Over the next few days we are sharing Mandy Foyster’s incredible adventure, paddling 75 miles of Norfolk’s rivers in a toy boat over 12 days, all in aid of the RSPB and Norfolk Wildlife Trust.  Here’s the next instalment of her amazing feat:

Day 6

I awoke on Thursday tired but looking forward to a slightly easier day.  However a familiar hissing noise from my boat soon made me realise that today was going to pose it's own challenges.  On inspection I discovered a new puncture right on the edge of a seal.  I tried to mend it using my own patches & sealant but due to the awkward position of the hole the repair would not hold.  Thankfully I was moored in a boatyard marina and one of boat builders kindly helped and stuck a heavy duty patch on for me.  It was tricky and although much improved, I was still losing air ever so slowly as I rowed off towards St Olaves.  It was a pretty journey past the marshes & reedbeds.  I saw marsh harriers soaring above the reeds and an unusual big brown patterned duck with 7 beautiful ducklings ~ I was in wildlife heaven.  How my dear Mother in Law Doreen would have appreciated all of this and I thought of her as I paddled my way steadily up the river.

I reached St Olaves later than planned & was delighted to be greeted by Dave the chef from the Norfolk Mead hotel and his two little girls.  He kindly bought me a cup of tea before I rowed off again in search of a place to stop for the night.  I moored up at Herringfleet but worried about the way the HMS Loopy was slowly leaking air I have decided to sleep in my bivi bag on the riverbank tonight.  It is magical sitting here writing this email sitting up in my bags in the open air with a headlamp on.  I can hear a strange sound which I am wondering could it be a Bittern booming?  Earlier I saw two little dear bounding through the reeds and now I can hear an owl & all sorts of animal noises. 

The riverbank is not quite as comfortable as my dear boat 'Loopy' but at least I can sleep soundly without fear of sinking! From me & all the amazing wildlife ~ Goodnight. Xxx


Day 7

I awoke on the riverbank refreshed after 6 hours sleep to a beautiful morning & the bird sounds from the marshes. The HMS Loopy seemed refreshed too & we were both soon on our way again. The river was very close to the railway line for a while and I passed under the railway bridge at Somerleyton.  On a few occasions this morning the 'Inflatable Tour of Norfolk' briefly crossed into Suffolk ~ just like when the Tour de France does a stage in another country ~ ho ho. Dave Abbot from the Gt Yarmouth Yacht Station accompanied me for some of the way in his little motorised boat ~ it was lovely to have his company.  I excitedly told him about the noise I had heard the previous evening when I had wondered if it had been a bittern booming.  Dave informed me that the sound had probably been the fog horn sounding at Gt Yarmouth ~ how I laughed at my silly mistake.  We spotted bright yellow marsh marigolds growing on the riverbanks and also the sign to Oulton Broad just before arriving at the Waveney River Centre. 

Kind James, who owns the river centre, had offered me a free mooring and use of the facilities so I was able to wash all of my clothes and get clean again. In the afternoon the EDP photographer came to take some pictures of me rowing on the river.

I purchased some more food and a little fishing net as I am curious to find out what is in the river. Other than that I'm spending the evening tidying my ship & studying the tide table ready for tomorrow.  I am beginning to feel very tired now and my arms ache all the time but thankfully my good ship 'Loopy' is still afloat and I will be sleeping in him again tonight.  Tomorrow (Saturday) I will voyage back to St Olaves and, if I can catch the tides correctly, up the 'Cut' to Reedham.  Love from Mandy x


Day 8

I had a good nights sleep aboard the HMS Loopy and set off to retrace my oar steps to St Olaves. It was a difficult voyage back up the Waveney due to a gusty headwind and I struggled to make progress.  At one point the wind was so strong I began to go backwards despite rowing my gloves off ~ so to speak.  I managed to grab hold of the reeds so that I could at least stay stationary until the gusts died down.  This did give me a lovely opportunity to photograph the beautiful marsh marigolds.  In Somerleyton my kind friends Nancy & Tim met me with a flask of tea and some bananas.  I then headed for the 'Cut' where I was greeted by Wally Mason the reedcutter and a photographer.  To my surprise and delight Wally presented me with a card, flowers, chocolates and a bundle of real reeds from the marshes.  He said in his strong Norfolk accent "you've bin seein all those reeds as yer row past, well here's some fer you to keep ~ they'll last yer 70 years".  I was really touched by his kindness and utterly delighted with my reeds ~ what a lovely souvenir. 

I battled my way up the 'Cut' which is completely straight until I reached Reedham.  There I was greeted by another kind friend, Sue, who had brought me more tea in a little flask ~ heaven.  I then, with my aching arms, prepared my bed & cover over my boat ready for another night on the river.  Whilst munching my bread & bananas lying in the HMS Loopy I was thrilled to have a swan join me for tea.  He was so beautiful and allowed me to hand feed him through my boat tent window ~ magic.

Goodnight from Swan Lake xxx

To donate in recognition of Mandy's incredible efforts, visit http://www.justgiving.com/Mandy-Foyster.