Reports - Weekends 2018

Autumn Weekend 2018 - Tom Knox

The National Country Link Autumn Weekend was organised for the weekend of 19th-22nd October; our hotel accommodation was at the Wensum Valley Hotel, Taverham, Norwich.

Saturday 20th October - Cantley Sugar Beet Factory: a very unusual growing year, more leaf than bulb, but plant sugars quality is well up.

The factory, which straddles the Norwich to Great Yarmouth railway, is one of four UK factories working 24 hours; this season is shorter, until the end of February. The factory had been running for ten days on the 20th.

After the initial presentation and question session, we went over the railway bridge to see where the crop is cleaned, stoned, greenery taken out and sampled before slicing takes place over the railway again.

Here, the processes of diffusion, carbonation, evaporation, crystallisation, centrifuging takes place with the final by-products dried into animal pulp feed and molasses, ethanol industrial, cosmetics, Limex 70 agricultural lime calcium carbonate and a large quantity of top soil in a normal year.

10,000 tons of beet is sliced daily, along with 1,500 tons of crystallised sugar produced daily.

750 tons of animal feed produced also daily.

A member lost his safety glasses in one of the many conveyors, which had been noticed in the Control Room.

British Sugar processes all UK sugar; Tate and Lyle import cane sugar to London.

The factory appeared in the You Tube series 'Hidden Britain by drone' hosted by Tony Robinson.

Royal Air Force Air Defence Radar Museum, Neatishead - in the 1930s, Robert Watson-Watt discovered that aircraft could be detected through radio waves; the Museum, opened in 1994, traces the history and development of Air Defence Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging) from its invention in 1935 until the present day. You can also learn about the history of the Neatishead base and what happened at the base during WWII and then during the Cold War.

Sunday 21st October - Peeles Norfolk Black Turkeys - these rare wild breeds, closed breeding to save the breed, has its origins from South America, going back to 1492.

Norfolk Blacks and Cambridge Bronzes interbreeds became popular at King Henry VII's royal banquets.

An ideal enterprise for second rate farmland, the breeding season in batches lasts from March to the end of July. Up to 70 eggs laid in a clutch, clutches six weeks apart; first eggs incubated. Weather all important. Growing birds are fed on a not too high protein feed of a wheat, bean, soya crumb mix.

Cooler weather and more eaten for Christmas.

An eight kilo bird has a confirmation of a high breast bone, a gamey moist cutting not crumbly or stringy. Cooking instructions are sent out to customers who quite often now require crowns, rolls and various joints.

The barn loft conversion was where the traditional break necks and bleeding preparation took place. Now it is done by electric 480 single phase low voltage stunning followed by cut neck and bleeding. If the bird is tensed, the meat is tougher. We were told the old ways were the best.

Legislation takes over. In the carcass preparation room, fitted out to EU regulations, the traditional way of carcass manufacturing has been saved.

A feather merchant buys the archery feather plumage and there is a Harry Potter outlet for the large quill feathers - £12 a quill feather.

£14 a kilo required for a finished bird, marketed through local outlets, mail order and the Internet.

Mr Peele said that global warming is happening. He can see it, as regards the right weather for fertility, specific moult days and feeding.

Dann's Dairy Farm and Ice-cream manufacture - The milk price to the producer fluctuates as well as gross margins.

The chance of a neighbouring farm coming up for sale, plus a son coming home from College resulted in a father taking a £2m bank loan during a five year period.

The traditional parlour is favoured through cost alone for the 40 Holstein Fresian commercial milk cows. Milking is carried out three times daily, 10% retained for ice-cream production. The milk, marketed through Arla, to a Morrisions contract. Supermarkets want all the herd management tests for a better product return of 34p/35p a litre.

At hand, on the son's i-pad, a record of cows - sick, cows rations, AI required, sexed semen, gestation, near calving etc.

The cows go outside for short periods only, onto a zero grazing system during the grass growing season.

Organic white eggs produced on the farm.

The ice-cream business now ten years old is all about building up a brand for a north Norfolk franchise.

Ingredients - egg yolks, cream, sugar, measured out to four litres of milk, flavours added, the best fruits out of Norfolk. Cooked at 85 degrees and then frozen at minus ten to twelve degrees.

In a converted barn we got to taste various ice-cream and sorbet flavours, plus and ice-cream lolly coated in Lotus biscuits, the same biscuits as on offer in our hotel rooms.

Tom Knox

Autumn Weekend 2018

Hosted by Norfolk group at the Wemsum Valley Hotel Golf and Country Club Taverham, Norfolk.

19 to 22 October 2018

6 months in the planning, trips out everyday, 106 members met on the Friday afternoon lots of chat and some took to the pool for a swim.

The evening consisted of 3 courses dinner and dancing to the local disco. The fancy dress theme was seafarers, lots of folk took part and the winners were Jackie Jackson - winner of the ladies - and Ken Phillips - winning the gentleman. The group winners were Claire Amy and Paul Western.

Paul and winners.jpg Ken and Jackie .winners.jpg

Early start Saturday after breakfast from a full English, to kippers or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs or any option you would like.

The buses ready and we were off to Sandringham Estate and Hunstanton, Holkham hall and gardens, Cantley beet factory and Radar Museum and the Branthill Brewery and Mrs Temples cheese.

After a lot of thought some months ago I chose the brewery and Mrs Temples visits which were great choices and 25 other made the same choice, once all gathered we were of and what a great day we had, learning about making and running a beer shop in today's world of shop and internet sales and trends of beer drinks.

Brown swiss.jpgOur next visit was to Mrs Temples Cheese, just down the road.

On arrival we had tea and cake followed by a tour of the farm and the cheese factory from the outside. We looked at the Swiss Brown cows whose milk is used for the making the 9 variety of cheese.

The farm also process cereals and other farm products to generate gas which then using a generator becomes electricity which powers everything from the farm house to the tractors and manitou, and the surplus goes back into the grid.

saturday night.jpgWe returned to the house for cheese and cobs and more tea.

Once full and questions answered we visited the Wells by the sea for cuppa on the albatross.

Snooze on the way home and a swim back at hotel.

Glad rags on for the black tie dinner back at the hotel to round off a wonderful day. The raffle money was going to cancer charity. A very worthy charity and close to us all in Country Link.

Sunday - breakfast fantastic again. Today we join forces and car share the thing of the morning which is always a bit of sport.

Today the main attraction was the steam train from Wroxham and a boat trip on the boards, which proved to be a great day in the autumn sun shine.

The farm trips today, 20 of took to the wheel and followed Chris and Jenny very closely as in the out back of Norfolk. Our first stop was to Peeles Turkeys, fascinating, passionate about turkeys for over 100 years, and the protection of some very old turkey breeds.

Norfolk Blacks.jpg

The trip was great as we saw photograph of turkeys after been processed in 1880. Put in a wooden crate on a trailer pulled by a steam to engine to start the steam train to journey to London,and now you can order them on line to be collected in person.

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Once gathered together we were off again following Chris and Jenny to Danns Dairy Farm and ice cream.

Here we had lunch a jacket potato and chilli followed by a selection of ice cream and sorbets, all lovely. Now in two groups down to parlour on a tractor and trailer to see the 300 milking Holstein, all well marked and spotless clean.

All the fodder grown on the farm is used to feeding the cattle, the slurry is split and the dry matter is used as bedding for the cattle. All beef caves are sold on. 10 percent of milk is used in the ice cream making process.

Back on trailer to find out about the ice cream and how it all came about, 10 years ago. New lines include ice lollies for humans and your dog, we didn't taste them but we did a taste a new ice cream, top secret! but very tasty.

Peeles farm visit.jpg

Jenny and Chris.jpgOnce back at the hotel for the members meeting and a bit of a rest before dinner, a carvery, all good.

The entertainment was a quiz on "Weather sayings" and Yorkshire quotes.

The really fun evening with the touchy feely quiz. Bags with various objects in, great fun all round.

After another great evening we were off to bed, before our final breakfast and all our goodbyes.

Thank you to Jenny and Chris for all their hard work and commitment to detail and pulling out all the stops on the farm visit, a real credit to you both and your friends.


See the photographs of the Autumn weekend in the gallery →

Spring Weekend 2018 - Tom Knox

Saturday 12th May - Members visited a new biogas and pea processing plant in East Yorkshire. The enterprise is set up by a co-operative of 42 farmers. Peas have to be particularly fast stored, so the crop is cleaned, blanched and into cold store to maintain a top quality product.

The anaerobic digester handles 99% food waste. Gas conversion to electric from the digester produces 3.3MW into the National Grid. The A.D. plant takes in 85,000 tons of food waste yearly. Bacteria consistently fed was initially 'seeded' with cow manure. Digestate sludge coming out at 4% liquid is a balanced N.p.K slurry fertiliser.

Generally, East Yorkshire chalk soils have a high p.H. Magnesium lime added to the soils when appropriate. Soil fertility had to be particularly improved on an acreage which had been a former airfield. We inspected the soil structure where the arable crop straw had been treated with a breakdown cover of A.D. sludge in a no till system.

11.4 tons acre yield of wheat had been achieved in past years, £3.00 a ton cheaper N.p.K from an A.D. After a second wheat, stubble turnips are grown followed by linseed on this particular former airfield site.

Blackgrass is a crop rotational problem we were told.

Sunday 13th May - Moored in Hull Marina was 'Humber Keel Comrade' square sailed sloop built in 1923.

In their day, a vessel which transported coal, iron, sand, gravel and corn. Us

landlubbers were educated about the language of operating a keel sloop. The sails, 'fore and after', 'bow and starboard'. The sideboards operation of the weatherside and leesides. The living quarters on board, at each end being the operatives at the folksall stern end and the cosy living end at the bow end.

Gradually road and railway transport took over from these steel riveted vessels.

Spring Weekend 2018

National Country Link Spring Weekend - Hull.

Hosted by Derbyshire 11 to 14 May 2018

derbyshire arrive.jpg93 country link members travelled to Hull from all corners of the country. Thoses travelling by train took full advantage of the Royal Hull hotel location,at the train station.

staffs and cheshire.jpgOnce all settled in, dinner to down in the winshor suite. Simon spoke to us from emmaus our chosen charity for the homeless of Hull and east ridings. The barn dance had tuned up and dancing began and the fancy dress judged by the band wonderful evening of fun and dancing.

After breakfast we were off on 3 coaches and a train for our days out.

Coach 1 - Destination: Bempton Cliffs, RSPB for a guided walk by Kevin, the puffins, lap wings were there in their 1000 for all to enjoy on the cliffs.

the winners.jpgOnce all re grouped on the bus to Bridlington where some went on the Yorkshire belle and others enjoyed the sea air and chips.

Coach 2 - Destination: Spurn point for a safari trip, great adventure then on to Withenesea to the Nuclear bunker. A lovely day out and about with friends.

Coach 3 - Destination: The Yorkshire Goat Company,fantastic morning and hospitality,wowed by the whole enterprise. Next stop Eastburn to meet Mr Meginsons and his enterprises. After lunch in the sunshine we were back on the bus with David to the bio gas plant and the pea processing plant been built. The building were spell bounding in what we saw and heard.

By Train: The trip to Beverley took full advantage of the hotel location and travelled on an open ended ticket where they met Paul, for a guided walk around the town, and the Minster before having tea and cake. We returned to the hotel at leisure. A lovely day out.

Once back on the bus we were dropped off to walk back through the farm,and its stewardship programme,great vision on the poor quality land and wet areas. Last bus home says everything, and yes all the hot water gone!!

sunday morning.jpgAfter a quick wash and bush up, DJ on, we regroup in the bar and down to dinner, all lovely, great chat and atmosphere and dance to the resident DJ Kevin, until close of play.

Sunday morning came a more leisure breakfast before meeting Paul our town guide, where 50 members took part in the walk around the city.

Some of use walked to the marina where we meet Keith, and the team at the Keels and Sloops. The ships were the work horses on the estuary. After our thank you and coffee, we left to visit other museums and art galleries.

Wonderful relaxed day followed by the AGM, and an evening of quizzes and games to raise money for Emmaus.

exchange of weekend baton to Jenny.jpg most increased membership.jpg

Maria presenting the weekend baton to Jenny from Norfolk for the Autumn Weekend 2018

Nigel presenting Gill from Cumbria the most increased membership for 2017.

Monday morning came, with lots of goodbyes and thank yous for a wonderful weekend in Hull and surrounding area.

team Derbyshire going home on the train.jpg

Thank you to Lisa, David and the team at the Royal Hull Hotel, our host Derbyshire group and our wonderful trips and hosts in Yorkshire.

Spring Weekend 2018 - Cornwall Country Link

We have returned from another fun filled weekend with our friends from all over the country.

The team from Derbyshire deserve a very big thank you for organising a super event.

The party night on Friday was a blast and the fancy dress was hysterical.

The trips were well received and we personally went to Spurn Point and the secret bunker at a nearby ex RAF Station that tracked potential nuclear attacks.

The peace and the wild beauty out on Spurn Point was a tonic.

The Sunday trips were very interesting and we particularly enjoyed going on the deep sea trawler that was a combatant in the Cod Wars back in the 1980's.

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Looking forward to our next Country Link Weekend.

See the photographs of the Spring weekend in the gallery →

Mad March Weekend 2018

image001.jpgAfter all the snow, it's time for fun and the seaside. 20 off us were off to Bridlington, some left on the Tuesday, some on the Thursday, we all met on the Friday night in the bar of the Expanse hotel, our home until Monday morning.

After a lovely meal we all stayed in the hotel bar chatting until bedtime.

Breakfast was great - cereals, fruit, yogurt, full English, kedgeree, smoked haddock - the options were endless. Staff were wonderful, even went shopping for the connect 4!! later.

image002.jpgOur first outing was to Sewaby Hall and gardens on the opening day of the season. Lovely relaxed day learning about Amy Johnson, incredible lady, then home via the road train for earlier dinner before our night at the theatre.

After dinner, taxi to the spa to see 'Think Floyd', well 20 of went in, 12 stayed until the encore, and still no 'Brick in the Wall'! Once back at the hotel, after cheese and biscuits, to the Marina bar for dancing. Yes Brick in the Wall played and we danced until no more music, off to bed.

Breakfast wonderful and off in cars to Bempton Cliffs for a guided walk with Kevin,fascinating information about the sea birds,and we saw the first puffins of the year.

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Once back at the centre, were off to Flambrough head light house,more information from a great height, wonderful.


Back to Brid for a rest or a walk on the beach before dinner.


The restaurant didn't disappoint for our last night, relaxing in the bar, playing connect 4 until bedtime.

image008.jpgimage007.jpg Monday a focus morning checking out, and our last visit to Muntons Malting at Sewaby with Mark and Eddie. Well weren't we lucky people, incredible process and system in place and openness to us.


Following the visit we all said our goodbyes and departed for home.


A wonderful weekend, with great friends and a hotel to match.
Lovely company, trips, hotel and the sunshine just put the icing on the weekend.
Well done Bridlington!

We have given a donation to Bridlington lifeboats for our visit to Muntons Maltings.

See the photographs of the Mad March Weekend in the gallery →

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