I woke that morning to blue sky and fluffy white clouds, a very welcome change from the grey of the previous day. I would like to say that I leapt out of bed eager to start the day, but with the bed being in the van and almost 4ft off the ground I can't leap anywhere without the risk of injury, so I got out normally as I always do, and once dressed I took the dogs for their first walk of the day. Next came breakfast, and with a plate of toast and mug of tea by my side I studied the map book to get some ideas of where to go. Only a few days previously a UKCS member had mentioned that Coltishall was a nice little place so I decided I would go there, and on the way I would make a stop at the Ferry Marina at Horning. So with the decision made I spent much of the morning pottering about round the awning and it was getting on for midday by the time I was ready for going out.
My route to Horning took me through Potter Heigham and though I was very tempted to make a stop at Latham's I resisted - I would call there on the way back instead. Now although I'd been to Horning several times before I'd never been to, or even seen, the Ferry Marina as it's not right in the actual village, so I had to trust my instincts to find it. The main 'A' road between Potter Heigham and Wroxham passes through the upper part of Horning (known as Upper Street) and as I drove along I came to a signpost on the left pointing down a side lane to Lower Street which I knew was the road passing through the village itself - and whoever thought of those two names didn't need much imagination! So I turned down the lane and followed it round, and down at the bottom was a sign pointing to the marina. Driving through a small enclave of cottages I came to a large gravel surfaced car park and a marina which was much bigger than I'd imagined. This wasn't just a small riverside backwater, it was a large purpose-built mooring place with a boat sales/hire place, holiday cottages and lodges, a fish bar, indoor pool and poolside coffee bar, hair and beauty salon and the Ferry Inn overlooking the River Bure. A nearby sign said the car park was for the use of patrons only, but as there didn't seem to be anywhere else to park I thought I'd better go in the coffee bar to justify being there. Finding a patch of shade under a nearby tree I parked up and went to see what delights the place had to offer.
The coffee bar was bright and modern with a small outdoor terrace and a dozen or so tables inside with a curved counter near the door, and was separated from the pool by floor-to-ceiling windows. I ordered and paid for a coffee and a slice of carrot cake then went to sit at a corner table and surveyed my surroundings. The pool was an adequate size and had a slight kidney shape to it; over the far side of it was a smaller matching shaped spa, and dotted round the poolside were several large plants in pots. The sun shining in through the outside windows cast patches of light across the pool and these were broken up into a cracked glaze effect by the movement of the water. All in all it was a very pleasant place to sit and indulge in coffee and cake and I would have been happy to stay for a while, but with the dogs still in the van I didn't want to linger too long.
With Sophie and Sugar on the lead I walked down the length of the marina to the riverside, arriving in the garden area of the Ferry Inn. A gravel towpath ran along between the garden and the river and in the garden itself several tables with bench seats were set out along the grass and the flagged area. At the far end of the garden a group of people were enjoying a drink and the river was a hive of activity with cruisers and day boats sailing past in both directions.
After walking along the towpath as far as I could go - which wasn't far because of the marina entrance - I made my way back to the van and set off for Coltishall. The village is on the River Bure a few miles north west of Wroxham and as I approached along the road I was quite taken by how nice the riverside was at that point. There was a wide and very pleasant grassy area between the road and the river which stretched for a couple of hundred yards to a pub/restaurant with pale yellow walls called the Rising Sun. Set back off the road and in front of the pub was a gravel surfaced car park so I pulled in there; there were cars parked down each side and a double row of cars down the middle and at first I didn't think I would get a space, but as I drove round one side a car pulled out from the other side so I was lucky enough to be able to drive straight into that space - which thwarted the driver of another car who thought he would sneak in the other way! The car park appeared to be free so clipping the leads on the dogs I locked the van and set off along the riverside.
Set on the grass to one side of the pub were eight or nine tables, every one of them occupied by people having either a meal or just a drink; boats were moored along the riverbank, and at the edge of the tall reeds on the other side of the river a rather scruffy-looking heron was stalking about looking for fish. Young couples strolled along hand-in-hand, a couple of families were having picnics on the grass and there was a border collie playing 'fetch' with a stick thrown by its owner. At one point the grassy area was split by a small narrow dyke off the river, with a couple of small yachts moored up and a private boathouse at the end. The whole area was really attractive and I was glad I'd taken the time to visit. Unfortunately though, while I had been walking round quite a lot of clouds had appeared and the sun was playing hide-and-seek, but I did manage to get a few reasonable photos before I made my way back to the van.
I drove back to California by a different route which took me through Stalham, and it was while I was driving along that road I saw a sign which jogged my memory. There was a certain place which I had been wanting to go to for a while but it was hard to find, not shown on the map book and technically wasn't accessible by road, but a diligent internet search a few months previously had given me the information I needed to get to it, and seeing the sign had just reminded me about it. It was too late in the afternoon to go then though and there was too much cloud cover for me to get the photos I would want so I made a mental note of where the sign was and that would be my mission on the next really sunny day. After stopping at Tesco in Stalham to get a few provisions I drove on through Potter Heigham, and though I didn't want coffee and cake I still stopped at Latham's for a look round. And I was quite surprised to see that since the last time I was there, in August last year, things had changed somewhat. Where the cafe area had been was now part of the much-enlarged clothing section, and what had been a separate fishing tackle shop at the front of the building had been opened up into the main store and was now a brand new cafe with bright modern tables and chairs and an outside seating area. Without actually going right into the cafe itself I didn't know if I would still be able to get coffee and cake, but I would certainly go back another time and find out.
After my look round Latham's I let the dogs out of the van, clipped on their leads and took them for a short walk along the riverside before I continued on to California. Back at my pitch I connected the awning up to the van, made a sandwich and a brew and spent a couple of hours watching a bit of tv and catching up with the posts on UKCS, then just as the daylight started fading I fed the dogs and took them for a final walk down to the beach and back before settling them and myself in the awning for the rest of the night.
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it