast and coffee for breakfast then we all left the house destination Southwold.

The drive from Thorpeness to Southwold takes about 30 minutes, and keeps you away from the A12. We parked up a the pier car park and even managed to find a free parking space. The pier is an interesting place in particular there is an arcade room but all the games are one offs and involve some sort of mechanical feature. The attraction is called The under the pier show and the link I have included probably explains it better than I ever could.

We then headed towards the shops but stopped off at a beach side age for some lunch I had a lovely fish finger sandwich, and an Americano. The weather made for great photography so when the women went shopping I disappeared off round town to make the most of the light. We al met up at 15:00 at the pier arcade and shoved a pound or two into the tuppence waterfalls and day at the races machines.

On the way home we picked up a mini barrel of Adnams bitter, and some parsley. The beer needs to stand for 24 hours but the parsley would be used in the pasta sauce I am making for the evening meal.

View of Southwold in Suffolk

Poncho on poncho off

View of Blickling Hall NT Norfolk

Last day in Norfolk, weather promised to be windy with frequent shows and we were not let down. The plan was to take a look at the board walk at Barton Broad, as recommended by Ross the boat man, and then take a look at a Nation Trust property probably Blickling Hall. It was only a short drive to Barton Broad, we parked up we had a choice of any parking space clearly a popular place. The board walk was about 1km walk, down a narrow country road we didn’t meet any traffic but we did get a shower so the poncho was donned.

We soon found the entrance to the board walk, which is really well built, according to the notices they had to put in some piles 6.5m down to hit solid enough ground to support it. The walk is circular out over the wooded marsh area and has an observation point. We stopped off and watched from the observation point, spotting terns, plenty of grebes, and we heard what we thought was the call of a water rail. Another shower came along as we sat there so the poncho came out again and we huddled under it. When the rain stopped we headed back to the car park and were soon caught out again by a shower this time very heavy. Helen who had left the car unprepared and without poncho got a bit wet.

Dinning room in Blickling Hall NT Norfolk

Next stop was to be Blickling Hall, an Elizabethan building, with parks and gardens. The sky was grey when arrived so we did the tour of the house first. There are two levels to the house and it is typical of NT properties lots of old stuff, signs on chairs telling whether you can or cannot sit on them, and signs on other stuff telling you that you could not touch. I was impressed by the long room which apparently was build so they could exercise when the weather was inclement and later housed the best library in the National Trusts possession.

There were some impressive trees in the park land one in particular looked old and looked like it had spawned newer trees (albeit very old ones) where he limbs of the main tree (now a dead stump) had touched the ground and rooted. When the next shower came along we popped in for a coffee, and shared a granola cake, then we headed out and had a game of croquet on the lawn. Although we could not figure out the rules by reading the instructions, we made some up and Helen won.

View of a church in Norfolk

The gardens are extensive and there is some great topiary, but were not really that impressive from a bloom point of view I suspect because it is a bit early in the year, but you could see the potential. My guess is that in a months time the beds will look really impressive. We had a go on the hoopla game at Helen’s insistence, she claimed to be the Bucks under 10 champion, but in the end failed to score and so it was one all in the competitive stakes for the day.

In one of the side buildings there was an art exhibition and more interesting in another was details of the how the local land had been used during the war as an air base called RAF Oulton. It appeared to be mainly used for Boeing made bombers, which makes me suspect that it was somehow connected with the Americans  They also had a few planes painted black which were used for special ops.

We were back at the hut at about 17:30 and had enjoyed the day.

It’s a small world

Beach view Horsey Norfolk with seals

The plans for today were centred around visiting Horsey Wind pump at Horsey, so following a leisurely breakfast we left the hut, and headed off. We are staying only about 10 minutes form the pump, which is run by the National Trust our plan was to do a circular walk, so see some seals by the sea and possible take in a boat trip from the mill, however just as we arrived outside Horsey I had a spontaneous change of plan, and we parked up at a beach car park. The car park was pay and display but the pay and display machine was locked up inside a mini container, so we saved ourselves a couple of quid.

The beach is accessed via a gap in the dunes which run along this part of the coast. The weather was great for taking photos as the haze of the last few days had cleared and the blue skies were covered in fluffy clouds. The weather forecast for most of the country was gales and rain but there was a chance that we were in a corner that would just miss all the bad weather. On the beach the wind was increasing but the sun was out and it was pleasant enough. The tide was going out and there was a stretch near the surf that was solid thus making walking easier. We headed south which was where we were told by Helen’s colleague the seals hang out. We soon started to spot waders on the beach ; Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, and also Little Tern hunting over the sea. We walked for about a mile and spotted plenty of seals in the sea popping their heads out of the water to keep their eyes on us, then we came across probably about 200 seals lying on the beach between two break waters.

View from top Horsey Wind Pump NT Norfolk

We headed up into the dunes so as not to disturb them, where we found somewhere to site down and watch them and have a snack of Christmas cake. I took the opportunity to take some time lapse photos with the GoPro. Next we headed back to the car the weather was still holding out but the wind was building as forecast. We drove the mill itself and parked up at the NT car park , another free be as we are members. The nice man at the cafe invited us in and explained about the mill, told us to get on the boat trip you need to put your name on the “automatic” booking system and was happy for us to us the cafe to eat our sandwiches. Helen when off to put our names on the booking system while I went and got her binoculars form the car, then we went had had a look at the Mill/Pump, which if you don’t mind steep steps gives a great view from a platform at the top. Back at the cafe we got a coffee and the man tempted Helen with a box a bargain cards, how did he know that Helen is a sucker for a card? We took our coffee’s outside and sat in the lee of the building and had lunch.

Ross’s boat trips from Horsey Wind Pump

We took a stroll round the broad for a bit to kill the 30 minutes before the boat trip. It turned into a private boat trip, as we were the only people booked on it. Ross Warrell who runs Ross’ Norfolk Broads River Trips it turns out has a connection, I mentioned that I went school fairly locally and he said did I know his borther Adrian turns out he was in the class below me, what a small world we live in. The boat trip was great Ross really like bird watching and essentially the trip turned into a bird watching trip. We saw loads of Marsh Harriers, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, as you would expect but we also had a fly past by a Cuckoo and great views of two Hobby’s. We both really enjoyed the trip and would thoroughly recommend it, Ross is really the star of the boat with his knowledge of birds and his relaxed attitude to the whole tour of the broad.

Back on dry land we went back to car to decide what to do, we had probably an hour to do something but could not see anything on the map that took our fancy. We had been out in the wind all day and wanted something a bit more sheltered. We headed to Winterton-on-sea to see if we could get a coffee and found a gem of a cafe called Dunes Cafe just off the beach car park.We went in expecting nothing special, but inside it clearly was not you usual beach cafe, they had an expresso machine, a great collection of cakes, and the menu looked great too. On the wall there was evidence that it had featured in the press, with framed articles.We opted for the homemade red velvet cake which was a chocolate cake with beetroot and a butter cream icing, it was lush.

Coast watch tower at Winterton Norfolk

Whilst we had coffee I noticed there was a coast watch hut and a couple had been invited in to take a look, so after we left the cafe I wandered over to see if I could have a guided tour too. The man in the watch tower was just packing up as his shift finished at 16:00 but he very kindly agreed to show me around and tell me what he was up to. The watch is run form 08:00 to 16:00 each day and concentrates on smaller craft i.e. those not on the AIS system. Apparently the one at Winteron is covered by only 8 volunteers. I noticed on the table he had a note about a dead dolphin being reported on the beach to the south, backing up his comments that public treated them a lot like to the place to report anything from lost keys to lost children. We talked about local pubs and he recommended the Nelson Head at Horsey.

We got home we checked out the website for the Nelsons Head it looked good and promised to yo accommodate any diet,  Helen gave then a call and checked that they did veggie food and booked a table. The pub is a strange place in the back next to the var park there was a car van with a staffie at the window. In the pub it was like your tradition establishment with all sorts of brick a brac hanging from the walls including, a very large shot gun with a six foot barrel with a gauge of about an inch and a half, apparently it was used to shot many ducks with one shot. The food was average but the beer was great. I had Brain’s Bitter and Helen had Nelsons Revenge.

A day bird watching

Church in Norfolk

Up at reasonable time with breakfast sorted, we left the house at 09:22 destination Cley Marshes, and a day bird watching. The route was familiar along the A149 which runs from around the North Norfolk coast from the broads at Yarmouth to Kings Lynn. We usually don’t like to spend too much time driving around when we are on holiday but the draw of Cley Marshes and the potential for bird watching was too much to resist.

The one hour journey was shortened somewhat by three episodes of The Archers, and my attempt to break my fuel usage record. The adaptive cruise control on the golf tends to accelerate smoothly and economically and the A149 has some long stretches of 50mph, by the time we parked up at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust car park we had achieved 61 miles per gallon which is very impressive.

Cley beach view

We checked in at the visitors center had a pee and set off around the reserve, in a clockwise direction, which is not the way we usually walk around. At the first group of three hides it was great to see plenty of waders out on the scrapes; Ringed Plovers, Godwits, Dunlin, Sandpipers, Turnstone to mention a few. We then headed out to the beach car park where alas the cafe and loo are no more, following a storm a few years back the temporary structures have been removed. We walked on to the north most hide where we had some of A’s great Christmas cake that we had frozen just after Christmas. Then we stopped for sandwiches at the bench on the south east corner, where I also tried a timelapse with the go pro. We checked out the final hide nearest the visitors center, before we went in for a coffee and some well deserved apple cake.

Next stop was Cley Spy binocular shop where I had an opportunity to try our loads of binoculars, including a tempting set by Opticron at £299 DBA 10×25 Oasis W/P which give a great bright image, and pack down really small so would be perfect to keep in my rucksack when out for a walk. I picked up a bargain mini ball tripod head for £39 instead of the usual £55.

Fly on Alexander

On the way home we picked up some supplies at Waitrose North Walsham. I had a plan for the evening after we had eaten, which was to try our the raptor watch point at Stubb Mill, apparently you can often see 10’s of Marsh Harriers and other raptors. I drove up to and parked at the visitors center but when I walked up the lane as I understood you were supposed to, I noticed that the gate was lockable. Despite looking at all the notices at the reserve there was not indication of when the gate would be locked, so I got back in the car and drove down to Stubb Mill. There were signs that suggested that they prefer people not to park there, I squeezed the car up against a bank next to the watch point, and kept my fingers crossed that no one would come and tell me off.

The sun was about 30 minutes from setting and was shining on the scrubby fields in front of me, but apart from the odd crow, cow and deer there was not much happening. I took some pictures and set up the gopro to do some timelapses, as I waited. Just as I was thinking I had wasted my time and that they only roost in the winter, I started noticing Harriers arriving in their ones and twos! My guess is that they were all Marsh Harriers but I did see one that I thought was grey on top which would make it a Hen Harrier, but I will not be putting it on my list. Then I started to hear not only a Bittern booming but a Cuckoo, well Cuckooing. I can imaging that in the winter when they are not breeding and it is cold they the sight is quite spectacular.

Serial boat trippers are we

Greylag nesting at Hicking NWT

We were up early had, breakfast then left the hut at 09:20, destination Hickling Broad NNR, about two miles walk. It was a pleasant walk, mainly by track and footpath, we arrived at the visitors center and attempted to book a place on the 1030 boat trip but unfortunately it was full, but there were some places on the 13:30 so we booked that one in instead.

As we had three hours to while away we started off slowly with a coffee, whilst we sat and drank our coffee we were surprised at the number of birds we spotted just sat there; Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Robin, Tits etc. We set off around the reserve stopping off at the Cadbury hide, named after the family who purchased the land and then donated it to the NWT some years ago. The Cadbury family still have a link with the reserve as they lease a lodge deep in the reserve and next to the edge of the open water. When someone is staying they raise an appropriate flag, today a flag with a Marsh Harrier was flying. We did not see much from the hide the I think because the water levels where so low the habitat was not how they had intended it when the hide was built.

In the next hide we thought that a situation was in front of us until Helen spotted a Water Rail. The Water Rail is a very elusive bird normally only observed briefly when they venture out of the reeds. The low water level was to hep us in this situation, the edges need the reeds where the rails would normally feed was dried up forcing it to wander out into the open. We saw it forage slowly and then go into a small patch reeds where we lost sight of it but our patience was rewarded when it came back out into the open for a while before a short flight back into the reeds. Along with the Black Tern yesterday the Water Rail wold be added to the weeks highlights.

Observation tower Hickling NWT

Next it was down to the far edge of the reserve and past the Lodge leased by the Cadbury family, where we headed back towards the visitors center making the walk into a circular one. We ate the sandwiches we made back at the hut with another instant coffee then we walked back into the reserve to find the mooring for the boat trip.

There were not many birds to see on trip I think we were just there at the wrong time of year, all the winter wildfowl had left and the spring/summer migrants delayed by the delayed spring weather. The guide had some interesting facts to convey to us, one that stuck out was the story of Emma Turner who was a victorian naturalist who got permission to use an island on the broad which was used for hunting. She had a house boat built and a hide then lived there for the next 25 years, photographing and recording the birds.

We walked back to the hut and got back at 16:30 so we had a long day out in the field. We ventured out to the The Swan pub at Stalham an Adnams pub where the food was great.

Dogs on the loose

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

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

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?