So after a hectic couple of days getting things together, we set off on Thursday of last week, on our summer holiday of 2014.The weather was fine sunny and warm as we headed up through Essex towards Suffolk to our final destination of Broadlands Sun Association, which is situated between Stoke Holy Cross and Poringland near Norwich in Norfolk. We started off at around 8.45am going up the A12 passed Witham, Kelvedon and Colchester before stopping off at the service station near Ipswich for breakfast. After a full English, we continued along the A14,before coming off at Needham Market joining the A140 heading towards Diss. We then turned right off the A140 just past Newton Flotman and drove down the country lanes towards Stoke Holy Cross and Poringland.
Stoke Holy Cross is a small village 4 miles south of Norwich famous because Stoke Holy Cross mill was the location from which Colman’s produced their very first mustard products. Stoke Holy Cross watermill is wonderfully picturesque and is built on a very old site, possibly dating back to Roman times.It is also quite close to the Roman fort at Caistor St.Edmund and is mentioned in books as far back as 1482. The mill is built of weatherboard over a brick base with a pantiled roof. The water had a fall of 12 feet to power the two breast shot wheels and unusually a wooden chute served to carry the water away from the foundations. When milling corn the wheels were driving seven pairs of stones, which made the mill one of the largest in the county. This was one of only a few mills in Norfolk to have the stones driven from the spur wheel set above them. The wheel was removed around 1952 and the remainder of the machinery was sold off in 1963 in the 1970’s it became a restaurant.
Poringland on the other hand houses two massive radio masts. Although actually in the parish of Caistor St.Edmund they tower above the landscape. There are two tall radio towers to the east of the village. One is one of three former Chain Home radar towers from the Battle of Britain, then known as RAF Stoke Holy Cross. Chain Home, or CH for short, was the codename for the ring of coastal Early Warning radar stations built by the British before and during the Second World War to detect and track aircraft.
It was one of the first practical radar systems, and the main component of the world’s first integrated air defence system, the Dowding system. Operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF), Chain Home radars stretched across the shoreline of the British Isles, looking outward, offering almost continuous coverage of the over-water areas offshore. CH systems would often detect larger formations while still over France, offering invaluable early warning of an impending raid. The presence of radar strongly swung the balance of power in the direction of defence, it was no longer the case that “the bomber will always get through”. It is still owned by the Ministry of Defence. The larger ‘stepped’ tower owned by BT sits nearby. This was originally built as part of the British Telecom microwave network but like many such sites is now used for a variety of telecommunications and broadcast services, including FM transmission for BBC Radio.
Poringland is also known for a famous painting called ‘The Poringland Oak ‘ by John Crome.
John Crome (22 December 1768 – 22 April 1821) was an English landscape artist of the Romantic era, one of the principal artists of the Norwich School art movement. He is also known as Old Crome to distinguish him from his son, John Berney Crome, who was also a well-known artist.Crome became the founder of the Norwich School of painters, of which John Sell Cotman is another famous member. He worked in watercolour and oil. His oil paintings number in excess of 300. Many can be seen at major galleries around the world, including the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy, but he is well represented in Norwich at the Castle Museum and Art Gallery. The Norwich School of Painters, a group of nineteenth-century artists spanning three generations, mainly concentrated on landscapes. His early pictures were strongly influenced by Dutch seventeenth-century painters. However his mature work, including this painting, shows an increasing concern for naturalism and an interest in atmospheric effects. Crome and Constable were among the earliest artists to paint portraits of trees, representing identifiable species rather than generalised tree forms.
Once into Upper Stoke we turned right by the bus stop insight of the masts and into Bickle Road and found the entrance to BSA within minutes. We were soon let in and shown our camping pitch. Broadlands is set in 25 acres of quiet woodland and was one of Norfolk’s pioneering naturist clubs when it was founded in 1935.The club has grown from humble roots when its founding members had to make do with just a wooden shack, and it now boasts a glass-covered heated swimming pool, clubhouse and café and more. Once parked,we undressed and set to work getting out all our camping equipment,which actually grew during the five days we were there. It’s strange to think that we originally started camping we had just a small tent and now we’ve so much it only just fits into the van.After a false start we managed to get the tent up but not after Ginny had fallen on some nettles and stung her hand which unfortunately troubled her for days.
Once everything was up and all the equipment put inside it was time to relax so we nipped out to a local pub called ‘The Globe’ in Shotesham for a pint or two. On our return the sun was out and it was time to enjoy it, BSA is wonderfully situated in dense woodland and gives the impression it is situated deep into a forest which is nice. As the sun dipped in the late evening we followed the sun continually moving our chairs into the patches of sunlight. It was there we met another couple who also had the same idea and as we introduced ourselves we found out that they has exactly the same names as us…what a coincidence.