Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk’

Paddling into the New Year

Friday, January 8th, 2016

The end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 saw me out in my two-seater inflatable kayak twice within four days, both trips with my co-paddler Amy Woodyatt. The first was in some spectacularly un-December-like weather, starting on the outskirts of Norwich at the Rushcutters Arms on Thorpe Green, and paddling up the rivers Yare and Wensum into the city centre. I’ve done this trip a few times now, and I really like the fact that it’s totally different from my more common sorties out in the Broads. Once you get within the confines of the city, you have the proximity of buildings, and indeed the occasional interaction with people on the river bank. I also like the floating history lesson – you get to pass beneath several hundred years-worth of bridges crossing the River Wensum, from the medieval Bishops Bridge to Peter Jarrold’s Bridge, an ultra-modern pedestrian / cycleway which sweeps across the river in a curve with very little apparent in the way of support.

At the head of navigation is New Mills, where water comes gushing through sluices, providing the only white water in Norwich. It provided some amusement for a few moments as we had several goes at nosing into the turbulent waters, then allowing the kayak to be spat out of the mini-maelstrom. Our average paddling speed is usually around 2.5 mph, but for the first couple of hundred yards downstream from here, the current can whizz you along so quickly you get to break the 4 mph speed limit!

Our second excursion of the week was on New Year’s Day, launching from Catfield Dyke, paddling across Hickling Broad, along Deep Go Dyke and halfway through Heigham Sound before turning back. Not surprisingly, Europe’s largest wetland nature reserve was deserted. During the winter, the southern end of the broad is home to wintering wildfowl, so we stuck to the main navigation channel rather than meandering around the reedbeds and disturbing them. Paddling back across Hickling Broad, the wind decided to pick up, fortunately behind us. Just as we had with our journey back down the Wensum, it’s always nice when you get that extra helping hand!

AA updates

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The last month has seen me out and about with my walking boots on, updating a batch of walks for the AA’s book “50 walks in Norfolk”. I last updated Norfolk for AA Publishing just over five years ago, and while some of the walks I’m doing this time around are different from the previous exercise, some are the same ones. It’s been interesting to see where changes have taken place – in the most part, improvements such as better defined footpaths, new gates or stiles, and new signposts.

But such is the life of a walking writer having to fit in with the mysterious world of publishing deadlines, all the walks had to be done now in a fairly compressed timescale. So most of my days out have been in pretty grim weather, although I did get one day at Blakeney where the freezing fog lifted for a few hours, so I was out in the marshes in spectacular rosy sunlight. A few more days like that would have been rather nice.

As soon as the walking revisions are out of the way, I’ll still be keeping my fingers crossed for some good weather to make an appearance, as I have to do a lot more trips in my inflatable canoe before I start writing about the delights of paddling on the Broads.

Happy Bastille Day!

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Yesterday I did an hour and a quarter in the studio at BBC Radio Norfolk, on Graham Barnard and Karen Buchanan’s morning show. The plan was to celebrate France and all things French as it was July 14th – Bastille Day – and as their guest travel journalist, I was there to give listeners a quick tour around some of the places I’ve visited. They’d already made a start when I arrived, but I was amazed when Karen said to me off-mike “Hopefully your bit will lift things. You’ve no idea how many emails and texts we’ve received.”

It seems that even in sleepy Norfolk there is an undercurrent of rabid xenophobia. The most common comment was “Why should you be doing a programme devoted to the French? Would they do something similar on St George’s Day?” And of course the truth is they probably wouldn’t.

But it is fair to say that we have a large stake in what brought about Bastille Day – the French Revolution. Thomas Paine, the man who inspired it, was born and brought up in Norfolk. And while Spain has snuck in to pole position over recent years, France has traditionally been Britain’s most popular holiday destination.

So yes, I was delighted to celebrate France on a day when they would be celebrating themselves, and helping to remind listeners why it is we like going there for our holidays.