Hannah, Diana's daughter, had given her mum a jigsaw as a present, the 1000 piece "Norfolk Sail Boat" puzzle by Ravensburger. It was chosen carefully to reflect her mother's longstanding interest in boats and new found interest in Norfolk.
Through the winter, Diana and I had worked on it in her flat in Kenilworth. On completion she had decided to have it framed and present it to me. It cost a veritable fortune to get it done, as the jigsaw itself is 70x50cm and by the time you add a mount and the frame you end up with something to hang on your wall that's around 85x64cm.
I suppose you could say that I asked for it! Not that I did, of course, but Diana seemed to take my geeky interest in the subject as deserving reward, and the obvious reward was the jigsaw itself.
So where's the geek in me? Well, it takes no trouble for someone interested in Norfolk Broads hire-boat fleets to realise that the subject is the Eastwood Whelpton fleet based in Upton Dyke. It was aboard one of the fleet that I had been on my last holiday with my parents back in 1967. With all the fleet in situ, that probably meant the photo was taken on a Saturday morning, a changeover days for holiday makers. The angle of the sun, given the location, suggested morning, rather than an evening shot. Other geeks have told me that the image is quite old. How do they know? Well the boats all display a Blakes booking agency logo on their bows. As with many yards, Eastwood Whelpton came out of Blakes fleet a while ago.
Looking at the image itself, one could see that the trees were barely in leaf, so I guessed that meant in was taken some time between late March and May, depending on the season. My own home, near Stalham, has willows outside, so I had been waiting until they had just begun to shoot and reasonable weather was forecast and I planned to visit the dyke and try to re-capture the image.
Such a day came on Easter Saturday. However, we we late rising and there was Just 17 to prepare for our first cruise of the season, so we missed our chance, but we did take trip down to the site much later in the day and confirmed where you needed to be to take the photograph. We also had a little stroll down the north side of the dyke alongside the moored boats out towards the River Bure itself.
The weather turned on Easter Day so it was clear that day wasn't suitable. Diana then left to return to Kenilworth. It was Wednesday before the weather was right for making the trip back to Upton. And that's when my picture was taken at around 09:30! I reckon misjudged the time of day. It seems that the Ravensburger image is taken two or three hours later than mine. However, I had already missed the best of the clear skies and it took me three attempts to get both foreground and background in reasonable sunlight.
Of course my image doesn't have the charm of charm of the original and, on looking closely at it, I realise the original was taken with a somewhat wider angle lens. The features on the horizon to the right of the picture stretch much further out than on my image, but on the original they are lost in haze, so it takes a really close examination to notice that.
Having got my image I wandered round to take a closer look at the couple of boats that were still in the yard. I had seen one of the staff take to a boat and speed of down the dyke, only to return a short while later. Asking about the "test drive" I had seen him make, I was told that it was nothing to do with the boat. A member of staff had noticed that one of the newly arrived hirers had left the lights on on his car, and he'd been sent to catch him before the car was left for a week. He hadn't managed to catch the right boat, but another who was sailing in convoy with him had been told and he'd been assured the car owner would be back before the end of the day.
We then had a chat about ideal yachts for Broads Holidays. I explained that I had a SeaHawk but sometimes wondered if something bigger would be better, now I need a cabin for two. After a bit of consideration of the pros and cons of various slightly larger production boats, he decided a Pegasus, like the one being prepared by its owner on the opposite bank, ought to be something I considered, but with fractional rig and wing keel.
Then I popped into the office. It only seemed fair to tell Anne Welpton what I was up to. I showed Anne an image of the jigsaw and she pointed me to one on her desk. But it wasn't quite the same. It had obviously been taken within moments of the jigsaw image but some of the boats were a slightly different angles, so was not exactly the same. Hers was on a greetings card, so I guess the photographer, who she said she knew and was a local, managed to make a reasonable profit out of that one trip.
Anne challenged my guess that the image was taken in the spring, saying the fact that some of the yachts had no boom on meant that it must have been taken at the end of the season rather than the beginning, as I had thought. I'm not sure I follow that reasoning, as there must be a point when the boats lack booms as they are being prepared for the season as well. Maybe it was something else about the photo that gave it away, that she didn't mention.
Maybe, I'll try to come back in the autumn and try again to get my own copy!
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