Museum of the Broads, 2011
So much more than you might ever expect
In June 2011 we went on a group visit to the Museum of the Broads. A splendid evening - here's how it felt.
Of course, if you want to, there are lots of words to read - I read them all, as I always do. There are stacks of technical details for those who understand these things - how this boat was built, why that sort of sail was better than another, how to get under a low bridge or through shallow water and still have both a top and a bottom.
But did you know that there was a time when working boats were being strategically sunk at the same time as yards were slaving away building vessels they had never built before? Can you imagine a lifeboat appearing out of the blue suspended on a parachute? Yet again the truth was brought home to us - our part of Norfolk was once no rural idyll but was on the front line in the World War against the Nazis.
We also learned about the extremes of life on the Broads. You could admire the racing and luxury yachts of the rich, but then be brought up short as you squeezed yourself into the tiny living cabin of a working Norfolk wherry. Actually it was pleasant and thought provoking to sit on one of the two beds and imagine how snug it would have been with the coke stove alight - but then you weren’t trying to cope with the cooking and the umpteen children who lived with you in the same space.
There were examples of vessels reclaimed from the water and undergoing restoration by volunteers - perhaps the most important thing in the museum. And then there was that trip on the Falcon! Why, oh why, did anyone ever invent petrol and diesel engines? Go there, take a trip on this beautiful steam powered launch which glides so peacefully across the water and even keeps you warm if you sit in the right place. The distant thunder and the first few plops of rain only added to the unreality.