Monday 4th to Sunday 10th April 2011.

Flashback to yesterday, Sunday 3rd, Claire and Ter who were staying with us were joined by daughter Loz’ and Simon on what turned into a lovely sunny day.

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 they’ve 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 they’d 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, I’m so glad I’d read ‘Between Silk and Cyanide’ by Leo Marks before seeing the SOE code breaking exhibits.

A walk in London wouldn’t be the same without a wander around Trafalgar Square. The ship in a bottle prompted thoughts like “Wouldn’t it be fun to make wine in a demi-john that size?”

Tuesday’s forecast was light rain. That means light rain and a howling gale if you’re in the Basin.
Cruising eastwards to Tottenham we were surprised to see few boats on the move. We know where they are, they’re all on extended winter moorings, that’s visitor’s 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 radio’d 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.

The naughty side of me wants to poke the tunnel roof with the boat pole when I see houses built over the canal.

You’ll be pleased to know the Olympic Stadium really exists and there’s something to show for your money.

And the local lads are practising hard for the Spray-Olympics, something we Brits excel at. So don’t 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.

Wednesday 6th
Yesterday’s cruise brought us along the Regent’s Canal, Hertford Union Canal and the River Lea to moorings at Tottenham Hale. From now on I’m in unfamiliar territory, passing names I’ve never heard before like Ponder’s End and Brimsdown. I’ve heard of Enfield but not Rammey Marsh.
Something else I didn’t know was that King Harold’s body was brought all the way from Hastings to Waltham Abbey. That’s 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.

Many years later, and totally unconnected, Clarence came to Waltham Abbey, bringing Derek and Sheila, those intrepid canal explorers.

Like us they are consigned to wander the canals and rivers of England, winter or summer it makes no difference.

It was good to catch up with their news over a meal and share boat experiences. See you guys later methinks.

I can’t remember where I saw this boat but who cares, it’s brilliant isn’t it. 1892 it says on the rudder.

Very few shops here but the Abbey church is worth a visit. It’s a good place to take a rest or even a nap if these two visitors are anything to go by.

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 we’ve seen for weeks.
Lee Valley Marina has diesel at 89p/L, a fraction of the price we’ve 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 I’ll 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 visitor’s moorings. You can imagine what happened next, we found wall to wall winter moorers. And I’m 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 it’s 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 can’t receive signals from Alexandra Palace.

I must be missing a trick somewhere because I can’t see where one would put cartwheels on a boat unless perhaps it’s to replace the tiller?

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 I’m dusting off the HF radio that hasn’t 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.

Sunday 10th
The lull in air traffic is more than made up for by the increase in towpath traffic. If we’d 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. It’s 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 didn’t 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……..