And so, the weekend of Matt’s stag do came to pass, and verily all participants drank, made merry and generally had a great time on the Norfolk Broads for a few days!
I must admit, when I first heard that Matt was having his stag do on a boat, on the Broads, I was somewhat sceptical but I’m pleased to report that it was indeed a great idea, helped in no small part by the fact that we had a designated driver with experience (well done uncle Tony!) meaning the rest of us could concentrate on the serious business of, well, drinking!
Having the whole day off and not having anything much to do other than get to the place where we were meeting, I hit the road at the time I’d normally leave for work. I hoped the early start would mean missing the normal chaos on a lot of the roads; it also meant I had plenty of time for the planned stops along the way.
Originally, on my way up to the kick-off point, I was supposed to be dropping by a mate’s house in Huntingdon, near Cambridge, but as I was making my way round the M25 he rang me to say that they were headed to the hospital [again] as his good lady was in the throws of some rather strong Braxton Hicks contractions. It was a shame as I’ve not seen Kev for more years than I care to mention but what can you do?
Having some spare time on my hands allowed me to afford myself a little stop off when I came to Lakenheath to see the place again as mum used to live there. I grabbed some breakfast from the Co-op and having scoffed down my steak slice I took a drive past mum’s old house. What I saw made me damn angry I can tell you!
Mum left Lakenheath to live in Knaresborough because she was hounded out by a spiteful neighbour who contacted the council over some cheap plastic edging mum put round a bush in the middle of her front garden. Supposedly this “contravened the covenant” in place for the first seven years of the property’s life, so to speak, regarding walls etc.
You can imagine how pissed off I was Friday morning when I drove past the old place to not only see the old plastic edging had been replaced by a bricked edging but – and here’s the bit that got me really mad – the neighbour now had a paved front parking spot with a massive wall protecting it!
I was livid when I saw this as I am in no doubt that all the stress over the council intervention and the move to Yorkshire had an effect on mum’s health. I’m not necessarily saying she’d be here still if it hadn’t happened but she might have had a bit more time.
Anyway, all that out of the way I headed off to my next stop: the Wolf Brewery to pick up some beer for Neil, Andy, Matt and I so that we could get the party started in the true, correct and right manner. I picked up just shy of 40 pints in mini-casks and was on the road again to Great Yarmouth.
I knew I would be there well before the 2:30pm boat pick up at Potter Heigham I thought I’d kill a few hours and chill out in Great Yarmouth for a while. Not 10 minutes after parking up did I realise that that was a bad idea as Great Yarmouth is/was tat-city and full of chavs…the place was awful! There was nothing I could do about it as I had time to waste so I took it on the chin, got some lunch and “enjoyed” my time as best I could.
I got to Potter Heigham early – I couldn’t stand being in Great Yarmouth any longer – parked up and grabbed a refreshing beer while I waited for the others to arrive. It wasn’t too long before Matt, Ian, Andy [Wild] and Craig turned up and off to the pub for another pint we went.
Shortly after that everyone else turned up, Ian sorted out the boat details and we got our stuff onboard, sorting out who was going to sleep where: Andy [Wild] and Craig at the back, sorry stern; Ian and Steve in a twin; Andy [Treacle] and Neil in the double; Tony and Sam in the final twin; Matt and I at the front on the sofas/beds.
Rooms sorted, beer stashed, life jackets collected [and summarily ignored for the entire trip!] the beer was cracked open and we were on our way making our way lazily toward Great Yarmouth, hoping that once the beer started to take effect nobody would end up in the water. More to the point, nobody would end up in the water with their life jacket on as we would be charged as they were the type that auto-inflated when they hit the water; now you see why they were stashed away, never to be used!?!
We weren’t on the water very long – about an hour tops – before we came across the first pub so we moored up and headed in for a few drinks and some food. The pub was the Lion Inn at Thurne and, initially, it seemed like a fine place to stop and spend our time getting thoroughly sloshed and play some pool, as they had multiple table including an L-shaped table – weird!
That was until we were all sat down for our food and the landlord – sorry “owner” – came over and complained about our swearing, to which we protested because we hadn’t been swearing. Okay, we may have been a little bit noisy but that was all and we were nothing if not having a good time. It’s funny because if you visit their site it clearly states “First and foremost we guarantee a friendly welcome”; clearly not in our case?!
It all got a little heated but then our food turned up and we got on with the job in hand of stuffing our faces.
Fed, we all headed back to the bar for more drinks and more pool until a band, i.e. two old boys with their keyboard and guitar, turned up to entertain the masses [read here “us and the other five people in the bar!”]. To be fair, although they were a little cheesey they put on a got turn and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, even with the ever watchful eye of the
landlord “owner” on us at all times.
I’m sure it must have grated the
landlord “owner” to see everyone else having such a good time with us, the life and soul of the pub that evening?! It probably didn’t help when Ian got up and played a few numbers while the old boys had a break – classic!
After the bar closed we made our way back to the boat with a few extra people we’d got talking to throughout the evening tagging along, and Ian and the chap who came back (sorry, can’t remember his name) seranaded us all with some more tunes on Ian’s guitar.
All in all it was a great start to the weekend’s events, even if we’d not travelled very far that afternoon!
The only problem with sleeping at the front of the boat was the fact that half of the curtains – the ones on the bigger windows – were missing. Add to this the fact that the boat was moored facing pretty much exactly due east so as soon as the sun came up I was awake. Doh!
I did my best to try and get more sleep but failed, eventually getting up and out in the fresh air around 7am. After sorting my head out – more preventative medicine to be fair – I thought I’d take a stroll up the riverside for a bit as there was no point just lying/sitting around waiting for the others to finally rise.
I grabbed my iPod and off I went, heading away from the pub along the path that runs down the side of the Broads, back towards Potter Heigham. It was so nice outside, and I was feeling rather spritely considering the amount of beer drunk the day before, I couldn’t help myself running. And so, on the first morning of Matt’s stag do I did a rather splendid, and not too strenuous, 4km run – mad or what?!
It felt great to be outdoors again, on a path in the middle of nowhere with nobody else around. I miss those days of last year 🙁
By the time I got back most of the guys were up and about and Steve was doing a sterling job at sorting out bacon sandwiches for everyone – cheers Steve!
Tony went off to pay the mooring charge and when he got back he said that the
landlord “owner” had let us off the charge!? Supposedly some of the other people in the pub, who had heard what had gone on, went and had a word with him in our defense, and as we were “a good bunch of lads” [his words!] he let us have the mooring for free. I don’t suppose it had anything to do with the fact that we put a lot of money over the bar the night before and kept everyone in good spirits all evening? No surely not?!!?!
After a quick check to make sure everyone was accounted for we headed off towards Great Yarmouth, the intended destination for the day.
I, followed very shortly after by Neil, kicked off the drinking for the day at the rather respectable hour of 9:40am! Well the sun was almost [pah!] over the yard arm…wasn’t it?!
The morning was spent lazily making our way down the Broads drinking, chatting and generally having a laugh. I say that but some of us took it a little easier than others, spending quite a lot of the morning catching up on more sleep – Andy [Wild]! I don’t know?!
Even though we weren’t rushing we hit Great Yarmouth before lunchtime and, knowing that the place was a hole after my experience on Friday, we decided to carry on up the Broads a bit further, stopping at the Berney Arms for some light refreshment.
After waiting a few minutes for them to open – they opened at midday – beer was ordered and more pool was played and Andy [Wild] and Craig started a rather more cerebral game of chess
It was a nice break from being on the boat but not particularly fancying eating there we got back on the boat and headed over to the Fisherman’s Inn at Burgh Castle Marina. It wasn’t a bad little place and we sat outside in the garden looking out over the river waiting for our food to arrive, which when it did was really nice and certainly filled a hole I can tell you!
Time getting on a bit we boarded and headed back to Great Yarmouth. As we made our way along we got stopped by a Broads Authority boat. We wondered what was going on but all he was doing was warning us that it was high tide and the clearance under the bridges might not be enough. He recommended we moor up for an hour and then try again so we headed back to the Berney Arms and did just that.
By the time we reached the bridges we made it under easily and it wasn’t long before we were moored up and everyone was getting ready for the evening out on the town.
Knowing that it was going to be a bit noisy in town I decided to hang back to make the call to the girls from the quiet of the boat, enjoying a couple more drinks while I waited of course. Neil waited with me and once I’d spoken to the girls we headed in to town to meet up with the others and wait for Dave to turn up too; he was driving up after work to join in the fun and games.
We met up with the others as they were finishing their fish suppers. When we got to the “restaurant” Neil went to use the loo but was told in no uncertain terms that the loo was for paying customers only – outrageous concidering eight of the group were just finishing up eating there. I said not too quietly that I was beginning to get hacked off with the “hospitality” of everyone in Norfolk and I guess someone must have heard as Neil was then allowed to use their toilet. Bloody ridiculous!
After that we headed to the front and had some drinks in a pub before heading back down the front so that some of the guys could have a go in the arcades.
Dave turned up a little while later, although we all got a little confused while directing him from “the pier” as there are, apparently, two piers in Great Yarmouth – who knew?! – and we initially sent him in completely the wrong direction to get to us. Doh! Sorry Dave 🙂
Arcades done we ended up in some dodgy bar, earlier enough so we didn’t have to pay to get in. The place was a hole but the drinks were passable so we stayed. I wish I could describe how tatty this place was but I can’t. All I can do is say that the toilets had holes in the walls with wires showing through, half a stud wall missing…need I go on?
Plenty of alcohol was consumed including a 10-shot jug of vodka and orange, just for Matt. Now that’s what I call a serious drink!
We all had a good laugh though but by the time 11:30pm came round my stomach was telling me that I needed food, having missed out on dinner earlier. I mentioned it to Neil to see if he was ready for some grub – which he was – so we headed off to find something to eat. Dave and Treacle came along too and soon we were diving into kebabs and meat and chips. It’d been a long time since I last had meat and chips but this was lovely and it was a huge portion. This was just what I needed!
After eating and watching some guy getting arrested on the sea front, we headed back to the boat for a couple more drinks before crashing out close to 1am. From what I was told the others got back around 3am but to be honest, I don’t remember hearing anything when they got back.
Sunday morning was a bit of a subdued affair – no run for me that morning! – but Steve again did a great job with the bacon sandwiches for everyone.
Everyone was clearly feeling the last couple of days and we took our time getting ourselves ready for casting off, finally setting off back toward Potter Heigham around 9:40am.
No more drinking for me unfortunately as I was driving home later in the day but Neil in true trooper fashion carried on seeing as he was getting a lift home by Treacle. He tried to coax Matt into drinking some more but I’m afraid to say he failed in his mission. To be fair he [Matt] did look a bit rough. Neil did however do a stand-up job at polishing off the remains of the last mini-cask – great job fella!
Other than a stop at a shop along the way for some stodge, most people opting for sausage rolls and pasties, we pretty much just headed for home.
It didn’t really take that long to get back and even though we had the boat until Monday morning the four guys who weren’t going home (Ian, Matt, Andy and Craig) decided that it would be easier to sort the boat out and head home like the rest of us. So, we moored up at the boat yard and got to sorting our stuff out around midday.
Andy and Craig had picked up some pizzas from the shop so while they cooked those the rest of us headed over to the Broadshaven Tavern for a final eat before getting cars loaded up and heading off. Again, the food was good and my plate of fish and chips (what else was I going to have?!) was excellent!
As Dave had jumped on board leaving his car in Great Yarmouth, I gave him a lift back once we’d left everyone else around 3pm. It didn’t take long to get there but we had a little bit of fun finding his car as he knew roughly where the car park was but not exactly! We found it without too much delay and soon I was homeward bound.
It wasn’t too bad a drive home and I was getting the car unloaded around 6:30pm. Amazingly, I managed to do all my washing and sort out all the photos from the weekend before finally giving up keeping my eyes open and heading off to bed, hoping for a good night’s sleep before work in the morning!
All in all it was a great weekend and I think it’s safe to say that everyone had a good time. Thanks to Tony again for helping out with the boat as I don’t think any of us would really have been up for the task, sober or otherwise!