Sunday 24th April to Monday 2nd May 2011
Can you believe it its too hot to take tea on the lawn. Not bad for the third week in April is it.
Were all ship shape and Bristol fashion and out of bed just in time to meet John and Jean who are up from Saints Land and waiting for us in Stortford.
A short cruise, top up with water, collect guests and back to the moorings under the trees one lock down from town.
Some bring cake, but J+J brought a huge chocolate Easter bunny and a massive tin of Cadburys Heroes. Thanks you guys, please help us eat them.
Another couple taking the air were Mike and Janice. From somewhere beginning with M (Malden I think) and out for a walk, they stopped for a natter. Boaters with a share in a boat based at Fradley they were doing what I think most of us do when not onboard finding it difficult to stay away from canals and rivers.
They appeared to be oblivious to boats passing through their front garden and to my surprise and relief showed no interest in swimming. A credit to their Mums.
En route to the Lee I was roused by a Read your Blog from nb.Brimstone. Right on a corner and soon out of sight I didnt dare let the tiller go and grab the camera.
Another boat sticks in the memory , nb Asterope. We leap-frogged each other down the Stort on account of the narrow locks (13ft) and carried on bumping into each after wed turned right onto the Lee.
Back to 14ft locks we paired up with Asterope for the cruise to Hertford (or Hereford as V keeps calling it). I discovered she was built in 1935 (I dont mean V) and is powered by a Lister HR2.
Hertford welcomed us with its moorings behind Waitrose, opposite the terraced houses where residents very cleverly dig the grass verge and plant flowers to discourage boaters from hammering in mooring pins.
We did the museum with its small but delightful displays and followed that by calling in at pound shops and second-hand bookshops in my hunt for merchant navy books. The castle didnt rock for me but we paid our respects anyway.
We had a quiet night at Waitrose, the blackbirds made more noise than the 6am delivery vans. I discovered the reason for a bunch of ropes at the rivers edge when a resident pulled up a wire cage and checked it for contents before throwing it back again. Might there be crayfish along here?
A couple of incidents along the way are worthy of note.
We watched as an old couple pulled in at Stanstead Abbotts marina for gas and no matter how the lady on the bow shouted stop the old boy wouldnt and finished up ploughing into a plastic cruiser moored near the diesel pump. That cracking sound will stay with me for a while.
The other was a boat we shared a lock with. Hed gone below and she was in charge of the tiller when his voice boomed out of the side doors CILL. I thought her name was Cilla but when he bounded up the steps to the stern we soon found out what he was on about. The scraping sound of metal on concrete will also stay with me for a while. They didnt get on too well at the next lock either so our crew named them Happy Harry and Cilla.
Talking of concrete noises, V helped stop the boat dead – at a water point. Im not so sure about letting her loose on concrete bollards any more.
Our day ended well treated to a sit-down nosh at the restaurant 2 minutes walk from our mooring at Broxbourne. Delicious, thanks John and Jean, very much appreciated.
Friday 29th Broxbourne to Waltham Abbey
Oh dear the weather is on the change. Wind from the northeast and short sharp showers got us on the approaches to Waltham Abbey.
But it didnt spoil The Wedding and our tele went on at various times to catch all the important bits, which was nice.
And we were treated to our own display of WW2 aeroplanes as the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane passed overhead on their way home from the Palace. You could have paid good money to see that.
Were parked up right next to the Lee Valley White Water Centre. I know thats exactly where we are because a loudspeaker tells us from time to time as it announces forthcoming events.
Yes, the white water events have started, we know competitors names and their times, they shall have another go in 90 minutes to try to improve their times as they battle the water without missing or touching the gates. We know all about it because were treated to the commentary at 90db. It might be an improvement if theyd let us see some of it but thats only for those that pay.
Nb.Ernest passed us without incurring any penalties (it would have been 2 seconds for touching the gates and 50 seconds for completely missing a lock). I wonder where they are going, somewhere brilliant Ill bet.
Another fine end to a day, the slalom closed at 7pm and we celebrated with a takeaway. Its John and Jeans last day with us, its been a brilliant week, good company for V on the paddles and a rest for my tiller arm.
We are a two pack boat now, Badger takes two packs of playing cards and 2 hours to complete. I now dream about runs and sets. Crib and Rummikub (and red wine) got a thorough hammering too so be warned if youre thinking of mounting a challenge.
Sunday 1st May
Another sunny but chilly day when in the shadows. The Royal Gunpowder Mills is on the first of its three open days combined with VE Day Commemoration. All I can say is it was brilliant.
Met some really nice Germans, Japs, Yanks and Italians, saw some excellent displays and wore my legs to a stump trying to get round to see everything.
It was so good that I think my mum would have enjoyed it. Although she might not have appreciated there being so many Gestapo about.
The guys and the girls who performed in uniform must be congratulated for their excellent acting, use of foreign language and attention to detail.
The post-Normandy landing battle was amusing as one side captured the other before losing again. I suspect it had less to do with Normandy and more to do with getting their machine gun fix.
The only trouble is what to do with the plane between shows. Sadly I declined and instead got issued with a National Registration Identity card for Germans resident in Britain between 1939 and 1945.
Oh, and the gunpowder mills displays were good too, especially the armoury. Oops there I go again. Despite the VE Day distractions there was much to see on the subject. Traverses or blast walls, as I call them, and the remains of the buildings that survived the numerous explosions between 1660 and 1960 lie scattered over many acres. The site is laced with canals, sadly dry but walkable with remains of locks and cast iron aqueducts that moved explosives between grinding wheels and goods out.
Monday was a bit of a tease. The booms of artillery and staccato gunfire made me want to return to the Royal Gunpowder Mills (or Secret Island as they are marketing it) but we stayed put with the windows closed to keep the towpath dust out of the boat. Small cyclones follow cyclists along the towpath as their tyres grind the tiny stone chippings to talcum powder. Every evening I brush a small gravel pit off the boat but by 10 oclock the next morning were having difficulty seeing through the windows again.
Its marvellous what you can do with a 12 times zoom isnt it.