Sue and Andy’s 20 minute trip to holiday paradise in Acle
It was the usual holiday routine for Andy and Sue Hewitt when they packed their bags and loaded their car yesterday morning.
It did not involve motorways or airports, and 20 minutes after leaving their home village of Belton near Great Yarmouth they were there...at Acle's Horizon Craft boatyard.
They always know there will be a smiley welcome from manager Mick Lawes - in Sue's words, 'like an old friend' - but on this occasion there was also an engraved vase and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate their 25th year of holidays on the Broads.
Since 1986 they have been coming three times a year and they are so good at selling the Broads, and the yard, that for the past five years they have even brought along their next-door neighbours Peter and Linda Grigsby for good measure.
Welcoming the couple on board their normal Southern Horizon craft, Mr Lawes, 60, yard manager for 33 years, said: 'It is lovely people like Sue and Andy that makes it all worthwhile preparing the fleet week in, week out. We have so many customers like them it is unbelievable.'
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The couple, who live in Station Road North, confessed that they took their first Broads trip, their honeymoon, from another yard - but fell in love with Horizon Craft later the same year.
Andy, 56, a landscape gardener, said: 'I was born at the side of the river and had taken the odd Broads holiday before, and I decided to talk Sue into it.'
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He said everything on the boats had improved over the years - from the toilets to the heating and modcons like DVDs - but the essential appeal of the holiday remained.
Sue, a retired shop manager in Belton, said: 'We just love being on the water with nature, fishing in peace and quiet. It's just magical.
'We always moor in quiet spots and tell our friends it is like being on a second honeymoon.'
Over the years, they have often shared their holiday with family members including Sue's son Neil and their grandchildren Shania, 11, and Sonnie, five.
Sue recalls: 'One year we were on Hickling Broad with my brother-in-law and he was teaching me pike fishing for the very first time.
'He was downstairs making breakfast when I said, 'I have got a bite', and he had to delay breakfast to help me land what turned out to be a 20lb pike.'
Another magic moment occurred three years ago at the entrance to Barton Broad when Sue heard a noise near her keep net...and saw an otter trying to get at the fish.
Andy, who has tried package holidays to Spain but cannot abide airports, said: 'We see otters every time as well as kingfishers and marsh harriers. We have even seen deer swimming across the river.'
Although they are only a few minutes away from home they agree the Broads is 'totally another world'.
Despite the vagaries of the British weather Sue said: 'We have never had a full rainy week in all the years we have been coming.'
However, if this week's unsettled forecast proves correct there will at least be one consolation - they will be coming back for a long weekend next month.