Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A walk in Broadland turns one’s mind to fishing …

Photo by Ray Jones and Alan Price is used with permission from Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Bright red hips and haws hang in the scrub. A party of long-tailed tits squeak noisily through the branches. The board-walk runs through reeds at the river side no longer busy with the hullabaloo of holidaymakers and the chugging of a dozen diesel engines. Autumn has come to Broadland and quietness cloaks the scene like the early morning mist.

Less than a mile from Woodbastwick on the Ranworth road, where the road turns sharp right, a lane runs down to the river. The walk starts from a small car park just across the river from Horning’s Ferry Inn. It’s wheelchair friendly all the way – about a mile - to Cockshoot Broad. In summer the water lilies along the dyke are sensational!

Along the path fishing platforms jut out through the reeds. Perhaps you’ll stop and chat to a fisherman as you saunter. Walking by the water and talking to the fishermen are Christ-like activities – the easiest most of us will ever manage!

But is fishing a suitable pastime for serious Christians? Besides the chief of the apostles - Peter, James and John were all fishermen - some of fishing’s finest proponents have been outstanding Anglican clergy! The hymn writer George Herbert and the poet John Donne were both fishing partners of Izaak Walton. Izaak’s book “The Compleat Angler” remains fishing’s classic text. He was in no doubt of its suitability. The book is sub-titled “The Contemplative Man’s Recreation” and the title page quotes St. John’s gospel “Simon Peter said, I go a fishing: and they said, We will come with you.”

Don’t return home without looking into Woodbastwick’s church - a pool of deep quiet and stillness! It is dedicated Saints Fabian and Sebastian - saints of 3rd century Rome. Fabian, as bishop once stood in the shoes of the fisherman and wore St. Peter’s ring. Like St.Peter, he to became a martyr and witnessed to Christ by his death.

Before leaving the village, should you want for refreshment, the Fur and Feather stands at the far end. It is adjacent to Woodforde’s Brewery. Parson Woodforde, after whom its named, the 18th century Vicar of Weston Longville was another angling Anglican. His diary recounts fishing exploits along the river Wesum. In what company goes the fisherman!

Monday, October 06, 2008

St.Fursey Pilgrimage 08

There was standing room only at Burgh Castle church on Saturday 4th October when the annual pilgrimage of the Fursey Pilgrims took place. Joining the pilgrims this year was Fr Nicolas Jouy, the Parish Priest of Peronne in the Somme area of France. St. Fursey died before returning to England from France in the year 650 AD. His shrine was established at Peronne.

The service only took places after the pilgrims had refreshed themselves at the Church
Farm pub. Some had earned a good lunch by walking the Breydon Water path from Great Yarmouth train station. Others had come long distances to honour St.Fursey so they could not be denied a delicious carvery meal looking out across the water to the Berney Arms windpump and the Fleggs.

Pere Nicholas preached the sermon developing the idea of ecumenism as putting the pieces of a jig-saw together - it may seem impossible at first, there should be no attempt to force pieces together where they do not belong, miraculously we find there is a fit between pieces as they come together, the outcome is a clearer picture of the things of God. After the service he led the pilgrims to the ruins of Burgh Castle Roman fort. It was within the walls of the fort that Fursey and his brothers first established their humble monastery and from here they went out to evangelise the people of Norfolk.

Sr. Pam's new terrier Matthew made his first pilgrimage to Burgh Castle on this day. It was a day of double celebration for him as it coincided with the feast of St. Francis! Having been blessed by Pere Nicholas the pilgrims gathered for tea and delicious cakes courtesy of the ladies of Burgh Castle.

© Richard Woodham 2008