Saturday, May 30, 2009

Messing about on the River

Off message: - back from a short 4 night break in the Norfolk Broads. I crashed the small motor cruiser we had hired into Wroxham Bridge (centre photo) within 5 minutes of leaving the boatyard. So after our first emergency mobile telephone call of the holiday we had to return due to a damaged canopy and broken outdoor table.

It took me about 10 minutes to reverse stern side back into the yard much to the despair of the hire company worker who was trying to guide me. I could steer forwards quite happily but you could not steer in a straight direction when in reverse. A group of young lads passing by in a launch helpfully clapped and cheered me on. Bless ‘em.

Luckily the boatyard had another replacement boat spare which was just about able to survive my captaincy for the rest of the "voyage".

There was another return visit the following day to the hire company to pick up the bedding we forgot when we swapped boats.

Mooring was always a bit of an adventure. After several abortive attempts usually someone onshore would take pity on us (or were worried about a collision with their boat) and would suggest that we throw them a rope and they would pull us. Eventually I worked out that the best way was just to aim head on for the mooring and approach at very slow speed then turn away at the last moment and jump ashore.

There was further excitement in Potter Heigham when I woke up at 3AM on Thursday to find 3 inches of water in the cabin. For some still unexplained reason the bilge had flooded and seeped into the living accommodation. Another rather frantic conversation with an emergency engineer resulted in us pressing the auto button on the bilge pump which stopped any further flooding.

Despite all this (and some intermittent wet and windy weather) – it was on the whole a fantastic experience. Cruising slowly along truly beautiful waterways and stopping off almost at your whim amongst drop dead gorgeous countryside for the night was a treat. There was also great meals and beer in lovely country pubs. In between the various disasters it was really a little bit of heaven on earth.

You can listen to what I think is the very apt song "messing about on the river" here.

Back on message somewhat: - Norfolk has some of the lowest wage rates in the UK despite being relatively close to London so the public exhibition of wealth on the rivers and its banks compared to the modest red brick terraces you see as you drive through Norwich was striking. I sailed past countless impressive riverside homes often with thatched roofs with immaculate private gardens and moorings for huge boats.

In the historic "White Horse" pub in beautiful Neatishead there was a plaque on the wall to annual competitions between the various local Agriculture Workers Union branches. But this dated from the 1960’s and I doubt if any of those branches mentioned were still active. I am pretty sure that all the customers that night in the pub were like me - fellow visitors.

I don’t believe in wearing a hair-shirt and it did not spoil the holiday but the discrepancy in wealth on show was in one way more unsettling than even that sinking feeling in Potter Heigham.

(due to PC problems – I’ll post picture another time - UPDATE - SORT OF SORTED)


Tom Powdrill said...

I love it up on the broads, and have been going there since I was a boy.

In terms of mooring a good bit of advice is to make sure you are sailing against the tide. You should even turn around to face into the tide. That way it's easy with a motor boat to slowly edge your way in towards the bank without moving forward a lot (in fact if the tide is strong enough you might not even move forward at all really). Works every time!

Stern-on mooring takes a bit more practice!

John Gray said...

Hi Tom

OMG we have to deal with tides in the Broads as well!

Anonymous said...

Get a better paid job and then you too can have a big house? Set up a business and work long hours and weekends...get a second job etc etc If on the other hand you are want to put your efforts into Union politics and a housing association and have plenty of free time and little responsibility, little wealth creation effort.. then don't be surprised when you don't get the big house. It's obviously your choice!Don't pass judgement on people with big houses..maybe they are owned by world class children's heart surgeons, or a Hospital cleaner who won the lottery...if you want one too get off your arse and do something about it.

John Gray said...

Crikey anon
work long hours and weekends (Yep do that) ... plenty of free time and little responsibility (in my dreams).

Actually I don’t mind if people do well because of talent or hard work (as long as they pay their share of taxes). However, I suspect that a lot of rich people with property in the Broads inherited their money or maybe didn’t actually deserve it (most recent Bankers?).

Anyway – remember I am in the private sector now! We are I believe “social entrepreneurs” (or something like that) also your worse nightmare - a New Capitalist activist assest owner!

Remember – We are the masters now!

Anonymous said...

Rich people who don't deserve it like bankers or labour Governemnt Ministers - who don't practice what they preach. A least with the Tories you get what you see...with labour we have to listen to their incessant nanny preaching - only to find they have their hands in the till. faces alll around. One rule for us and another for them. ha dot laugh my cock off at Blears - "i'm going to re-connect with the people of Salford"..nice with people like her who have ripped off her taxes. Pig with lipstick!!