Up River

8 Jun

I’ll have you know that right now I should be busy with the painting. It is neither raining nor windy, I have bought more primer and there are no other pressing issues.
No excuses then.

So why am I on here and not on the roof or dincing along the gunwale and just getting on with it..?

Well, it’s like this..

My new neighbour, who is re-fitting his boat and has been threatening to give me the guided for some time, invited me aboard earlier to show off his handiwork. Be rude to refuse and anyway, BB was curious. So he talks me through his efforts so far, as we clamber over tools and discarded materials during the tour. He's doing a great job, I have to say, and has come up with some ingenious solutions to the old storage/accessibility problem.

Then of course it was time for coffee so, after the reciprocal tour of Hobo, we do just that. A bit of a natter then he's back to work and I decide it's time for lunch.

By this time, I've lost the will to work and really just want to tell you about our mini cruise to Bishop's Stortford on Monday/Tuesday. And besides, the sun has done a disappearing act and it feels a bit cold outside..

Monday, you may remember, was a glorious day – perfect for a bit of boating, so we took the old girl out. She's moored facing downstream and Stortford is upstream so an about-face was required. Normally, we'd chug round the first bend and go through the lock, below which there is water to spin her round. This time, however, we decided to back up past the slipway and turn her there.

Backing a narrowboat is never easy (they don't steer well – if at all – in reverse) so much fending off as concerned neighbours watch and snigger silently assess our manoeuvring skills, awaiting the imminent and inevitable bump. It is a contact sport though and nobody minds. Much.

That said, we did a pretty good job, once we sorted out our communication deficiencies, and didn't disgrace ourselves or do any lasting damage. Unless of course you count my shattered nerves…

We remember to crouch low, so as not to knock our heads off as we pass under the railway bridge, after which the countryside opens up for us. Buttercups in the meadows, May and Chestnut trees in full blossom – it all looks glorious. After the first lock the river gets very windy, snaking this way then that, pretty as a picture.

Can’t say the same for this bridge though…
100_1589
whichever way..
100_1590
I look at it..100_1591

It just doesn’t do it for me.

See the Chinese to the right of the picture? We got the wave and usual questions about the boat – at least I think that’s what they were saying. I don’t speak Mandarin or whatever it was they were speaking. But lovely smiles.

The things you see when you don’t have your canoe…
100_1592
Perfect for a paddle.

I liked the look of this rustic bridge though…
100_1593
Much more my style.

We took our time, not that there’s ever any rushing on the river, but an even slower than normal tootle. Simply enjoying the moment, no mission to be on and no place on earth I’d rather be.

Even in chilled tortoise mode we are soon at Stortford, only four locks and as many miles (ish) away from base. We turn again, tie up, do lunch and stroll into town for some charity shopping and fresh bread.

Hobo looks good from the bridge as we return, the angle hiding any nasty bits that I’m working on (or not as it happens) and spurs me on to continue the great spruce up. Just not today…

A quick cuppa and we’re off again.

On the way up we’d seen a pile of nicely sliced and stacked willow left by the BW workers that had lopped off overhanging branches. They looked dry so we thought we’d hoover them up on the way back. I nosed Hobo into the bank and the ever agile John leapt ashore and hurled them on board. It was easier getting off than back on but he made it without injury or taking a dip so a good result. You can’t have enough wood so tend to scoop up any that presents itself.

After another snack stop we decide to continue by way of a sunset cruise. We were aiming to get through all locks then park up for the night, leaving a short jaunt back home for the morning.

I light the fire and John chops the newly scrumped wood into stove-size pieces as we wait for the lock to fill…
100_1596

See the join on the roof..? That’s where I got to before the paint and the weather ran out.

Then I look astern and take in the sky…
100_1595
Wow…
100_1600
Double wow..
100_1601
So good, I did some stitching, like this…
100_1602_stitch
and this…
100_1605_stitch
by way of the panoramic.

Into the lock and as Hobo and I sink down, so does the sun.
100_1613.

Fabulous.

We camped out on the lock landing (naughty I know) but didn’t really think anyone else would be coming through now..it was dark. And we’d be gone in the morning.

I’d been roasting a bit of John’s home-reared pig as we cruised. Just the job for supper after a beer or two. We toast our toes by the fire as the newly foraged wood burns hot and bright. The perfect end to the perfect day.

A short, slow hop in the morning sees us back on the mooring in time to get back to the real world. John to the farm and me off to earn a few more pennies.

So we hang up the ropes…

100_1594

but hopefully not for long.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: