Wednesday, 18 November 2009


I was delighted recently to see one of my photos published in our local newspaper, the fairly provincial but well respected Eastern Daily Press

We had been out on the river and rounded a bend to be met by the sight in the attached photo. No panic, just get as near to the bank as possible and wait. However, there was very little wind and it seemed to take forever for the yachts to sail past us. The Broads Authority ranger who came across the same sight as us promptly turned round, shouting that he would 'clear the way' for the yachts, prompting one of the skippers to comment later that they felt like a circus parade being led by the ringmaster. I think it would have been more fun not to warn other boats and watch the antics as the hire boats tried to negotiate the daunting bunch of 'sailies'.

On an impulse I sent the photo to the newspaper, not thinking for a moment they would publish it as I have done this before with no luck but was pleasantly surprised to see my photo in an almost half page spread the same week, attached to the report of the race - the Snowflake Sailing Club first race of the winter season - the Tri-Icicle.

Fame at last!

Urban myth ...?

I was recently sent the message copied below and, whilst treating it with a slight amount of skepticism, I felt duty bound to forward it on - in particular to my daughters who are most often too distracted by loading shopping and children into their vehicles to notice a piece of paper. Whilst forwarding it, I scanned down my list of family and friends and sent it to one or two others, particularly those who live in urban areas.

Just last weekend on Friday night we parked in a public car park. As we drove away I noticed a sticker on the rear window of the car. When I took it off after I got home, it was a receipt for petrol. Luckily my friend told me not to stop as it could be someone waiting for me to get out of the car. Then we received this email yesterday.


Heads up everyone! Please, keep this circulating.. You walk across the car park, unlock your car and get inside. You start the engine put it into Reverse.

When you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your space, you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you stop and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view.
When you reach the back of your car, that is when the carjackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off. They practically run you over as they speed off in your car.

And guess what, ladies? I bet your purse is still in the car. So now the carjacker has your car, your home address, your money, and your keys. Your home and your whole identity are now compromised!


If you see a piece of paper stuck to your back window, lock your doors and just drive away.
Remove the paper later. And be thankful that you read this e-mail. I hope you will forward this to friends and family, especially to women.
A purse contains all kinds of personal information and identification documents, and you certainly do NOT want this to fall into the wrong hands.

Now, I feel sure that most of the women I sent this message to would read it and store the information somewhere at the back of their minds for possible future use. However, my darling, logical brother emailed me to say that anyone who didn't notice a piece of paper stuck to their rear windscreen deserved to have his/her car stolen! I thought this was a bit harsh! I'm not suggesting that women are less observant than men but they normally have a lot more distractions during the day and after dark their first priority is to get into the car and lock the doors, particularly if parking in a city centre car park or street.

I love my brother dearly but I do wonder if he understands how vulnerable some women feel in certain circumstances, particularly as they get a bit older ;-))

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Fred is a lovely cat who lives down the road from us. When our cat was alive, Fred used to come up to the patio doors and peer into the kitchen but as soon as our cat sensed he was there (she was blind but had an acute sense of smell) she would growl and hiss in the general direction of Fred and he would back off.

When our cat died last year, we were distraught and Fred would come to the house and make a big fuss around us, helping us to get through the difficult loss. He was totally relaxed in the house as can be seen from the photo!

However, there is another lovely cat, Felix, who lives closer to us but who hates Fred and used to pounce on him every time he went down the road. Both cats used to end up with clumps of hair missing and bloody ears and they couldn’t seem to settle their differences. Felix used to hide in the hedge and wait for Fred to go by. Fred got wise to this eventually and used to take a detour over fences and through gardens to avoid Felix.

After nearly a year, Fred stopped coming to see us – he was getting old and obviously didn’t want the aggravation of having to ‘run the gauntlet’ every day. We still see him, rolling around in the sun outside his house but he doesn’t venture far these days.

Felix has taken advantage of the situation and now spends much of his day in our garden and kitchen. As soon as his owners go out, he is under the gate and at the patio doors and you can guarantee that he will be fussing around us within minutes of hearing our car arrive home. Felix doesn’t have such a nice nature as Fred – we think he must have been ill-treated in a past life as he will suddenly hiss at us and either claw or try to bite us, for no reason, sometimes if we move a bit quickly. He knows it’s wrong as he’ll shoot out of the door when this happens.

We are just grateful to have a cat visit us – we get the pleasure without the pain!

Unusual boats

I have recently started putting photos on Flickr – just snaps taken around the Norfolk Broads when we have been out on the boat.

Purely by accident, I have become fanatical about snapping old or unusual boats as there is a small but tight-knit circle of 'otaku' who know EVERYTHING about EVERY boat on the Broads and they will pounce on my photos to see who can be the first to identify the boat, even having arguments over the year of build etc.

The trouble is that now I am constantly scanning the passing boats or those on the moorings to see if I can find something unusual to keep these good people on their toes.

The photo is of one boat which beat the experts as, although I knew the name of it, no-one could come up with any history. Hah!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Three Rivers Race

This could be a bit of a rant due to massive disappointment at the weekend.

The Three Rivers' Race is a famous annual 24 hour endurance race on the Norfolk Broads and for the last 13 or so years we have had a perfect vantage point on our moorings to watch the yachts, big and small, coming down on to the broad, sometimes under very difficult and interesting sailing conditions.

The race starts and ends in Horning and has to visit the Rivers Ant, Bure and Thurne, being checked off at specially placed marker buoys, which the yachts have to circumnavigate.

We start looking forward to the race at the beginning of the season and follow the plans and discussions amongst the sailors (open forum) with great interest. Tactics are discussed, based on tide and wind conditions and 'red herrings' put out all over the place. Deciding which river to tackle first can make the difference between winning and actually managing to finish the race!

This year we organised ourselves to be set up in our vantage point, cameras at the ready, wine chilling, snacks made but by 12 noon there was still no marker buoy on the broad! The race starts at 11.00 at 5 minute intervals (139 yachts this year) and we would expect the first fast boat to reach our broad by around 12.30. To cut a long story short, we eventually discovered that a last minute decision had been taken to have the turning point down the long and twisting dyke which leads to the broad and not to visit the broad itself! We were gutted, as were many other people who had turned up specially to view the spectacle.

Our neighbours on the mooring were heading down the river in their yacht (under power I hasten to add!) and offered us a lift which made us feel a bit better but it was still very disappointing after all the anticipation. Consequently, we were unable to get very many photographs.

Apologies to anyone who reads this, for the rant, but I needed to get it off my chest!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Avian activity

There hasn't been a lot of boating activity near the mooring over the last couple of weeks but the blackheaded gulls and herons have been extremely active. There are three herons on this stretch of river and they are very territorial, spending most of the day flying up and down, chasing each other off and screeching very loudly!

I expect things will change on the boating front this weekend and there is a regatta nearby where it will be interesting watching the big river cruisers - let's hope there's some good wind. However, about four boats had broken masts last weekend in the very strong southwesterly wind!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Anyone know what duck this is ..? How cute are these!

At this time of year I become totally preoccupied with ducks, coots, grebes, geese, herons, kingfishers, cuckoos, penny wagtails, pigeons and finches. I'm really not that interested the remainder of the year but love to watch and listen to the courting and nesting rituals and the produce of this.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Coincidence or what?

In today's local paper .... it would appear to be a countrywide phenomena :-)) unless of course she decided to come south where the police often turn a blind eye to speeding! Looks like I was right and she is a 'boy racer' - she obviously had the scooter ' sooped up' ;-}

Friday, 24 April 2009

Dangerous times

I was nearly knocked down three times today whilst shopping! Not, as you may think, by a car but first by a mobility scooter being driven at a manic rate of knots by a very large lady. She came round the corner at the top of the street, which has a hill (Norfolk standards!) so to give her the benefit of the doubt, she may have been freewheeling but she must have been doing nearly 10 miles an hour ;-). I jumped out of the way just in time but turned round to see people flying off to left and right to get out of her way so I think she was just a boy racer at heart!

The second incident was as I carried on up the incline to be faced by a wheelchair being pushed very fast by an elderly man. The occupant was clinging on to the armrests for dear life so I think he might have been taken by surprise by the incline, which I am sure has got steeper over the years – I am certainly more out of puff when I reach the top than I used to be 10 years ago. I do hope he and his cargo reached the shops ok as I didn’t stop to look. I was quite traumatised by this time.

Carrying on a bit further up the road towards the bus station I came up behind a lady with a walking frame on wheels. She was travelling very slowing (probably exhausted after the hill) so I felt I was safe to overtake but as I did so she suddenly, without warning or signals, veered to the right – into my path. I just managed to stop in time but she continued to the crossing, oblivious to my plight.

I drove home very carefully!

Monday, 20 April 2009

There are two suggestions locally for ‘traffic calming’ measures which appealed to my imagination and I felt I must share with the world (or at least a couple of people).

One of them is potholes. The local radio station has had a Pothole Phone-In with people trying to outdo each other with the size of their pothole and I read that an Essex Parish Council is not repairing potholes for a year to see if this results in slowing down traffic and maybe to see how many cyclists they can dispose of! Or perhaps they are trying to find out ‘how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall’

I have to admit that my favourite idea for reducing traffic speed is chickens. We, in Norfolk, are famous for this idea – it has been monitored and statistics produced, so it must be feasible. The idea was first started many years ago on a south Norfolk roundabout and because of the favourable results, it is now to be introduced on other A road roundabouts in Norfolk and Suffolk. Some roundabouts are already perfect roosting areas but others may have to be landscaped into suitable chicken environments. A spokesman for the scheme said that “the chickens require very little maintenance and are practically self sufficient”.

It does beg the question, though, of whether someone would have to be appointed to collect the eggs each day (which would obviously be free range), and could be a good source of income for local Councils and possibly lead to reductions in Council Tax. However, the income would probably have to be offset against the cost of the egg collector.

There might be a worry that the chickens would breed too prolifically but there would probably be some ‘accidental’ culling by the very nature of their location.

It has been suggested that foxes may show a great interest in the chickens and measures would have to be taken to keep the fox population under control. Perhaps local fox hunting groups could be formed to control the roundabouts – the possibilities need some discussion (preferably in complete secrecy).

If it all works out well, chickens could be introduced on all roundabouts throughout the country and it is possible that the traffic calming effects could offset the number of collisions caused by drivers rubbernecking at the chickens.

Talking of ducks - and someone was somewhere, I snapped this duck showing complete indifference at the interesting spectacle of a swan floating on to the Broad on a large clump of land which had been dislodged by a hire boat. This island was inhabited at various times by coots and grebes before floating into someone's boat shed!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Talking about bees - and I was somewhere - I saw two in the garden today, one bumble bee and one which looked like a honey bee, although I could be wrong on that one, not being an apiarist. The bumble bee spent ages negotiating blades of grass until it found the perfect place to bask in the sun. You will have to look closely amongst the crocuses to see the other bee.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Remembering Mitty

It is exactly a year ago that our black cat, Mitty, died. We used to take her on our Broads cruiser with us when she was younger. She settled down very well on the boat and soon had her favourite places. During the day she slept on one of the front cabin bunks, well wrapped up in a sleeping bag but at night, she prowled the boat, peering out through the windows and constantly waking us, demanding to be let out. One evening when we were moored on quiet moorings at Barton Turf, we took her out with a cat harness and lead. She walked first one way and then the other, hating the harness and wanting to be off into the undergrowth. Going along one of the walkways, she suddenly jumped, twisted and slipped the harness, immediately scampering away from us. We were distraught, chasing her, calling her, looking for her for about an hour or so. We could see her eyes shining in the undergrowth occasionally but she wouldn’t come to us. Exhausted and very stressed we eventually went back slowly to the boat, convinced that we had lost her for ever, only to find her sitting on the stern of the boat as if to say ‘I’m here, where have you been’! Unbelievable, she got an extra helping of chicken that night.

We moored up near Beccles one night and took her out on the lead again as we were worried that she might wander too far, with a lot of farmland nearby. R was frustrated and I was amused as she climbed up a tree with him standing at the bottom holding the expanding lead, trying to persuade her to come down!

We used to moor at the back of a small ‘island’ at Womack Water and felt secure in letting her out at night as we knew she couldn’t wander too far. She would go off, come back to see us and go off again all night but one night she excelled herself by bringing us back a live mouse and depositing it in the front cabin!

She developed kidney disease in 2006 and blindness was part of the illness. She adapted fairly well but if she lost her bearings would stand in the middle of a room and shout for us to re-orientate her. On the whole she found her way around very well, using her whiskers and obviously remembered knowledge of the house to find her way around. We never moved anything in the rooms and had to be careful not to leave anything lying around to confuse her. Her sense of hearing increased tremendously, as did her sense of smell – she always showed huge interest in what we were having for supper! Initially, she still wanted to fiercely maintain her territory and used to go out under the garden gate, followed by one of us as she headed off up the road determinedly, getting very cross if we brought her back. As the illness progressed, she wasn’t so bothered but would still patrol the garden and see off any other cats which dared to come in. Her sense of smell could identify them immediately and she would hiss and spit in their direction.

Her final deterioration came on 25th February last year and we had to make the awful decision not to prolong her life any further. People had told us that we would know when the time came and we did. We still miss her and I occasionally find myself addressing my black handbag if I leave it on the floor!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Shortsighted policies

A family bought and renovated a barn on the Norfolk coast recently and, maybe naively, sought retrospective planning permission to change use to a permanent home from its former status as a holiday home.

They have just lost their application and have been given 18 months ‘respite’ to do what …? I suppose they can apply again for change of use in the hopes of a ‘change of heart’ or hope that either there will be a switch of personnel in the local planning committee or the rules (which are now under review) will be amended.

How absurd is this decision by the local councillors? We are constantly hearing about the villages dying because of second homes being empty for most of the time and yet the committee turns down the chance for a normal family to make their home in a village and make a contribution to the village life. One of the reasons given for the refusal is that it would ‘open the floodgates’ for applications from other barn owners – so what! Anything which would revitalise the villages and satisfy demand from families wanting to live in the country must surely be a good thing.

This strikes me as being similar to the attitude of a village who, in the 1980’s turned down the opportunity to be connected to a new gas pipeline because it would only encourage a certain amount of development and people might want to live in the village!

It’s about time Norfolk brought its policies into the 21st century!

Monday, 2 February 2009


With the south east at a virtual standstill with over a foot (that’s halfway between heel and knee in old money) or around 31cm of snow and East Anglia with just a sprinkling, I started to think of some ‘memorable snow that I have known’.

One of my first memories of snow was the winter of 1947/48 which was the year my youngest brother was born – December 23 to be precise. I can remember staying with my grandparents who lived down the road from us in Bournemouth and my father struggling through the snow with me and my other brother to the nursing home to visit our mother and new brother. I can remember the small wooden painted soldiers my new brother brought with him as a present for me (I must have been a bit of a tomboy!).

The next memorable snow was the winter of 1962/63 which was the year my eldest daughter was born (November). We were visiting parents in Bournemouth for Christmas and the snow started on Boxing Day. We had to get from one parents’ house to the other late in the evening in our Morris Minor car, up a steep hill, with a tiny baby in a carrycot on the back seat – scary to think there were no car seats or seat belts in those days, but there again there wasn’t too much traffic or fast cars either.

We got stuck halfway up the hill and our friends, who had gone ahead of us and managed to make it to the top in their Hillman, had to tie a rope to the front of our car and pull us up the hill, using a lamp post as leverage!

I also remember in March of 1963 being driven to Wiltshire by my father and the snow was piled 10ft (around 9 metres?) at the roadsides. He stopped and took a photo of the car (a two- tone black and white Triumph Herald!) in between the huge piles of snow each side of the road.

I remember walking 3-4 miles cross country in wellies, carrying party shoes, in February 1979 to go to a Valentine’s Day party and coming back in the early hours to a magical world of deep, glistening snow and complete silence. Travellers were being stranded in their cars all over Norfolk and local people were out with their shovels and opening up their homes to complete strangers for bed and breakfast. A real community spirit!

Norwich in early 1983 (I think) was brought to a standstill by heavy snow one evening, and I recall walking through the spellbinding grounds of Norwich cathedral, with the snow highlighting the wonderful architecture of the cathedral and the lovely old buildings surrounding it. Cars were abandoned everywhere and a great sense of camaraderie was felt as masses of people struggled to get home. I can remember walking into the city centre that night to eat at a favourite, family run restaurant, the only people there, and sitting down with the family for our evening meal. The silence of the city that night has stayed with me all these years.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Godmother duties

I was reminded last year that I am godmother to my first cousin’s son (I’m not sure if that makes him a first cousin once removed, or a second cousin – I could never get the hang of the complicated cousin relationships) which I admit to my shame I had forgotten.

My godson is now nearly 50 and I have been a very BAD godmother as I can’t even remember how to spell his name correctly! I had not met him since he was a very small child, until last year when I visited the offshore island where he lives, for the first time in over 40 years.

On considerable reflection, my understanding of my duties is that I should have been a ‘good role model’ to him as he was growing up, but as I was a teenager when he was born I very much doubt that the role model would have been particularly good! I was pleased to see that despite my lack of effort in guidance during his formative years, he has turned out to be a fine, upstanding young man.

I also believe that sometimes godmothers are supposed to perform babysitting duties and I did fail hopelessly in that task - it’s too late to make amends for that unfortunately.

All in all, I think his parents might have done better if they had done a Google search for a godmother, which would have revealed “Godmother at”, possibly with free delivery!

Me, I prefer the definition I found, which is that a godmother is a cocktail made with Italian Amaretto liqueur and vodka! ;-)