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Posted By Discussion Topic: Pre Christmas Shopping

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fidear45
Jan-08-2011 @ 5:59 PM                           Permalink
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Pre Christmas Shopping in Norwich staying at "Lound Cottage" in Hickling.

We left home in Belgium promptly at 17:00 heading at a very nice rate towards Rotterdam, light snow was falling and we were a little apprehensive as we had seen all the news coverage of the weather in the UK and thought should we or shouldn't we set off. Several factors we involved. The car has winter tyres, I grew up in the North West of England and know how to drive in snow, the car weighs over two tons, we didn't really care anyway we were going to enjoy it no matter what. That last one may have been the over- riding criterion.
We  arrived at the terminal at 19:00 after a very brief pause to be alcohol checked just before the terminal by the very efficient Dutch Police. It was quite amusing as the police officer went through his list of languages he spoke until he hit upon English. The ones we spoke (French and German) he didn't, which was quite funny. Eventually we settled on English and I duly blew into the little machine with gusto. Having not had a drink for over 24hrs I was perfectly happy to do so.
I must say that the little device took an age to beep and signal pass!!! Nearly ran out of puff there for a minute.  We were allowed on our way with a cheery wave by the very nice Dutch Policeman in a lovely furry hat and two minutes down the road we checked in and were immediately boarded onto Stena  Britanica.

For this crossing  we had decided to splash out and travel in style in the Captains Class cabin for the two of us and luxury doubles for the children, the added advantage is that both cabins have complementary mini bars and comfy double beds. So we swapped the alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages around and headed out to our pre-booked table in the very pleasant restaurant on board the Stena Britanica.

A slight delay to the meal as there was a huge wedding party in the general restaurant (go figure that one out) but we didn't care we were heading  towards our beloved Norfolk and some Christmas shopping.

After dinner we didn't tarry long as Fiona and I had four small bottles of sect chilling in the mini bar to look forward to, and the bar prices on board usually make our eyes water. In addition to which I had been working all day finishing off all those things you know you simply must do before leaving everything for two weeks, and I was dog tired and wanted to go lie down with some chilled wine and chill out myself.

We tucked the children into their beds in their cabin ten doors down from us at about ten pm, wished them a good night and left them to enjoy their adventure. Both teddies you may remember from the previous Holiday Tale were in attendance.
The children have stayed in hotel rooms separate from us before but never a cabin on a ship, and it was a huge adventure for them to be allowed to go to the teen zone on the ship and have their own keys, to their own cabin!!
With arrangements made for wake up and breakfast the following morning, the wake-up call being provided by Daddies Blackberry at 05:15, we retired to our lovely cabin, some chilled wine and a movie.

Departure was announced by the vibration of the ship and we were soon slipping down the estuary and out into the North Sea. A little lumpy is how I would describe the crossing but with the ship having been launched in Oct 2010 I was certain the modern stabilisers would do their job. They did and we slipped out into the North sea and into the land of nod with equal smoothness.

More to come when we reach Harwich and the outside Temperature is a stunningly cold minus 13 centigrade.


Life is too short

M&F

fidear45
Jan-09-2011 @ 2:06 PM                           Permalink
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Part Deux...
OK so you may have noticed this isn't strictly speaking a floating Broads holiday tale. But we did stay in Hickling (more later) and we did go to visit Malanka with her friends. For the photographically minded (Griff) see the thread "Malanka snuggled up with her friends" for the pictures. Anyway back to getting off Stena Britanica.
Despite the routine announcements for over half an hour every five  minutes asking the donkeys to please return to their vehicles as we are about to begin disembarkation, the usual laggards,  and cap & gloves (you know who I am talking about) folk that make up the donkey brigade amble down to the car decks in such a slow fashion as to delay the whole business by twenty or so minutes. Oh well we said we are on holiday and so we will relax and wait in the freezing cold car because we can't start the engine until we are ready to move and we can't move because the people in front (again) are nowhere to be seen. Finally the man with the cap appears with the remaining members of the herd, sorry family, trotting along behind bleating about this and that and then finding ample reasons to remove and re-orientate the assorted child seats in the hugely over filled and badly packed MPV still sitting immobile in front of us.
Cap and gloves smiles benignly at me as if to say we have all been here haven't we and I refuse to even curl my lip past a completely straight face, as the answer is no we haven't! We are responsible folks and got ourselves out of our beds when we were asked to do so.  
We are by now accustomed to this sort of thing but this does not place it into the category of less annoying  human behaviors. I remark to Mrs Fidear that I'm sure we will be seeing them again in the queue for immigration.
At last there is a break in the line and we are able to reverse our way out past cap and gloves and tentatively make our way out of the ship. In front of us is a very confused car with NL on the back who doesn't know his left from his right and so we steer a wide berth past the mobile chicane and head for the immigration booths. We are sitting outside now with the engine running watching the temperature gauge heading in  a southerly direction at a rapid rate. The forecast was for minus three and the temperature reading was already minus six and still decreasing.

Suddenly there is a flash of light in the side windows and a moments consternation as to what could possibly be approaching from that angle at such a pace. Yes the flash of light is cap and gloves completely lost and out of position at right angles to everyone else in the queue through the booths. We speculate on the current status of the Darwin awards but without a definitive answer.

Ok through the booths with a cheery wave to but not from the humorless creature checking the passports and we are free and clear straight through to the outside world.
The temperature gauge is now showing minus 8 and the roads sparkle in the pure white light of the xenon beams. Fortunately there are few cars on the road at 07:00 and so we can press on past some of the woefully under equipped and ill prepared drivers who are crawling along at 20mph.
We make it to the dual carriageway without using the brakes and move up to a steady 50mph and settle in for  quiet progress to Hickling and Lound Cottage. It is a stunning sunrise and Mrs Fidear and I enjoy absolutely breathtaking views of the countryside covered in a wonderful deep white coating of frost. The trees and hedges are sparkling and the air is crisp and clear to the horizon. A few wispy clouds add to the spectacular vista that is Norfolk in the winter. We are happy, we are here and everything is marvelous, all the children are of course  asleep and Justin's teddies are in place being cuddled (phew!!)

The A47 looms before us and is covered in a deep layer of frozen snow. How happy I am that we have a heavy vehicle,  good engine braking and winter tyres. We slow down and make a decision! Ice or snow? We choose snow and move out of the previous cars tracks and enter the world of the un used snow covered road. There is an immediate increase in traction and the car goes where it is pointed with a reassuringly steady feel on the wheel. There are startled glances from the drivers struggling for grip with their summer tyres on the frozen surface in the left lane, we can see their wheels spinning as they slide from side to side sawing frantically at the wheel to maintain a straight course. Once again I am happy we have winter tyres and am thankful for the past six years of driving with them in the winter.  

We make steady progress towards our goal and finally arrive at Acle bridge in glorious sunshine and a startling minus 13 (thirteen) reading on the temperature  gauge! We wake the sleeping beauties so they can share the stunning view. We decide to head straight to the cottage and meet up with Diane and Phil as soon as we can. The road to the cottage may be described as a rural back road and so had not seen hide nor hair of anything resembling grit of any sort. It was treacherous and also a whole lot of fun. As there are few cars passing the local wildlife is out in force and there are Rabbits, Pheasants, several species of Deer all wandering about searching for their winter sustenance on what is a very cold morning.
We follow the navigation with growing unease as this "road" does not seem to end and the snow is getting deeper and deeper, my trepidation level rises as we negotiate one more corner and there it is we have made it. Lound Cottage is before us and what a beauty it is.
The interweb pictures do not do it justice, the cottage nestles back from the road with a curving snow covered drive leading to the elegant front door. We decide not to spoil such a beautiful view with unseemly modern tyre tracks and so head down the side of the cottage to park in the rear. Waiting for us is Diane to show us what's what. Hugs, kisses and Best wishes for Christmas are exchanged and we head in to discover Lound Cottage our home for the next three days.


Life is too short

M&F

BroadAmbition
Jan-10-2011 @ 12:08 PM                           Permalink
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Nice tale, Thanks,


Griff

'Broad Ambition' - 'Dreams do come true' - Afloat at last 06-10-07

Forum Manly Swot 30-07-10

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readyabout
Jan-10-2011 @ 8:20 PM                           Permalink
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quote:"......We make steady progress towards our goal and finally arrive at Acle bridge in glorious sunshine and a startling minus 13 (thirteen) reading on the temperature  gauge!......."

Wow! I knew it was cold but I never realised it would get that cold! Just as well I had the boat properly winterised....

Regards,

Paul

fidear45
Jan-10-2011 @ 8:56 PM                           Permalink
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It was very very very dry too. The cold was penetrating but as it was so cold the feet never got even a little wet.
I spent a charitable half an hour helping old ladies with their trolleys in Roys car park too.
It was so cold we retired to the cafe for pie and chips with gravy after a short shop...

More to come.

The Castle shopping Centre Norwich...

Life is too short

M&F

goodfortune
Jan-10-2011 @ 12:12 AM                           Permalink
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Please bring it on Martin!  I haven't used snow tyres for years but one doesn't forget the skills. Reminds me of last Christmas in Scotland.  Twelve inches in Pitlochrie.

Lis   Smile

"Zero Club" on the quiz 12/09/10, 07/01/2011 - one a year, so far, so good

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