Louth and the Norfolk Broads


early morning mist on the broads

early morning mist on the broads

On Friday October 3rd, we left Edinburgh and drove about 300 miles to stay for three nights with friends Joy and Simon in their gorgeous home on the edge of the not-s-small village of Louth. We had a really fun and relaxing three nights and two days with them that went all too fast!

I met Joy many years ago when we both belonged to an internet recipe site called Recipezaar. At the time, she and Simon were living in Wales but she and I had become good enough cyber friends for Russ and I to visit her when we holidayed in the UK 7 years ago.

Joy and Simon are actually Australians, with family there, so they decided a few years ago to move “home”. We caught up with them quite often in Perth. The move to Australia lasted just over a year- until they realised how much they missed the UK and all it offers them.  They’ve been back just over a year and are very happy now!

Joy is a fantastic cook and hostess, and Simon is a great host who hates to see an empty glass at the table so needless to say, we felt very much at home! On the night we arrrived, we had a great Chinese meal followed by an impressive cheese board.

raclette

raclette

Night two, we had a raclette. I know Joy and Simon love raclette, so I’d hinted I’d love to try one. I wasn’t disappointed.

Raclette is a melting cheese, and in Switzerland, I think they do just that-melt the cheese, then scoop it up with crusty bread.

Joy’s version is quite different. We each got an assortment of chopped and prepared ingredients, and starting with the raw meat and onion, added things to a dish on the hotplate (of a machine sitting in the centre of the table) in the order they took to cook. When they were done, we topped with raclette cheese and popped under the grill part of the machine. Each dinner had a bowl of baby skin-on potatoes and split a couple of them on their plate before topping with the cooked and cheesy mixture. It was really yummy and lots of fun and I’m having a machine!

Sunday, we took Joy and Simon out to a pub we’d had a drink in the day before. Daniel Craig is known to frequent it, but he didn’t show up. Still and all it was a lovely lunch in a really quaint little pub. Dinner was a marinated Thai chicken breasts with great salads and another fantastic cheese board.

Louth Church

Louth Church

We took a lovely walk around the village of louth, caught up with all our laundry, had a fun visit to friends of Joy and Simon, and I even managed to cook and freeze two meals for our time on the boat on the Norfolk Broads.

We left Joy and Simon’s in pouring rain and made our way to our boat on the Broads. We arrive at the boat yard outside Norwich around 4pm, and by 5pm were underway (still in the pouring rain) on our 4 night adventure.

On most holidays, we allow ourselves one really extravagant activity With this holiday being 10 weeks long, we allowed ourselves one each. Mine was to fly to Switzerland to visit our dear friends, and Russ’s was the boat on the broads. I’m so glad we did them both as they were amazing times

Raining on the Broads

Raining on the Broads

Like I said, it was pouring when we left the boat yard, so we made our way up stream very carefully mooring at Coldham Hall Pub for the night. We popped into the pub for well earned glass of wine, to use their Wi Fi and to just unwind. After our drink, we went back to the boat and made ourselves a warm salad of salmon capers and dill, baby potatoes and asparagus. Exhausted, we both slept like logs!

early morning mist on the broads

early morning mist on the broads

Tuesday, we woke to a mist over the water and the promise of a lovely day so we got underway. The boats on the broads are only allowed to do 6 mph in most places and as low as 3 or 4 mph in others, so it’s a pretty leisurely way to see the Broads. Mid week and out of season was a wise choice too-I can imagine it would be manic with boats, and moorings would be as scarce as hen’s teeth in the high season!

We putted up the river stopping for lunch at Hardley wind mill. As luck (?) would have it there was a windmill enthusiast on hand to give us the complete and utter run-down on the mill and all mills in general.

Hardley Wind Mill

Hardley Wind Mill

We were able to climb three very steep sets of stairs, then 2 equally steep and scary ladders to the top. When I said I might miss out on the ladders, he said I’d regret not seeing the view and I should do it. The view was great (I even walked out around the sails,) but OMG it was scary! All this for a 2 pound each “donation”

Our boat from the windmill

Our boat from the windmill

After lunch and our very educational visit to the mill, we headed up the Chet River to Loddon where we planned to spend the night. The Chet River was really narrow and windy and we were thrilled not to meat a boat on it’s way out. The banks were very weedy and a fouled prop on the boat would have cost us 250 pounds if we called out the engineer!

Loddon's lovely library

Loddon’s lovely library

With the boat safely tied up, we took a long walk across the fields to the lovely village of Loddon. I really loved the buildings around town especially the local library and church.

Back on the boat, we had pre-dinner drinks on the back deck to watch the sun go down. It was lovely to be visited by a family of swans (mum, dad and 7 cygnets) to talk to locals as they walked their dogs and watch the fishermen in their little boats head home. We had chilli con carne (made and frozen at Joy’s) for dinner  and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Moon over the Broads

Moon over the Broads

Wednesday, the good weather had moved on so after a lazy late breakfast, we headed back up the Chet River and moored at the mouth while we waited to see what the nasty weather would do. Our good luck at not seeing another boat on the river deserted us and we had to pass three boats and were over taken by another-quite nerve racking but we survived!

Sunset over the BroadsAfter lunch we decided it was silly to move on, so just stayed put on our mooring for the night. The weather lifted a bit so we could sit and watch another pretty sunset on the back deck then we had chicken, leek and mushroom casserole for dinner

In the morning, we motored back towards the boatyard, stopping off for lunch and more Wi Fi at Coldham Hall Pub, then moored at Bramerton for the night. Once again we took a long walk around that very pretty little village before having dinner-left over casserole with asparagus, parmesan and sour cream added and all served over pasta. Same but quite different.

remains of a windmill on the broads

remains of a windmill on the broads

Our boat was a bit of an old donga, but everything worked and the bed (especially the pillows!) was comfy, so we didn’t let its old age or the rain spoil our days! If we’d taken a better boat, it’d have been double the price so we were quite happy with it. We saw lots of bird life (heaps of swans, ducks, geese, herons, harriers etc) I think I saw a mink and we saw rabbits and hares.

This morning we returned the boat to the boatyard around 9 am then drove to our last cottage just outside Matlock in the dales on the edge of the Peak District. Talk about saving the best til last-it’s gorgeous. And to make it even better, the owner had lit the wood fire and left us some fresh fruit scones, jam, butter, milk and laundry detergent.

We have 4 nights here, then we’ll drive the 1.5 hours into Manchester on Tuesday and catch our plane back to Perth Wednesday morning.

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