Broads Getaway

My wife and I were given a lovely present of a getaway. We booked into the Sprowston Manor Hotel, Golf & Country Club and founded it a convenient base of operations to see that area of the Norfolk Broads. As can be expected, the hotel was decked out for Christmas and there were multiple festive trees and displays around the facility. As can be seen from the photos our room over looked the pool (a window in the hallway opposite the room gave a clear view. That said the heat and chlorine of the pool sis make that section of the corridor a bit hot and we needed to run a fan in the room to keep the temperature comfortable. The bed was a bit overly firm as well, but as a whole it was a pleasant stay.

We had dinner at hotel restaurant the first night, my wife having a large portion of pork belly and I the haddock and chips. Both were well cooked and tasty. Breakfast was the typical hotel buffet type with eggs, toast, mushrooms and the like. My wife found the bacon a bit on the crisp-side of British bacon, but breakfast was on the whole good on both days of our stay.

After breakfast on the first morning we set out for Ranworth Broad. It being winter, the boat hires and tours were suspended, but we had some nice views of the water and the ducks and geese. After having a look about we headed to Wroxham. I have always found the town amusing as it is dominated by a single company: Roy’s of Wroxham. The company bills itself as the world’s biggest village store, but in Wroxham itself it is a village that is a store. There is a Roy’s Department Store, Roy’s Toys, Roy’s Food Court, and even Roy’s out of town car parks and a Roy’s McDonalds.

On our second evening we had a very nice dinner at a Castle Carvery which I will review separately.

The Broads are quite busy in the summer-time and the roads at some places (Wroxham and Acles) can have jams. In the winter the area is much more quiet, and while many of the activities are not available, it is still a nice place to get away to.


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Visitor in the Night: Part Three

Norfolk Chronicle

D. I. Hardwick was incandescent in rage.  Somehow the press had gotten hold of the vampire angle. The tabloids were having a field-day with it, and the broadsheets were set on using the story to illustrate the shortcomings of Tory policing cuts.  In his mind, however, he was becoming a laughing stock, and surely the soon to be scapegoat if this case didn’t get a break.

Later that afternoon, Constable Williams brought him a brown envelope which had arrived by post.  In it was a handwritten note from a local author and historian.

“Dear Detective Inspector Hardwick,” the letter began.  “I am sure that the recent events are pressing upon your time, but I would like to forward you some documents for consideration.  The present spate of disappearances are not without precedence in the area.  You will see in the attached photocopies of the Norfolk Chronicle from 1888 that in that year five young women disappeared in South Walsham and Ranworth under similar circumstances.  It was only because of the notoriety of the Whitechapel Killings, that the Norfolk disappearances didn’t receive national attention.   Document Two is a transcribed account of  the disappearance of three young women who were in service in the Yarmouth Denes area near Yarmouth’s Naval Hospital in 1814.  It has long been believed that they had run away with men from the fleet, but as you can see from the testimony of a neighbouring housekeeper that one the missing girls, Agatha Brown, was seen wandering down the road towards the white windmill in only her shift, immediately before her disappearance.  I do trust these documents will provide you with some useful insights.  Sincerely C. Kemp.”

“More dazed women wandering off into the dark.  Just what I need,” Hardwick reflected.  He read a few of the circled newspaper accounts, and they did come across as frighteningly similar to his own case.  The 1814 document was harder to read owing to the handwriting, but it too seemed all too familiar.

There was another know on his door, and Sergeant Warby stuck his head around the door.  “Sir, Mrs. Murphy says she can’t be certain, but the umbrella she thinks is the same one Dunn had when she saw her.   Oh, we also had a call from the Southern Comfort folks over in Horning.  They found a red woman’s shoe caught in their paddle-wheel.  I sent Clover to fetch it.”

[To be continued]



Visitor in the Night: Part 1

Visitor in the Night: Part 2

[Thank you to my fellow blogger Crispina at Crimsonprose for graciously allowing me to include her in my tale.]


Waterways Getaway

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As the academic year looms, we headed out to make the most of what is left of the summer.  It was really two waterway stops in a single day, but one in which we could take in the natural beauty, and to just spend some time together.

Our first stop was the Norfolk Broads.  We went to “Roytown” or more accurately Wroxham and then on to Horning. Wroxham is the headquarters of Roy’s of Wroxham, a retail chain much like Walmart or Kmart in the States.  In Wroxham, however, Roy’s has a finger in every pie.  There is the retail outlet, but also eateries, and even a petrol station with the Roy’s branding.  We found the town very busy, so moved a little further afield to Horning.

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Ferry Inn Moorings

I have posted on the Broads and Horning before, about the Broads’ day cruise on the Southern Comfort. This time we stopped at the far side of the town at the Ferry Inn rather than our previous stop at the Swan Inn. The Ferry Inn has boat moorings for the Broads cruisers, and a fair amount of free parking for patrons. It offers outdoor seating overlooking the waterway, and it is pleasant to watch the boat traffic.

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Ferry Inn

The Inn also offers a daily carvery, and a fairly large selection of other meals.  We ordered at the bar, and were given a carvery ticket (semi buffet), and the the fish and chips were delivered to the table.  My wife had turkey, roast beef, and sausages, and their was a very wide assortment of veg.  She found the broccoli, and cauliflower cheese both to be more heavily on the stock side rather than florets; but the peas, carrots, and leeks were good. Sweet corn, parsnips, and roast potatoes, and much more were also on offer. The Yorkshire was also good, and gravy was available in a “boat” rather than by the single ladle.  I had fish and chips, which was a very generous portion, though the batter was a little over crisp.  It was served with a huge amount of tartar sauce as well.  All in all a good, but not remarkable meal.

Note that we started the meal outside, but the frequent visits by wasps drawn to our food, led us to seek a table inside.

After the meal we went back out to the waterfront to have a soft drink and watch the boats, before heading homeward. We stopped off en route at Thetford, for our second waterway.   We parked near The British Trust for Ornithology along the Little Ouse, by the Nun’s Bridge. We then had a pleasant walk along the river walk path.  There is a convenient foot bridge which has ramps and no stairs for wheelchair crossings, and the path itself is paved from the Nun’s Bridge towards Butten Island.

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Nun’s Bridge

Butten Island itself has the Maharaja Duleep Singh Memorial Statue on it. The Maharaja was the last ruler of the Punjab.  The monument reads in part, “In 1843 Maharajah Duleep Singh succeeded his father to the throne of the sovereign Sikh kingdom of Punjab. he was destined to be its last ruler. In 1849 following the closely fought Anglo-Sikh Wars the British annexed the Punjab. Duleep Singh was compelled to resign his sovereign rights and exiled. it was at this time that the Koh-i-Noor Diamond,
later to be incorporated into the crown jewels, passed to the British. Duleep Singh eventually came to Britain and settled at the Elveden Estate in Suffolk. He was a close favourite of Queen Victoria and became a prominent local figure in East Anglia.”

Thetford was in Anglo-Saxon times one of the main cities of England. It had several monasteries, and the nunnery which gives the bridge its name. The Grammar School claims a pre-Norman origin, and was the winter headquarters for King Edmund shortly before his death fighting the Danes in 870. The town itself was famously sacked by Danes in another campaign in 1004.

In 2018, however, Thetford is a relatively small town, and the riverside walk is a pace of tranquility.  We enjoyed stopping at the various benches and watching (as is our custom) the swans, ducks, and geese.  After our walk, it was on to home, but we well enjoyed our  waterways getaway.



An Afternoon of “Southern Comfort”


The Southern Comfort “Mississippi” Paddle Boat is a wonderful little touring vessel that plies the Norfolk Broads.  It sets out from The Swan Hotel in Horning and takes a leisurely journey through the Broads taking in the nature, bank-side life, and boating of the waterway. The main sights and history of the area are given a continuous commentary during this 1 1/2 to 2 hour tour.

The Broads are a series of rivers and man-made lakes in eastern Norfolk and northern Suffolk.  These waterways were formed when the peat cuttings (the natural material being used for fuel in Medieval Norwich) flooded over time.  They cover an area is 303 square kilometres, and have over 200 kilometres of navigable waterway.

This tour boat made an appearance as part of the setting of the 2015 film, 45 Years for which Charlotte Rampling received an Oscar nomination.

The Southern Comfort is a great way to take in the area from Horning, along the River Bure through the village and out to Ranworth Broad and back.  The boat accommodates about 100 or so passengers, with upper deck  seating for 68 passengers (with the best views), and  the lower deck has a  lounge that seats 46.


The reed beds, thatched houses, and river craft all make for some great photographs.

On the day we toured, the weather was perfect, and we received friendly greetings from the passing boats, and later had a light lunch at The Swan.