Since moving to Norfolk in 2012, we have not seen much of The Broads. This large area of wetlands and man-made waterways is one of the best known features of the county, and serves as a great holiday destination for those with an interest in boating, fishing, and water-sports. It covers a very large area, and the tourism it attracts generates employment and income for small towns and villages nearby.
We have visited Wroxham before. This town has quite a few shops, waterside cafes and restaurants, and is the starting point for river cruises, boat hire, and many activities. We have also visited Salhouse broad, a small but attractive area, and some of the other broads closer to Norwich. I had received an e mail and texts from my cousin. He informed me that he was renting a house for a week, to enjoy a short holiday with his partner, and all their children. They live in a south London suburb, so this was going to be a change of scene for them. As they would only be thirty miles away, in Horning, he suggested that we come over to see them last Sunday. His brother and family would be coming, as well as some other relatives, who also happened to live in Norfolk. As I hadn’t seen my cousins for over two years, it was too good an opportunity to miss, and we agreed to join them for lunch, and to spend the day at the holiday house.
Despite some very slow traffic on the way there, we arrived as planned, and it was great to see everyone. The house was modern and attractive, and very well appointed. They also had a cruiser boat included in the package, which was moored against a jetty alongside the house. We didn’t get to go out on that, as they had just returned from their ‘maiden voyage’, but that was not our reason to visit, so was of no consequence. Besides, we had taken our dog, Ollie, and he has never been on a boat before! There is little garden around the house, as there is no need for it. A substantial area of decking provided a place for everyone to sit, with the water only inches away. It was a hot day, but the proximity to the water, and a breeze from the River Bure nearby, made it very pleasant indeed.
Once everyone had arrived, we were a party of ten adults, and six children, who ranged in age from three to fourteen. The house and jetty area was large enough to accommodate us all comfortably, and some of the youngsters spent time on the boat too. Inside the property, it was soon apparent that it had been well-designed. With some bedrooms downstairs, the large open-plan living area was on the first floor. This benefited from a full-length balcony overlooking the river, affording the best views, and attracting a welcome breeze. We could watch boats coming and going, and see the other holidaymakers in nearby properties fishing or relaxing on their jetty or platform. The whole village is dedicated to boating, and waterside properties for holidays. It was a place unlike anywhere else I have been here, with little or no land, save for access roads, and every house, pub, restaurant, or cafe directly fronting the water. There must be many places like this in Scandinavia, and all across the USA, but I have never seen them. For me, this was a magical place to spend the day.
It was really nice to be able to catch up with family after so long. Children never seen, now three years old, others seen as toddlers, now taller than me. New jobs, moves to different areas, new relationships; so much to find out, and to talk about. There was a lot of wallowing in nostalgia too. My cousins have now lost both their parents, and I am one of the few family members still around, that knew them both well. I was able to provide them with amusing or interesting stories of their parents before the boys were born, in times and places that they would have known little about. Despite being more than twenty years older than both cousins, the conversation flowed easily, and the bond of family love and friendship was immediately re-established. We all enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch, prepared by my cousin’s partner; which I ate in the fresh air, on the large balcony. Ollie was very well-behaved, as he usually is, and it was nice to see him excited by running up and down stairs, which we don’t have in Beetley. Everyone loved him, and enjoyed stroking him, and playing with him. It was not such a good place for dog-walking though. With almost no open areas of grass, and no woodland at all, he was restricted to grassy verges and quiet roads, for his walk that afternoon.
We took our leave reluctantly that evening, for the short drive home. It was an excellent afternoon, in warm and friendly company, at a great location. You can’t ask for much more from a sunny Sunday.