Friday, 24 May 2013

Surlingham Broad at Sunrise

Surlingham Broad by FJ

CONGRATULATIONS TO Fraser Johnston for winning a National Parks photography competition with this stunning photo of Surlingham Broad. I don’t know Fraser and I’m lifting the photo from the NP website. But I do know Surlingham Broad. It is always a special place. Fraser’s comments come from the same website:

"It's a beautiful memory of a beautiful winter's morning setting off in the canoe after camping the night before. The position the shot is taken from puts the viewer right in the action, taking the stern position in the canoe."

I’ve never been so intrepid as to camp nearby in the summer, let alone the winter. We’re all tempted now aren’t we?  In a word. Wow.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Hardley Mill: Rockley’s reflections

Hardley Mill 2013 RRockley
HAS Hardley Mill ever looked this good? This beautiful photo from Hardley Windmill Trust chairman Richard Rockley shows the big changes on the landward side of the mill. New drainage works here have changed the landscape quite dramatically. In Richard’s words: “at last it is possible to get the iconic ‘Broads mill reflected in water’ shot.”
Work continues apace on the Wherryman’s Way’s only working windmill. Of course the team have had the sails on for some time now, but it’s only this spring that the restored Appold turbine pump has begun working. In other words the windmill’s sails have actually been used to drain water for the first time since the mill’s demise, we think in 1947. At which point I love to quote Loddon octagenarian Cecil Nicholls (pictured above). He knows this stretch of the WW like the back of his hand and has a fantastic memory for the late 1940s:
“I got home about 4.30 and suddenly this storm started to brew up from nowhere,” he told me. “I’ve never seen thunder and lightning like it.”
“A little while later my father came back and said the mill’s sails had been wrenched off. The newspapers said they had been struck by lightning, but I think they were blown off.”
Whatever the precise cause, those particular sails would never turn again. The mill was quickly abandoned and later replaced by an electrical drainage pump.
Of course the real work of keeping these fields drained will continue to be done via electricity. But that doesn’t take away from the considerable engineering achievement on the ground. Or - for that matter – from the beauty of seeing a pukka windmill in the Yare Valley and knowing that it actually works.
* More from Hardley Windmill Trust’s own website here.
* Lots more on the mill from this blog’s archive here.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Surlingham: A facelift for St Mary’s


PREPARE for a warmer welcome at St Mary’s Surlingham in the months to come. To be honest, I’ve never had any other kind of welcome at this well-loved church directly on the Wherryman’s Way. But the parish has long felt that it hasn’t got good enough facilities to do the job properly.

Now lots of local fund-raising combined with a £38,000 grant means they’re preparing the ground for a £77,000 extension. That means a new kitchen and toilets plus disabled access to the building as a whole.

“Until now the church has been used in a limited way for community events,” said organiser Louise Swift.

“But the lack of facilities made it difficult.  When the building is finished several local groups plan to make greater use of the church and more concerts and exhibitions will be possible.  Sunday afternoon 'teas' on this part of the Wherryman’s Way are also a possibility!”

* More on this project at and click on “special interest”.

* Find out more about the Community Construction Fund here.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Roll up for the Rockland rollercoaster

Rockland New Inn from website

IF you’ve visited the Woods End pub at Bramerton recently you’ll know that it’s had a very smart facelift. Now it turns out that the man behind all that painting and decorating is about to re-open The New Inn at Rockland with his wife. And yes this one’s had a few quid spent on it too.

Andy and Gail Cadey have lived in Rockland for a few months. Seeing what was happening at the new look “Water’s Edge, Woods End” seems to have persuaded them to take the plunge a few miles down the Wherryman’s Way. Gail will be the boss, Andy will help out, but continue with the day job. And tomorrow is D-Day. The doors open at 7pm. Hold on tight as they become at least the fifth couple in three years to give the Rockland New Inn rollercoaster a whirl.

“We’ve spent a lot of money improving the interior,” Andy told me today. “It had an exterior facelift 18 months or so ago, but it was looking a bit tired inside.”

“We’ve improved the play area as well. We’ve made it secure, there’s only one way in and out now. We want to be a really good family-orientated pub where you can come and have a home-cooked meal. We’ve got a great chef too.”

For the moment the Cadeys aren’t on a lease. It’s a temporary deal with pub owners Punch to allow both sides to test the water. But the clear ambition is for the long term.

The bank holiday weekend is nearly upon us and the weather looks good. As ever guys, the very best of luck.

* See how wrong my prediction of a long lay-off was here.

“Water’s Edge, Woods End