Halcyon Blog

Now available for holidays

Published Mon, 24 May 2021

From 5 June 2021, Halcyon will be available for holiday bookings.

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50 things to do at Halcyon 33 - 41 Wheels of Industry and the Big City

Published Sun, 18 Oct 2020

Norfolk is a beautiful and diverse county, with a long coastline, the unique wetland environment of the Broads, market towns and the city of Norwich. Halcyon sits surrounded by nature reserves, the River Thurne and the Broads, which gives you something new to see every time you visit. We have spent much of our time watching the world go by on the river and seeing the seasons change. That’s not to say that you can only find the quiet of that natural world - there are plenty of different and diverse attractions within reach and here is a list of our favourites!

Wheels of Industry

  1. Visit Horsey Windpump. National Trust site with a restored windpump next to the Horsey nature reserve. There’s a kiosk for drinks and ice creams, not a tea room though. Horsey can be seen from Halcyon, it’s to the north east, and is the one with intact sails.

  1. Thurne Windpump is a working example of the industrial architecture of the Broads. Run by the same people as…

  1. The Wind Museum at Repps. This is the result of one man’s obsession with wind power. There are several wind mills, wind pumps and wind things. They offer events on key bank holidays or weekends through the year. It’s an interesting look into one of the most important resources in the formation of the Broads.

  1. The North Norfolk Railway from Holt to Sheringham. A preserved railway at the north side of the county. There are numerous steam railways in Norfolk but this had an excellent Christmas special with mince pies and mulled wine. Sheringham town is at one end of the journey and the trains are timetabled to allow for lunch and a wander round.

  1. Bure Valley Railway is a narrower option and a smaller deal all round. But it’s closer to Halcyon and a pleasant enough ride.

  1. Now, there are people who would love this sort of thing but it’s not really us. One cool summer’s day we needed to find a place to visit so headed to Caister Car Museum. It is a collection of cars - no interaction and a bit too much detail. But there were a few interesting exhibits, such as the first production fiesta, and the buildings were 1950s architecture. The place is staffed by volunteers who are knowledgeable and friendly and talking to them was the high point as they knew their stuff! The cafe is pretty poor but it’s a memorable part of the days out in the area.

  1. The Museum of the Broads at Stalham is a collection of items and stories that have made the Broads what they are. From earliest settlements and use of the land through the industrialisation to the holiday and leisure industries supported now. A wealth of history and recollection in a compact site on a staithe in Stalham. An enjoyable little place, staffed again by volunteers. Being a water-focussed museum, there are boat trips. On one day a week the trips are provided by Victorian steam launch! Booking advised.

Big City

  1. Visit Norwich. There is so much in the city to see and do. The shopping is pretty good - there are the usual high street big hitters as well as a local department store; Jarrolds. The Royal Arcade is an art nouveau deliciousness. For history buffs there is the castle, walls and the cathedral. The River Wensum circles the city and hints at the importance of the water traffic to the growth of trade.

  1. Just outside the city is Whitlingham Broad. This is a large, enclosed broad run as a country park by the County Council. There is an adventure centre running day courses or taster sessions in a number of land and water based activities. There’s also a good walk or cycle round the broad itself, with look outs and play areas. Just up the road is the dry ski slope. If you can get a tubing session from them then snap it up. The children had a brilliant time there.

50 things to do at Halcyon 42 - 50 In, Out and Out Out

Published Sun, 18 Oct 2020

Norfolk is a beautiful and diverse county, with a long coastline, the unique wetland environment of the Broads, market towns and the city of Norwich. Halcyon sits surrounded by nature reserves, the River Thurne and the Broads, which gives you something new to see every time you visit. We have spent much of our time watching the world go by on the river and seeing the seasons change. That’s not to say that you can only find the quiet of that natural world - there are plenty of different and diverse attractions within reach and here is a list of our favourites!

Days Out with the Kids

  1. There is one standout day out near Halcyon for the kids and that’s BeWilderWood. Based on a series of books by Tom Blofeld (local author related to Henry and the Bond villain), this is a wooden tree house, rope bridge and zip wire playground for children to lead their adults through. It is pricey and can be busy but it’s an enchanting full day out.

  1. Thrigby Wildlife Park is somewhere that we sent the children with Granny when we were doing some serious work on the house. They all had a good day! Thrigby Hall has a fine selection of exotic animals, including the red panda that isn’t panda shaped or coloured and is really quite cute.

Local Commerce

  1. Pubs! So many great pubs in the area that offer a wide range of dining and drinking experiences. The Fisherman’s Rest in Winterton has a newish extension to seat more people and also has its own ale on tap. The Nelson’s Head in Horsey, The Lion at Thurne, or the Lion at Somerton have all provided great meals and surroundings. There are also two pubs in Martham - the Victoria Inn and the King’s Arms. As licenses change hands the offerings do too so have a look round. But don’t cook - you’re on holiday!

  1. If you do cook, then Chapman’s Butchers in Martham has great quality meat. The butchery out the back is where the cuts are made and the sausages stuffed. The smokehouse can be seen in the garden to give the smokiest bacon in existence. The offcuts bag is a mix of smoked and unsmoked bacon pieces to give lovely flavour to dishes and are very reasonably priced. They also sell a selection of seasonal, local vegetables; eggs and spicy pickled onions.

  1. There is no place like Lathams - an emporium of everything. Located in Potter Heigham and with ample parking, no broadland trip is complete without a wander through clothing, food, household, pet, soft furnishings, ironmongery and garden centre. If you didn’t know you needed it then you’ll find it in Lathams! The shop has two halves on either side of the road. The larger multiverse on one side and opposite, the fishing shop, which seems to have a comprehensive and good quality stock including live bait.

On the doorstep

There’s no need to go far. Halcyon comes with its own set of things to do, albeit at the slower pace a holiday deserves..

  1. Go fishing in the Thurne. Go and get some bait and tackle from Lathams then sit on the side to catch the enormous pike that sometimes flop above the surface. Make sure you know how to humanely treat the fish caught and return them to the river for the next hook. The largest we have caught might have been over 7cm long! There are big fish in there but we have never troubled them.

  1. We love games as a family and the reduced amount of technology means that we get to play board games and pub games with incredible competition. Shove ha’penny and Bagatelle are both there to be enjoyed, as well as monopoly and others. The shove ha’penny board was from an old pub and is solid slate.

  1. Wave at the boats outside the sunroom. Either sit on the deck and watch them while the weather is fine, or sit in the sunroom if it’s a bit more English Summer. There are hired boats from the local boatyards either starting or finishing breaks, day boats from all around, and private boats moored at the parish staithe. Everyone loves to exchange waves.

  1. The very best and very last thing to do at Halcyon is to watch the sunset with a GnT. It doesn’t need to be a GnT, but a moment with a drink and the sunset has undoubted restorative powers. Cheers.

50 things to do at Halcyon 19 - 32 Watery Action and Walking on the Beaches

Published Sun, 18 Oct 2020

Norfolk is a beautiful and diverse county, with a long coastline, the unique wetland environment of the Broads, market towns and the city of Norwich. Halcyon sits surrounded by nature reserves, the River Thurne and the Broads, which gives you something new to see every time you visit. We have spent much of our time watching the world go by on the river and seeing the seasons change. That’s not to say that you can only find the quiet of that natural world - there are plenty of different and diverse attractions within reach and here is a list of our favourites!

Watery Action

We first saw the bungalows on the Thurne from a sailing boat called Coriander and totally fell in love with them. Having a house on the river gives the perfect opportunity to have fun on the water then hop into the house when the wind gets a bit high or the rain comes down. Lots of options include water, try all of them!

  1. Hire an electric day boat. Hickling Broad, Horsey Mere and Martham Broad are very close and beautiful nature reserves. The silence of the water calms to the bone and the electric boats don’t startle the wildlife the way diesel engines do.
  1. Hire canoes and paddle into the wind. A number of the yards will hire open canoes for 2 to 4 people, along with buoyancy aids. If you hire, it’s best to set off into the wind, if you can, because it is much harder on the way back!
  1. Stand Up Paddle boards are also available and a great option for beginners and experienced paddlers. There is even a board big enough for 8!
  1. Go on Ross’s Wildlife Boat Tours. Ross pilots the Lady Ann across Horsey Mere and out toward Hickling Broad. He has a huge knowledge of the history of the Broads, the maintenance of the reed beds and the work done to the area by the Broads Authority as well as the National Trust and the local landowners. His main point of expertise is the wildlife though, and he will point out all the bird and insect species that show themselves. Book ahead!
  1. Take a sailing lesson with Martham Boats. There are several places offering sailing tuition on the Broads and Hickling always has a great breeze across it. Outside Halcyon, the bungalows impact the wind direction and make the Thurne a tricky sail.

Walking on the Beaches

  1. The sort of place you want to keep secret but is too good to hide is Winterton beach. This is probably the nearest beach to Halcyon and is a place where we can spend whole days playing. The beach itself is a mix of shingle and sand so great for sandcastles, skimming stones, stone balancing, paddling, beach games and swimming.

  1. In the shed at Halcyon, there’s a shrimping net. Just push the net along sand in the shallows to get a bucket load of shrimp for a seaside tea. You cannot get fresher!

  1. Not just Winterton, but Horsey beach too, there are thousands of seals to see. Don’t go too close, they can be aggressive and stink; they can also leave their young if too agitated by human contact, We often see a seal head bobbing in the water whatever time of year but in spring there are hundreds of babies on the beach too.

  1. Behind the beach and reaching from Great Yarmouth to Sea Palling and beyond are dunes. In the Winterton dunes, you can find old look out stations from WWII and an array of plant and wildlife particular to the dune environment. We like it for kite flying. Look out, too, for the sweet, thatched cabins of Hermanus holiday resort.

  1. Winterton has an excellent beachside cafe; Dunes. It does a wonderful line of breakfast baguettes and has some great specials on the board usually. Hearty soups when it’s cold and delicious locally caught crab salads for the warmer days. Big cakes as well as drinks and ice creams. Even the dogs are looked after with lots of water bowls. Seating inside is limited but there’s a beach for take aways (take your rubbish, obviously). The cafe and the car park at Winterton work together to keep the toilets open so make good use of all the facilities!

  1. A little behind the beach, back towards Somerton, there are the ruins of a church. Turn right along Manor Farm Road and the ruins are on the left. This can also be found on the footpath back from Winterton. It’s a derelict and deconsecrated stone chapel, probably owned by the manor so something of a curiosity.

  1. It’s not all about Winterton! Head round the coast to West Runton to find fossilised sea creatures, maybe even a mammoth! There is a huge belemnite bed, rockpools and a beautiful beach. We found lots of anemones and tiny beach crabs in the pools as well as some fantastic conch shells. A soft cliff includes a seam of fossilised remains but the side is particularly unstable so looking but not touching is advised. The village of West Runton must be raging at the tiny roads to the cliff side parking but once there, it is spacious and reasonably priced. There is also a small cafe for beachside wares too.

  1. Another expanse of beach can be found in Gorleston, on the other side of the mouth of the River Yare from Great Yarmouth. The beach is beautiful and monitored by the coastguards so safe for swimming but the key attraction is the high harbour walls where families come with crab nets and chopped bacon to pull the pincered crustaceans from the sea. There is a simpler bucket shaped crab net where the shelled carnivores just walk in but the skill lies in the bagged traps where you need to pull them up the wall while they cling on. All too often they plop disappointingly back into the water.

  1. While there, the imposing Pier Hotel on the quayside is a top lunch spot. It is also where Danny Boyle called upon the people of Gorleston to party to the music of Himesh Patel in the BritCom, Yesterday.


50 things to do at Halcyon. 1 - 7 Walking and Wildlife

Published Sun, 18 Oct 2020

Norfolk is a beautiful and diverse county, with a long coastline, the unique wetland environment of the Broads, market towns and the city of Norwich. Halcyon sits surrounded by nature reserves, the River Thurne and the Broads, which gives you something new to see every time you visit. We have spent much of our time watching the world go by on the river and seeing the seasons change. That’s not to say that you can only find the quiet of that natural world - there are plenty of different and diverse attractions within reach and here is a list of our favourites!


  1. Watch the birds: from the sunroom in Halcyon, or the deck, there is a nature reserve opening up in front of you. We have seen and heard waterfowl such as geese, terns, cormorants and oyster catchers; raptors including marsh harriers and kestrels; owls; small birds such as sparrows, finches and those little birds dependent of the Broads plant life - reed warblers and marsh martins. You might even see the little kingfisher. Sit and watch and you won’t be disappointed.

  1. Feed the ducks: if the birds on Heigham Holmes won’t show themselves, a little bit of bread will bring the ducks and swans rushing. Punting cubes of bread in the air on a breezy day will attract the gulls.

  1. Watch the swallows picking the insects from the top of the water. Swallows are the ultimate circus birds; swooping and turning over the water on a still summer’s evening. Then at night, the bats might take their turn.

  1. Norfolk Wildlife Trust has a number of sites and our nearest is Hickling Broad, although they also monitor and maintain Martham Broad. The site at Hickling has a little visitor centre and a few hides to watch the birds. We went on a walk to see the raptors coming into roost at the lookout point near Stubb’s Mill. A knowledgeable guide took us through what we were likely to see then took us to point out the birds as they came down. Binoculars essential! There are also boat trips and circular walks around the reserve and a shop and coffee machine to warm you up..


  1. There is no vehicular access to the door of Halcyon. Take the path to the right as you leave and you can walk to Potter Heigham. You’ll see the Martham Boats yard where you could enquire about hiring canoes or sailboats for the day, or organise some sailing lessons. After that you continue along the Repps bank, past some fishing plots and bungalows. Then through a little sculpture park until you approach the medieval bridge.

  1. Similarly, turn left as you leave and follow the riverbank to walk to West Somerton, via Martham Broad. See what you can spot on the broad before ending up at the Somerton moorings. We have never seen these full - a perfect mooring spot.

  1. One source of walks is The National Trust, who own several places in the area. In Great Yarmouth there is an interesting walk showing some of the historic town story along the way. It should be noted that there is some poverty in Great Yarmouth and that is exposed by some of the route. The walk starts at The Elizabethan House museum, takes in the Time and Tide Museum and finishes at the imposing St Nicholas Church.

Many other walking routes are nearby, including the Norfolk Coast Path and the Weaver’s Way. Being map lovers means that we keep local OS explorer maps for guests to pour over.


50 things to do at Halcyon. 8 - 18 Great Yarmouth

Published Sun, 18 Oct 2020

Norfolk is a beautiful and diverse county, with a long coastline, the unique wetland environment of the Broads, market towns and the city of Norwich. Halcyon sits surrounded by nature reserves, the River Thurne and the Broads, which gives you something new to see every time you visit. We have spent much of our time watching the world go by on the river and seeing the seasons change. That’s not to say that you can only find the quiet of that natural world - there are plenty of different and diverse attractions within reach and here is a list of our favourites!

Great Yarmouth

The nearest significant town is Great Yarmouth. There is plenty for all the family here and we have
had many sunny days here, many cold days here and many in-between days here.
The beachfront is 5 miles long and sandy, with dunes at the northern end.

  1. The Elizabethan House Museum, mentioned as the starting point for the walk round the town, is a preserved merchant’s house belonging to The National Trust. It shows elements of the social and industrial history of Great Yarmouth and also has the most extraordinary stuffed squirrel tea party.

    Also on the quayside, close to the Elizabethan House museum is the Lydia Eva, the last surviving steam powered drifter of the herring fishing fleet. It doesn’t make the list because we have never visited, although it is rising up the places to go to now the museum sector is struggling more.

  1. The walk will take you to the Time and Tide Museum. This is the Norfolk County museum of life in Great Yarmouth, located in an old herring smokehouse. It’s a well laid out and interesting presentation of the herring trade that brought wealth to the town before the tourist trade brought holidaymakers. The onsite cafe served a delicious lunch when we went.

  1. Passing the Britannia Monument, dedicated to Nelson and sited in an industrial estate, head towards the east side of Great Yarmouth to find the Pleasure Beach where there are funfair rides, stalls and arcades. Dominating the place is the steel-clad, wooden roller coaster, or scenic railway, as it should be known. It’s quite rare in the world of coasters so get on board.

We have never spent long in the Pleasure Beach but day tickets are often available on GroupOn. If we did spend longer, bankruptcy from the Grand National game where you roll balls into slots to race horses along the track would be certain. If we do nothing else in Great Yarmouth, we need to beat each other in a horse race.

  1. Family based competition continues in the bowling alley on Wellington Pier. Numerous savings and deals are on offer and it’s a fun afternoon if the weather isn’t fabulous. Bar, cafe and snacks are on sale too.

  1. Following the front up from the Wellington Pier is the Winter Garden, worth looking at externally, and onwards to the Sealife Centre. Often a deal to be found by pre-booking, it’s an interesting encounter with the underwater world. The jellyfish are mesmerising and the giant turtle swims round the tropical ocean display where you can walk through the tunnel as the animals swim around.

  1. If the weather is favourable, the crazy golf course featuring piratical scenes is fun. Luckily, you can choose 9 or 18 holes, depending on your tenacity and the strength of the breeze.

  1. On the other side of the road are the golden lights of the amusement arcades. This isn’t Yar-Vegas by any means but the penny falls are tantalisingly close to paying out whenever you arrive. Little hint, hang around because sometimes the right floorboard will deliver 50p in coppers.

  1. Look behind the cheap facades to see what a Victorian resort town was like. Ornate brick built theatres and show palaces hint at the early wealth of the holiday industry. Yarmouth as a whole has architecture to match its varied history; as a fishing and commercial port, a naval hospital and later psychiatric facility, a holiday destination and now a centre for offshore wind power.

  1. As you keep heading north along the seafront, there is a visitor centre for the Scroby Sands Wind Farm. Eon has opened an information booth about the wind farm off the coast and its investment in renewables. An impressive array of 30 turbines are kept in view of the interactive displays that aim to educate about renewable energy.

  1. Going north again, there are the recently refurbished Venetian Waterways and gardens. Owned by the borough council, these grade II listed canals were dug by the unemployed in the 1920s to fill the space created after the construction of the new sea walls. The channels were dug out of sand then developed into an attraction including gondolas, illuminations and even ice skating in the winter. Only once has it been cold enough for the waters to freeze while we have been here and the risk assessment said no skating then! The gardens and waterways are free to roam around, there is a cafe and a coffee hut, and boats can be hired on the boating lake.

  1. That’s the end of the seafront highlights but continue back towards Caister and you pass the racecourse, with it’s stabling and gates. All very exciting no doubt, but carry on to the Greyhound and Stock Car Race course. Banger racing is seriously exciting and a fantastic evening out. We particularly favour the caravan demolition derby nights, held regularly through the summer. Who knew that there were so many caravans that needed destroying! Get there early, pay the parking charge for the field next door and grab an indoor space near the long bar and the food kiosk. A proper family entertainment. We haven’t been to the greyhound racing but it seems equally popular.


Rare Visitor

Published Sat, 03 Oct 2020

Yes it is a seal and no I do not know what it was doing on our lawn. I'm guessing it was lost and asking for directions.



Published Wed, 25 Oct 2017 In 2012 we were looking for a small runabout boat to use from our house on the Norfolk Broads (Halcyon). Looking around on line, we came across a small wooden motor boat for sale in Caversham that seem to meet our requirements. It immediately thought what a great boat design and bought her.

We moved her to Norfolk and she sat in our mooring.
We used her to travel up and down the broads, mostly from Martham to Potter Heigham and was admired everywhere she went.
style='clear: both; text-align: left;'>
style='clear: both; text-align: left;'>She also regularly took us to The Pleasure Boat Inn across Hickling broad and we jerry-rigged navigation lights so the children could drive us back in the dark.

All seemed well for several years, we knew the the ply on the deck was needing attention, but she was running well.

Then I noticed that there was active woodworm in the bow. I attempted some remedial treatment and started looking for help in getting here back to ship shape.

A bit of history: Waterhen has a small plaque on her dashboard stating that she was shown at the Olympia Boat Show in 1954/55. This was the first London Boat Show and shared Olympia with a circus. The boat show was separated by a heavy canvas curtain from the elephants.

This is the advert for Waterhen that was placed in the boat show. It cost £215 without engine at a time when the average house cost £1,800, so it was not cheap.

We don' know a great amount about the Harland Motor Company. It ceased trading in the 1970's.
We purchased Waterhen from someone who made wooden bathing platforms for boats, and he said he bought it from a couple who were travel writers who lived on a narrow boat and used Waterhen as a tender.

When it came to finding somewhere to get the boat repaired, we approached several boat yards but did not feel that they were either interested or competent to do the kind of job that this old boat deserved. Then we found a wooden boat for sale that had been restored at the IBTC (International Boatbuilding Training College) . On further investigation we found out they would take some projects on for students to work on. We offered Waterhen and they accepted her.

Here is Waterhen in October 2017. The deck and interior have been stripped out and several hull planks are in the process of being replaced. The keel has been replaced and transom needs to be replaced as does the deck. The hull planks are Canadian spruce.

The current guestimate is that she will be back in the water in two years time.


Time Goes By

Published Sat, 31 May 2014
I've tried out a new software toy on my Android phone, Droid Timelapse Pro. This is a short video generated over the course of an afternoon. If only I had cleaned the windows first and left it a little longer.
Next time I will try and set it up for a full day and night.

We did get some work done as well. The final floor went down in the sun room. No more laminate flooring left to do, so now it is ready for skirting boards.
The two sheds got another coat of green paint on two sides. As it is late spring, the other two sides have birds nesting. On the left, the empty shed has been taken over by swallows. On the right, a family of coal tits have moved in to the nest boxes.
We have made a start to the landscaping of the garden on the south side and made the first of several planters that will be in front of the deck, possibly planted with alliums.

The electricians will be in soon to finish wiring the kitchen, outside lights and bathroom.

Return of the Swallows

Published Fri, 09 May 2014 This time we were only at Halcyon for a weekend, leaving on Friday after work and arriving late. The plan was to complete some of the tasks left over from the previous week long visit.

This first thing I noticed on getting out to start work the next day was how noisy it was. The swallows had returned and were busy chattering away at the top of their voices. It soon became apparent they had set up home again in one of our old sheds as they swept in and out.

Task one was to purchase all of the wood required to complete the deck on the south side. This I purchased from Alpine Wood in Scratby at a very good price, much less than you would pay from a DIY store.

It did not take long to finish off the last few deck planks and the trim planks around the edge, then it was on to complete the cladding. I had been putting this off as one piece of wood that needed to be removed was proving very stubborn. I attacked it with a jig saw and a crow bar I call the persuader and this did the job.
Once removed, the cladding went up without much trouble.

Meanwhile, Helen had started painting our largest and most useful shed green. Having sanded it, she applied the first coat to one side. It will look very smart once two coats have been applied to each side and the roof has been cleaned up.

Once I had finished cladding and decking, I started to work on the finish of the cladding. Each of the windows, doors and corners need new frame edging to hide the ends of the cladding. I was expecting there to be quite a bit of cladding left over for me to make these elements up with but. for once, we seem to have bought just about the right amount. Using my table saw, I attempted to make as many elements as possible from what we had left, but may need to source a few more pieces which is a real pain.

Our next trip will again only be for a weekend and I think our target will be to work on the south garden. We have a few ideas of what we want it to look like including a boules area.


It All Starts Coming Together

Published Tue, 22 Apr 2014
Having just spent a very pleasant week in Halcyon I thought this would be a good point to look back at what the house looked like before the latest changes and where it is now. Firstly, this is how the south side of Halcyon looked last year. The remains of the old kitchen were lying around with other detritus that we had removed.

Most of the rubbish has been sent off in a skip and my friend Rafe helped lay a new deck which we almost completed in a day, only stopping because we had run out of wood.

Next is the bathroom which has been more than doubled in size.

The toilet and sink have been moved

and now a new roof has been fitted and the walls re-clad ready to be tiled.

The kitchen started out as just this unit, a couple of wall cupboards and a cooker.

we took down the wall between kitchen and living room to make an open plan space

and with the help of IKEA have a new fitted kitchen with integral cooker, hob, dish washer, fridge and sink.


A new blog

Published Fri, 30 Aug 2013 Halcyon now has another blog specifically for wildlife seen when visiting. You can view it here.
This blog will continue to cover the work done to get Halcyon ready to share with visitors and the blog http://halcyondaysout.blogspot.co.uk/ will continue to cover places we have visited.

The Flags Are Back

Published Wed, 28 Aug 2013 This trip was for a long weekend and to be more fun than the last week of bathroom bashing and toilet plumbing. The new concrete had set and the floor had dried.
Even with it being a fun weekend there were still several jobs to complete:

The underfloor heating worked well. Theo really liked the touch control display and regularly came to tell me what the temperature was. He was a bit disappointed that his feet were only half warm when sitting on the toilet.
The blinds went up a dream. IKEA really have instructions sorted.
The camera wiring failed as I had purchased the wrong spec power cable and they could not draw enough current. Better luck next time.
Waterhen got a well needed wash, although she still needs to be treated for woodworm and her varnish patched. The water level seemed very high, leaving little of our slipway left dry to haul her onto.
The cladding went up that was required before the flagpole could be raised. Once up Helen and Sephy chose lots of flags to put up. The pole has 6 minor flag lines and one major flag line. It is a tradition that was started by the previous owner, Robin, who would raise flags for the nationalities of the people sailing by. Thanks to this, we have an extensive set of national flags from Japan to Australia, Greece to Canada.

We made the obligatory trip to Potter Heigham for breakfast, and the boys bought tackle and bait, about a pint of maggots in various colours. Over the period of the weekend, they each caught four fish and were very happy. Not so sure about the fish.

We had several trips out which are covered in Helen's blog Halcyon Days Out which I will link to when the entries are ready.


A toilet named Niagara

Published Mon, 19 Aug 2013 I had forgotten how long it takes to strip out the walls of a room. Progress was slow, not helped by arriving to a flooded house and some deliveries needing to be chased when they failed to materialize. As the roof did not turn up until late in the week, we had decided to only prepare the walls up to about half their height.

I feel I should start with a couple of shots of the bathroom as it was when we bought the house.

There was just room for a toilet, shower tray and sink, but not enough room for a person. We have knocked through into another part of the house and extended it to fit a sink, bath, shower and toilet with room for some people as well.

Once stripped back it looked a lot bigger. Well it is a lot bigger, and it will be a lot brighter as we will have a translucent roof to give natural light.

The now standard procedure was followed, sheep wool insulation up first followed by a layer of interior wrap. This time we went with an exterior OSB board interior wall as this will be the bathroom and get damp.

Helen and I then worked late ( until about 1am ! ) laying heated floor cables and pouring a new concrete screed floor. Helen was on mixing duty and I was on pouring duty. I think I got the better deal. We were using a drill with attachment to mix the concrete up in batches. It got so hot that it started to smoke and may not recover.

By the next morning is was set and looked a lot better. The next task was to fit a new toilet and sink. The little wooden stopper in the floor is protecting the water outlet from filling with concrete.

The next task was to add a new macerating toilet and a new sink. I took the easy option and decided to do all of the plumbing using push-fit fittings and plastic pipe. Waste pipes are in solvent bonded plastic.

The toilet has a hidden cistern and macerator that will be behind a false wall and a waste pipe that goes up and out like something from a Dr Zeus book (macerator pipes should not turn at right angles as this can cause blockages). Clearly they are not hidden yet, but they will be soon. I have decided to name the toilet Niagara as it flushes like the great water fall and makes a garrra sound as the macerator does its work.
I did ask my son Theo to name it but he wanted to call it after his brother Alex. I di not feel that was to be encouraged.

The sink is in place and plumbed into the supply, but does not have it's waste pipe fitted. I'm not sure this industrial look is what IKEA's designers had in mind.

That is where our week ended, but we will be back up next weekend, although I am told this time it is for a holiday and Helen never wants to mix any concrete again in her life.

Light and hammer.

Published Sun, 11 Aug 2013

Waterhen has new navigation lights. It took quite a while to complete but now we can go out after dark and be seen. Helen spent some time painting the flag pole and I made a start on stripping the bathroom with a hammer. Its taking longer than expected but it always does.


The great flood

Published Sat, 10 Aug 2013 At Halcyon for a weeks 'summer holiday' which will mostly be spent re-plumbing and fitting a new toilet. We arrived at midnight on Friday to find the temporary plumbing to the old sink had burst (probably several weeks before !) and one of the rooms was about 2cm deep in water. It took most of the morning getting the house back to normal. There will be a lot of heaters on and the dehumidifier trying to dry it all out.
We don't have long as lots of orders like the Kitchen, bathroom roof and the heated floor will be delivered on Tuesday with the wood flooring arriving on the Thursday. It could be worse and have burst once the new floor and Kitchen were fitted.


Published Sun, 28 Jul 2013 Today we made a trip to IKEA. Halcyon is almost ready for a new kitchen. Having selected the style and colour for our kitchen, we sat down with an IKEA member of staff and designed the new kitchen. Once designed we bought the whole thing, cabinets, work surfaces and appliances in one go.
Let's see how I get on with installing it. I wonder if it will look like this ?

A Packed Weekend

Published Sun, 30 Jun 2013 Just back from a packed long weekend taking in an extra Friday as the children had an inset day.
The long awaited deck wood arrived on the Friday. The North deck is almost complete. It would have been finished if it had not rained on Friday afternoon, but I used the time well clearing the bathroom and taking down an internal wall.

Rails, steps and netting and a bit of new planting including strawberries and thyme. The rails have little lights inside them for that magical look when it gets dark.

We had a nice run out in Waterhen to a pub for tea on the Saturday, however on the Sunday Waterhen had to be pulled up our slip to treat some woodworm in her bow. On investigation it look like it is just on the outside and may be quite old as there was no fresh sawdust. I sent Alex in for a look. He is just the right size :-)

Anyway, all treated and back in the water now.

Here is a view of the North side taken from Waterhen as we headed out. It was too dark for a photo on the way back. Ooops!

The South side of the property is now cleared ready for the next deck to be laid.


A Long Weekend in May

Published Thu, 30 May 2013 We have just come back from a long weekend at Halcyon. The wood to finish the first deck and build the second did not arrive which meant a quick change of plan.

First mini project was to reorganize the large shed Alex and I removed all of the contents and then we removed all of the current racking that used up a lot of space, then we built a new box to hold the paddles and electric outboard.

We also added a board for fishing gear.

and a high rack to hold sails.
We now have loads of space in the shed. Hurrah.

The next mini project was to try out my new table saw to make some window frames from left over cladding. I decided to make a quick first attempt to try out some ideas and learn what is required.
The first attempt doesn't look to bad as long as you don't look to closely. I now know what to do next time, which is to make templates for all of the parts as the complex angles required have left a few gaps.

I also fitted a couple of window sills on the East side

We also prepared the bathroom wall ready for cladding. Not bad for a long weekend :-)
and on the Monday we rested by going to West Runton beach on a search for fossils.
You can read about that on Helen's blog halcyondaysout.blogspot.com

Changing Weather

Published Thu, 11 Apr 2013 I have been trying to plan work around the weather, regularly checking the BBC weather forecast for Martham on the web, but it seems to change almost hourly.
So far it has not really rained much and by midday today temperature was about 7 degrees. A good bit warmer than when we arrived.
Work on the North deck has continued but again I have run out of wood. It is almost ready, but needs a hand rail and some elements to make it look neat and tidy. These should arrive tomorrow.

Tomorrows weather forecast is for heavy rain, so it may be an indoor work day (of which there is plenty)
I was up early on Wednesday to get some work in before we all went out swimming in Great Yarmouth. Below is a short video clip I took when I got up. You may need to lie down to appreciate it properly :-)


Easter 2013

Published Mon, 08 Apr 2013 It's the children's Easter holiday and we are up at Halcyon to continue work on the exterior to tidy up a bit ready for the summer. The main projects are two decks, one on each side of the house. We will also be completing the sun room. On our last visit I could not get Water Hen, our motor launch, so start. It was so cold that my hands were to frozen to take the engine apart. This time it is a heady 5 degrees and I managed to trace the problem down to a stuck solenoid. A bit of fiddling and the outboard started up. Originally I decided to take the boat out for a test run, then Alex and Theo decided to come to. I was about to leave when Helen and Persephone decided they would come too and we all set out for a trip down to Potter Heigham, under the bridge and as far as Dutch Touch. On the way back, Alex decided to run along the bank and race us back. It was a draw.
By the end of Tuesday we have almost completed one deck and completed quite a bit of tidying. I have also set up my table saw ready to experiment making some window frames. It looks a bit scary.
I didn't manage to complete the deck as I ran out of wood. Roll on Wednesday.

End of half term

Published Mon, 25 Feb 2013

Half term is now over and the children back at school. Here are a last few photos of the new deck taken in the light.

Now its time to start planning the next trip which sadly will only be for a long weekend.


Half a Deck

Published Sat, 23 Feb 2013 Up at 7am this morning to receive the wood for the first of two decks that need building. The wood arrived at 8am and then I started the job of digging out the turf under where the deck would go. The turf will be used to level the river side garden that has a few dips in it a the moment.
I dug out the 6.5m x 1.5m area by midday then set to work driving the supporting posts. Much easier than the fence posts yesterday.
By the end of the day I had completed half of the frame and laid some of the deck planks on to see how it will look. By then it was getting dark so the photo is not the best. I'll try to get a better one in the light tomorrow.

While I was building, Helen took the children to the beach at Horsey Gap. I am told it was very cold, but they did get to see a pair of kestrels and a barn owl on the way back.

Off home tomorrow in time for the boys to go back to school. We will be back in a couple of weeks to resume the deck building.


Published Thu, 21 Feb 2013 The weather forecast was right. It has got colder. So much so that is has been snowing lightly on and off all day. Both Helen and I felt our faces turn to wax and our noses go blue, however work went on and we now have a nice new fence and some nice before and after pictures to show it off.

From the initial messy hotchpotch of hedges that we inherited when we bought Halcyon, Helen has cleared an burnt the old privet bushes and we now have a smart new fence. We chose a low fence to open up the view over the fields behind the house.

I have been eyeing up the bedroom doors for the last couple of days. We do not like the plain doors that are there currently. Our plan was to throw them out and get panelled doors. Having sawn one of the old doors up to fit it in a skip, I noticed that they had a solid pine core and a hardboard skin.
This evening I went at one of them with a crow bar and claw hammer and this is what I found. On the left is the door with skin on, on the right, the skinned door. A bit of sanding and a few coats of paint and we will have what we nearly paid out for.

Tomorrow we are off swimming as we still don't have a bathroom and we are all in need of a dip. None of us are quite brave enough to face a dip in the sea. Watch out Great Yarmouth, we are on our way. Peg your noses ;-)


Slow Progress

Published Wed, 20 Feb 2013 The outside thermometer read 2 degrees, but the wind made it feel well below freezing. The children only managed a few sessions outdoors, and only then with much cajoling. Both Helen and I were on fence clearing duty today, all of the waste wood going straight on the bonfire. We have burn our way through 3 gates, a hedge, a door frame, a post box and half a shed. The cold made it slow progress, with regular pauses to defrost our fingers at the fire.
A stop to fix a water leak in the bathroom did not help, or the failed attempt to turn over the boat engine. I now smell of a mixture of wood preservative and petrol.
Here is a photo of Helen at work.

The fence wood and posts arrived in late morning from the local wood yard, a very reasonable price that made me realise what a bad deal you get from the big diy chains. In this photo you can see the stretch that has been cleared for the new fence. I should add that Helen has done most of the work to clear this space as her cut hands bear out.

The first fence panel can be seen propped up in the bottom left of the picture. Lets hope that tomorrow brings better weather, the forecast is not good :-(