No better way to celebrate it than another day in Bessie.  The weather is intermittently overcast but not particularly cold so we decided to visit Minsmere again and this time chose the blue route.  The professional birders were out in force today and we felt decidedly outclassed in the photography stakes!  Lenses the size of small tree trunks abounded, although most of the birders were content with spotting the birds with their binoculars.

The cry in the hides was along the lines of, “Hobby over S!” and “two Marsh Harriers at M!” (presumably letters on the little white flags we could see in the distance) and many pairs of expensive binoculars were swivelled around for a close up inspection.  Seabirds on the scrape were mostly confined to some Swans and Black Headed Gulls, with the odd Greylag Goose and Lapwing.

We turned inland, rather disappointed, and had a pleasant walk through the woodland and heath.  There we spotted some butterflies – several Large Heath (brownish) and a Large White and, of course, the inevitable rabbits.

We got back to the RSPB restaurant for some mushroom stroganoff with chunky brown bread, finishing off with a really tasty date crumble cake to share (huge piece!) and walked down to one of the hides we had visited the day before.  Again, there was not a great deal of activity and eventually decided to make the trip up to Lowestoft for some fish and chips.  We were shocked to find that there were no longer any fishing boats going out from Lowestoft so my idea of eating my fish and chips amongst gaily painted trawlers was a touch romantic!

Instead, Lowestoft appears rather sad and forgotten, except perhaps at earby Oulton Broads, the southern gateway to the Norfolk Broads.  Here there were many boats tied up, mostly large cruisers.  There were some small yachts tacking backwards and forwards and several swans.  Also, surprisingly, a pair of Egyptian Geese.  Along the shallow water’s edge there were plenty of fishermen, some of them sitting in strange contraptions in the water.  We have never seen anything like this before.

Still on a quest for the perfect fish and chips, we headed back to the South Beach, home to the rather faded looking pier and a very large car park, now at 5.30 almost empty.  There are two fish and chip places alongside an ice cream and novelty shop.  A young man was starting to put away his signs and remarked that we were just in time.  It appears that trade in not great at the moment and takings were not covering the wages and the general running of the business.  There was a handful of people eating their supper at the small tables and we were destined to be their last customers of the day.  While waiting for our order to be cooked the rain came down in earnest and Peter ran off to get the big umbrella from Bessie.

Meanwhile the young man, who turned out to be the manager, spoke more of the decline of Lowestoft as a fishing port – their own fish were apparently brought down from Grimsby.  A sad state of affairs.  Weather, of course, was playing a big part in their problems as far as sales were concerned.  The amount of visitors was a lot less than usual for the time of the year.  We took our fish and chips back to Bessie and sat and ate in comfort – not bad, if a little over-battered fish but the chips were good and plentiful.  The mushy peas made a nice change – no expense spared for this anniversary meal!

The rain having abated for the time being, we strolled over to the pier and the Heritage Quay beyond where there were more posh boats tied up.  The pier was virtually deserted except for a group of the local youth hanging about.  There were two other fish and chip establishments – one of them still open but sadly devoid of any customers.  There was quite an impressive looking glass pavillion and beside it a large flat area with fountains.  A small brown dog rushed in and out of the water gleefully but he represented the only real activity.  The beach at Lowestoft is partly sandy with some shingle at high tide.  I wondered whether anyone actually went onto it – perhaps it was a hive of activity during the main part of the day but somehow I doubt it.

We drove back to the campsite, having had a good day out.  Peter was tired after quite a lot of driving and was soon snoozing while I struggled to get this blog off the ground.