Four women in a boat messing about on the water at Orford.

Every year my church organises a Dads, Lads, Daughter and Dogs camping trip and every year the women are left behind forced to find something to occupy their time without having the normal chores we love so much to do *tries hard to look distraught and fails*.

Grumpy camping with Dad.
The first DLDD trip was four years ago and our children were younger. Yes I know this is stating the bleeding obvious but as parents know there's a big difference between a 2 year old and a six year old so when the left-behind ladies were making plans to get together we had to take them into account in case they got homesick, ill or whatever.

So the first year we organised a genteel evening meet-up at the Vicarage and chatted about issues of the day over tea and cake. OK we cackled over wine and crisps but you get the picture. Actually I didn't have any wine because a't the end of the evening I drove to the camp (which is a whole 5 miles away) to pick up Grumpy since my husband was not confident he would sleepover.

The next two years we were brave enough to venture further afield into London. We have meandered along the south bank, joined a mad outdoor tea dance in Chelsea, eaten Dim Sum in China Town and ridden the front seats of a bus shrieking like teenage schoolgirls.

This year it was suggested that our menfolk had proved themselves capable of caring for their own children and we might be even braver. We planned a whole weekend away!

And so it was that on Friday four of us headed to a cottage just off the Quay in Orford in Suffolk (a cottage belonging to a friend's family) for two nights of nautical fun!

Now. I am from Dudley. We have canals there - lots of them. And canal boats obv!  But sailing clubs were not part of my childhood. Luckily I was not the only landlubber - my friend B all had no clue about anything boat related either.

boats at sunset in Orford, Suffolk
beautiful Orford in Suffolk

But luckily the other two did and so B and I were sent to stand a safe distance from the "tender" small boat you use to get to a bigger boat" while R and S firstly rowed, then used the outboard motor to bring the boat to use, standing quaking on a floating (and therefore moving) jetty.

Clad in the nautical stripes and colours I had insisted everyone wear and our life jackets we at least looked the part. Captain S quite rightly decided however that our sailing prowess was not up to the job of actually moving the bigger boat (yacht? schooner? I don't know - it had sails and a cabin anyway) so we would simply picnic on board.

madmumof7 with wine on boat

And we did! Let me tell you eating smoked prawns and smoked trout fresh from the local smokehouse along with fresh bread, pate and other tasty treats while lounging in the sunshine on a boat is far better than braving ants and wasps in the park.

We did laugh when the harbour master who had apparently also made a judgement on the two blonde's boat worthiness came out to check we were OK and not stranded. We assured him breezily that we were fine and crossed our fingers that we would in fact be able to start the outboard motor when we wanted to return to shore.

Actually when we returned to shore we felt like proper sailors compared to one man who was wandering round the quay clutching a strange raft-like contraption made from those noodle flotation devices- you know, those long tubular foam things.

He was telling anyone who would listen that he wanted to test it as he planned to "sail" it to France. Well as an ex-journalist and generally nosey parker I couldn't miss this! I persuaded my reluctant friends to relax nonchalantly on a nearby bench so we could see how long it would take for him to sink.

He carefully took off everything but his shorts, climbed into a large plastic sack which he informed the curious bystanders on the Quay would keep him dry, and then clambered onto his raft and pushed away from the beach.

Did he sink? Well, in a bid to create a viral sensation to make my fortune I made a YouTube video called The Adventures of Captain Noodle which I insert for your viewing pleasure here!

After watching his antics we were hungry so after washing the slimy mud off our feet we headed to the local pub where it turned out dressed lobster was the special and very reasonably priced! I asked them to hold the salad and add chips- lobster and chips! Yum!

A post-prandial walk along the coastal path then back to the cottage for scrabble, wine, chat and minty Matchmakers.  And I'm ashamed to say I hardly thought about my family under canvas (well, nylon nowadays) as I was having so much fun myself. Now all we have to do is figure out what we are going to do next year!

two women rowing small boat

dressed lobster with salad, chips, granary bread and lemon mayo

boat on Orford Estuary