Tilting at Windmills

A life of ease

A life of ease

Well, if I’d just called it ‘a lot of boats on the Norfolk Broads’ you wouldn’t have read it, would you?  Admit it!  At least I’m giving you something else to look out for.

This is our mooring- a nice place to start

This is our mooring- a nice place to start

And this is our boat

And this is our boat

It’s moored at Stalham, on the River Ant, in Richardson’s marina.  A peaceful setting, away from the hurley-burley of Wroxham.  We glide gently across Barton Broad, and Jarek points out the shallow water where, almost daily in peak season, boats run aground.  When we pause to admire the scenery, a swan raps smartly on the hull.  I’m not sure if this signifies ‘get a move on’ or ‘where’s the bread?’  Short on bread, we move on!

The naughty swans

A naughty swan

Looking ahead I glimpse some houses

Looking ahead I glimpse some houses

And am delighted to find that one has a thatched roof

And am delighted to find that one has a thatched roof

What a location!

What a location!

And the neighbour's none too shabby, either! (and there's a bench for Jude)

The neighbour’s none too shabby, either! (and there’s a bench for Jude)

But here's our first excitement- a windmill!

But here’s our first excitement- a windmill!

There are a seemingly endless supply of them, strewn across the Broads.  Many have been restored and stand there, gracefully pointing the way with their sails.

Here's another, wonderfully elegant example

Here’s another, wonderfully elegant example

It's quite a long way up!

It’s quite a long way up!

We sail on a little way and then execute a fine turn to seek out a mooring place.  Time for hungry sailors to eat, and then stretch their legs.  We are moored alongside How Hill House, and a treat is in store.  Tiny Toad Hole Cottage was an eel-catcher’s home.

Welcome to How Hill, Staithe

Welcome to How Hill, Staithe

Click on any photo to see the gallery

How Hill Trust provides an environmental study centre for the Broads.  The preservation of the incredibly beautiful house is no small part of this, but there are landscaped gardens too and a sweeping lawn for picnics, rolling down to the river.  There’s even a restored grain mill, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay.

The detail around the windows is exquisite

Smell the roses and admire the detail around the windows

And how about this for a view? (can you spot the windmill?)

How about this for a view! (can you spot the windmill?)

And look at the wisteria!

And look at the wisteria!

We’d better get back on board.  Too much playing ‘lady of the manor’ isn’t good for me!  And there’s a coffee stop to make, with homemade Polish rhubarb cake.

We putter along the waterways, using the sail sometimes, or the small motor.  The water lilies drifting at the water’s edge and the dazzling yellow ‘water buttercups’ captivate me, but I’m unable to take a decent shot.  I’ll just have to go back another day!  Maybe you’ll come with me?


  1. Beautiful post, Jo! We visited the Broads last this Saturday of February and it was so peaceful, even in Wroxham 😉 as we drove through it. How Hill House is on my list now, thanks a lot! 🙂

    1. You’ll enjoy it, Dina. 🙂 The Broads are beautiful. I even spotted some water lilies afloat 🙂 Many thanks for your visit. Love to Klaus and the girls!

  2. The photographs capture so much joy from travelling up and down the water ways. The gardens look gorgeous. What a great time. Awesome title for the post too. Windmills are captivating. Thank you for hooking me in. Lovely post. I enjoyed some more great armchair travel.

  3. Sounds heavenly overall Jo! Had no idea there were windmill in the UK! I have seen plenty in the Netherlands, but have never had rhubarb cake before 🙂

  4. I’ll come back with you anytime, especially if I can stay in the little cottage ( provisioned please with rhubarb cake). Love that the little cottage has one of those old style mincers.

    1. It’s a little world all of its own, Ann, and very charming. I was going to have the big house and play at lady of the manor but I might need some help. 🙂 The little cottage is lovely but I think you’d need thick socks in winter.

      1. Socks and about 20 layers of clothing, no doubt. Have you read the Swallows and Amazons books that were set in the Norfolk Broads. I haven’t read all of the series. Did you see any references to Swallows and Amazon, in particular the village of Horning?

    2. I read one of them a long while ago. Perhaps I should revisit the series. Horning has the most famous windmill in the Broads. Our coach driver took our party there and to Wroxham on the Saturday that we were out on the boat. It’s quite a distance (in nautical terms) from where we were boating. Grazyna said that they could have sailed all the way down the River Yare to Yarmouth to meet us but it would have taken them a whole day. 🙂

      1. Oh, I am glad I asked. The books we read in our childhood were so English/British but most of us had no chance of seeing the landscape of the stories.

  5. Nice place…. and great windmills! Haha the word “windmills” in the title did attract my attention 🙂 Even though the houses are nice too, and the boats, and the roses…

  6. What a superb post and what a wonderful day. What makes you think “boats” in the title would’ve turned anyone off? You can make even a boat beautiful. Boats, swans, history, windmills, family and Polish rhubarb cake – is this a description of heaven?

  7. I’ve never heard of “The Broads” before. I just looked it up. Fascinating! Thank you for the trip.

  8. Oh Jo, this is absolutely enchanting. Everything about it. What a lovely way to visit family and take in the sights, too. I’ve never seen a windmill, except in pictures, so this was a treat. The canal looks serene and gives you such a glimpse of the houses. I can smell the roses. I take off for Key West in the morning. Have a great weekend. 🙂

    1. Key West is just a dream for me, Lynne, but I can’t imagine never having seen a windmill 🙂 Glad you could enjoy the Broads with me before you go. Have a great time 🙂

  9. What a lovely way to go Jo. So relaxing and serene and look at that blue sky, The weather looked to be perfect. The roses and wisteria are glorious signs of summer in full swing. Toad Hall cottage made me think of Wind in the Willows and Toady and friends a favourite book from my childhood. One I haven’t thought of for a very long time. How long were you cruising for?

    1. Hi Pauline 🙂 We were just out on the Broads for the day and the other day we spent in Norwich. I have 2 Polish cousins (brother and sister) who have settled in Norfolk- Grazyna for many years (her husband is a boat builder) and Wojtek just in the last year. It was a lovely family reunion (and yes, I always liked Rattie too 🙂 )

      1. There are house boats you can hire to go for journeys along the canals around the Gold Coast. They are all sizes to cater for families or groups. I’ve always thought they would be quite a good way to spend a few days.

  10. I love windmills but I’ve only ever seen one from a distance, it would be nice to see inside. The grain store looks cool too, it would be fun to sty there but I’m not sure about the steps! What a fabulous day Jo, something for everyone 🙂

    1. Something so compelling about them, isn’t there, Gilly? 🙂 And on the Broads, where everything is so flat, they stand proud and tall. There are dozens of them! And it’s good that so many are being restored and looked after. I always fancied a round house. A load of floor cushions and my nose pressed up to a window 🙂 Happy weekend, Gilly!

    1. It was a wonderful day out, in very good company, Nicole. Have you started your challenge yet? It must be imminent? Good luck! I’ll pop in as soon as I can. 🙂

  11. Loved the title, but “A close look at the Norfolk Broads” might have gotten quite a bit of attention, too. I didn’t know you were referring to a river region until I saw your wonderful pictures. Time for me to take a geography lesson.

    1. The boat was definitely tilting, and this is only a very small corner of the Norfolk Broads, as I expect you’ll see if you look at Google maps. Life is full of lessons around the blogs 🙂

  12. I think “We Have a Boat” as the title would have gotten a lot of attention as well. Cannot decide whether it would be preferable to stay on the boat or be dropped off at one of those charming cottages for the day….

  13. Dear beautiful wandering Jo ….your photos are so delightful and they remind me of my time in the Netherlands not long ago ….I always enjoy your stories too ! Thank you for brightening my day ….hugs and love , megxxx

    1. It seems to run a little bit in the family, Meg 🙂 Jarek is a boat builder and and he and Grazyna always wanted to sail the world. Happy you enjoyed this 🙂

  14. Never been to the Norfolk Broads, Jo, but I so enjoyed exploring with you. I see that the rhubarb cake is all finished. Will you make another one for the next trip? How lovely to have your own boat to go windmill spotting. The wisteria and the roses are absolutely stunning. A very relaxing post indeed, except for the naughty swan. I bet he was disgusted that you hadn’t got any bread to spare. 🙂

  15. Rhubarb cake – oh yes please! Recipe?
    We considered moving to Norfolk, nice and flat, even considered a house in Stalham. The Broads are lovely and you must have been smiling all week surrounded by boats and water. In your element 😉

  16. Rhubarb cake and sailing? Sounds heavenly to me – and you were so lucky with the weather. Thanks for taking us … As soon as the Euro strengthens a bit (I did not give up hope yet) we will have to travel all the great parts of England you take us to. All I know of the UK is the south, a bit of Wales and Scotland. So, Mr Draghi, it’s about time!

    1. I did feel a very lucky lady, Tobias 🙂 The Broads have their own beauty but I would find all that flatness hard to live with on a regular basis. I like a few ‘bumps’ on the horizon 🙂

    1. This is only the very top corner, Elaine. There are miles of the wetlands. I guess it could be soporific after a while. Good excuse for coffee and cake. 🙂

  17. LOVE your title. I read this post half-cocked (me tilting on one foot, not sipping the brandy!) to give full measure to Tilting at Windmills. Such a serene ride downstream desite a naughty swan. You are a superb tour guide💖

      1. Good idea, flotilla it is! I have several family members in Sweden with boats so we could borrow those I’m sure! Maybe the fishing boat though would be too deep for the Norfolk Broads. Thank you so much for the comment on my name. It is Swedish as am I, arriving in the UK when I was six-years-old. It means little Anna.

    1. I realised at once when I read your About page. 🙂 I have another very good Swedish friend- Viveka Gustavsen, who blogs at My guilty pleasures. Do you know her? If not, you should say hi. 🙂

      1. Thanks for the link Jo, we’ve already been in contact. She seems a very interesting lady and I’m now following her and look forward to reading her posts.

  18. Um, yes please! Take me along on the next cruise. What a lovely little ride down the Broads. Looks like something out of a very old picture book except for the modern boats.

  19. Hi Jo,
    Thanks foir taking me there with you. Well, I’m envious, I must admit, that I could only see the pictures and not have the actual experience. The Norfolk Broads are certainly on my bucket list still. As much as I liked my two trips on English canals, I’d also want to experience this quite different area.
    Have a great time,

  20. thanks for taking me to this lovely boat ride, the scenery, the windmills, the houses and yes the wisteria in its glory. love everything in this post, Jo. and please don’t leave without me on our return 🙂 i’ll be there in a heartbeat. 🙂

  21. You have just me back to a year in the 70’s when I went there and the beauty looks as it has not changed, such a beautiful place, and as everyone says rhubarb and custard.. Mmmmm what more…

  22. Lovely way to spend sometime Jo ! I’d quite forgotten about all the windmills along the Broads … hmm you best count me in for that trip Lol
    Tiny Toad hall caught my eye … love the little patchwork quilt … gosh it’s sometime since I picked up a needle , Laura Ashley fabric bundles and cut out paper squares 😉
    Super pics Jo .. you do get about … and that’s a GOOD thing … for us too !

    1. Photography and painting probably keep you out of mischief, Pops 🙂 I had limited Wifi access when I answered you yesterday. What are you working on atm?

      1. … enjoying a Full English chez nous 😀 … ah I’m trying to get my head round layers and all things Photoshop … also thinking of a foxglove painting … but only thinking 😉

    1. I keep popping back to see how those distractions are going, Jill. Good progress, I hope? I was on a bus for much of yesterday with limited Wifi access. 🙂

  23. Good morning, Jo!
    You set the tone from the beginning with the choice of header. Hilarious comment, and of course effective as we get interested!
    And I enjoyed the sailing trip, the views, the swan, the houses, even the windmills (as I have many to watch here). It was a sunny day and the photos shine on the screen.
    Loved it! Yes, I’ll join you one day!

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