The target today is to get to Horsey for lunch at the Nelson Head, a favourite stopping point. The day dawned bright but misty and with virtually no wind. Looking across Hickling Broad the colours, being all light shades of grey blue changing almost by the minute were fascinating to see. Chris and Dave, our resident sketchers and painters were having a field day. By the time we were breakfasted and ready to depart a light wind had set in from the east again, the angle being just fine enough for us to set off from the end of the staithe.
The morning started with each leaving in turn and faily separated to start a gentle beat across the Broad as the wind was on teh nose. Each helm was seeking out every little puff and, despite disparate siling abilities and differing boat types, at the far end of the Broad, as usual, the “Hustler Magnet” had done its stuff and four of us were practically together as the sky began to brighten and the breeze fill in a bit.
As we negotiated White Slea we were joined by another, this time a beautiful white swan, who seemed to think that Tarn was a close kin, following our wake from the top of Hickling Broad right to Meadow Dyke.
We agreed to moor two boats up at the end of Meadow Dyke and take double quants on board the remainder. Whist we moored up Damian & Tim looped around until all was secure. The wind had sufficient South in it that we managed to negotiate Meadow Dyke without a tack or a quant, and so onto Horsey Mere, one of the quietest and most enjoyable sailing stretches. We noted reed cutters at work on the NW bank as we reached the mere.
As the staithe was dead downwind and we were only stopping for lunch we decided to moor the boats in the Broad and use the engine in “Tarn” to take us ashore. As Tarn was picking us up we were surprised to see a grass snake swimming up to inspect the goings on. Wriggling across the water with head held high. Alec, our resident wild life spotter, also reported seeing a pair of cranes and two marsh harriers exchanging gifts in mid flight.
As soon as we landed the bailiff one of the regular character we meet, with his wonderful Norfolk accent, was along to collect his mooring fees. We then set off past the picturesque mill and across the fields to the Nelson Head. The day was now warm, overcast and very humid but we were astonished to see a big red phone box outside the pub. It seems that this is the box that stood on the bit of grass by the main road and was being decommissioned by BT. On going inside we found that the pub was already quite busy and a big wood fire burning in the grate meant that everyone was hot there.
In the corner at the other end of the bar was a piano and Mike started tinkling the ivories with “The Entertainer” which received a good round of applause, and not just from us. He then kept us ‘entertained’ until lunch was served. The Wherry and the Nelsons Revenge beers were on top form as was the food. However, the piano could do with a tune up. It’s great to see such pubs doing well in the updated but still largely traditional way.
After lunch we walked back to the boats noting that the wind was still light, but had changed direction so we had a painless trip down Meadow Dyke as well. The overcast was darker and, as we set out for Somerton, intermittent light drizzle started. However, as we arrived at the mooring the drizzle had ceased so we were able to set up the awning in relative dry. Kettles on for afternoon tea and more of Eileen’s ‘fruit punch’ fruitcake.
There is plenty of bank for mooring at Somerton and, for some reason, motor cruisers do not seem to stay overnight. A shame for them as it is a quiet mooring with fabulously black skies that are excellent for stargazing.
It is also prone to haar, the cold fog blown in from the sea that drops visibility as fast as it drops the temperature. So an excellent time for some ‘on board’ hosting for a quick nip to reinforce us before the walk to the pub.
A short walk through the village brought us to the Lion. This is still in the hands of the same Landlord and his wife who had just taken over last year and seem to be slowly improving the place and the number of people using it. Food was standard ‘pub grub’ and the beer is still kept well. We were sad to head of the prior landlord who had been diagnosed with cancer and died within six months of giving up the pub. A quiet chap, he always kept an excellent cellar.
As we walked back to our bunks we noted that the haar had gone and the night was sparkly clear, but not cold.