Saturday, 29 May 2010

Pole star: the movie

NEXT time you’re walking the Wherryman’s Way, look out for a smallish, elegant boat called Pole Star. Inside you are likely to find Lorna and Richard Cracknell, a couple who love exploring the Yare from their home mooring at Brundall. So far so normal. But how many of the hundreds who do the same have had a song composed in their honour? Lorna and Richard’s daughter Liz has done just that. Don’t be put off by the mention of Beccles in the title, this is mostly a Yare love affair. Brundall Marina rhymes with “serener” and Reedham rhymes with freedom. WARNING: this song could make you want to sell the house and live on board for ever.

Wherryman’s Way in today’s EDP

JUST a quick line to say there’s more on my Wherryman’s Way book in today’s EDP – the Sunday section. I was asked to write a few words on how it all started and there are some super photos by the paper’s photographer Bill Smith.You’ll find an  online version here.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Do we need to save St Saviour’s?


INTERESTING news from one of my favourite spots on the entire Wherryman’s Way – St Saviour’s Church at Surlingham. St Saviour’s, you might recall, is a ruin, a very atmospheric ruin a few hundred yards away from the village’s other church St Mary the Virgin. Ted Ellis is buried there and so are a few other lucky people. Anyway today I learnt from long-time Surlingham resident Fred Morris, that there is a campaign to “Save St Saviour’s”. At first I needed some convincing that it needs saving. It’s pretty perfect just sitting there, I always find. But Fred says that there are concerns that the masonry is so brittle it really needs attention and that people could do with an information board. I guess he’s right. In any case, the campaign is at a very early stage. As yet there’s no money. But if you like your ruins raw and full of nettles, you might want to get along sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Ex libris E A Ellis

THE LIBRARY of Ted Ellis duly went under the hammer at Keys in Aylsham today. (For more on this eccentric Norfolk naturalist who made his home at Wheatfen Broad near Surlingham click here.) His collection of more than 2000 items – including sketches and much, much miscellania, raised almost £14000. It also, I’m told, attracted attention from all over the country. Some of the books went for hundreds of pounds, others for much less. Apparently the auction house was struck by how many non-collectors were there. It was as dozens of Ted fans turned up just wanting to take away something, anything, from the great man’s library.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A funky brew with just a hint of Bombay

WW Label 4 (2) DON’T you just love working with the experts? My book launch is a joint affair with the Humpty Dumpty brewery of Reedham. Their contribution is a Wherryman’s Way IPA to be launched at the same time. So what exactly is an IPA? I have to confess I didn’t really know until Humpty Dumpty partner Stephen George revealed all on his website this morning. Are you ready for a proper description from a man who knows his onions? Here goes:

“Wherryman's Way IPA is brewed in the American pale ale style, which pays homage to the original strong but light-in-colour English ales that made the journey from Burton-on-Trent to Bombay, with a combination of locally grown Maris Otter pale malt and caramel malt for a deep golden colour with a refreshing dry flavour.  Hopped with a combination of Target and Centennial hops and then dry-hopped in the cask with more Centennial and Simcoe hops, the beer is full of a funky citrus hop character like many of its cousins from across the pond.”

Funky citrus hops?…. Now I know it’s going to be a good bash.

* For all the details about the launch on June 6th see the side panel.

Friday, 21 May 2010

The scribblings of a much-loved naturalist


THE well-thumbed library of the naturalist Ted Ellis will go under the hammer next week. Many of the 2000 books come complete with his own scribblings. But as a well-written article in the EDP makes clear, this is only likely to add to their attraction at the auction in Aylsham on May 27th. I‘d love to make it along, as much for the people-watching as anything else. The county’s finest nature lovers will surely be out on patrol. Ted Ellis lived at Wheatfen Broad (pictured) – an isolated habitat which became a nature reserve under his careful stewardship. It lies between Surlingham and Rockland, off every beaten track bar one – the Wherryman’s Way. As the article makes clear – he was a protege of Arthur Patterson – the Great Yarmouth naturalist.  My favourite book of his is Wildfowlers and Poachers. Apparently there’s a copy of that book in the collection signed: “To Edward Ellis, deputy author who helped me in shaping sentences”. Beautifully put, don’t you think?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Thorpe St Andrew’s Swan Nester

swan super crop

A SWAN makes its nest on a semi-submerged boat just off Thorpe Old Reach. The old reach was the original course of the River Yare before the railway came to Norfolk in the 1840s – it’s the bit you see as you drive through Thorpe St Andrew. The new railway line from Norwich to Great Yarmouth bridged the river twice in less than a mile. And because the bridges were so low, engineers also dug out a “New Cut” to effectively give wherries a “Thorpe bypass”. That leaves an island in the middle – you see the other side of it if you walk along the banks at Whitlingham. Mother Swan has made her home within an even later bit of water, dug out during the height of the hire boat boom when many a Broads holiday started in Thorpe St Andrew. Hearts, Jenners and Wards were the big names here from the 1940s through – in part – to the 1990s. Now this vast basin within the island lies unused. Have a pint in the beer garden of the Town House pub to get a better view. Give or take an inquisitive canoeist with a camera, it should be a perfect place to bring up a young family.

Friday, 14 May 2010

St John the Baptist, Hellington

032 YOU know you’re seriously off the beaten track when the cow parsley in the church yard is almost as tall at the arches in the porch. This is St John the Baptist at Hellington, a hamlet near, well, near nowhere that anybody’s heard of really. It’s close to Carleton St Peter, which is close to Claxton in a soft underbelly of Wherryman’s Way land where a church appears around every corner – despite a lack of obvious communities nearby.  I often drive home along these lanes as a gentler alternative to the A146. The porch, incidentally, is the highlight of the church. It baffles the experts who can’t work out when it was built – estimates vary from medieval to Victorian  - though Simon Knott has come up with a customarily erudite solution to an architectural mystery. For more go to his excellent Norfolk churches website.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

New beginning for the Woods End


GOOD news from Bramerton. The Woods End pub is to re-open on Saturday. And given that this beautiful riverside pub features on the front page of my book …it hasn’t come a moment too soon! Good luck to new tenants Philip and Paula. This is a perfect “location” boozer at which to enjoy a quiet pint on the way home. I’ll do exactly that – and report back – next week. More on why it closed here.