For a fraction of a second I hesitated … it would take more than a few days to shake off my city-dweller nerves about letting my child roam free. But that was exactly why – after the first lockdown – we’d come to Hipperson’s on the Suffolk-Norfolk border: for open space, fresh air and the chance for my 10-year-old to run wild(ish).
The rowing boat was tied to our floating cabin, which was moored at Hipperson’s, a small working boatyard on an inlet of the River Waveney – a safe space for children to practise rowing or paddling without risk of disappearing upriver or colliding with a motor cruiser.
“Breakfast will be here soon!” I shouted as he set off, grappling with the unwieldy oars. As with virtually every other small business around the country, Beccles station cafe has tried to claw back income lost to the pandemic by diversifying, and owner Pauline’s solution is to provide breakfast hampers to local self-catering businesses, including Hipperson’s. I sat on our tiny deck waiting for our delivery, as a swan with a sixth sense that food was on its way pecked at the cabin.
Mary Sparrow, a former headteacher, and her husband, Simon, who worked in IT, bought the boatyard in the small market town of Beccles in 2014, swapping stressful London lives for a life on the river…