In the cold light of dawn

So the deed is done and Coltishall has been, done and gone. Everybody that was meant to arrive did and in Albion’s case with only an inch and a half to spare under Wroxham Bridge. In this blog I want to record my personal thanks to everyone involved. I’m not going to mention any specific names but you all know who you are. It includes members of the organising committee, exhibitors, stall holders, volunteers, musicians, boat crew, emergency services, bus drivers (including Mrs bus driver), the pubs, members of the Commons Trust, traders and you, the general public who attended and I hope had a good time. The weather was kind despite a 24 hour period prior which looked like it was going to really remind us what it was all about.

Albion about to go under Wroxham Bridge on Saturday 25th August – note that as much weight as possible is on the fron end. She made it with just an inch and a half to spare. Copyright Stu Wilson

I went to see Albion in both directions and got the obligatory photograph now so rare of a black sail trader under-way and under sail. It was nice to see her in Coltishall for the first time in three years. I also saw the canoes off on Sunday, what a magnificent sight they made as they wound their way down the navigation with their token cargo. It also made a statement about responsible access which is something we want to promote. The event itself was something that was born as an idea some two years ago and has been there in the background as a first target ever since. The serious planning started many months ago under the excellent chairmanship of Peter Baker who also handled negotiations with the Commons Trust. They are an interesting body charged with the responsibility for looking after Coltishall Common on behalf of the residents and they have many strict rules; most of which they kindly waived on Sunday for this charitable event. It is a beautiful spot and ideal for this kind of thing but I doubt it will be repeated any-time soon.

The canoes with the token cargo preparing to set off from Aylsham. Copyright Stu Wilson

But now its over we have to start work on the things we were set up to do including the extended path and conservation work. I also see a role for us, sadly, as a pressure group on the side of the river and the ordinary folk that want to enjoy it by walking or canoeing along it. These are rights to be supported but with these rights, the people exercising them must realise, also come responsibilities to respect and care for the environment they are enjoying. One way of fostering this is by reaching out to the young and their families by way of education and outreach work. I also see this as a priority for us now. We have raised the rivers profile; we must not let it slip into obscurity and get forgotten but neither should we allow it to be exploited. These are the real challenges ahead in the cold light of dawn.

The event where a good time was had by all copyright Stu Wilson

Albion under sail at Belaugh on Monday 27th August 2012 copyright Stu Wilson

Coltishall event : a success

The Coltishall event has now been and gone. We have celebrated the 100th anniversary of the flood and the closure of the Navigation and did so in some style. A well attended event with much to do and see was attended by many people. In the next few days a selection of photographs relating to the event will appear here along with the accounts when they are finalised. We must now get on with the job we have set ourselves up to do and campaign for responsible access to this our river, to improve and lengthen the footpath, to help conserve the history and the environment and to undertake work to attract the next generation of people to take an interest and carry things forward.

Albion in her Sunday best
Very Regal
It looks cold and wet but in reality, apart from one brief drizzle of rain, it was neither
You can just see the embroidery on display here
Our very swish MC
 
That’s what it’s all about
The canoes getting ready to leave Aylsham
A cargo being carried on the Aylsham navigation for the first time in 100 years

 

Giant Hogweed and ice cream

No it’s not a recipe idea and let me say at the outset that nobody ever should attempt to touch let alone eat Giant Hogweed as it is extremely toxic and we have it in abundance on the Bure along with some other unwelcome examples of flora, namely Himalayn Balsam and Japanese Knotweed. I think that the Trust is going to have to take a view on these things as they are now a serious threat to our river environment. We very recently had a stall in Aylsham Market Place on the hottest day of the year (so far) and it was so warm that very few souls were venturing out to shop – the cooling breeze of a river valley or a coastal cliff-top would have been very welcome.

As usual I digress; despite there being very few people about two seperate and as far as I know un-connected people (other than they both loved to canoe) came up and complained about the Hogweed choking the upper part of the Navigation. This is all in the area that is on private land but people do canoe through it and it is becoming obstructive. I am getting very worried about some of these invasive species, it probably dates back to my youth when I read the Day of the Triffids. It is reaching apocalyptic proportions in some parts and something needs to be done  before it gets to the point where nothing can be done. One of the problems of course is that specialist help is required and this is available commercially and also from the charitable sector but those doing the work have to be trained and have all the right gear. The public sector also does it bit but like every other arm of government, national and local, has suffered in the recent past from cuts and budgetary constraint.

Giant Hogweed – a totally obnoxious plant

The control of these species should not be one of our aims in itself but be seen in the round as part of caring for the river environment in a “big society” sort of way. Oh dear, my grandmother would turn in her grave to hear me espousing the same cause as a tory prime minisiter but it really is the only way at the moment. This is particularly true where the Hogweed is concerned. The landowners also have responsibilities in my opinion and we should remind them of that fact in a polite and measured way. We need to declare war on these plants but nature being what it is we will also have to be prepared for the long-term if we are to win in the end. These are remarkably versatile and hardy plants, that’s why they thrive in the environment and their removal is not just a matter of pulling them up and disposing of their remains. Also we can’t just apply Round-Up (other proprietary brands are available); it just isn’t that simple, in fact there is a danger if we try and do things without training and support we could actually make things worse. There is a Norfolk Non-native Species Initiative and their website can be found here. Included in that is a report form and I ask that any users of the river whether they be landowners (who should not fear this), canoeists, walkers, fishermen or any other user complete the online form as without building a picture they wont be able to tackle it. If it’s on the course of the old navigation we would also like to know as we might be able to co-ordinate some eradication work. One of the websites I looked at contained the following advice and I include an edited version here.

WARNING

The sap of giant hogweed contains a toxic chemical

which sensitises the skin and leads to severe blistering

when exposed to sunlight.

THIS REACTION CAN RECUR FOR MANY YEARS.

It went on to list the various factors at work and I can paraphrase these as -:

SUMMARY OF TOXICITY

The toxic components (psoralens or linear furanocoumarins) of Giant Hogweed are stored as biologically active aglycones, mainly in the oil channels or ducts in the leaves, stems, roots, flowers and seeds. Therefore all sap bearing parts of the plant can produce phyto-photodermatitis (sensitive reaction to light) on contact with exposed human skin.

There are several points to note in consideration of this severe skin reaction:

    • Contact with the cut material in sunlight produces a reaction in almost everyone. The degree of symptoms will vary between individuals, but children are known to be particularly sensitive.

    • The cut material remains active for several hours after cutting

    • Blistering symptoms occur after 24-48 hours post exposure, and dense post-inflammatory

    • hyper-pigmentation is visible after 3-5 days and may persist for at least 6 years.

    • The threshold concentration of furanocoumarins (10-100 μg ml-1) for a phytophotodermatitic reaction is far exceeded during the growing season. The highest concentration is in the leaves, the lowest in the stems (often the cause of mouth blisters in young children) and petioles, and the root intermediate.

    • The mode of action in the photosensitive reaction causes damage to DNA, thus inducing cellular damage, especially in melanocytic cells. The mechanism is thought to be due to photoinduced gene suppression leading to increased melanocyte production. These mechanisms are also involved in sunlight induced skin cancer, or melanoma, but evidence suggests that furanocoumarins are unlikely to be a genetic or carcinogenic hazard to human?

    • High light and nitrate habitats (e.g. streamsides, roadsides and waste ground) tend to produce higher quantities of furanocoumarins

    • The furanocoumarins are produced by the plant as a defence against insect herbivory. There may be loss of insect biodiversity in dense stands of this species, due to the presence of only specialist herbivore insects.

    • Furanocoumarins are known to be antifungal, possibly explaining their presence in the roots.This may lead to suppression of soil fungi, essential for soil fertility.

    • There are reports of long-term damage to ducklings that had trampled on Giant Hogweed tissue. The beaks were deformed and feet darkly pigmented three weeks after a brief exposure.

More Hogweed

The above is courtesy of an information sheet in the public domain produced in 2004 by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and very useful it is too but just a touch frightening. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED – personally I barely understood a word of it other than toxicity and that’s enough to make me keep well clear. It also tells me that we can’t turn away, we must do something.

This will be posted in advance of our event and I am happy to discuss with anyone the sort of things that we can be doing in the future if you come to Coltishall between 12 and 5pm on the 26th August which is the 100th anniversary to the day of the flood which destroyed all the locks and bridges and stopped forever the passage of wherries to Aylsham. If you can give of your time to help us on the 26th or at any other time please let me know on stu.wilson100@btinternet.com and you will be made very welcome. Remember that we are running the bus from the playing fields in Rectory Road in Coltishall and also the Bure Valley Railway opposite Roy’s overspill car park at Hoveton; car parking can easily be had at each location.

Japanese Knotweed in Blossom – looks pretty doesn’t it but it most certainly isn’t wanted hhere

I have just seen the weather forecast for the weekend and am hoping they’ve got it wrong. Surely there must be a Butterfly flapping it wings furiously in the Amazon rain forest to start a more favourable weather system.

Himalayan Balsam – it’s here and we don’t want it either although it is pretty

 

Mink – we’ve got a few of these as well.

 

Now I was at work recently and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get a computer system to do what it was meant to and it certainly didn’t want to play ball so I did what was the only thing practical. I shut everything down and went for an ice cream, a nice organic strawberry, yummy. This act of pure pleasure normally allows me to look anew at things and recalcitrant computers will often work when I am calmer but sadly my luck had run out. This was going to be a two ice cream problem (the world record is 4) – then the solution hit me – press this, click there, save as, enter and – oh well I really did fancy a third ice cream!!!!! The race was now on – would I get sick from irritation and frustration or the volume of the ever scrumptious ice cream. Alternatively would the computer survive being thrown out of the window – not a good idea but believe me it had it’s attractions. Something had to be done – a change of flavour might work and so there I was with a Banana ice cream feeling replete and cooler but the computer software had malice aforethought about it and completely denied me the desired end result. Now in these situations an element of user  error can be the cause – so check everything twice, click here, save there, click again and no it definitely shouldn’t do that, chocolate chip ice cream on top of strawberry and banana is not recommended. I didn’t think my stomach would take another flavour so I just shut everything down and walked away. Tomorrow, as they say, is another day and sure enough it worked first time when I returned to it. I think life’s a bit like that – the occasional retreat to take stock is really worth the effort. See you on Sunday ………..

Retirement, an even Keel?

Sometimes I get these black moods; I’ve talked of them before and I liken them to what Churchill called his “Black Dog”. I’m not comparing myself with Churchill you understand it’s just a term that I think perfectly explains the mood. So it is as I get worried about the event that will so shortly be with us – there’s very little I can do now to influence things one way or another and I know when it’s all over I will breathe a big sigh of relief and perhaps pop in to the pub for a pint of the real ale that the Albion is bringing to Coltishall brewed by Green Jack brewery. Now that is something I could look forward to as I do enjoy a pint occasionally although much less so than I used to before I was seriously ill in 2009. Peter Baker, Bruce, Susan, Rosemary, Haydn and Elaine et al have all worked so very hard to bring this to fruition so why do I worry; I guess it’s because that’s the way I am and there’s little I can really do now to change things. There is something you could do though and that is to volunteer to help us as we are a bit tight in that direction. We’ve just got enough people but we could always do with a few more to allow those that we have to take breaks and enjoy the event as well as work at it. Sadly, I was at a funeral the other day and by chance I met someone there from BNCT who expressed the hope that after the event we can all get on with what we were set-up to do and with great relief I can say resoundingly yes we will. Coltishall is about providing us with seed-corn finance as well as neatly rounding off the project that started in 2010 which gave birth to the Trust earlier this year. Full details of the event can be found here; and that is all I’m saying on the subject today.

A lovely day was had recently with Mrs W  on one of the rare dry and sunny days this summer when we’re both off work together. I should explain that we both still work and our attendance patterns in very different walks of life are often contradictory and awkward to allow any kind of ease of planning for trips out and the like. We went for a drive around Broadland and found ourselves at Womack Staithe where I investigated the possibility of hiring a boat for the day later in the season. I’m thinking of doing it from there as there are many good route options to be had in a days cruising range. I am really beginning to look forward to retirement even though, if I’m honest, I can’t really afford it especially if I am going to continue living the sort of lifestyle I enjoy. Actually I enjoy my work; I even find it exciting and challenging but there’s just so much one can take and the regular commute of a round 120 miles is getting to me. Mind you I spoke to somebody in the office today who started work in the late 1950’s when I was just 5 – that brought me up short I can tell you. I have some plans for my retirement but whether I can do them all will depend on a number of factors including in no particular order my health which is poor at the best of times, finances and actually taking the retirement plunge which ironically I can’t wait to do and, at the same time don’t want to do. Can you understand that because I’m not sure I do.

Just to prove me wrong a photograph of a pleasure wherry at Lammas – we think that this is the Victory and if we are right – she was based in Buxton.

These are not issues that the wherrymen would have wrestled with. Most would have worked until they dropped although I suspect, with no real evidence to base this on, that they were a healthy bunch. They worked incredibly hard as not only did they sail the boats virtually single-handed but they also hand loaded and unloaded their cargoes. Let’s just look at that fact for a minute – a wherry carrying 15 tons could do three round trips to Gt. Yarmouth in a week from Aylsham. The load would have been handled at each end and, providing there was a return load, I calculate that to be 90 tons shifted per week as well as the rigours of sailing such a large boat in restricted waters with low bridges. My ex-wife’s mother (rest her soul) used to say “they were men  in those days”; I never really knew how to take that but I charitably accepted that she was referring to the Lancastrian working class, mostly mining, background she came from. Well that’s a statement which is also true of the Norfolk working classes including our wherrymen. It was a good life though if you liked the countryside, the freedom of working almost alone and the lack of any supervision other than one’s own self imposed discipline. A toleration of the weather would also have helped and a set of warm clothes for the depths of winter. Yes, they were men in those days. We can but wonder what it was really like. The one thing I’m sure of though is that they were all characters as the life they led would have moulded that and given each a fund of stories to tell.

Of course the Navigation never saw much in the way of pleasure (or leisure as we’d call it now) traffic (see above); it was virtually all commercial cargo carrying by wherry although right at the start it is possible (just) that Norfolk Keels could also have been seen at least on the lower reaches. The Keel is a class of cargo carrying vessel seen on our inland waterways and coastal trade. The Norfolk Keels are all long gone save for a few sunken, sorry examples. They were a unique boat harking back to a time long ago and some say their design was actually Scandinavian and arrived with the Vikings; there is certainly a look of the long boat about them. They were certainly trading in medieval times and continued through to the 19th century when they were superseded by the wherry. There has been a Norfolk Keel Trust for very many years and I’m sure they wont mind me saying that it is a moribund organisation that has stalled in its plan to restore one of these boats. It is a sad fact that unless something is done positively we will never see one of these boats sail again. It is for this reason that I have decided to try and breathe some new life in to the Keel project. Personally I think the building of a replica, whilst very expensive, is more likely to achieve the desired result than raising a wreck of questionable quality and value; let sleeping Keels lie. I see this as part of my retirement project and will be actively gathering names and contact details to call a meeting before the years end. However let me assure you that my first love and priority will always be the Aylsham Navigation.

A copy of David Danes wonderful Norfolk Keel painting “Heading for Breydon Water” – one of the few images of a Norfolk Keel and he tells me that to paint it he had to go and view the only existing model in the Science Museum.

I hope to see you at the event where we might even get the chance for a chat. Bye for now.

Cargo to be carried on the Navigation for the first time in 100 years

As part of the wider event on August 26th 2012 (see earlier news items) to comemmorate the 100th anniversary of the Navigation’s closure due to the flood on that date in 1912 there will be a carriage of cargo along the Navigation’s route using canoes. The canoeists will be from the Buxton Sea Scouts and they will carry a token cargo to meet with the wherry Albion at Coltishall Common. The time table for this run is below and it would be greatly appreciated by the paddlers if people could turn out to cheer them on. Once they’ve passed why not make a day of it and travel on down to the main event by car or Bure Valley Railway. Parking is available at the Roy’s overspill car park in Hoveton or Rectory Road, Coltishall and a shuttle bus service operated by a 1959 coach will run from both locations to the event.

The Cargo tiumetable is -:

Set-up in Aylsham by 7.30 am at The Green @ Dunkirk Bridge, Aylsham. (alternative private access may be available and is awaiting confirmation)

Start: 8am

Burgh 9.30am

Brampton 9.45am

Oxnead 10am

Buxton Mill 11.30am-12.00 (picnic break)

Horstead Mill 2pm

Arrive Coltishall Green 2.30pm

THE EVENT – explained

The Coltishall event organised by BNCT but benefiting the Coltishall Commons Trust and the Norfolk Wherry Trust as well will take place on Lower Common, Coltishall between 12 noon and 5pm on Sunday 26th August 2012. This is 100 years to the day since the flood which caused navigation to cease and washed away most of the bridges. It also caused loss of life elsewhere in Norfolk and we should also pause to remember that fact.

There will be -:

  • The Albion, the last trading Wherry, which is actually coming up to the Common on the 25th and should come through Wroxham on her way there between 1300 & 14:00 (she’s aiming for low water at the Bridge which is at 13:39) – she is carrying a cargo of beer that will be on sale later in the Rising Sun pub.
  • Other historic boats such as the Houseboat Heather (also arriving on the 25th)
  • The Museum of the Broads
  • Exhibitions
  • Charity stalls
  • A stall selling the new book which is the definitive history of the Navigation – “Sail and Storm” (pre-publication copies available – formal publication is in Aylsham on 16th September).
  • Traditional English fête type games
  • Bouncy Castle
  • Tombola
  • Raffle
  • Food – including a Hog Roast, cakes and Ice Cream
  • Drink

The event is free to enter.

How to get there

  1. By Boat – you would be very welcome but there will be limited mooring.
  2. By Bus  – Sanders are running a Sunday Service on their normal routes to Coltishall from Norwich and North Walsham.
  3. By Car – car parking is limited in Coltishall but we will have a parking site on the Football field on Rectory Road. Interestingly you can also park at Hoveton opposite the Bure Valley Railway Station in the Roy’s overspill car park which they are kindly allowing us to use. Please see below for how you then get to the event itself. PLEASE PARK RESPONSIBLY.
  4. By Train – Greater Anglia Services to Hoveton and Wroxham and the Bure Valley Railway to their Wroxham Station (see below).

One of the innovations at our event is the use of a shuttle bus which we’re running from the Bure Valley Railway car park at WROXHAM to the EVENT and also the RECTORY ROAD CAR PARK. The timetable can be downloaded here. BNCT Bus Event Timetable flyer finalised

We will have to make a small charge for the use of the shuttle bus (adults £2 return from Wroxham, children £1 & £1 /50p each way to/from Rectory Road which is also walking distance.

If you are able to spare the day to help us out please let us know and also for more information please contact stu.wilson100@btinternet.com

Interesting Times

Blogging is fun and I have enjoyed the experience so far but once in a while we have to turn to the serious. I have been going on about our event in Coltishall for sometime and I don’t apologise for that as it is important as the seed-corn of our finances to do things on and around the river that will make a real difference. Therefore I will be giving further information to you later in this blog although the picture is now very nearly complete. Firstly though I want to address a few issues that we are really about.

I have spoken before about my newness to all this and the fact that I am on a steep learning curve so with the caveat that I’m bound to get some things wrong due to inexperience let me share with you some of my current understanding. This has really been triggered by a meeting I, and a couple of others, had with one of the local farming estates that include the river where we were talking about their stewardship. Firstly I must preface my remarks with the observation that the Bure between Aylsham and Coltishall is a man made river or, more accurately, a man altered river. Very little of the original remains, it is heavily canalised and engineered to support mills, drainage, flood relief and, yes, navigation. I mention this because there really is no natural environment left on the river; it is all man made and dominated. The purpose of BNCT is to conserve and preserve; we are, if you like, a friend to the river and we have to balance many competing interests.

There is for example the issue of access. This is important to us as we want to see a footpath all the way from Aylsham to Coltishall and we have talked about the right to responsible access for all. This includes sometimes competing groups such as walkers, canoeists, naturalists and anglers. All of these user groups have different requirements of the river environment and sometimes they are in opposition to one another. For example the fishermen like a quiet bank and the walkers like to walk along it. The canoeists like to launch and recover their canoes but in the process this causes damage to the bank which could ultimately threaten the footpath. We have to juggle these competing interests and, if we can, find compromises but I know that we are not going to be able to please all user groups  all of the time; it simply isn’t possible. So we must be even handed and as we progress in to the future we will need to find projects that protect the rights of these different groups without directly threatening those of others. An example, which is a personal view and not BNCT policy, is the provision of canoe slips at some strategic spots and then insist that launching and recovery can only take place from these locations. They might slightly scar the immediate location but they will protect the rest of the bank and everybody would know the rules which I would like to think would lead to self policing. Current difficulties come from the fact that there are no facilities but I have news for the landowners – whatever they say or do the walkers and canoeists are not going to go away; they must learn to accommodate them and we can help with that process. Another simple example would be the provision of litter bins (possibly sponsored) at strategic points. Litter is a problem along the river and everyone has a role in that. We have also talked about interpretation boards which should help all user groups understand the history, flora and fauna of the Bure Valley; we could combine these with a few seats along the way. Small, simple things that would make a big difference to people’s enjoyment of the river.

Oxnead pre-flood courtesy of the Norfolk Picture archive

The wider landscape is more difficult. We are about conservation but what is it that we want to actually conserve? Photos of the river in the Navigation’s day show a distinctly different river. For one thing it is industrial (in that it supported business as it’s reason d’etre) but is also wider and more open with fewer trees and more pasture. The width is because it was maintained albeit poorly towards the end. The pasture is more difficult as ancient woodlands in river valleys were cut by early man to create agricultural land use. You also have other responsibilities to consider in the mix and that is the wider rural economy and the rights of farmers to make a living from their land. Do we for example condemn the cutting of non-indigenous tree species which were originally planted as a cash crop but happen to visually look stunning. This was just the situation at Oxnead earlier this year. The removal of these trees had a big impact but it wasn’t universally condemned as some thought the opening up of the view, or a return to how it used to be, as an actual improvement. What vegetation replaces such trees is important and landowners do have a responsibility to ensure that such replacement is more in keeping with the wider environment than that which has been removed.

Oxnead in 2007 copyright Stu Wilson

It is a permanent balancing act between conflicting interests and we’re not always going to get it right. The key though is, to use that modern term, engagement. We need to be involved in the process as a consultee although we cannot take ownership as there will always be differing views. We are not landowners and probably never will be although I would favour fund-raising to buy parcels of riverside land should they come on the market but we should always try and think what we would do if the land was ours given all of the competing interest. We need to encourage stewardship in the interests of the river and its users but that must include at least acknowledging the effect on the rural economy.

I haven’t even mentioned the wildlife or invasive species of both flora and fauna. I will just say that we should, in my personal opinion, have a simple wildlife policy and that is to campaign and ensure that the environment on the river is the best that it can be to support the biggest variety of natural, indiginous species and to work hard to eliminate those that should not be there. It’s overly simplistic as there will always be complications like the Cormorants which I covered in an earlier blog which don’t belong and cause damage but, in my opinion, cannot readily be removed either. Mink, Himalayan Balsam and Knotweed now they are different matters.

It’s all enough to give me a headache.

THE EVENT – explained

The Coltishall event organised by BNCT but benefiting the Coltishall Commons Trust and the Norfolk Wherry Trust as well will take place on Lower Common, Coltishall between 12 noon and 5pm on Sunday 26th August 2012. This is 100 years to the day since the flood which caused navigation to cease and washed away most of the bridges. It also caused loss of life elsewhere in Norfolk and we should also pause to remember that fact.

There will be -:

  • The Albion, the last trading Wherry, which is actually coming up to the Common on the 25th and should come through Wroxham on her way there between 1300 & 14:00 (she’s aiming for low water at the Bridge which is at 13:39) – she is carrying a cargo of beer that will be on sale later in the Rising Sun pub.
  • Other historic boats such as the Houseboat Heather (also arriving on the 25th)
  • The Museum of the Broads
  • Exhibitions
  • Charity stalls
  • A stall selling the new book which is the definitive history of the Navigation – “Sail and Storm” (pre-publication copies available – formal publication is in Aylsham on 16th September).
  • Traditional English fête type games
  • Bouncy Castle
  • Tombola
  • Raffle
  • Food – including a Hog Roast, cakes and Ice Cream
  • Drink

The event is free to enter.

How to get there

  1. By Boat – you would be very welcome but there will be limited mooring.
  2. By Bus  – Sanders are running a Sunday Service on their normal routes to Coltishall from Norwich and North Walsham.
  3. By Car – car parking is limited in Coltishall but we will have a parking site on the Football field on Rectory Road. Interestingly you can also park at Hoveton opposite the Bure Valley Railway Station in the Roy’s overspill car park which they are kindly allowing us to use. Please see below for how you then get to the event itself. PLEASE PARK RESPONSIBLY.
  4. By Train – Greater Anglia Services to Hoveton and Wroxham and the Bure Valley Railway to their Wroxham Station (see below).

One of the innovations at our event is the use of a shuttle bus which we’re running from the Bure Valley Railway car park at WROXHAM to the EVENT and also the RECTORY ROAD CAR PARK. The timetable can be downloaded here. BNCT Bus Event Timetable flyer finalised

The bus we are using copyright John Moore and Spratts of Wreningham

We will have to make a small charge for the use of the shuttle bus (adults £2 return from Wroxham, children £1 & £1 /50p each way to/from Rectory Road which is also walking distance.

If you are able to spare the day to help us out please let us know and also for more information please contact stu.wilson100@btinternet.com

Phew, a marathon blog and on the new laptop as well which is now working as it should after some initial fun and games (see previous blog). The only trouble is that it has become a cat magnet so goodbye until the next time from me and also from kittyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Laptop, Maps and a farewell

This blog finds yours truly sat on a train blogging away to my hearts content. I suspect that needs some explanation so this is what’s happened in the last week. Firstly I purchased a new but relatively basic laptop to use in conjunction with my desktop and also for presentations etc. I also purchased an all singing and all dancing printer to use with this laptop which has the eco-advantage of printing on both sides. Can I link one to the other – can I as hell like. I came very close yesterday to throwing the printer through the window with the laptop a nano-second behind. My wife calmly and showing great common sense retreated to a safe distance lest I actually exploded.

On top of all that I have purchased a cheap and cheerful pay as you go dongle to use with the laptop. Now those of you that know North Norfolk’s mobile coverage will know that I am unlikely to be able to connect in Brampton and you would be right to think that. The signal is so poor that I cannot even register things online or top the dongle up. Add to all that the fact that my car is so far over its service date that I daren’t let it go any further without some care and attention by my friendly “little man” in North Walsham. So there I was at a loose end 12 miles from home also wife is at work and can’t pick me up yet. So I did what I thought was the clever thing of getting a day rover ticket on the Bittern line and here I am riding back and forth between Sheringham and Norwich until my cars ready. This ticket I have to tell you is good value at £8-50 for all day travel (there I go again advertising Greater Anglia when they wouldn’t even give us the time of day). An hour in the buffet at Norwich with half reasonable mobile internet access allowed me to register things, top up the dongle and most importantly if all download open office. Trouble is I’m now watching the battery life like a hawk. I’m also fascinated by the up and down of the internet connectivity – we are, perhaps, not quite the desert I first thought. 

A rare steam visitor to the Bittern Line – a perfect combination – copyright SW

The line from Norwich to Sheringham is, in my opinion, one of England’s finest and I’ve travelled nearly all the route mileage. It passes through Broadland serving Hoveton and Wroxham where if you are so minded you could also travel to on August 26th to visit our event at Coltishall. From here we are running a vintage coach service to the event site some 2 miles away for the very reasonable cost of £2 per adult head return. After leaving Hoveton and Wroxham the line progresses through wonderful North Norfolk’s non-flat rolling countryside to the coast at Cromer and then onward to Sheringham via West Runton which has to be in the top 5 list of well maintained and beautiful stations in the whole country, it is worth a visit for its own sake. Finally arriving at Sheringham which is a seaside resort full of charm and resplendent glory which is just as well because it’s Greater Anglia Station is an eyesore and blot on an otherwise fine town. Of course the real station is a short walk from this one and is the start of the North Norfolk Railway otherwise known as the Poppy line which is a preserved and mostly steam line running to Holt. 

So you know what I’m doing today but apart from threatening murder to my laptop and printer last evening I was also attending the Aylsham Evening WI. This fine body of ladies now in their 90th year of existence have been contributing to the Aylsham Navigation Project in a unique and long lasting way. They have made an illustrated embroidered map of the Navigation which will sit in the Aylsham Heritage centre apart from a few days a year when it will be available to BNCT and the Norfolk Wherry Trust for fund raising purposes. The map was originally drawn in the 1980’s by Mike Sparkes of the Wherry Trust and he was there last night looking as pleased as punch at the way his creation had been adapted into an embroidery. The embroidery was presented to Eileen Springall, chairman of Aylsham Town Council who accepted the gift on behalf of the town Council. This is a lasting testament that will outlive all concerned and will also help keep the memory of this, our waterway, alive. 

The embroidery with some of the ladies who made it

 

Talking of our waterway brings me to my final point at this time. We have lost a good friend to the river who for personal reasons has had to leave Buxton and return to London. I speak of Ashe Hurst whose knowledge and experience of river keeping and riparian wildlife was second to none. The circumstances of his going are not for this blog but I, for one, am sorry to see him go and I suspect that the Bure will be poorer without him. He is a quirky individual and I suspect he would admit himself that he is a great respecter of rules and order both for the sake of the river, its wildlife and human health and safety; this is a trait that from time to time caused some conflict but he was always well meaning. We wish him well and hope that one day he will feel able to come back and see us again.

 

FIRST PRIZE IN THE RAFFLE