Norfolk: The Broads : The final frontier

Gravel crunches on the drive as the three car cavalcade quietly disappears into the early morning mists surrounding Windsor. The first car pauses. A rear window purrs open and a beautiful woman’s face looks back to the house. “Don’t forget to tell him to feed the dogs and put the bleeding bin out!”.

The tall figure by the house nodds silently at the closing car window as it continues on down the drive. A young man’s voice could be heard drifting from the house. “Edwards. where’s my breakfast?” The tall figure turns replying “Apologies Master Henry-yoof, right away sir”…..

Three hours later in a nondescript village five miles north east of the provincial town of Norwich three dark windowed cars glide briskly through. Not stopping for the red lights, they turn un-noticed into a shaded marina and park up. The cars doors open and several heavy-set people, too quick for their size to be ordinary, spread out and start foraging.

The car window purrs down, the upper class face appears again. “Has one arrived?”

The Marina crew speak in muffled tones to the shadowy team as they start loading the boat.

Romany 2Named the Romany 2, it was once a sleek, smart looking white hulled boat. Now, twenty years later, it had lost much of its allure, but the unmistakable burble of powerful v8 engines indicated a high performance machine. The elegant lady is escorted aboard and, without a backward glance, goes below decks. Once the boat had been provisioned and the luggage stowed the mooring lines were quietly slipped and the boat glided away.

Chapter 2

I bet you never guessed… It’s only me. Heraldo! With Lady S and two other famillies. We’re on holiday! Ouch, sorry, just had a bit of feed back. Not holiday. Stupid me.

We’re on a heart reach, out hug mission. Wow! To seek out new civilisations, to boldly go where no wo-person has gone before…….. Our mission: to save poor people from their miserable existence and to convert them into her quasi-religious/post-apocalyptic/pro-earth/proto-lesbian sect. The lower levels of the sect, of course…

It was pleasing to note that Lady S’ entourage was more than happy for us to take the only 1st class cabin. But, to be fair, she would have comandeered it anyway. Lady BSM did make a small comment under her breath but was quickly ushered away by the others. After another hour of loading the prodigious quantities of food required to required to keep The Sexton, Master George and Master Johnny fed for a week, we finally departed.

I’m the good looking one on the left.

Driving the boat is wee Robbie, his little eyes bright with excitement as he quickly transfers his chauffeuring skills to a new medium. He bought the pirate hat himself without the approval of his lovely wife Lady Barton St. Mary. Big mistake. Obviously I had to keep a fairly close eye on him to start with…

When Robbie was taking his afternoon nap Penny, the vicar’s daughter, regularly took the wheel. It has proved an invaluable tool for her to work our her aggression – caused by her challenging social work role. Unfortunately this scared off many river craft who couldn’t afford the damage waiver insurance and – after one particular incident where a 10ft steel girder appeared from nowhere to ram us – gave most of her crew whiplash. Being stoic folk we didn’t say anything. We didn’t dare.

Yet more searchingWe spent most of the week trying to find suitable candidates for the cause, its amazing how much ground you can cover with the aid of a boat. But try as we might we couldn’t find anyone.

Village half-witsEventually we found a pair of local half-wits in a pub but, despite their obviously low iq’s, they mostly had all their own teeth so didn’t meet the definition.

That evening’s meal was a sombre affair. It’s silence was only broken by the Sexton gnawing away at a lamb leg and making a smacking sucking kind of noise on finding a juicy bit. It was clear from Lady S’ and Lady BSM’s body language that their was a problem. Raising your eyes to the ceiling then deeply sighing whilst rolling the head forward to look at the floor and dropping your shoulders can only mean one thing in anyone’s book.

‘Clearly, the quest is not working. Where are all the poor people?’ Lady S wrung her hands. ‘What is one to do about it?’

‘Oh fack it’ Lady BSM starts, ‘this is all bollocks, lets go down the pub and get pissed!’. Well you could have heard a pin drop. Realising the enormity of the consequences of her out burst were she not to nip it in the bud immediately. And not wanting to upset her old school friend, she blurted out ‘Oh! er.. why don’t you use my man instead? Get him to search up river with you, maybe you’ll find some recruits there?’. Which was a bit harsh on old Rob as he gave up his chauffering role way back when he married her. ‘We can stay in tonight if you prefer?’

‘Ok’, said Lady S reaching for the gin bottle, ‘But he’d better be bloody good! or I’m gonna get the hump!’ Fortunately he didn’t cause a scene as he was unaware of his fate that evening. Encumbered, as he was, with iTunes earbuds stuck in each ear and faintly humming to his latest drum and bass track he’d downloaded.

It wasn’t until the next morning that, on learning what was about to happen, he tried to make his escape. But to no avail.
Lady S saw him from the first class lounge. She jumped up and ran out on to the main deck. Reaching down, she grabbed a knapsack, tucked her bowie knife in her mouth, said, ‘don’t worry about me I maybe gone a while’ then jumped in! I looked up from a particularly interesting article in the Times, in part because water had splashed on it, and mumbled ‘oh, well take care then.’

exploring the tributariesBut she couldn’t hear me as she was climbing aboard the dinghy issuing instructions to the shocked Rob. As the pair disappeared around the corner it became clear to the remainder of the company we would have to fend for ourselves. Lady BSM called up from the galley ‘Champagne any one? …..Where’s Lady S?’

Three days later we heard the unmistakeable sound of oars slowly making their way to our boat. ‘Cooeee’ Lady S called out, ‘we’re back!’ Rob was ashen faced and appeared to have lost about three stone from all the rowing, but from the sounds of it their deeper exploration of the tributaries of the river Bure had paid off. ‘We’ve found some recruits’, Lady S cheerfully announced, ‘we can all relax now. I’m sending them their uniforms and welcome packs next week. Let’s have a pissup.’ And so we did. And the rest of our time on the Broads passed restfully and peacefully. Thank gawd.

With the mission over and the largely undamaged boat returned to it’s owners, and the remaining booze stowed in the boot of the Bentley, Lady S and I sat back into the Connolly leather as the car whisked us away. I glanced over at her. Incongruously she wearing her camouflage trousers and headband and khaki sleeveless vest, glistening in the early evening light. ‘Did you enjoy your trip to the Norfolk Broads darling?’ I asked. She looked back and smiled. With a winsome look she said, ‘Of course my dear, it’s the land of the dykes, why wouldn’t I be?’

Enuf said.

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