Thursday, 29 August 2013

Messing About On The River

Well the last Bank Holiday of the year has been and gone and after a weekend of torrential rain in Hertfordshire it was nice just to stretch out in the cratch cover on Bank Holiday Monday and contemplate the week ahead.
It was a shame the fine weather we had been enjoying all work broke then. Saturday’s guests Dorothy and Steve had travelled all the way from Suffolk to see us and brought a ukulele-playing friend, clutching not one, but two ukes, so we had a good old session, and  Mike, who was another close work colleague, came down as well. Unfortunately it bucketed down all afternoon and most of the evening,  flooding the towpath in several places.
Back on the cut again. Taken around Stanstead Abbots on the Lea 
Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday were Music Festival days in Hertford and most of the pubs had some sort of music on. Barbara and Martin from Welwyn Garden, who we know from way back when our children went to the same primary school, came over and we went out for a good old scoff. Martin is also a John Lewis Partner, so I am now up to date with all the comings and goings and gossip from the branch (and we got to talk about steam locos too!)
But, as I said, there I was, sitting in the cratch cover, overlooking the towpath, peppered with walkers, cyclists and dogs on and off their leads, and suddenly in the distance I could hear a familiar tune that I hadn’t heard in years. I couldn’t recognise it at first, as it kept fading in and out, and then I heard the words “so take off your coat, and hop in a boat,” it was “Messing About On The River”, by Josh McCrae, and you have to be a certain age to remember it and I hadn’t heard it in years.

I've heard of mobile discos, but not floating ones! Love the settee.
Now we have done a lot of miles this year, so I had enjoyed our stay in Hertford, but hearing again, “so I’ll leave you right now, to cast off your bow”, put me in the correct frame of mind to prepare for our travels again, and I went back into the boat to find our Nicholson’s Guide to the Waterways, Number 1, to start planning our route back through London.
So on Tuesday we were up early, filled up with water, emptied the loos, and welcomed on board my sister Carol, her husband Rob, and two of their pals Sheilah and John, and we cruised down through Ware, Stanstead Abbots to Broxbourne where they departed. This part of the Lea is really delightful and very quiet, though the lock gates are very heavy.
Part of our crew from Hertford to Broxbourne, John & brother-in-law Rob

The other halves took it a bit easier. Sister Carol and her pal Shelagh who took most of these photos

Rob, John and Pat on lock duty. I'm watching the paintwork
From Broxbourne it is only a couple of hours to Waltham Cross and the Olympic White Water Centre where the canoeing and kayaking events were held last summer. Unlike the Olympic park further down the Lea, this facility was indeed open for business, though a good chunk of it is under re-construction, and we moored literally a few metres away from the entrance, off the towpath.

White water rafting at the Olympic Centre at Waltham Cross

I am very familiar with this bit of the Olympic legacy. When it was first opened, a good year prior to the games, I organised a day for several John Lewis branches to experience the rapids ahead of the general public. It still looked exciting when we walked around the course and made up a bit for us not being able to get into the main park from the waterway when we came up a few weeks ago.
We remain on the Lea now all the way through East London. We are still just in Hertfordshire and tomorrow we will become Eastenders as we go through Enfield, Walthamstow, Tottenham, Clapton and Hackney. We have an appointment with pals on Sunday in Islington, but more of that next time.
“If you take my advice, there is nothing so nice, as Messing About On The River”

Toodaloo chums. 

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