Page published 30 October 2011
This page was originally posted to my old blog. I took so many photographs for this entry that the text isn't in any way related to the nearby images, so either just look at the pictures and read the captions or ignore the pictures and just read the main text. You'll get confused otherwise!
The plan was that Diana and I would hire a canoe, join Elizabeth and Kevin on the water and then return for lunch at some suitable hostelry. So much for plans!
We've been spotted trying to hide behind a willow at the end of the path at Horstead
A close up, to prove that Elizabeth has a really happy expression on her face. From the still water, you'd never believe they feared having to cancel us at Hickling
The trouble is October is the end of the season and when I called my usual place I was told that they would not be open on a Sunday as they were now closed for the winter. A trawl around the alternatives only came up with two possibilities. "The Canoe Man" was more geared up for one way trips with, for us, unwanted mini-bus journeys. The other was based on Hickling Broad. I was assured that it would be OK, "but call to confirm when you've decided that you want to come".
That was understandable. I had been a little vague - deliberately. There was no point in getting soaking wet and we were talking about the last Sunday in October. So on the Thursday I called to say that we planned to go ahead. "Sorry! we're closed." came the response. I don't entirely blame them. Paying a man a man to be there all day for what experience told them, was likely to a couple of hours hire of a single canoe just wasn't business sense. Besides, I was told, "Given the forecast, it's likely that hire would be refused on the day anyway."
Kevin paddles hard for the ramp and manages to get almost all the way out without me having to pull him any further
Elizabeth prepares to return to the water on the upstream side of the lock
Meanwhile, Elizabeth had had almost as bad a time booking a place for lunch, but we did agree to join them at Coltishall, where I was to take some photographs as they returned from their exploratory paddle. Apparently there are lots of Kevin in their collection, but very few of Elizabeth, as she is the one normally taking the pictures.
Canoeing is a new venture for Elizabeth and Kevin. Diana and I would just have to be spectators, for this their first unaccompanied trip in their two newly purchased kayaks. The only previous voyage had been with "the club", we were told.
It wasn't sunny, but the autumn colours more than made up for that
Do you get the feeling that Elizabeth feels that this what was she was born to do?
Come the day and there's a plaintive call. The can't find where to get in the water at Horstead. I'm surprised by that, as I know that a canoeing club meets there regularly in the summer. Then "We can't get in the river at Coltishall". The bank's too steep it seems. I expected them to be able to get in at the small stream that enters the river near The Rising Sun, but that is all fenced off with orange netting, I'm told. They turn to "Plan C".
The final few yards downstream of Horstead Bridge. Now it's Kevin that seems to be taking it easy
Just so it can't be said that I only took pictures of the ladies!
I guess that "Plan C" will involve paddling upstream towards the mill at Horstead so suggest to Diana that we go there to get some photos of them. Sure enough, we've only been there five minutes when the pair come into view. To my untutored eye it's simple undramatic but confident paddling and they soon realise it's me on the bank pointing the camera at them.
I'm not sure if they found the portage ramps provided to help canoeist round the old lock at Horstead when they were at the mill earlier, but the plan now is to use them and carry on up the river for a spell. We help them round. It's easy pulling a canoe up the ramp to the point where neither need even get their feet wet.
At the other side Kevin goes in first. I push him straight down the ramp. not a good idea as things get a little rocky as he enters the water. We put Elizabeth's kayak on the ramp sidewards and push her off that way too. Both sides of the hull get supported that way, the lower side on the ramp being held up by the strips of wood running across the ramp. It's certainly a less precarious entrance into the river.
From there Diana and I walk to road bridge that joins Coltishall to Horstead, that I had understood was going to be closed, but the first call of the morning from Elizabeth had said that the re-surfacing work had been finished and it was open again. On the bridge I take my first videos both south and north of the bridge. I've always believed that video takes far much work to achieve something that's worth watching, but I've finally come round to accepting that short clips do have some merit - so I am now a YouTube uploader!
Having disappeared into the distance ELizabeth and Kevin return to pose - I mean to make final arrangements for when we are to meet them
This is the undignified bit", says Elizabeth as she prepares to emerge from her kayak
From there we leave the two of them to continue upstream and adjourn to the pub for an hour or so, making our way to where we were told they launched at the pre-arranged time - and get there not a moment too soon. Elizabeth is already beached as we arrive.
From there it's only moments back to the pub and lunch, a typically slow King's Head lunch. The serving staff only brought one small dish of vegetables, probably intended for two. I think they forgot to bring a second one. On Sundays they do seem to have many more youngster serving but, at the time, we seemed to be talking too much to find time to complain.
Disrobing! It takes time to get ready for lunch at the pub
The second of the canoes is secured on the car. After this, it's to the pub!
I'm looking forward to spring, when Diana now hopes to buy herself a canoe for the pair of us. I have promised to buy a sailing rig for it. I wonder if she remembers!