The start and end of Summer

I think it is fair to say that the UK has had a terrible summer from a sun and temperature point of view. This weekend seems to be attempting to make up for the shortfall by providing a beautiful few days of lovely weather. It’s a bank holiday weekend as well, and bank holidays are not meant to be sunny. What with Keryn’s new job, buying a car and then dealing with the problems, having computer troubles (we have a shiny new PC now) and planning for our trip to Toronto and New York we didn’t get around to looking for accommodation for a weekend away until Friday night – so our planned camping weekend in Norfolk turned into a day trip instead.

The Ferry in the Broads.
The Ferry in the Broads

We left early, took a diversion to Basildon to get petrol and lunch, and then set off for a few hours driving in the Norfolk Broads. The path we took managed to bring us to a Ferry crossing so we had 15 minutes or so relaxing while we waited for the small two-car ferry to slowly go back and forth over the river, the line in front of the car getting ever shorter. With our turn shortly arriving it was onto the Ferry and then once more driving. With a clear destination not really to mind we picked a point on the map that looked interesting and headed for the Broads Conservation Centre.

This turned out to be an inspired choice and we arrived at a quiet corner of the Broads with a lovely grass area bordering a number of moorings for day trippers out to sail the Broads. There was also an information centre, a small shop and across the road the requisite pub. We parked up nearby and then found a grassy spot in the sun to lay down our picnic blanket and have our lunch. Other than the brief attentions of a wasp it was very nice sitting, watching the boats drifting by and relaxing in the afternoon heat.

Keryn near the Broads Conservation Centre.
Keryn near the Broads Conservation Centre

After lunch we packed away the picnic paraphernalia into the car and then went for a walk to the Conservation Centre which was reached via a boardwalk through the marshlands of the Broads. It was peaceful and we saw only a few people as we walked first by the twisted trunks of swamp trees and then past the rustling stalks of rushes, stopping at regular intervals to read the signs that gave information of the fauna and fauna around us. We got to the Conservation building, set on the edge of the rushes overlooking a lake that was home to a large variety of birdlife. There was also a jetty for the small boat that provided an alternative route back to the area we had started from.

We had a look inside the Conservation Centre building and spent some time looking at the displays and also peering through binoculars provided at the viewing windows upstairs. Our visit done we walked back along the boardwalk heading for the road. Arriving at the road we decided to take a longer route back and made away along the road and around the corner to the local Church. Again all was peaceful and we entered the cool interior and looked around. We tried climbing up the Church tower but had to turn back halfway up the narrow stone stairs to allow a family to come back down. Keryn’s knee hadn’t appreciated the short, cramped climb so we decided to continue back to the car. We had a stop to get some ice cream and then went to the car to look for somewhere else to visit.

We had a few pamphlets from the Information Centre and decided to head for village of Halvergate where we could do a 5 mile walk that would take us from the village to Wickhampton and then out onto the Broads before returning to Halvergate again. The drive didn’t take too long and we were soon changing into our walking boots and then following our prescribed path. Being the Broads the route was mostly flat and we made good time walking initially along small country lanes between the two villages. Reaching Wickhampton we investigated the village Church before continuing along a concreted path and out into the Broads.

The path led us out into farmland with a reed lined and greenery filled channel to out left. We turned off the concrete path onto a dirt track that followed a branch in the channel and were soon passing a family group that was also out for a walk. They were talking to a local farmer in his jeep and we soon passed a field full of cows who took only a vague interest as we walked by. At one point I had to save a small frog from Keryn’s feet and we saw a few more later on taking refuge in pools of water formed in the ditches created by a large-tred vehicle that had made quite a path in rather wetter times of the recent past. There were also lots of dragonflies in all sizes and colours, often buzzing out of the reeds as we passed along. In the distance we could see Windmills in various states of repair and we passed close to a couple, one very much a ruin and the other in better shape but still down to only two sails.

One of the Windmills we saw on our walk.
One of the Windmills we saw on our walk

We clambered over stiles and walked through the fields, the warmth of the afternoon sun being offset slightly by the days breeze. We talked briefly with an older couple out to see their grandson, the grandfather wearing what looked like a Sooty hand-puppet on one hand. Somewhere between two and three hours saw us back at the car and we both took off our boots and into the car to look for a pub where we could have a nice cool drink.

Unfortunately we didn’t come across a suitable pub quickly (we’re too snobbish I think, and also worried that any pub would empty if we entered in out smelly state). Instead we drove along the coast taking in some of the pretty seaside villages. We stopped for short while in Southwold and I took a photo of the car with the sunset behind which you can see below. We had a look at the beach huts and spied on the Southwold Pier from a distance. Diversion complete we then headed back for the A12 and homeward bound.

Our new car photographed at Southwold.
Our new car photographed at Southwold.

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