It was a pleasure to visit Hilary during the lovely summer of 2019 – sitting by the Broads, talking about her colourful life on the Broads.
Hilary Franzen Works and plays in the Broads
Hilary, who is Great Yarmouth born and bred, lives, works and plays in the Broads.
A former Great Yarmouth Mercury reporter, she first fell in love with the Broads at the age of seven, when her parents, Sybil and George Blowers, bought a historic Broads yacht, Martlet, built in 1907. Every November the family would sail past the village of Stokesby to a boatyard at Great Yarmouth for Martlet’s winter maintenance and Hilary would admire the pretty riverside cottages which lined the banks.
After 26 years her parents sold Martlet and despite dinghy sailing and horse riding there came to be a gap in her life which widened as the years passed.
Sixteen years later the year 2000 proved to be a turning point for Hilary. She managed to track down Martlet and bought her back and now races her regularly with an all-female crew. The same year she landed her dream job as press officer with the Broads Authority and in 2007 she bought her dream home – one of those riverside cottages at Stokesby she had fallen in love with as a child. It was the first time it had come up for sale since 1932!
Her historic riverside shed, aka The Slip Inn, is also a magnet for parties and weekly get togethers.
Now semi-retired, Hilary is visited regularly by a pair of swans and their ten cygnets who queue up regularly at her front door to be fed –and sometimes walk in – as well as resident geese and ducks.
“It’s been amazing watching them hatch and grow from close quarters,” she said. “They allow us to hand feed them, and we have built up a special relationship with them.”