The power of the sun to transform England never ceases to amaze me. Stressed commuters become bouncy and bright eyed and could be mistaken for holiday makers, while streetscapes that are more often grey and soggy take on a new golden glow.
The trick to getting the most out of the glorious summer weather, as highly anticipated, short lived and ultimately sacred as it is, is to choose a location and activity worthy of such a momentous occasion as 30 degree heat in the UK.
London’s famous parks and the iconic British seaside are obvious choices but it goes without saying that at a hint of sunshine you can bet that the entire population will be quick to claim their stake of valuable turf within the city’s famous parks and any beach worth setting foot on.
So get out. Gather some friends and take a train to Norwich. Pack a picnic and a cool box, get to Wroxham, rent a couple of boats and get yourself out onto the Norfolk Broads. Captain’s hat is optional.
Cruising along the Norfolk Broads in the hot sun, at a maximum speed of 6 miles per hour, is a joyously British thing to do and one of the most relaxing yet memorable ways to while away a lazy summer day. The Norfolk Broads, to quote the literature, are the UK’s largest protected wetlands with 125 miles of navigable waterways that you are free to explore at your leisure (although if you are determined to explore them all you might need to rent a sleeper boat as you will probably need a few days!).
Along the way you’ll bump into moody swans, brazen ducks, plodding paddleboats, vintage sailboats, racing sailboats, pimped up speedboats itching to break the speed limit, thatched roof holiday homes, grand mansions, other sunburnt boaters, waterfront pubs and perfect picnic spots.
Oh, and my favourite feature of the Norfolk Broads – the ice cream boat. Such a brilliant idea. No annoying tinny Mr Whippy tunes, just cold creamy ice cream with a friendly greeting – and the perfect excuse to moor up and stretch your legs for a few minutes.
While the Captain’s hat might be optional, our Fijian themed dress was not. Our friends (and hosts – providers of much of the delicious, quickly demolished picnic you see above) Paul and Clare spent some time last year living and working in Fiji and came up with the inspired idea to dress the boys in loud but authentic Fijian shirts and the girls in custom made traditional blouses and skirts. It definitely added to the holiday vibe!
For about £250 we hired two boats that fit 18 people (including 3 children). These medium sized boats come with a toilet, sink with drinkable tap water, fridge and kettle. I highly recommend shelling out for these creature comforts – we did it last year too and with less of us, hired a small boat with no toilet, but stopping for pee breaks can be pretty complicated! And in the hot weather having drinking water on tap is always a good thing!
Once you’ve handed your keys back at the end of the day, kick back with a beer at one of the waterfront pubs in Wroxham or tuck into some fish and chips as the sun sets.
Cruising the Norfolk Broads has definitely been one of the highlights of my 2014 summer so far – thanks Paul and Clare for showing us such a great time!
For more on the Norfolk Broads visit: