Monday 4th to Sunday 10th April 2011.
We began the new week (at Paddy Basin, London) by walking, yes walking to the Science Museum half way across the world somewhere in Kensington. Why I agreed or even volunteered to do that is beyond me, a series of senior moments I suppose.
The walk across Kensington Gardens was nice enough which is more than I can say for the museum. Full of open spaces where school children are encouraged to express themselves to prevent the little darlings getting bored after theyve punched, bitten and scratched everything within arms reach.
Apart from the merchant navy exhibits I concluded that the museum must have fallen on hard times and theyd sold off everything of interest.
I felt so bad about dragging V all the way across town to see nothing that I volunteered to accompany her around the V&A. She declined in favour of something to eat (so predictable) and a tube ride to the Imperial War Museum.
What a contrast, packed with exhibits, stuff we all want to see like planes and tanks and midget submarines.
Mike had been here earlier and recommended the Secret War corridors which were amazing, Im so glad Id read Between Silk and Cyanide by Leo Marks before seeing the SOE code breaking exhibits.
Tuesdays forecast was light rain. That means light rain and a howling gale if youre in the Basin.
Cruising eastwards to Tottenham we were surprised to see few boats on the move. We know where they are, theyre all on extended winter moorings, thats visitors spaces to you and me. All but one that is, a splitter or GRP cruiser by its right name, taking a gentle stroll through Islington tunnel without lights and hugging the wrong wall. I suspect he was lacking more than just lights.
At first I thought Mike was joking when he radiod back that he had come across a stationary boat in the tunnel insisting on keeping to the right (wrong) hand side.
The daft thing was that this skipper had entered the tunnel at about the time that we were half way through. It might have been fun if he had encountered a wide-beam instead of two narrow-beam boats.
And the local lads are practising hard for the Spray-Olympics, something we Brits excel at. So dont go too hard on your naughty neighbours, the main event is only a year away and they need every bit of flat surface they can get their hands on.
Yesterdays cruise brought us along the Regents Canal, Hertford Union Canal and the River Lea to moorings at Tottenham Hale. From now on Im in unfamiliar territory, passing names Ive never heard before like Ponders End and Brimsdown. Ive heard of Enfield but not Rammey Marsh.
Something else I didnt know was that King Harolds body was brought all the way from Hastings to Waltham Abbey. Thats what the book says but a local dog walker reckoned he was chopped up and his bits spread around the country so that no one could make a relic of him.
It was good to catch up with their news over a meal and share boat experiences. See you guys later methinks.
Stanstead Abbotts served as a stopping place on Thursday which was a remarkable day for one thing, there were five boats on the move, the most weve seen for weeks.
Lee Valley Marina has diesel at 89p/L, a fraction of the price weve been hearing about from little birds along the way. I thought they were jolly nice letting me dump my old oil in their tank so Ill be going back again.
Mike and Jo entertained us during the evening with a delicious meal on Sarah-Kate and the locals helped us pass the night away by sharing their secrets at 90dB on the brickwall outside our portholes. Jo heard them mention that narrowboats had flat roofs, ideal for walking on, but fortunately no-one felt up to it.
Friday was a perfect day for cruising, sunshine and smiling faces. The countryside from Ware to Hertford is superb and we were in high spirits when we reached the visitors moorings. You can imagine what happened next, we found wall to wall winter moorers. And Im not sure which winter they were from either.
Oh well, turn at the end of town and beat it back to Ware for a night at the car park.
Ware is like going back 50 years, there are shops, almost all of the ones you used to see. I must say its a change not to find dozens of charity shops and hairdressers. TV reception is slightly more recent, four analogue channels, no digital TV or radio.
A local boater told me our aerial should go sideways and not to bother pointing it at Ally-Pally. I think he means vertical polarisation and we cant receive signals from Alexandra Palace.
Saturday 9th we moved downriver one lock and pitched our metal tent next to the nature reserve.
The sun is out, V is exploring and Im dusting off the HF radio that hasnt seen daylight since last summer.
A delightful evening was spent with Mike and Jo around a dish of skewered chicken and noodles next to open side doors overlooking the river with its coots and ducks competing for tid-bits.
Once all the planes for Stanstead Airport had landed and darkness fallen we could have been anywhere. The odd owl hoot, an occasional creak of boat paint on wooden post and we were away with the fairies by 10pm.
The lull in air traffic is more than made up for by the increase in towpath traffic. If wed been selling icecreams to one in fifty walkers we could have had the boat repainted this autumn.
They like their fresh air around here and they like their bikes too. Its all very civilised, the towpath is grade A, well it would be, after all this is only a few miles from the Olympic village and it might give our foreign visitors the wrong impression if we didnt do something about the muddy pot-holes. Oh dear, there I go again.
This week we shall take a look at the River Stort. The forecast looks good and I hear there are plenty of moorings to be had at the end……..